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July 25, 2010

Notes From The 2010 CCI Floor


The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2010 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources and then Newsarama. -- Tom Spurgeon


* best update on the Hall H eye-stabbing here. Kudos to the fates for having what was an inevitable violent outbreak regarding the high-pressure seat occupation strategies at Comic-Con be reminiscent of the famous junkie's needle to the eye that got Wertham all fired up. I'm not totally interested in the story as a story, but it bears tracking how it goes down over the next few days. It also goes without saying that or the rest of the con there should be a considerable amount of tension in the air regarding any potential second violent incident. A fistfight at 2 PM today, say, or a girl being pushed down the last seven stairs somewhere at 4 PM, they would make this more a trend story instead of an isolated incident one.

* maybe the greatest news of the con, made during a panel I was going to moderate, then didn't: Fantagraphics will be doing a Complete Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse. The fascinating thing about this is that I can't think of a strip outside of Thimble TheatrePopeye that changed more in its history, and certainly not anothere one that changed so much under the same cartoonist. When that strip was on, it was a great, great adventure strip. The first volume will be out next year, and Gary Groth is spearheading the project.

* another one of interest because it's an odd project in certain ways as well is a planned Rocketeer comic series (and, one guesses, resulting trade) from IDW. The press release is unclear whether it's an anthology or a team-created book; the first approach would be more likely and reflect more common practice. They certainly name a slew of heavy-hitting mainstream talent. A portion of monies earned go to charity. It's weird only in that this kind of thing is usually described as a tribute book where this specific one announcement seems to hedge on that a bit, maybe to get some juice as simply more Rocketeer stories. I don't know, it seems like in everything but in rigorous tribute form that property has passed on.

* more Alex Raymond from IDW, too. That's nice.

* spoke to AnnaMaria White at IDW briefly; she's fired up about her summertime promotion, which I guess allows her to focus on press over a combination of press and retail. It's actually kind of nice to see the promotional/marketing teams at comics company expand and settle into place. You forget about this kind of thing sometimes, but the con for someone like Jacq Cohen at Fantagraphics is likely a big deal as she settles into a certain part of her PR duties and has to put on display the interpersonal part of it while hopefully benefiting from the planning aspects. We focus so much on the importance of Comic-Con to people making a one-hour presentation or a single appearance that we sometimes forget it can be a crucial show for a lot of people working in company infrastructures.

* spoke to a Hollywoodish person focused on the potential development of comics properties for a quarter hour or so. As long as I leave it a blind item, I don't think she'd mind me saying that the landscape from their viewpoint has become more difficult as companies sign various first-look proposals. Another person e-mailing in said that they wouldn't be surprise if you see a few companies employing more of a Dark Horse approach and doing initial stages of development themselves, maybe through a single employee.

* I stopped by the Boom! booth to congratulate newly-installed Editor In Chief Matt Gagnon, who was in informal portfolio review mode. I was curious to hear the other day that the company planned to work with sometimes-beleaguered cartoonist William Messner-Loebs, but it turns out they already had worked with the writer and I had just missed it. Discussed Messner-Loebs' Journey with a younger cartoonist the other day, who really loved the atmospheric art and strange narrative rhythms of the frontier project. I can't imagine IDW sold a lot of their collections, and would recommend those of you that love the romantically ambitious comics projects of the past put that one on their shelves.

* ran into Rantz Hoseley of Longbox on the convention floor. He could say much more than broad generalities, but he assures me that by the end of the con season his on-line comics reading enterprise will have at least one major league partnership in terms of embedding its technology. He also suggested there's a long way to go before the competition between various strategies gets settled.

* here's a bit of big-deal publishing news -- well, to me and people who like roughly the same kinds of comics I like -- that escaped my attention until Charlie Kochman mentioned it in passing, but I guess was covered by Calvin Reid earlier in the show: Abrams plans to publish a finished version of Michel Choquette's legendarily incomplete and slightly doomed anthology The Someday Funnies in the second half of 2011.

* you know what subject has come up unbidden about a half dozen times over the weekend? Robert Kirkman's new project where he plans on giving an opportunity and some direction to new creators in return for an (I think) unnamed level participation in their projects. As described, it seems like the opposite of how Image is set up and not really related with how Kirkman established and developed his career, either. I want to wait for some articles and interview from people who know mainstream American comic books better than I do before I comment in a loaded way, but it certainly caught my attention and that of some other folks.

* something that no one has talked to me about but has certainly caught my interest is the sheer number of different imprints and lines planned, with every reason to believe that they'll make good -- at least at first -- on their publishing goals. I'm not against new work, but it doesn't seem to me if you sat down with a team of problem-solver and set to work with the comics industry that anyone's solution would be to release a ton of new product through the current infrastructure.

* by the way, the Calvin Reid link from earlier also has a rough sketch of planned layoffs/cutbacks related to Del Rey Manga.

* my panels went really well. Gabrielle Bell seems incapable right now of giving an evasive, easy, canned answer to any question, no matter how dopey or ill-timed that question may be. I admired how honestly conflicted she seemed on issues, how none of the answers were trite. She says she's about two-three years away from seeing a graphic novel published, which she described as a series of short vignettes about a single person's life, but definitely interconnected in a more novelistic way than simply a collection of short stories might be. On the international graphic novels panel, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Milo Manara, Moto Hagio and a late-arriving Emile Bravo all spoke in broad strokes about the economic and personal ramifications of the long-form comics option, and what it's like to develop a readership outside of your borders. That Saturday afternoon all-star, generically-named panel is always a tough one because of the projected unfamiliarity most of those in the audience likely have with a portion if not all of the participants, but they were all funny and consistently humble. Plus Kathryn Immonen resisted throwing an ice water glass at my head when I asked not one but two impossible to answer, 15-ellipse questions that made no sense, for which I'm greatly appreciated. One fired-up person after the panel proclaimed that awesome talent like the assembled should be in Hall H. "People have no idea how great these cartoonists are!" he bellowed. I'd agree for sure. Thanks to everyone that participated or came out.

* Deb Aoki was nice enough to deliver back to me my convention watch. Thanks, Deb.

* in general, all the people at the panels were super-nice, and I think everyone with whom I sat on a panel was really appreciative of the attention. Milo Manara's translator told me that Manara never flies, so that coming to the convention was a big deal. The cartoonist was also apparently worried that no one would show up at his spotlight panel or have any interest in him at all, so when his panel was packed and people came up to him all weekend, those things constituted a very pleasing development. He also seemed touched to receive an Inkpot from the convention.

* one bit of publishing news that might have slipped through the cracks: Peter Bagge said during his panel that he's working for Reason again, and although he hasn't signed a contract for doing so he wants to do and plans on doing a series of biographies about popular female figures in the literary world in the first half of the 20th Century and how their lifestyle and professional choices either overtly or in backwards-fashion suggest a libertarian philosophy.

* one nice thing about Bagge's panel is that a lot of it was aimed backwards at the whole Newave/Weirdo component of the alt-comics revolution, and how much that whole group of cartoonists seems to be vastly underrated.

* more than a few people approached me to suggest the mood of the convention is subdued this year, with nothing yet jumping out at people in a unique and memorable way. I'm not yet sure how I'd characterize it, especially not on a Sunday morning where my every impulse is to stay and bed and skip going.


the show runs from July 22nd through July 25th
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