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July 13, 2012

Notes From The 2012 CCI Floor


By Tom Spurgeon

The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2012 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 ComicsAlliance and The Beat.


* they changed the Westin Gaslamp lobby. I don't usually notice these kinds of things, but the look of the place was improved like 10,000 percent.

* I'm thinking that the McDonald's just north of Horton Plaza becoming a Panera Bread is indicative of something, but I couldn't tell you what that is.

* I had a really ridiculous-looking short-rib has at the Marina Kitchen in the Marriott in the company of Scott Dunbier yesterday morning. It was like a Frank Quitely drawing of a delicious breakfast.

* I really enjoy Scott Dunbier's company, and I think he's done a great job with IDW on their Berke Breathed initiative and on their Artist's Edition books. Dunbier was quick to deflect the success of those Artist's Editions onto to the artists, and while on one level he's right about that, on another level it's hard for me to imagine that project coming to fruition under someone who didn't have Dunbier's connection in the creative community and the original art world.

* I have to admit I don't remember which projects he told me about for that line are in play as news or not, and my panel about bookstores was scheduled directly opposite of his so I didn't get to see. I'll catch up on that by weekend's end, though. I want them all, basically. I saw someone's Groo edition at the show, and while I wondered after a Groo book because it's hard for me to imagine there's much fun in watching Sergio Aragones be perfect every panel, I was engrossed in reading that one, too.

* what I'm saying is, if comics projects had Q ratings, that Artist's Edition line would be the Olsen Twins circa 1991. It breaks people, pushing them into buying strategies they didn't know they had.

* Thursday at SDCC is "find out exactly who you've angered and why" day. Friday is "find the people and hopefully they'll accept your apology" day. Saturday is "start to make good on that apology day." Sunday is your day off.

* Comic-Con is the place where you're equally confused over maybe walking by Eric Roberts at 10 AM and maybe walking by Roger Fletcher at 10 PM.

* met up with Charles Hatfield in the Marriott lobby. I always like seeing Charles, one of the nicer and more talented writers I published back in the TCJ days. I liked his Jack Kirby book Hand Of Fire. We talked a bit about fantasy books, and how the kids are, and the panels he's doing at the show. I also got to meet his lovely missus. It was a nice, calm, rational, adult 25 minutes.

* and then I went to the show floor.

* oh, I'm just kidding. You know, I don't know if it's just me being less of a lumbering super-mammal or just the places I tend to explore, but I thought the con floor was very, very negotiable on Thursday for a Thursday.

* always nice to see Gary Groth, even if it's just standing about 50 yards away talking to Eddie Campbell.

* saw Alex Chun at the Go Comics booth (I think that's where I saw him), but when I turned around he was gone!

* went over to talk to Charlie Kochman at Abrams. He said they're having a solid year -- he doesn't count Wimpy Kid in that estimation, because the Wimpy Kid books always have a good year. The Clowes and the Dahmer books have done well for them. The Dahmer book is, as I suspect, continuing to garner a lot of interest because it's an affecting work that people are catching up to on a subject that might not be automatically attractive when you first hear about it.

* the main reason I went to Abrams was to maybe look at anything they have for Frank Young and Dave Lasky's forthcoming Carter Family book, and I was NOT disappointed. They brought out an unbound version of the final book, and I got to look through it. It's handsomely mounted -- there will be a CD of radio performances -- and at first look this may be the Dave Lasky book we've been waiting for him to do for years and years now. I hope it is, anyway. No better guy than that David Lasky. At any rate, I really appreciate them making that book available to me, and I look forward to talking to Dave for CR close to its release this Fall.

* stopped by the Becky Cloonan panel. She talked about using her burst of self-published material as little writing showcases and training opportunities, which seems to me eminently smart. Very attentive, enthusiastic crowd in a not-small room.

* my great honor to meet Gilbert Shelton and talk to him for a CBLDF panel. I really enjoyed watching him interact in absolutely gracious terms with his fans. He said some interesting things in our conversation while he drew -- two nice marker drawings, one of his oldest character, one of one of his newer ones. I thought him talking about how censorship informed the undergrounds was intriguing, how it gave them something to push back against, and how he endorsed this with other cartoonists even though it might not have been a big part of the work he was doing. Anyway, what an honor.

* my new idea is that they need to snake the long lines for movie stuff through the backs of rooms with comics panels that fewer people are attending, like a line for a Disney World ride.

* did a bookstores panel with Alison Bechdel, Matthew & Jennifer Holm, Kate Beaton, Nate Powell, Jason Shiga and Brecht Evens. I think that's everybody. I thought it went well considering the number of people up on stage and how that sometimes makes it hard to make sure everyone speaks. All of those panelists could do three hours on anything they'd want to talk about and I watch that panel. I liked best the acerbic answers to the question of how bookstores communicate legitimacy to certain audiences.

* saw Scott McCloud's work in progress on a tablet he let me use. It looks really sharp. He's about 200 pages in, and the pages I saw look to make considerable use of bleeding images all the way out to the edge of pages. He's work directly with Mark Siegel on that one, and was highly complimentary on how Siegel would praise, then constructively criticize.

* a ton of people I know where extremely complimentary of Heidi MacDonald's panel with Kate Beaton and Lynn Johnston.

* hung out with Gus Norman at the Image table, and met a few of those writers and their events coordinator. The morale over there seems really high right now, which is understandable.

* Margaret Atwood is here.

* the blogging panel I was on went fine, I think. I was totally baffled by the number of people there, although more than half were apparently squatting that panel to get to a gaming one afterwards. I didn't know they did panels after 7 PM. I thought it was weird there was a panel at 7 PM. It was nice to see all of my peers in one place, folks like Michael Dooley, Brigid Alverson and Deb Aoki. I got to meet David Uzumeri.

* Douglas Wolk is apparently no longer writing much of anything for ComicsAlliance.

* my brother was the best journalist in the room, as he got booted for taking photos and not sitting in a chair to do so. Fight the man! Someone needs to vote "the fire marshal" the most powerful person at Comic-Con. I saw fire regulations cited for not letting my brothers take photos from weird angles, the way a line was being formed outside of Room 32, and, oddly, someone not getting being able to seal the deal date-wise at the Trickster thing later that night.

* it may be my imagination, but I've never seen so many empty tables at such a significant number of the more expensive restaurants.

* went to the CBLDF party, and enjoyed myself despite not knowing barely anyone. Got to meet Eric Stephenson. Met Joseph Remnant, who did the Cleveland book with Harvey Pekar. He's cooking up a comics web site project with Noah Van Sciver. You should go buy his book at the Top Shelf table; it's very entertaining, very accessible to non-comics readers, too.

* Gary Groth was highly complimentary of Joseph Lambert's new Helen Keller/Anne Sullivan book. I concur.

* Jen Vaughn seems like she's been at Fantagraphics for ten years, she seemingly fits in so well. She and Jacq Cohen divulged their secret formula for a cocktail that looks like booze and has no alcohol content. I'm not saying this gave them an advantage, but I think CR may be doing a full week devoted to Mr. Twee Deedle in September. Not sure how that happened.

* it's nice to be back in San Diego, although I apparently only know about 1.5 percent of the people who work in comics.


these reports will continue all weekend, unless you're reading the one that rolls out on Monday in which case it's the last one; maybe skip a close reading of these photos, as they're from a previous show

posted 4:45 am PST | Permalink

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