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July 12, 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.


* there were a few pre-show publishing announcements that went out earlier this week that I think maybe properly belong in this column -- or at least they're the kind of thing I would have run as announcements on the site were they to come out today. One was First Second announcing the publication of something called The Ren without a link to a posting of the story on-line, even on their blog, which I always find a little weird this far along in the age of Internet. Anyway, that's by Joseph Illidge, Shawn Martinbrough and Grey Williamson. A second was the launching of Binary Publications (or maybe Binary Publishing, or even Binary Press), which is a Gary Reed line devoted to books about pop culture. On Tuesday, MAD announced its 60th anniversary volume from Time-Life. The new Neil Gaiman kids' book deal apparently includes a work with cartoonist Skottie Young.

* here's one from the afternoon before the show's Preview Night: comiXology and Bongo will launch a bunch of Simpsons comics on a related, targeted app to coincide with Bongo's Thursday morning panel. That's the first in-show announcement of what I'm guessing will be a metric ton of digital-related announcements.

* so I rode down on the train from Los Angeles. The line to board was very, very long, and even though I was about ten people back from the front I almost didn't get a seat -- I'm still now sure how that works, but it happens a lot. It was mostly a Comic-Con crowd, but of the younger-than-35 age group as opposed to families, or pros, or even, really, hardcore-identifiable fans.

* Union State in LA has added a few shops and generally updated its front lobby from 1978, and I'm glad.

* I was in line behind the BOOM! employees. I could tell they worked together because nothing else really connected all the members of the group, and I figured they were in publishing because they were bringing extra boxes of books. I guessed BOOM!, and confirmed. I was awash in intense nostalgia over 15-18 years ago when I was a twentysomething headed off to Comic-Con with a bunch of my friends/co-workers, that sense of excitement but also wanting to stay cool about it that I sensed from these nice folks.

* Ross Richie apparently won't be at the show for a significant length of time because he may be a daddy soon and wants to stay around home, which is the best reason to miss a comics convention.

* I met and saw and talked to a lot of young women working in comics, really impressive young women. I don't know if that was by chance or what.

* downtown San Diego looks more developed than ever, and there will still whole blocks cordoned off for construction. I swear to God that ten years from now there will be streets stuffed with buildings shooting up into the sky, like in Inception.

* first person I saw that I knew but I'm not 100 percent sure it was them: Maggie Thompson. First person I know that's who it was: Chris Staros. First person I know that I talked to: Denis Kitchen. Kitchen says he's completed the Al Capp biography he's been working on for a while now and that should be out next year. I look forward to reading it.

* I saw Anthony Bourdain saunter through the little Starbuck's lounge at the Marriott, unaccompanied, looking very tall and projecting a celebrity's "please don't approach me" forcefield. He's there to promote his comic.

* I thought the registration went as smoothly as I've ever experienced it. I was through the line in less than three minutes, although this is the first time I remembered my bar code. Unlike past years, I even received decent directions from someone on the far western end as to which building housed the registration area I needed.

* as organized as I thought the registration process was, I don't get what they do with people waiting to get into Preview Night and I'm not sure they do either. There were people being asked to line-up upstairs, people left to kind of cluster outside, people in the inner hallway anyway. I tested random site and security people as to what was going on and got different answers from all of them.

* they are still giving out giant bags, and those giant bags still cut in totally unflattering fashion across the bodies of some of the overweight people in attendance.

* I saw two people waiting for people to bring them con tickets they had apparently purchased (my standing around led them both to approach me). I hope that works out for them. I think.

* at one point during the day, D+Q's Tom Devlin expressed total bafflement over some of the nearby, parking-lot exhibits and how they worked. I didn't have a good answer for him, but I assume they just attract spillover traffic.

* no one asked to look at my ID past the registration process.

* Preview Night is kind of a weird thing from the part of the convention in which I'm interested because a lot of focus is on exclusives being offered by various merchants, but it's also enjoyable because it's a way for publishers and professionals and press to kind of ease themselves into the weekend. A lot of relatively languorous conversations.

* a Fantagraphics representative told me they moved a lot of Love & Rockets material during Preview Night, which is always a great thing to hear. I hope they have a big weekend. There's a run of t-shirts on-hand, and two people volunteered in conversations on other parts of the floor about how they were excited to pick up some Los Bros stuff this con.

* speaking of Fantagraphics, I was surprised to see the Dal Tokyo book. It looks great. I also really liked the design on the second Buz Sawyer volume, a really atypical image being used.

* ran into Mark and Gina at First Second. They both seem to be doing well; Mark says the company has performed extremely well this year across the board. They have a ton of authors in attendance. Siegel's own Sailor Twain is out this Fall; it's one of two books I carried out of there yesterday evening.

* the other book I carried out was the new Eddie Campbell, who was anchoring the tail end of the Top Shelf table with a lot of enthusiasm. He described a bit the project in which he's involved that was part of the list of Alan Moore projects listed by Gosh! the other day at the Moore signing. It's not official-official, so I'll respect, but it sounds like Campbell should have a really interesting work about comics coming out this winter.

* ran into John Cunningham at the DC Comics booth. I hope at one point I can interview him about his work there at the company, which I think is some of the more important done in terms of an industry sense. We stood and looked at the new DC booth, which is big and airy and features a really boss-looking Frank Quitely Batman and Robin panel in the art it uses. It's been quite some time since DC changed their look.

* long, enthusiastic line at the Darwyn Cooke Wednesday night signing.

* I'm starting to run into comics podcaster prime John Siuntres at shows the way I used to run into Tripwire's Joel Meadows. I love anyone with that cool radio-voice.

* had a long talk with the writer Joe Casey, who told me he's finished with the penultimate Godland issue, which will be bigger than usual and features color work with which he's extremely happy. Joe was my entry point into my current conception of creator's rights as a thousand-cuts issue rather than one featuring the occasional career decapitation, so it's always good to touch base.

* talked to Charles Brownstein briefly; he says the CBLDF is doing really well and that he really likes the current staff and board a lot in terms of implmenting some of his long-term plans for the charity. There's a state of the CBLDF article here.

* met the writer-about-comics Sonia Harris and liked her very much. Very profane and funny. Smart.

* in putting together yesterday's AdHouse announcement, I pumped Chris Pitzer for some specific news about his company's artists. One piece of good news is that Duncan The Wonder Dog's second installment is preceding slightly ahead of the announced schedule for it. One piece of unfortunate news is that the young and very talented cartoonist Josh Cotter isn't working on anything right now and has no plans to; he's following his artistic muse elsewhere for a while.

* the Pascal Girard color art pieces available through The Beguiling are really, really pretty.

* had dinner sitting next to John Pham, whose recent comics are hugely under-appreciated. He's still making time for comics, though, which was incredibly heartening to hear.

* speaking of dinner, not a lot of people are yet taking my advice about veering east from the Gaslamp in order to find dinner places with seats open; I had dinner with a group of eight or nine over in that part of town that was seated immediately just 20 minutes after Preview Night shut down. Although it is weird to have a nice sit-down in the part of town where just a decade and a half ago we were parking our cars for free and walking through sidewalks full of bums to get back to the more civilized neighborhoods.

* the one piece of publishing news I noticed when I got back to the room is J. Michael Straczynski reviving his creator-owned imprint at Image.

* since I'm old, I was asleep by 1 AM.


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 6:00 am PST | Permalink

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