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July 24, 2009

Notes From The CCI 2009 Floor


The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2009 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 I recommend Comic Book Resources and then Newsarama. -- Tom Spurgeon


* unsurprisingly, the general topic of conversation on Thursday from those to whom I spoke was the unruly nature of the stuffed-to-the-max convention. At least from an eyewitness standpoint, the conversation seemed justified. I saw at least a half-dozen lines to a few random panels that ten years ago would have had a hard time putting together 40 people that were dauntingly long this time out. One story that three people told me was that one mainstream comic book writer had a signing so stuffed that security was involved in processing the line. Twilight fans began the day camped out for entry into the hall where their dedicated panel was to take place, which, like most things with Twilight fandom, was either awesome or slightly disturbing depending on to whom you spoke. I'm still not understanding the fake outrage on behalf of defending those fans. They seem to be doing fine without anyone's scorn or anyone's thumbs up.

* in one of those coordinated announcements that always confuses me a bit, kids book giant Scholastic announced mid-afternoon yesterday that they'll be doing more Bone books to be supervised by Jeff Smith, written by Tom Sniegoski and drawn by Smith. I saw Smith like three times in the last 24 hours; he was carrying Moomin books and thinking about buying a Moby Dick print from Tom Neely. That print was indeed gorgeous.

* top three North American comics publisher IDW announced the hiring of Bob Schreck as Senior Editor. Not only does this seem a natural fit, but I don't know a single person who didn't think this would happen. When Bob Schreck was laid off by DC Comics, someone in my circle joked that they thought IDW had been created solely to provide Bob Schreck with his next job.

* Richard Thompson had a crowd of about 60-75 folks, which was terrific because he's a great, great cartoonist. He took the show on himself, no moderator, and presented a slide-show walk-through a lot of his work.

* not so great was that they started letting people into the panel for the next panel at about half-past the hour. Thompson is enormously soft-spoken and the folks on hand to learn how to pitch to Hollywood or whatever made the last 20 minutes of Thompson's panel really, really hard to hear. I have no idea why this is a policy.

* Thompson has a new book coming out this Fall, as previously mentioned on this site. It will start with the strip from the day after the previous book ends, and contain no more archived sort-of Cul De Sac material. The only reason that material was in the first volume is because they wanted a book out before the current strip was ready to provide enough material for a standard book. Still, it's awesome to have that material.

* someone really needs to do a Thompson art book, focused primarily on his New Yorker, Washington Post and USN&WR work.

* I saw Charlie Kochman from Abrams walking down the aisle. I guess they moved back the Jaime Hernandez art book, although they remain excited about the book that I think may be a bit difficult to nail in terms of finding the right kind of publicity. I stand second to no one as a Jaime fan, but I get the sense that some people confuse his ubiquity with overexposure and you won't get the kind of anticipatory buzz on that project. I saw Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett at Abrams cocktail gathering later on, and they seem fully stoked about the ramp-up to Boilerplate, which had a long and somewhat chaotic publishing history conception to final copy (maybe eight years if I remember what they were saying). They told me they were among the first if not the first Portland comics transplants.

* the Man of Action guys are doing well enough in their television endeavors to afford suits now.

* I asked Peter Birkemoe of The Beguiling ownership fame about their original art business in the down world economy and he said that there was almost no way to tell: a new batch of art from one of their popular artists results in just as many sales as it might have two, three years ago. In general, questions about the down economy are dealt with in terms of some delicacy -- most of the publishers have adjusted, so it's not like there's a gap between a set of plan meant for a different economy and this one. Most of the concern expressed by cartoonists on the floor was for either the state of newspaper cartooning, which remains a subject of some mystery to people both in and not in that specific line of work, and the more quotidian difficulties of trying to get a specific work noticed in a huge wave of new releases. One publisher referred to a long list of books and let slip at the end, "and there's another XXXX XXXX book." This made us both laugh as that book is really quite formidable, and would have made us freak out with joy 10 years ago, but as a soldier in an army of new releases circa 2009 it kind of get lost even when your intentions are the opposite.

* I saw and enjoyed a crime comics panel with Max Allan Collins, Darwyn Cooke, Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber -- Rucka told those assembled that if they went to the Whiteout movie expecting the graphic novel "they deserved to be disappointed" and pointed out that at mystery conventions the average age of the audience was 30 years older than that in comics, which is something I hadn't considered but of course he's right. It was a very old-school panel.

* I knew not a single person at the Hyatt at 1:40 AM, and have never been happier just to go to bed.


the show runs from July 23rd through July 26th
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