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July 19, 2012

Convetion Report: San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Report from the Trenches!

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We surveyed some of the many attendees of this year's San Diego Comic-Con to learn what their favorite sights, sounds, and purchases were!

Calista Brill
Senior Editor, First Second Books
What was the best panel that you attended? Since we know there was a LOT of great programming, you can name up to three.
I only had time to attend one – and that was Karl Kerschl's live-draw of The Abominable Charles Christopher. It was tons of fun! I also participated in a panel (music and comics) and moderated one (What's hot in graphic novels) and both were really surprising and interesting (to me – I hope to the audience as well).
 
What was the best --- or most humorous --- thing that you heard said at the convention?
Calista: I MET DON ROSA!!!
:01 cartoonist Thien Pham: Who's that?
Calista: He's only the all-time greatest interpreter of Barks's Uncle Scrooge, the man who made my childhood a joy, the modern master of the Disney Ducks!
Thien: Duh, Calista. I know that. I was just yankin' your chain. 
 
Did you buy or pick up anything fun, collectible, odd and/or exciting?
I got my husband a MISKATONIC university t-shirt. And I got myself the latest in Fantagraphics' beautiful collected Uncle Scrooge series. 
 
Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?
Besides Don Rosa (DON FRICKIN' ROSA!) I had two, and I nearly kvelled both times! Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirly from Community)
 
What was the best costume that you saw?
Toss-up between 3-year old Voltron, 8-year old Katniss, and ~60-year-old lady X-Wing Pilot.
(Calista sent us the photos she took of these costumes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?
This was my first San Diego, so I can't compare it to past years, but I was really impressed – both by the scale of the thing and by the overwhelming good vibes everyone was putting out. It's great to be in a place with so many people who are so happy to be there. Meeting and talking to kids who are big fans of First Second books was a special treat, and of course the cosplay was amazing. As for the comics industry: I read that about 40% of SDCC attendees are now women, and that squares with my impression that comics are only getting more woman-friendly as we go – and that that process is accelerating a lot right now. So that's exciting for me, as a lady, and for me as an editor, too – because it means more readers for a wider variety of books!


Charles Kochman
Editorial Director, Abrams Comic Arts

 

What was the best panel that you attended?

Spotlight on Jason Shiga. Part performance art, part a meandering diatribe against the conformity of comics. The guy's a genius. 

 

What was the best --- or most humorous --- thing that you heard said at the convention?

Husband to wife: "You just don't understand." Wife: "Clearly." Wish I knew what they were referring to, but the scenarios in my head are probably better than their disagreement, I'm sure.

 

Did you buy or pick up anything fun, collectible, odd and/or exciting?

A 1937 newspaper ad of the Marx Brothers, illustrated in comics, promoting their movie A Day at the Races. Thank you, Peter Maresca and Sunday Press! Also the Sergio Aragonés Artist's Edition of Groo. Finally have an excuse to read these again.

 

Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?

Sadly, I didn't get to see anyone this year. Two years ago I saw everyone: Robert Downey Jr., Verne Troyer, Terry Gilliam, Hayden Panettiere, Jeff Bridges…this year, not even Herbert Jefferson Jr., the guy who played Boomer on Battlestar Galactica (he had stepped away from his booth when I walked through the autograph area looking to see who was around). 

 

What was the best costume that you saw?

A father and son who were both dressed up as the Silver Surfer, covered in silver body paint.

 

What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?

I've been going to the San Diego Comic-Con since 1993. Seen it go from a show about comics to one about movies and now this year it seemed to be all about TV series. Through it all is the core fan who comes to the show to buy comics and books. Our sales were solid this year. As expected, there was a lot of talk about digital comics, but I heard just as much talk about the love for curated, beautifully made books as well.


 
Carol Fitzgerald
President and Co-Founder, The Book Report Network and GraphicNovelReporter.com
 
What was the best panel that you attended?

Even narrowing it down to three is hard, but I would say:

1)    Inside the SHADOW SHOW: Ray Bradbury’s lasting Impact on Literature, Comics, Film and Beyond with Margaret Atwood, Joe Hill, Sam Weller (Bradbury’s biographer) and horror author, Mort Castle moderated by Chris Ryall from IDW was excellent. It was a real celebration of Bradbury’s talent and work. I felt like I attended a great memorial service for him and more than that it brought back memories of my seeing him at SDCC in the past. So glad I did that!

2)    Jason Shiga’s panel where he described how he creates his interactive choose-your-own adventure comics completely captivated me. He’s a math genius. I stand in awe of his talent to create his “paper calculator.” He gave us paper marked with appropriate cut and fold lines to mirror what he does and I STILL could not get it right. Thus I am turning to his video:

3)    A Quirky Point of View with Matthew Reinhart and Jeffrey Brown was terrific. I am wowed by Reinhart’s amazing popup work (I think we have an entire shelf of both his and Robert Sabuda’s books) and his upcoming Star Wars book is wonderful. Brown’s DARTH VADER AND SON is wickedly amusing and his back story to the drawings was a blast.

Now…the most amusing moment…the panel I ended up at by accident. I arrived an hour early to the Bradbury panel (blame my not reading my schedule right) and found myself at the DC Collectibles annual event. I now have a full overview about these collectibles, their sizes, how they are made and the importance of limbs being able to be articulated. Who knew? John Cunningham was a fun MC and I feel like I got a crash course in this part of the DC world.  
 
What was the best --- or most humorous --- thing that you heard said at the convention?
John Hogan and I were both trying to summon the energy to go out Friday night. We were texting back and forth how we had hit a wall --- at the same time --- but somehow we talked each other into going out and revived ourselves to go out at 9 and stay out til midnight at the Yen Press 5th Anniversary Party. Which is better than the night before when I got back to my hotel after the Scholastic and Random House parties too tired to attend the CBLDF party. Then I realized it was at the Westgate, which I could see from my hotel room. Thus, I watched the party on the rooftop unable to summon the energy to go to the building right next door. Pretty humorous or pathetic. Such is Comic-Con.
 
Did you buy or pick up anything fun, collectible, odd and/or exciting?
There was a really fun coaster designed by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Steve Breen that the folks at the US Grant Hotel where I was staying sent me with a lovely fruit and sparkling water selection. It commemorates that they were the site of the first Comic-Con in 1970. Going to frame it.
 
Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?
I recognize no one which is confirmed by the time I had a whole conversation with Will Smith in an elevator and had no idea who I was talking to. I would thus have to say seeing Gene Simmons from Kiss though I only recognized him as my friend Alita Friedman from Ugly Dolls pointed him out to me! 
 
What was the best costume that you saw?
I loved this little boy whose dad created his Voltron costume who I spied in a moment of intense “trying to read.” It’s the future audience and it made me smile.  
 
What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?

I think the overall energy of the convention was down a tad from last year, which also was down from two years ago. Having just attended for five years now I never knew it when it was a comics show. That said I value it as a pop culture conference. However, I think the way attendees line up for events in the wee hours to spend entire days in Hall H or Ballroom 20 seriously hurts the energy of the show. While there are 6,000 people in Hall H they are the only people seeing all that programming each day. Varying up the audience would mean more buzz would be happening. Programming should be set so you are there for two panels then need to leave or it should be broken into half-day sessions. I have friends who con veterans who waited five hours to get into Hall H (getting on line at 8AM). They realized that those there before 6AM were the only ones who got in. With the price of hotels, that is insane.

Same thing with room events. My afore-mentioned “mistake” of attending the DC Collectibles panel was the only way I eventually would have been at the Bradbury event. There’s something wildly wrong about that. Also the same thing happened with Eoin Colfer. People were in the room not just to see him, but for the event following. I think it keeps the energy down.

On the publishing side of things I think that the quality of the graphic novels coming in the next year created an energy in those parts of the floor that was exciting. It’s been wonderful watching some of the talent in the marketplace mature as they move into their second, third and fourth books, or even wrap up a series. The creators are very exciting to watch.

Talking pop culture again, the diversity of the marketplace so huge. Audiences are fractured to miniscule numbers for viewership of most shows. There are small kingdoms of fans and lots to see on air thus making a hit is tougher than ever.


Jessse Post
Marketing Director, Papercutz
 
What was the best panel that you attended?
Unfortunately, I managed to miss every single panel! Keeping the Papercutz booth running turned out to be a full-time job, what with keeping our busy artists' pencils sharpened, making sure the Power Rangers had a place for photo ops whenever they stopped by, and making sure our hungry editors had enough hot dogs. Next year we'll have to bring some minions to help out! However, though not a panel, I really enjoyed the Comics Pro retailer breakfast, where I got to meet amazing folks from Diamond, comiXology, and comics stores, including the new kids-focused store in Chicago, Aw Yeah Comics. I'm looking forward to heading out there for a visit soon. One of the best parts of Comic-Con is getting a chance to meet the dedicated retailers who faithfully support us year-round.
 
What was the best --- or most humorous --- thing that you heard said at the convention?
The best thing I heard was, collectively, the staggering amount of fantastic kids' comics announcements. Viz Kids has a whole slate of new series that keeps growing with every month, it seems. We premiered our new Power Rangers series and announced Annoying Orange, Thea Stilton, and Ariol, and IDW will be publishing a My Little Pony series. And that's only what I can immediately remember! We're in a golden age of comics for kids right now. 
The funniest thing I heard was when George Gladir said that Stan Goldberg should limit his Three Stooges sketches at our booth to one character per customer. One Stooge! That George is funny. But by far the funniest moment was when Beth Kawasaki from Viz Kids poured some Pop Rocks on a glass of frozen lemonade. Don't try that at home!
 
Did you buy or pick up anything fun, collectible, odd and/or exciting?
I was lucky enough to get a beautiful promo poster for Kerry Gammill's comic book, Bela Lugosi's Tales From the Grave. Worried that my girlfriend wouldn't let me hang it up at home, I got her a signed photo of Giorgio Tsoukalos from Ancient Aliens. He signed it, "Galactically yours," and she was very happy with that! And though I didn't have to go all the way to Comic-Con to get it since I printed it, our con-exclusive LEGO Ninjago print was so cool that it's hanging up in the office now!    
 
Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?
Well, I missed my favorite comics celebrity, John Hogan, but I did get to see a whole bunch of others, so it's hard to pick one! It was great seeing Jesse Blaze Snider, Chris Schweizer, Ryan Dunlavey, and Bobby Timony (whom I coerced into making some Papercutz booth signs). But above all, the celebrity highlight of the show for me was meeting Don Rosa. I worked on Disney comics for seven years and never got to meet the man himself -- he's inspired countless people, including the entire generation of kids who grew up to be today's young cartoonists, but above all, he's one of my favorite storytellers in any medium. It was a great chat and I hope to see him again soon.
  
What was the best costume that you saw?
There were costumes at Comic-Con?
 
What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?
 
It might be my skewed perspective from being fixed on the show floor the whole time (in previous years I was either there just for fun or to have meetings), but it seemed like for the first time, the big media events and booths had their place while we comics publishers and creators had our place, and the enthusiasm that came from that was electric. I think everyone in the industry is excited about what they're doing, and we've all figured out how to reach the specific people out there that we want to reach (for us, that means kids and families, who visited us in a constant, busy stream all weekend). The year ahead is going to be full of fantastic books, more exciting publishing announcements, higher sales, and a wider audience.  
 
 
 


Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief, Papercutz
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was the best panel that you attended? Since we know there was a LOT of great programming, you can name up to three.
I was mostly at the Papercutz booth throughout the Con, but I managed to slip away to catch Stan Goldberg on the Annual Jack Kirby Tribute panel.
 
What was the best --- or most humorous --- thing that you heard said at the convention?
Mark Evanier attempting to get Stan Goldberg to simply say a number when asked how many issues of THE FANTASTIC FOUR between #1 and #100 did he think he colored. Stan would keep telling stories instead of giving Matrk an answer. Finally Mark said, “I’m much bigger than you. I’m younger than you. I can beat you up. And if you don’t give me a number, I’ll make sure you won’t ever be invited to another San Diego Comic-Con.” Finally, it was revealed that Stan probably colored 90% of the Silver Age of Marvel Comics.
 
Did you buy or pick up anything fun, collectible, odd and/or exciting?
The coolest collectible might’ve been our LEGO® NINJAGO poster by Jolyon Yates, which was inspired by the classic “Enter The Dragon” movie posters. But I must admit, I was happy getting The Artist’s Edition of David Mazzucchelli’s DAREDEVIL “Born Again” from IDW’s Greg Goldstein in exchange for one of my lousy sketches of MARS ATTACKS MJ (Watson-Parker).
 
Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?
We loved the POWER RANGERS stopping by the Papercutz booth a few times, and it was exciting when Robert Downey Jr. and Gene Simmons each passed by the booth, but my favorite “celebrity” that actually stopped by the booth was the Stan Lee muppet! He’s about the coolest thing next to Stan himself!
 
 
What was the best costume that you saw?
There was a great Dr. Evil, and a cool Tom Baker Doctor (Who), but I have a soft spot for puns, so I liked the Super Mariachi Bros.
 
What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?
There’s a beautiful mother and daughter that has been coming to the Papercutz booth every year since 2005, and the daughter has been a big fan of our NANCY DREW titles. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see them every year!  When we first started exhibiting at San Diego there just didn’t seem to be that many kids in attendance. Now, not only on the specified family days, but every day of the show we saw lots of kids, and that’s a big deal for us. This year we’ve had our biggest selling title ever—NINJAGO #4 “Tomb of the Fangpyre,” with an initial print run of 425,000, and the primary audience for that is kids! At San Diego this year we sold out of every NINJAGO graphic novel we had with us! The children are the future, and now with more comics and graphic novels being created specifically for kids by Papercutz and other publishers, the future of comics is looking brighter than ever.
 


Kuo-Yu Liang
Vice President, Diamond Distributors
 
What was the best panel that you attended? Since we know there was a LOT of great programming, you can name up to three.
Didn’t go to any panels.
 
What was the best --- or most humorous --- thing that you heard said at the convention?
Dad giving son instructions on adjusting the costume, in Klingon.
 
Did you buy or pick up anything fun, collectible, odd and/or exciting?
Love my Walking Dead plush doll with removable head.
 
Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?
Robert Kirkman
 
What was the best costume that you saw?
A family dressed as Legos.
 
What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?
Off the charts high; for a moment it felt like pop-culture ruled the world.
 
 
 
 


Jacquelene Cohen
Director of Publicity & Promotions, Fantagraphics Books, Inc.
 
What was the best panel that you attended? Since we know there was a LOT of great programming, you can name up to three.
 
The Love and Rockets 30th Anniversary Panel. 
 
 
Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?
The Enigma aka Puzzle Man
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was the best costume that you saw?
Boot Angel from God and Science 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?
Our sales were up from last year, so I think the energy was just fine. As long as next year can maintain the same incline, I think comics will be a-ok. 


Dr. Katie Monnin
Assistant Professor of Literacy, University of North Florida
 
What was the best panel that you attended?
Honestly, I would have to say that SDCC transforms me into such a mega-fan that I always want to attend panels but instead find myself wandering the exhibit hall. Meeting and speaking with the authors, illustrators, publishers and everyone else so passionately in love with everything Comic-Con is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had professionally. This one-on-one interaction is priceless and so inspiring.
 
What was the best --- or most humorous --- thing that you heard said at the convention?
"Who’s Muscleman?"
 
Did you buy or pick up anything fun, collectible, odd and/or exciting?
This year’s most treasured item would have to be a sketch by Chris Schweizer. Man, that guy is talented! I framed it immediately upon coming home. Plus, I would like to say that although Chris has a significant following and reputation, he deserves much, much more coverage. His creative nonfiction graphic novels have so much to teach both young adults and adults alike.
 
Who was your favorite celebrity sighting (either from the comics world or pop culture)?
I was really thrilled to meet Phil Ortiz of Simpsons legend.
 
What was the best costume that you saw?
Dude! I saw this guy dressed in a sweet steampunk costume. And even though his was one of the best, most authentic looking costumes, the most memorable part of his costume was his gerbil-powered backpack. It literally had a running gerbil on a wheel that made things spin and dials crank. It was rad!
 
What did you think of the energy and enthusiasm that you saw at the convention this year? And what do you think it says about the comics industry in the year ahead?
One of the best parts of SDCC is the energy. Growing up, I always felt like such a geek, so I closeted all of my inspirational goals to be part of the comic book, graphic novel, and animation worlds. When I am at SDCC, however, I feel alive and like I am living on the same planet with a bunch of brilliantly like-minded friends.