SDCC 2009 (07) – Sunday


Sunday is the day that I let it all go.  If I’m going to do something exceptionally stupid, it’ll be then.  A few days of irregular sleep and long days usually combine to smother what’s left of my common sense and I buy an INVISIBLES page or look thoughtfully at some of the cheaper Jack Kirby pages from his more maligned seventies work and think “Yeah, I could do that.  And it’s the King we’re talking about here.  The King demands tribute.”

Well, maybe not, but it’s a good line to feed myself to psych up for a ridiculous purchase.  But really, I was thinking very seriously about the ALL-STAR SUPEMAN pages.  Perhaps FLEX MENTALLO pages would actually be cheaper (and it’s a more resonant work for me personally.  Not that ALL-STAR SUPERMAN was bad in the slightest.)  I try to find pages from projects that I’ve got a connection to (but still don’t own any STRANGEWAYS pages, go figure.)

The floor didn’t feel as sleepy as it usually does, at least not on a Sunday morning.  Plenty of comics fans still up bright and early, even though it’s really all done but for the burying by Sunday.  The Eisners were on Friday, Masquerade on Saturday, opening frenzy on Wednesday.  The big announcements have been made already, if you can remember that far back, that is.  I can’t recall hearing most of them as they came out, and only skimmed over the news sites following the show to see what I missed.  Only the Marvelman announcement really penetrated the white noise of the show floor for me.

Still there are some surprises.  Like if you’d told me five years ago that Colleen Coover would be working regularly on books for Marvel and not just as a one-shot indie creators thing, I’d have looked at you funny.  But there she was on the Women of Marvel panel.  Still weird, but still cool.  Now if only they’d let her draw an issue of THE AVENGERS and make fanboy heads explode.

But even that isn’t as weird as my learning that Hasbro was going to mass-produce toys of the custom Junko Mizuno (wonderfully demented manga-ka of CINDERALLA) My Little Pony, created last year as part of the 25th anniversary of said miniature equines. 

Wow.  There must be five better ways to put together that sentence, but I can’t get a hold of any of them.  Too early to be doing this, but too behind not to be.

Anyways.  Junko Miznuo creates a My Little Pony.  That’s news, guys.  That’s like Robert Williams designing a GI Joe playset.  And if you don’t know who Robert Williams is, then don’t Google his stuff at work unless you have an understanding boss. 

And yes, I did stand in line to buy one of the SDCC-exclusive My Little Pony(s) for my daughter who’s kind of a nut on the subject.  I tried to explain to her that instead of playing with this one, if we left it in the box, daddy could sell it online for enough money to buy five ponies in six months or so.  I hadn’t finished explaining that by the time she’d ripped the tape off and asked me to extricate said pony from its plastic hypersleep chamber.

Space Godzilla kaiju toy fun for my son, by the by.  Oh, and one of those Pentel brush pens, which almost convinces me that I could start to work on my own comics art, if I just worked big enough.

There were other things, there must have been.  Oh yes, another editor talked to.  Hopefully I was high enough above drooling idiot status that I made a good impression.  That’s not always a given on a Sunday morning.  Or afternoon.

Hmm.  And there was that digital comics and retailing panel in the afternoon.  James Sime (from the Isotope in San Francisco), Chip Mosher (which always makes me thing mosh pit when I see it written) and David Steinberger (head honcho of Comixology itself).  James pointed out the obvious about the digital versus real-world experience of buying comics: that unless there’s value added by the retail experience, there’s no reason to buy your comics anywhere but Amazon/DCBS.  Which is kind of the flipside of the ComicsPro admonition that publishers should drive customers to comic stores for their books in specific.  If the retail experience isn’t positive, the people won’t walk into stores in the first place.  Owners who run great stores where customers can find what they’re after will continue to do well, even in the age when purchasing comics can be turned into an utterly anonymous series of transactions.  Stores need to drive people into their doors as well as the publishers do.

Chip also told an interesting anecdote about the digital release of the first issue of NORTHWIND (or was it NORTHWORLD?  Can’t even read my own writing.)  A lot of retailers were upset by that, because they said “Well, why will people buy what they’ve already read for free?”  Tough to figure out why, but instead of the normal descending curve of first issue with orders limping down until the fifth or sixth, there was a dip at two, and at three, but then orders for the fourth picked up, and orders for the fifth issue (which would have been impacted by people reading the first for free online and then buying them in the store because they liked it and maybe wanted to read it in a more substantial form) went up.  I seem to recall that HEXED went out similarly and had a similar growth curve, but I haven’t researched it.

And then there was the preview of the the ComiXology iPhone comics reader app, which was pretty neat, though I’d seen an earlier video which had convinced me that these guys were on the right track already, so I was already converted.  So the upshot?  It doesn’t have to be gloom and doom for comics retailers who are adding something to the experience.  ComiXology is going to great lengths to lead people into DM stores as well as deliver digital comics, and let people maintain a virtual pull-list that can hook into a retailer’s order sheet.  All of these are good things that have a real possibility of getting more comics in more peoples’ hands.  But its’ not a slam-dunk.  The work still needs to be done.

It would’ve been nice to stick around and chat with Mr. Steinberger a bit, but we were all being hustled out of the room very quickly for the next panel.  In fact, much of the audience was really waiting for that panel, whatever it was.  Something Star Wars-related, I think.  Really, that needs to change.  Sweep the rooms between panels.  Don’t let people in past a certain point, you know.  Common courtesy stuff that is suddenly uncommon.

By that time, there wasn’t much left in terms of the show being open.  Even the cosplayers walked around with an extra bit of hunch in their shoulders.  I did see that Fantagraphics was offering a 50% off sale for folks who went and dropped a hundred bucks.  And I really thought about it, but I knew that space in my luggage was going to be at a premium anyways.  This is one of the problems with driving down.  And unlike my roommate Jeff, I wasn’t even going to have the room to plunder the dollar boxes for bronze age greats, no matter how much I might want to.

So it was time to bid goodbye, goodbye to SDCC for another year.  Sure, I was going to be in town for the night, but I didn’t intend on sticking around downtown.  Maybe I’d come back after dinner and a drink and a couple hours off my feet.  Maybe.

Dinner and drink came in the form of La Piñata, a Mexican restaurant (one of about fifty of them in Old Town) and a margarita big enough to flush.  I nursed it over a couple of hours and chips and chili Colorado (the equivalent of beef stew with homemade corn tortillas and all the fixings.)  With that, I unclenched and dropped the unspoken con stress that had built up over the last several days, bidding adieu to even the existential dread that had sprung upon me a couple days back.

Talked film and comics, and why every crime drama should be shot in 1970s New York, why Rich Buckler owned the seventies in a way that few others could lay claim to.  Pretty sure that SAMOURAI and Mike Ploog popped up in there, too.  Shoulda podcasted it, but the moment is gone, gone, gone.

After some air and a walk around Old Town, it was back to the room and packing up.  Somehow BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK popped into my head.  Not sure why.  And I said to myself, self I said “Gee, if only there was a way for me to watch that right now, here in my room, without the DVD in my possession.” 

Netflix to the rescue.  Within two minutes, it was spooling up on the hard disc.  Been awhile since I actually sat down and watched it.  I think it had come up originally since we’d discussed RED HARVEST in passing.  You haven’t read it?  Man, stop what you’re doing now and track down RED HARVEST by Dashiell Hammett.  I got originally in a collection with a couple of THIN MAN books and THE MALTESE FALCON.  You want a story that doesn’t back down, that marches things right out to the edge and dances on it for awhile?  Treat yourself.  Turn off the cell phone, give it a read.

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK owes a little bit to RED HARVEST, but it’s a much smaller scale, much more an overtly political statement at its heart.  It’s a pretty good movie with some really great moments (though Lee Marvin is criminally under-utilized) particularly with Robert Ryan at the end.  Man, what a bastard.  Oh and Ernest Borgnine (who should’ve played Ben Grimm) is the master of the dick move and when he…

…aww, I won’t spoil it for you.  It’s worth a look, filled with some gorgeous photography and more than few shots that had me wondering how they pulled it off given the tech of the time that it was shot.  The script doesn’t always match up, but still entertains.

And with that, somehow recharged, we started spitballing a pitch.  A Batman pitch no less.  No, I’ve never done anything with Batman before.  Anyways, something to write down and file away.  Don’t really have time to fully develop it, not unless someone at DC has a sudden attack of interest in my work.

No, I’m not holding my breath either.

So goodbye San Diego. 
Goodbye humidity.
Goodbye Pancake House.
Goodbye DC booth.
Goodbye Fantagraphics.
Goodbye San Diego.
Goodbye badly-mixed drinks.
Goodbye trolleys stuffed with cosplayers.
Goodbye roomservice tray.
Goodbye San Diego.
Goodbye Elite staffers blocking the escalators.
Goodbye dollar bins.
Goodbye Periscope row in the alley.
Goodbye guys handing out energy drinks that I wouldn’t take if I were dying of thirst.
Goodbye San Diego.

Goodbye San Diego.


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