Wonder-Con 2011, part 2


Occurs to me that I left a couple of things out of Saturday, the foremost amongst them being my stop at the Archaia booth, where I came across friend and mutual Speakeasy survivor Josh Fialkov. Landed a copy of TUMOR (Eisner-nominated even), which has been sifted to near the top of the ever-growing reading pile. Got to catch up with him, and really this is one of the big reasons for even going to comics shows. It’s nice to talk to folks on the interwebs and all, but not the same as actually chatting face-to-face.

Also ran into Alex Sheikman, he of ROBOTIKA and the upcoming DARK CRYSTAL books (as well as a third thing which hasn’t been announced, but sounds pretty exciting.) Oh yeah, he’s the guy doing the cover for the print edition of STRANGEWAYS: THE THIRSTY and will be illustrating a story in the third book, THE LAND WILL KNOW, which I think is actually going to happen. Keep an eye out for his work. Don’t come around saying “Hey, how do artists like this guy just keep turning up out of nowhere?” There is no such thing as an overnight success.

Okay, back to Sunday. Quiet morning. Had quite likely the worst breakfast I’ve ever eaten at Denny’s on Mission. And stupid me, I even asked for the bill when they took it off the table unpaid while I had my back turned. No, I don’t have an explanation for it, either. But yeah, I’m too honest for my own good. Also had the slightly odd experience of running into someone from Twitter in real life. Yep, those are all actual humans on the other end of those endless streams of text messages. Well, mostly. The others are all spammers and bots. But hey, a bot counts as a follower, right?

At least this year’s Sunday wouldn’t fall on Easter Sunday as it did last year. Good grief was that ever a mess. People deserting small press like rats jumping off the Titanic. Crowds were much reduced from the previous day, though still pretty busy around the big booths right up front. You could actually hear yourself think and not have to pretend you were Walter Payton (yes, I’m old) to get through the lines of people in artist’s alley.

Big find of the morning? Baxter reprints of THE MICRONAUTS by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden. Great color. Inks still weren’t as sharp as they could’ve been, but I’m not complaining for the price. Are they good? Well, not particularly (though the art is quite nice), but they’re entertaining enough. Golden was really going for a Kirby vibe in some sections, very much in the vein of his NEW GODS work. And the bits featuring Captain Universe feature some distinctly Ditkoesque anatomy and bendiness. Worth tracking down for folks who are into comics of that period and flavor.

Meant to get to a panel on horror fiction, but it got cancelled at the last moment, kind of a bummer. I went really light on the programming this year, though there were some potentially interesting offerings, notably “The Story of the Cover” or something to that effect. The only other panel I ended up making it out to was the webcomics panel that featured Carla McNeil, Shaenon Garrity and Jeremy Love (amongst others.) Not that much in terms of new information for me. Advice? Be consistent. Don’t worry about how your old stuff is going to look, just get it out there. Be consistent. Get a Wacom tablet.

I always feel a little weird at those, even though I’m ostensibly running a webcomic currently. STRANGEWAYS isn’t a strip, nor am I interested in configuring it as such (and it’d be impossible to rejigger the material.) There are many people who create webcomics and in some ways it feels like a completely separate subgenre from either comic books or traditional strip cartooning. I suspect this outsider stance will not serve me well in the long run, but if I’m a fish, I can’t pretend to be a fowl. (Same goes for not being an artcomic or mainstream, not being a straight western or a straight horror book.) In theory, you could be doubling your audience with this sort of cross-genre work. In actuality, you’re working a completely different audience.

Oh, and be prepared to be not only consistent, but persistent. And it helps if you can draw someone else’s strip as a guest. And it really helps if you’re working the same vein of material. That last part was unspoken but was there.

If you’re curious, probably a third of the audience was made up of people who called themselves webcomics creators. About the same as those self-selectors who showed up for comics blogging panels in the past. Not even sure if it’s interesting, but it’s anecdotal. Enough of those and they become a datapoint.

What else? Picked up a copy of BAYOU v.2 from Jeremy Love. Look forward to reading more of his Southern folklore-infused fantasy. Filled in one of the gaps in my FINDER collection. Got a copy of 2020 VISIONS signed by Frank Quitely, who looked surprisingly chipper for someone who was likely kept up until four AM at the Isotope the night before. Should’ve grabbed a copy of the SIXTH GUN trade from Oni, but figured that’s the sort of thing I can track down just about anywhere.

Came to the conclusion that small press tables might be cheap, but I’m not sure they’re worth it. My best year at Wonder-Con was in the regular exhibitor area, though it’s quite expensive. The only way to even come close to having that break even is to share a space or do really gangbuster business. This may be a phenomena unique to the big shows, not sure. But make no mistake, Wonder-Con is a big show now, and it has been for awhile, just that it’s impossible to hide it now. The question is, what will it grow into?

There’s still more space on the main floor that could be used (an awful lot of it was unused on Sunday for what I’m assuming were big registration lines on Saturday.) But does something get bumped? Frankly, I’d love it if any video/movie/non-book thing got moved up to another floor area, but that’s not happening in this or any other lifetime. If you move something like Artist’s Alley off the main floor, you strangulate that whole crowd. I dunno, maybe I’d just rather strangulate different markets.

I let the show wind down more or less gracefully. Helped a friend lug some books back to her hotel and then adjourned for dinner at Tommy’s Joynt. I’ll never pass up a trip there. Never ever. Though I almost stayed so late that my car got locked in the Moscone Center garage overnight. As in like running to the door and having them keep the place open almost.

A good enough show, but I wonder how many more of these I need to go to if I’m not exhibiting at them as well. I could’ve done just about everything I did and still have run the shop (particularly when splitting the booth – one of the fringe benefits.) Probably the biggest show I’m going to this year, since even pro registrations for SDCC are apparently capped, which leads me to wonder when they’re going to start lowering the hammer on pro registrations altogether.

Thing is, when comics shows like this stop being accessible to anyone but those who plan ahead, you’re only going to get those who plan ahead. Self-perpetuating. Co-evolving. But what the hell does it co-evolve into? Asked that question more than five years ago and it still needs answering now.

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