You native San Diegans (San Diegites? San Diegoarati?) are pretty darn lucky living in the Pacific Time Zone, because that makes it a heck of a lot easier to get up at the crack of dawn (seriously! The sun wasn't even warm yet!) and hit the misty Harbor Drive, all in an attempt to score an early parking space at Comic-Con. I'm sure glad John didn't let me drive (I asked him as usual. As usual, he told me "No, Bully. You're too short. Your hooves don't even dangle off the front seat. And stop changing the radio station.") because I kept dozing off all the way over to the Convention Center and dreaming of comics and cards and action figures and Ewoks. You might look at me asconce and scold "Bully, shame on you! You're still on Brooklyn timeit should feel like 9:30 in the morning to you. That should be plenty of time for you to feel awake." To which I can only say: you know nothing of my Brooklyn sleep habits, which generally involve sleeping until noon or so, rolling out of bed into a delicious and comfortable bowl of cold cereal, and then watching Cartoon Network most of the afternoon.
Where was I?
Oh yes. Comic-Con.
In any case, it's a lot easier to park at Comic-Con at six-thirty in the morning that later, I'll tell you that. So we were on the floor of the show hours in advance, which gave us plenty of time to set up and arrange lovely Norton books for display on this, the first full day of the Con:
And to help dust and arrange the fantastic Fantagraphics books:
But then I went exploring, seeing the sights as best I could hours before the show opened. Not too many people were about and merchandise was stowed away, but hey, there's still plenty of fun stuff to see behind the scenes. For example, this jolly banner for one of my favorite comics publishers:
I want all these toys on display at the DC Direct mega-booth. And then I will interchange their clothes, and that will make me giggle and giggle:
Nintendo has a nifty futuristic kiosk where you can test-drive the new Nintendo DS Lite! Cool fun! If only I had opposible thumbs.
From left to right: Snoopy, Imperial Snowtroopers, and Wonder Woman. It's like some sort of Crisis on Fanboy Earths:
Skidloads and skidloads of molded plastic fun waiting to be unpacked at the Hasbro booth:
Of course Comic-Con is a great place to catch up with your best friends:
And make some new ones:
"The Mach Five is the most complex and ingenious car ever built; a tribute to my father's imagination, genius and technical skills!"
Do you dare walk into the jaws of the Snakes on a Plane exhibit? I didn't!:
One of my favorite booth designs of the show: the bright and vibrant black-and-white Peanuts booth:
We end our impromptu early morning trip around Comic-Con by checking out the gigantic ass of Pikachu:
And then, as quickly as it began, our wonderful exploration of the Comic-Con comes to an end and like the clams returning to the clam flow, we return to the Norton booth and prepare for a day of greeting the eager attendees of the show.
As I explained yesterday, I'm pretty much locked to the booth all day long, lugging books back and forth and trying not to get underfoot of all the guests, so just like the pre-heliocentric Earth, I stand still at the center and the world of Comic-Con revolves around me. It's a busy day: not as hectic as I had expected (I guess that day comes on Saturday, when it is truly every little stuffed bull for himself), but the pace never stopped and the flow of foot traffic was speedy and constant. BEA exhibitors would kill for this sort of attendee flow: never-ending people in and out of the booth, up and down the aisles, cheerful and excited. That's the best part of Comic-Con for me so far: the boundless energy and enthusiasm attendees have, the wonderful grins on their faces, the fulfillment when they see a book they wanted, the delight at seeing costumed fellow attendees. In short, Comic-Con makes you smile. Most everyone seems to be having a good time, even those of us who are working the thing, and it makes the long hours fly by pretty quickly. One very concrete difference between the professional crowd of a BEA and this happy fan crowd of Comic-Con is the entrance method. Although the doors are scheduled to open at ten AM, intercom announcements calling to us from the heavens of the San Diego Convention Center reminded us that until all booths were in compliance with safety regulationsboxes out of aisles and lines for products dismissed (it's not fair to start lines until the regular attendees can get in!), then the doors would not be opened. They finally popped open around 10:10 and whooosh! Like a rush the crowds poured into the aisles. I simply can't imagine that happening at BEAthere would be a mass revolt and someone, probably Avin Domnitz, would be burned in effigy. Comic-Con seems to have rules both stricter and yet more acceptable to the general attendees than any other trade show I've attended. It's very interesting to see and experience the differences.
I'm kept busy throughout the day hopping up to help guests out with Norton and Fantagraphics books. We've made some sales to enthusiastic fans today: people are digging the Eisners especially, and there's a lot of love for Bill Mauldin's Up Front and the Dr. Seuss book. The most handled book in the Norton booth by far is Newmarket's The Art of X-Men: The Last Stand, cooed over by fanboy and fangirl alike. It's a good time to be publishing stuff like this and the fans are enjoying the wide variety.
As busy as I am, there's still plenty of time to people-watch as the crowds move through the aisle, and I'm having a ball watching the world go by. Famous creator sightings of the day: Jim Steranko manned his booth all day within site of the Norton booth. He's a petite but powerful man who could probably break my back in three places if I had a spine instead of just fluff, and the crowds were lining up to meet and talk with him. I had a lovely chat with Phil Yeh about merchandising (both authorized and unauthorized) of his delightful dinosaurs. I took my jingling change purse across the aisle to Top Shelf to buy that Owly plush that caught my little button eye yesterday, and who should be selling it to me but Owly creator Andy Runton himself, who did a beautiful sketch and gorgeous calligraphic inscription in the book I bought, in addition to being just about the pleasantest guy to chat with. One of my favorite artists, Shawn McManus, dropped by the Norton booth and admired the Eisner books, and while I didn't get a chance to speak personally to Matt Groening, he was a pleasant and cheerful personality to the fans who approached him as he departed from window-shopping in the Fantagraphics booth. Class act, Mister G.
Even more fun are the costumed con attendees, many of whom have put a lot of hard work and skill into their costumes. Spotted from my vantage point: A really authentic Hugh Jackman-style Wolverine accompanied by a slinky and elegant Black Cat (I didn't know they hung out together, but maybe they were having a team-up). Several Lara Crofts were squeezed into tight-tight shorts and tiny tops. A whole cadre of Stormtroopers of all designs and sizes. Incredibly impressive fan-coistumed Blue Beetle and Catwoman spent some time in Jim Balent and Holly Golightly's Broadsword Comics booth across from ours, and cheerfully posed for photos with young and old. I spotted a totally authentic-looking Harry Potter, a gaggle of geishas, many amazingly impressive-looking goths, dozens of anime and manga characters I didn't recognize but which had costumes so detailed they've got a great career ahead of them in Hollywood. Ninjas flitted by in the shadows constantly. Boba Fett hugged small children. The joy and pride of costumed attendees is infectious. You may giggle at folks attending in costume, but they're having the times of their lives attracting attention for an afternoon and showing off their skill, creativity, and sheer chutzpah in wearing an elegant costume. I wish now I had finished my Ewok costume!
Which brings me to my favorite costumed character of the day: a concept brilliant and outrageous, unique and fully-formed: The Elvis Trooper:
For this stormtrooper, TK-421 stands for Takin' Kare of Business.
So, in the end, it was a work day. But it was, even more important, a lot of fun. And that's what I love most about comics, and Comic-Con: you walk out of there with a smile on your face. Would all the world's gatherings be the same.
See ya back tomorrow at the Con!
Other Comic-Con entries:
Extra #1 (Wolverine)
Extra #2 (Eisner)