It's a beautiful, bright sunny day as I wander down from Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery with a sack of snacks in my hoof, heading for the convention center. Already the crowds are gathering and buzzing with the rumor that the show floor will open to general attendees at 9 AM instead of 10. Since we, the exhibitors, weren't alerted of this before, it's causing a bit of a panic. The rush is on to get to the Con on time:
Sometimes arriving to the convention center early involves some creative crashing before the doors open. Or, as I like to say, San Diego Comic-Con makes homeless all of us:
Once inside, I dash to the Norton booth to get set up, but not before noticing it's frigid-freezing cold in the hall. It's chilly. It's carbonite-cold. "How cold is it?":
There's quite a bit of angry buzz that SDCC decided to open an hour earlier without making a major announcement the night before. After all, there is that announcer who won't shut up, why not have her proclaim it before closing last night? Many booths are unmanned at 9:15 when the general admission crowds start rushing in; others have a few personnel on hand but are missing staff with the cash box or vital equipment. It's a frustrating start to what will be a very hectic and long day, but luckily for me everything is running smoothly in the Norton booth, with thanks as always to our good friends down the aisle at Fantagraphics. But stop springing surprises on us, Comic-Con! We are sedate and easily startled people who enjoy ritual and organization, and shy like startled horses when the routine is changed. In the words of that guy who quickly turned into Lou Ferrigno, "Don't make us angry! You wouldn't like us when we're angry!"
Hey, and speaking of Lou Ferrigno...
Whatta nice guy. I chatted with him for a very brief few moments but he was friendly and open. Sure, he could probably rip my arms off by flexing his biceps slightly, but superhuman strength hasn't gone to his head.
Saturday is traditionally an incredibly busy day of the Con, and this was no different: the crowds never let up and the work never really stopped. I spent nearly most of the whole day bouncing about behind the tables at the Norton booth, selling many of our fine books to interested attendees. We sold out of several titles, so I made notes to bring more of those next year. So, if you wanted a copy of the Gladiator making of the movie book, you'll have to wait. Seriously; that one sold out the first of all our movie books. I believe it was the 300 fan following, or maybe Russell Crowe's entourage was on the premises, but either way it's a pretty good book. There's plenty of fine Norton and Fantagraphics books left for sale in the hectic 1700 aisle, of course, so if you're at the con on Sunday stop by and buy a few so we don't have to pack 'em in boxes at the end of the show, won'tcha?
I was kept so busy that this blog entry is going to be a little shorter than my others; there was less time for adventures and people-watchin' than the past few days. I waited in an extraordinarily lengthy line (so long it snaked outside) to see the Futurama panel, which was absolutely brilliant. All the cast members were there talking about the upcoming Futurama movies, and they acted out (in character voices) the wonderful Bongo con-exclusive mini-comic that heralded the return of the series. After I returned to the booth and was telling my pal John all about it, a con attendee dressed up as Dr. Zoidberg rambled by, and John shouted in glee "Zoidberg!" He waved his papier-maché claws at us in response. Later I spotted the same costumed attendee being interviewed by TV Guide network, which allowed me to quip "At last Zoidberg is the hero!"
And moi? Yours little stuffed truly was excited to dash upstairs to the "Meet the Press: Writing About Comics" panel featuring all my online favorites (L-R): Heidi MacDonald (The Beat, Publishers Weekly), Nisha Gopalan (Entertainment Weekly), Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Reporter), Tom McLean (Variety), Graeme McMillan (Savage Critics), and moderator Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics):
It was a fast-paced, entertaining and informative panel with a lotta love and some incisive criticism. They even intelligently answered my not-very-well-phrased question about the friendly give-and-take and reference to other blogs in the comics journalism world. I got so wrapped up in it that I forgot to Twitterblog much of the second half, but you can find several entries on it (and my entire con experience) on my Twitter Page, including this oddly self-referential post. I blushed tremendously when Heidi MacDonald mentioned me as a blogger she like to read, and I deeply regret that I had to dash out of the room as soon as the panel finished up in order to get back to the booth, so I didn't have a chance to meet the Divine Ms. M. in person. This li'l bull salutes you, tho', Heidi!
I'm humbled but very grateful every time sometime tells me they like my blog, and even more so in person. (If you've never seen a little stuffed bull blush, folks, that's when it happens. I try not to get a stuffed...well, over-stuffed head about it, of course. In moments of extreme fancy I have a pleasant little daydream fantasy that I have won an Eisner Award for "Best Comic Book Blogging by a Stuffed Animal":
...but, in the words of Cathy Dennis, it's only just a dream (aided by the kind lending of Jason's Eisner for his wonderful The Left Bank Gang...thanks, Jason!). Really, I just love writing and having people read it; a physical award isn't necessary. Well, maybe unless it is a yummy, scrumptious Toblerone bar:
A creamy chewy Toblerone helps make up for the only disappointment of the day, my complete failure in catching up with Jane Wiedlin as WiedlinWatch '07 continues. Today I spotted Jane at the Ralph's Groceries, buying a box of Quisp and some strawberry milk, but she climbed onto her grocery cart and scooted away before I could talk to her. I'm pretty certain I saw her in the crowd as the Iron Man armor was being unveiled, booing and hissing Mister Stark and demanding that justice be served in the murder of Captain America. And was that Jane who emerged triumphant in the Pokemon tournament play, firmly trouncing a seven year old boy who burst into tears following his defeat at the manicured hands of the cutest Go-Go? Why yes, it surely must have. But I couldn't get within more than a few steps of her before she whirled away like a dervish sprite, off to bring more magic to random corners of Comic-Con. I know I will catch up with her. Just like Mister Le Bon, I'm on the hunt, I'm after you.
Almost as good but not quite the same as finding Miss Wiedlin was meeting the equally-magical Zatanna Zatara, who always gets picked last in alphabetical grade-school activities but who always comes first in polls for "Favorite Fishnet-Wearing Character." Even that year that Green Arrow tried to stuff the ballot box in favor of Black Canary. Miss Zatanna smiled and posed for a photo for me, but when I asked her to do some magic for me she just smiled and winked and said something I couldn't quite understand. It sounded a little like "Yllub, ouy lliw teem enaj nildeiw erofeb ruoy yenruoj si hguorht." Or, maybe she just had a little cough.
But by far my favorite costumed encounter of the day was an entire family dressed up as the First Family of Superheroes: no, not The Fantastic Four, but The Incredibles:
Gosh, I love that people can do this and do it well. More power to you, I say.
I'm sitting in my hotel room now watching Princess Diaries 2: The One That Killed the Franchise, and a mid-movie ten o'clock news commercial just ran, with a chipper and cheery newcaster posing the teaser "Will Comic-Con return to San Diego next year?" Like all leading news teases there's probably no story here; I'm betting the answer is "yes." But the news report will probably be full of commentary about how big the show is that it's sold out, with leading questions posed to if it's outgrown San Diego, no doubt accompanied by nothing but shots of the 5% of attendees in costume. Ah well. As I mentioned last year, there are some San Diego media that don't quite seem to get our hobby and passion. Whatever. Enjoy the show, because I am!