Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Comic-Con Day 1: It's like BookExpo on the Super-Soldier Formula

Hi hi hi from San Diego, Comic-Con attendees and those who are green with jealousy because they can't come to the really big show! It's quite late at night and I have an early morning but I wanted to let y'all know what went on in my very first day of my very first Comic-Con ever.

Well, first of all, I was signed to an exclusive creator contract at Image...

Hah! I kid. That didn't happen. (Sniff.) But what did happen was John drove me down beautiful Harbor Drive (past the exciting piratey-looking Maritime Museum which I will hop up and down until we get to go visit there on Monday) and right to the Convention Center. We've been warned that for best results in getting a parking space, speed at eighty-eight miles an hour down Harbor Drive, until you go back in time to before the Convention Center was built, and park then. Or, for those of you who do not have a flux capacitor, try to arrive as early as possible, and then revise that estimate and arrive an hour earlier than that. We got there at 1 PM and the main Convention Center parking was already full; luckily a block or so south there's a mighty new parking garage at the corner of Harbor and Eighth, looming over the Convention Center like the Death Star but with more driving ramps. Plenty of parking there, but John, who is paranoid about all things parking related, told me I'd have to get up early so we can get in well before the crowds tomorrow. I suggested perhaps we just camp out in the Norton booth all night. He looked disappointed that he hadn't thought of that. I guess it's a good thing neither one of us brought out sleeping bags.

I'm sure you're going to read a lot of blogs from my good comics blogsophere pals about attending the show as a guest and zipping merrily from panel discussion to Q&A session, skipping happily from booth to booth, buying wonderful souvenirs that put the treasures of Ali Baba to shame, and just generally using more shoe leather in a weekend than Forrest Gump did in the 1980s. My blog is gonna be a little different: it's a working show for me and I'm mainly tied to the W. W. Norton booth (#1714 for those of you who are comin' by to shake my hoof), so this will be a view from the floor blog. In other words, The Working Bull's Comic-Con.

In addition, since it's my first Comic-Con, it's all new to me, but it's got that delicious nougaty deja-vu feeling of standing in a booth in a convention center talking about books. It's very much like BookExpo America (BEA) on the surface, and yet dig deep and you hit an entirely different vein of rich caramel and crunchy cookie. I've been attending BEAs for Norton all my life (I am six! It's a very good age to be) and John has been doing them since the early years of the Industrial Revolution, but this was entirely a new and different experience for us. BEA is not a selling show: books are either just displayed or given away for free. Comic-Con? If it's there, it's probably for sale. BEA: populated by bookstore owners, managers, and employees, publishers, authors and agents—restricted to the professionals of the trade. Comic-Con: everybody in the universe can come in: it's a public consumer show. It's therefore a larger, busier, and in many ways, more fun and exuberant show. I've only been through the slightly busy Preview Night, which I'm told is a mere shadow of the tsunami-forces of crowds that will hit the floor tomorrow, but there was a lot of grins on faces and excitement and energy: the energy of fandom and love of the medium. I think this show will be a lot of work. But looking at the faces of young and old, I also think it will be a lot of fun.

Not that I didn't do a lot of work today. The booth was quite empty and bare when I got there:

Generic sign ahoy!

But we soon had that fixed just by hanging a few colorful posters. Say, Miss Ingsu sure designed some beautiful Will Eisner paperback jackets, didn't she?:

Posters are fun!

Whoa doggie! There sure are a lot of boxes to unpack. Let me go get my child's safety-tip box cutter:

And it isn't even Boxing Day!

Norton books look great on display, but like sad little orphans, they would like to be on your bookshelf even more. So c'mon by and buy some, won't you?:

Adopt a book from the Book Orphanarium!

Today, it's quiet, but tomorrow, one zillion people will invade the Convention Center, only some of which will be in Stormtrooper costumes. For now, I'm enjoying a brief respite: this is the calm before the storm. The quiet before the crowds. The last time you'll be able to see the carpet:

My last chance to catch a breath

Finally, a handful of brief observations about Day 1 of the Never-Ending Con:

Department of You Need to Use Comic-Con to Increase Your Knowledge of the Genre: overheard from a pair of men looking at Norton's Will Eisner books: "Who's this guy?"

Cool industry folks I've spotted today: Brent Anderson, Ryan Sook, Kyle Baker, Jim Balent, and the always vibrant Holly Golightly, whose booth is immediately opposite Norton's and who cheerfully wandered over to chat with a friendly "Hi neighbor!"

I don't have much pocket money but I must buy one of these: the Owly plush toy from Top Shelf.

I'm not allowed to buy this but it is one mightily impressive looking boxed set: Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, also at Top Shelf. Seriously, an absolutely gorgeous production of book production. Even if you don't buy one, wander by the Top Shelf booth (#1721) and gape in awe at it. If you're young or easily startled like I am, however, don't open it up. Oh my goodness! Miss Dorothy! What are you up to?

Costumed characters spotted so far: Snoopy, Captain Jack Sparrow (in the parking garage elevator, no less!), and my personal favorite: a toddler in a handmade Superman costume and her baby sister in a Powerpuff Girls Bubbles outfit. So cute you would scream with glee! Well, I did, at least. Aiiiiiyiiiii!

One thing BEA does better than Comic-Con: name badges. Tiny, tiny type on the Comic-Con badges makes it almost impossible to glance at someone and tell who they are. BEA badges feature sixty point type: that would be a big help to those of us with black button eyes, Comic-Con!

One thing Comic-Con does better than BEA: Better and more comprehensive signage all around the show and especially hanging over the aisles. The Washington DC Convention Center should take a clue from San Diego.

Favorite intercom announcement: "There is no running in the aisles of the Convention Center. That means you, guy with the green and white cap!"

Most handled and looked-at books on the Norton table: Lots of interest in Bill Mauldin's Up Front and Dr. Seuss Goes to War.

Books I have sold so far tally: one copy of Will Eisner's The Plot and one copy of Dr. Seuss Goes to War. That's not enough to pay for our plane ticket back home! But everyone says tomorrow is the big day. I can't hardly wait, and neither should you. Go to bed now and get up early to get a good parking space! Go ahead! Do it!

Other Comic-Con entries: TuesdayThursdayFridaySaturdayExtra #1 (Wolverine)Extra #2 (Eisner)Sunday


koyore said...

Skip the sailing ship muesuem and go on the Midway aircarft carrier instead--much more bang for the buck. Also recommend Balboa Park--worth a wlak, if you have no time for the dozen plus muesuems it is home too. You can drive through much of it too--do not miss, if you might get back out there.
Mile High deli in Coranado should be good enough to fullfil your New york deli cravings. I have had a few vacations out that way over the years--just not during convention time.

koyore said...

Husband corrected me--it is Mircle Mile Deli.

Bully said...

Thanks for the tip on the Midway, Noran! We drove past it tonight and it caught my interest...definitely looks worth it. And Miracle Mile sounds great too. The food out here is exceptional...some of the best mexican food I've had. Plus, I'm a sucker for In 'n' Out Burger!

Hope you get to some out to San Diego Comic-Con in the future. I'm impressed and overwhelmed by it--my little stuffed brain is whirling with details and memories. There truly is absolutely something for everyone. In the words of Ferris Bueller, "I highly recommend it."

koyore said...

Thanks for the reply and your bloging posts from the con. Sorry for all the typos, was up with my newborn daughter virginia. Hope you might post a picture from where you were staying--almost stayed there last year. It sounds like it was very nice. Remember to at least cruise thru Balboa Park before you head back to the heat waves and mysterious blackouts of NY. Thanks again!