Friday, July 30, 2010

My SDCC 2010 Experience

San Diego Comic Con 2010

[Top picture: Cynthia Martin, Moi, Stan the Man Lee, and Trina Robbins]
[Bottom picture. Back row: Maggie Thompson, Barbara Kesel, Karen O'Brien.
Front Row: Moi, Cynthia Martin, Trina Robbins, Gillian Horvath, and Nicola Scott]

This is the second year I’ve gone to the show as a “Pro” and not as an “Exhibitor.” I've been to six other SDCC's, all as an exhibitor, working the booth for our sister company, Moonstone. The con itself is pretty well organized overall, and even though the line for Pro Badge pick-up was long, it moved fairly quickly. The con floor opens on Wednesday, Preview Night at 6 PM. We got in line to get in with the rest of the attendees, and I think we managed to actually get INTO the hall at around 6:30 or so. Mind you, the con floor is only open until 9 PM on Preview Night. So that was rather annoying, again I'm used to being an exhibitor which means you can wander in any time after 8am or something like that. I really missed that exhibitor perk! I didn't miss all the time and effort spent as an exhibitor, getting our booth and product to the con hall and set up and shipped out after the show, not to mention all the hours that must be spent at the booth, etc.

The SDCC is BEYOND capacity at this point, just too many people running around, literally RUNNING through the hall. People get jostled, bumped, and practically run over by the insane masses. I’m about 5’1” and I got bonked in the head with more back backs than I care to count. I think the main thing I learned as a result of this show is I’m not good with large crowds of obsessed fans.

If/when I go back to the SDCC, I will do what many other Pros I know, they ONLY hit the convention floor for signings, otherwise they try to take ALL of their meetings outside of the hall. There are plenty of hotel lobbies, coffee shops, and restaurants to take a meeting, without all the craziness. I did do this a few times, so it worked out fine, but the main lesson learned is do NOT go into the convention hall unless you want to take your life in your hands. I can not imagine how difficult it must be to try to navigate the con floor with a stroller or a wheelchair. Dear lord. And everything in the con hall is a line, there is a line for just about everything. It’s like going to Disneyworld, but without the certainty of satisfaction. Want a toy exclusive? Sure, get in line and wait to see IF you get it. Be prepared to blow a bunch of time doing so, and you will be set, oh and be prepared to get disappointed when you get to the front of the line and they tell you “Sold out!.”

I wasn’t standing in line for anything for myself, mostly for friends, so it wasn’t too much of a big deal because if I didn’t get said exclusive it wasn’t going to be the end of the world, it would just cause one of my friends immense disappointment. Thankfully I was able to get most everything I was trying to get for my buds. The only thing I wasn’t willing to stand in line for was for the Plastic Man figure because you had to go upstairs to get in line for a ticket so you can then come downstairs and stand in line again. No thanks.

What did I manage to do while at the con? Got to say hello to many friends and colleagues, so that was way cool. Unfortunately, there were many of my friends and colleagues that I was unable to get together with, but such is the nature of the SDCC. There are time constraints on everyone. I was especially happy that I was able to meet one of my idols in the industry, Trina Robbins. Trina has worked for Moonstone on a variety of projects; most recently she penned a story for my forth-coming prose anthology Chicks in Capes and a two issue arc of our new Honey West comic that will be shipping in a few short weeks. Trina has to be one of my favorite people in the industry. What an amazing woman. I was also especially pleased to have had a chance to sit down for breakfast with many fine ladies that have contributed to both Chicks in Capes and Honey West: Karen O’Brien (CBG columnist and my fellow editor on CIC), Maggie Thompson (CBG woman of power, who was kind enough to write the intro for the aforementioned CIC), Cynthia Martin (artist on the first two issues of our new Honey West comic), Trina Robbins (writer of many fine things, including a few Moonstone projects, as mentioned previously), Gillian Horvath (contributing writer for Chicks in Capes), Barbara Kesel (contributing writer for Chicks in Capes), and Nicola Scott (one of our cover artist for Chicks in Capes). So much fun to meet all of these lovely ladies in person! Stan the Man Lee was at the table next to us, which just added to the fun. Check out the pictures to see what I’m talking about, his head is popping out right above the top picture of Cynthia, myself, and Trina.

What else did I do while at the SDCC? I’ll tell you what I didn’t do! I didn’t stab someone in the eye with a pen, I was tempted, but that wasn’t me, I’m afraid that was some other poor sap. That whole incident sums up the con for me. Yes it really felt like I was getting stabbed in the eye pretty much hourly, and I can see how tempers could easily flare, resulting in all kinds of nastiness. Too many over-zealous fanboys and fangirls in a confined area will inevitably lead to an unpredictable frenzy. I feel bad for the poor fellow that rather unceremoniously received a painful stab in his eye. I think I’m just getting old and can’t handle the crowds anymore. Maybe all the years working behind a booth for Moonstone has made me a jaded and crabby attendee. I like being on the other side of the booth way more than trying to make my way through the throngs of people on the con floor. Back when Moonstone had a booth at the SDCC on a regular basis, I almost never made it out on the floor, unless of course the path to and from the restrooms and to and from concessions count. I would watch the masses go by the booth, quite content to help whoever happened to come up to the booth.

What else did I do at the show ? Well, of course, I’m a huge Tokidoki fan and for the first time in history I made a B-line for the Tokidoki booth first thing on Preview Night, as per my ususal, and the only thing I bought there was a Tokidoki/Capcom t-shirt for a friend, NOTHING for me, at least not there. I did manage to find some Tokidoki apparel from a few seasons back at another booth, so I dropped some cash there. I also fell in love with a t-shirt designer/artist that I was unfamiliar with until this year’s con: Arlyn Pillay from I picked up one shirt from him, and what a nice guy! I highly recommend his lovely t’s, tanks, prints, ties, and more.

And then there was Tron, or as the Tron fans were calling it ComicTron. Tron was pretty much all over the convention hall, outside the hall and more. The new Tron movie is coming in December and Disney pulled out all the stops this year to hype the shit out of this movie. We are talking a BIG panel in the infamous Hall H at the show, featuring the producer, the director, the original creator of Tron from back in the day, the old stars and the new stars. They were kind enough to show a new preview for the film in 3D, so that was cool. I’m not a huge Tron fan myself, just a casual fan, but even I enjoyed the panel discussion and film excerpts. Then there was Flynn’s Arcade. The Disney folks reproduced the arcade from the original film and the forthcoming sequel. You could actually go in and check it out, all the retro games were available on free play starting on Friday. Behind the arcade they had Flynn’s old workshop set up, with all the props you remember, and then behind that was the Tron dance club. I shit you not. It was pretty damn cool. Go tooling around on Youtube and I’m sure there are folks out there that videoed the whole thing. Crazy nuts. They also had many of the cool new Tron-related merchandise that will be coming out later this year showcased under lights. My favorite Tron-related merch coming out? Tron light up shoes and Tron Oakley sunglasses. The sunglasses will set you back a measly $700, I’ll get two pair at that price! Tron Mania!

What else happened at the show? Scott Pilgrim of course! There was a huge Scott Pilgrim pavilion set up outside the con hall, and it was just a mob scene. They handed out bags of Scott Pilgrim swag, I did manage to snag myself one, and people were just SO excited about Scott Pilgrim. I couldn’t be happier for Oni Press, they are great little company and the success of Scott Pilgrim has really rocketed them into a very high profile position. Congrats to them and to Bryan Lee O’Malley, for a job well done! Who would have thought back when volume one came in 2004 that this series of graphic novels would DOMINATE the graphic novel best seller lists? In the swag bags they gave away a FREE Scott Pilgrim shirt, exclusive to the show, one for guys and one for girls. Very cool, definitely the best piece of swag I picked up at the show.

Interesting aside. Southern California has a huge homeless population because of the lovely weather that they have pretty much 365 days a year. I was walking around the streets of SD late at night, and here come two folks staggering down the street in the exclusive Scott Pilgrim T-shirts. Aha I thought, here are two more con attendees, but upon closer examination, it was quite evident that they were actually part of SD’s homeless population. I can only assume that when these folks saw the Scott Pilgrim swag being handed out, that they got in line to get their free t’s too! Good for them and good for the Scott Pilgrim guys. In theory you had to have a SDCC badge to get a bag of swag, but somehow these two got their own. This seems like an excellent untapped marketing idea. Why not spend a bunch of money getting t-shirts, blankets, umbrellas, hats, whatever printed up with whatever you wanted to promote at the show and hand them out to the homeless population and then you have instant advertising for the duration of the show. Costs a lot less then buying those damn banners that were hanging all over the city or draping your ad on the side of a high rise or plastering it on the side of a bus. Not only would you be advertising, you would be donating goods to a segment of the population that could really use it, instant tax right-off.

The SDCC is something every fan should experience at least once. There are down sides of course, but the spectacle of it all is something that must be seen in person to be believed. Watching coverage on G4 does not count, you have to be there, sweating with the masses of people, to really understand the level of insanity possible with this event.

Glad I was able to go, but boy am I giddy as a school girl to be back home, in my sleepy little suburb. On the plus side, my shop didn’t burn down while I was gone, so that made me a very happy girl. My lackeys at the Frankfort location did a stellar job running things until I got back. 

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