Pipeline: Pipeline: San Diego - Day One

Fri, July 21st, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

THE INTRODUCTION - PLUS VARIOUS MEANDERINGS

So I'm sitting on the plane. Southwest flight #97. There were a total of three takeoffs and landings. Each time, the pilot speaks over the p.a. system to introduce himself and his co-pilot, and let the passengers know where they're headed and that they're in safe hands. I don't think there was a single time when the pilots didn't stutter -- or outright botch -- the names of the cities the flights were headed out to.

This cannot be a good thing when the pilot doesn't know where he's headed.

Thankfully, this hasn't proven to be a bad omen just yet. The plane landed early. (Although the luggage was delayed by a half-hour due to too many flights landing at the same time and only three baggage carousels.) I got to hit the Pro|Con party at the convention center as soon as I got in and made contact with the fine folks behind this very web site. (We left quickly because the bar closed up.) I even hit the bar atop the 40th floor of the hotel. (I left early because my crashing low blood sugar rendered me about an inebriated as you could expect from a diabetic who drinks only Diet Pepsi's.)

I got to the con this morning, though, with no problems. Being pre-registered means getting to skip that line that wraps around the building at ten o'clock in the morning. I walked in to the con center and there it all lay out for me. A football field-sized floor of wonderment. A menagerie of humans, if ever there was one. The unfortunately clad costumed geeks - Ghostbusters, Star Wars rebels, Klingons, Cyclops (X-Men movie version), and some flat-out freaky looking people. (Heck, I recognize one or two of the freaks from last year. How scary is that? Why don't the good memories ever last this long?) If we're lucky, Bendis will have pictures up on his web site soon. (I hope.)

Yes, I did see Bendis. He was shamelessly hawking everything he could. Picked up the FORTUNE AND GLORY TPB from him, got a couple of limited edition POWERS candies, and looked through some of his original art. Marc Andreyko was also there and remembered me from some e-mail conversations we had had months ago.

There's nothing better than when a comics professional remembers you from some long-though lost e-mail conversations. I love the perks of this job. As soon as I'm done writing this, I'm headed downstairs to hit the bars and see who's around. Hey, schmoozing is good for you. And never underestimate the powers of a good beer for that. =)

Heck, I even got to meet Fabian Nicieza, Steve Lieber, Mike McKone (bought three pages of Superman art), Mike Kunkel, Chad Ward, Brian Wood, Larry Young, Charlie Adlard, Ashley Wood, Jim Valentino, and some others I know I'm forgetting about. (Dammit. What good is name-dropping if I forget all the good names?) There are an awful lot of British creators here this year. I'm not sure if this is a sign of the growing power amongst the comics creators from the UK, or just more of a willingness of them to fly over.

RANDOM COMPLAINTS

I liked the nametags from last year better. They were bold, blue, and had Sandman on them, with some dust lightly flying across the badge. This year, it's a kiddy theme, I suppose. There's a cute picture of some dinosaurs drawn by Gahan Wilson superimposed over a texture not unlike wood. It just seems too blah to me.

Also, the official San Diego Con t-shirts this year are beiges-ish with yet another reproduction of the Flash of Two Worlds story. You've seen the image a million times, and now you'll see it some more. Last year, there was a beautiful Adam Hughes art nouveau Wonder Woman drawing, with a nice blue background.

On the other hand, if this is the thing I'm going to be most annoyed about this year, I should be so happy.

I'm not as excited about all the festivities as I was last year. I'm sure this shouldn't come as a big surprise. Last year was the first San Diego convention for me and it was all new. This year, I found my way back to my hotel from Horton Plaza alone without any problems. Apparently, I'm quickly becoming comfortable with the environment, even as it changes around me. There's this weird new park on the other side of the cable car line. It's a wonderful design, I'm sure, but more or less useless. But it looks good. Welcome to Southern California.)

Oh, and there's an odd bunch of Goths hanging out outside the Marriot as I write this. Ick. (Great, now I'll get angry letters from Vertigo fans. ::duck grin run::)

WEIRD WEST COAST STUFF

Everyone is giving away those balls you put atop your car antennae. Yes, even CBR has one. Jonah gave me one within thirty seconds of seeing me this year. The weird thing is that this is a fad that hasn't hit the East Coast particularly hard. In fact, I can't recall ever seeing one. If I saw an SUV at work with a ball atop its antenna with a giant Spider-Man head on it, I'd just shake my head. It seems like such a stupid fad. By definition, though, fads are short-lived and stupid. And it's what you do with them that counts. Mimi Rosenheim stuck one on a plastic fork and taped it to one of the displays of ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE. Others recommend your stereo's antenna. This might just work after all.

THE PANELS

The Marvel 2000 panel had a pretty neat lineup: Bobbie Chase (who stayed mostly quiet), Paul Jenkins (high off THE SENTRY - which is a pretty good book, BTW), Joe Quesada, Fabian Nicieza, Kurt Busiek, Tom Breevort, Erik Larsen, and Carlos Pacheco (he who is writing Diablo in FANTASTIC FOUR).

Fun and hilarity took over as soon as Erik arrived and discussion turned to the big announcement of the day about the new DEFENDERS series. (In case you hadn't heard - Larsen and Busiek are writing; Larsen and Klaus Janson on art. Eliopoulos on letters. Unknown on color. And, damn, isn't he good?!?)

Also, the Marvel booth has a few cool promo pieces. The first is the promo by Larsen of THE DEFENDERS. There's a new ULTIMATE SPIDER-MEN image, which has Peter Parker in street clothes up against a brick wall, and a stunning Alan Davis AVENGERS image. The last one there is amazing. I'm hoping it's up on the web for you all to see somewhere. I'm a huge Davis fan as it is, so when his run begins in January, I'll be moving into drool mode.

The scariest thing about the 5:00 p.m. Batman panel was the wardrobe of the panelists. They were all wearing black: Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Staz Johnson, Bob Schreck, Greg Rucka, and Ed Brubaker. Is there some sort of dress code for hard-bitten crime writers? Or is there a mourning process going on for the character right now that I missed a press conference for? I'm sure it was just coincidence, but it is pretty damned intimidating, even with Jeph Loeb's natural smile so frequent on his face.

Beau will have all the news from this panel in the Wire, so I'll skip out on the play by play. Loeb did, however, take particular pride in telling us all that of all our myriad guesses as to the mysteries of DARK VICTORY are still wrong. I like that. It means nothing I've read about the series has spoiled anything. ;-)

TOMORROW

I'm sure I'll think of much more stuff as time goes by and I reread this stuff when I get home on Tuesday. In the meantime, tomorrow's panels include JMS, a WildStorm slideshow, Marvel Writers, Coloring, Gorilla Press, and Oni Comics. I have no idea which ones I'll get to or not. So check back in here tomorrow to see what happens next.

Will Augie stay awake? Will more people at panels fall asleep and snore loudly? Will Jonah's balls be spread all over the country? Tune in tomorrow for more of this madness!

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