Pipeline: PCR Extra, Issue #14

Sat, July 21st, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

SAN DIEGO: THE FRIDAY WRAP-UP

I'm starting to write this column in earnest at about 12:20 a.m. Saturday morning. Just got back from the Eisners and the after-party. Not much happening over there. Hung out with the 4ColorReview.com gang, and watched the world pass by. Ah, well.

Having failed in just about any attempt to schmooze the night away, I slinked back to the hotel room to type this up.

The following are completely random thoughts and highlights from the day. I'm a tad bit too tired at this point to organize them all that well. Read at your own risk.

The convention center has filled up fast. The con floor was much more crowded today as everyone began showing up for the weekend. Yes, this does account even for the larger con floor and the additional space in the aisles.

When I say EVERYONE showed up, I do mean EVERYONE. That includes a woman who dressed up in a black Vampirella costume. From behind, all you'd think she was wearing would be black panties. Following her around was a slightly older woman who was either her mother or her agent, and a security guard shadowing close behind. In her wake was the entire population of con attendees' slack jawed and wide-eyed. No, it wasn't the sort of ogling looks you'd expect. It was just amazement at the fact that someone would dare venture out of the house in that getup who wouldn't be accepted for a dancing job at a strip club...

File this one under bizarre, as well: There's a booth devoted to the sale of toy plastic semi-automatic guns. I need to get a picture of that. In this day and age, that's just so - mind-blowing in this day and age.

The lack the booth babes this year must be really impacting the local strip club economy. Many of those booth babes were just hired out of the local gentlemen's clubs, from what I hear. It must be killing them to lose this business.

My sketchbook arrived via FedEx safe and sound from the east coast where stupid me forgot it.

The highlight sketch of today came from the inestimable Leonard Kirk. I got a great commission from him of Supergirl in the snow battling a giant snowman.

The snow theme of my sketchbook continues to deteriorate. I have a tough time making demands on artists who are nice enough to add to my sketchbook, usually for free. I don't want to start making their jobs any harder.

Met THE FLASH creative team of Scott Kolins and Geoff Johns this afternoon. Kolins was nice enough to do a nice head shot of Flash for my sketchbook in the same style he draws the series in. It never fails to amaze me how easily these artists can do these kinds of things.

I had the chance to flip through the black and white copies he had of upcoming FLASH issues. My jaw dropped. Kolins' work is as hyper and kinetic as anything you'll find in the industry today with an amazing amount of detail. It'll make your jaw drop like a Geoff Darrow page. There are cityscapes that will keep you staring at the page for a good long time. It's just too bad that the color will distract from it. I'm not blaming the colorist here for doing a bad job. It's just the nature of the beast. This book would benefit from being collected on a larger size paper, too, but I'm probably dreaming now.

Useless observation: The escalators leading up to the panels at the back of the hall were reversed from the directions they were going yesterday. It's this kind of hard-hitting journalism that brings readers back to this site over and over and over again.

Thoughts on con attendees in general:

It's just a group of normal looking people, save for the fact that the goatee density is much higher per capita.

The favorite color is black, with deep purple being a close second. Of course, this makes me feel that much closer to New York City all over again, where the average woman's closet ranges in color from black to dark gray.

Random Eisner Awards bits and pieces:

Scott Shaw! ripped apart an Overstreet Price Guide in homage to Frank Miller at the Inkpot Awards preceding the Eisners..

Jill Thompson thanks her husband, 100 BULLETS' Brian Azzarello. I'm trying to picture the kind of hair any children they might have would wind up with...

Thompson won for Best Painter. Amongst her thank-yous: "I'd like to thank Alex Ross for not being nominated."

Eric Shanower thanked Erik Larsen during his speech, as it was Larsen who brought AGE OF BRONZE into Image. It's probably the closest Larsen will ever get to an actual award at the Eisners.

Will Eisner is like the New York Yankees' Don Zimmer. You just want to hug him every time you see him. He's just that kindly a man.

I'm extremely happy that the SPIRIT ARCHIVES won an Eisner. I just picked up a volume of that a couple of weeks ago and it's a beautiful edition. The only problem is that it's going to be expensive in the long run. ::sigh::

As Major Sponsors of the Eisners, CBR got a table amongst the professionals at the awards ceremony. We were seated in the third row center from the front podium. It was pretty darn cool. The table to our right had the ABC/WildStorm gang, which had plenty of opportunities to collect trophies.

Tables filled with professionals surrounded us. If I had less integrity, I'd start going on about who has the cutest girlfriend. Maybe I can just e-mail that part to Rich Johnston, instead. ;-)

I forsook the bicycle rickshaw to take a leisurely stroll back from the Eisners to the hotel. San Diego is just beautiful. The weather is gorgeous. It's probably in the upper 60s tonight without a trace of humidity. The park on the opposite side of the trolley train tracks has been added/revamped and is just a beautiful place to walk through. And you're perfectly safe to walk there at night, between the lighting and all the other tourists.

Just to give you an idea of how much bigger the new convention center will be when it's done: The old Center had entrances A, B, C, and D. The new con center already has entrances labeled E, F, G, and H.

Between that and the San Diego Padres' new baseball stadium going up a block away from the center, this is going to be one irresistible town pretty soon.

THE PANELS

I attended, in full, the DVD PRODUCERS 2001 panel, the IMAGE ALL STARS panel, and the TRIBUTE TO CARL BARKS panel. I floated in and out of the Marvel Mutants, Oni Press, and Batman panels.

I will discuss these panels at greater length in a near-future column. However, all were fun in different ways.

Mark Evanier, host of the Barks tribute and more panels than most care to count, is the best panel host you could ask for. Other panel hosts should be trained by his example. I've been to way too many panels this weekend already in which nobody on the dais knows what they're doing there or what they're talking about. Relying solely on questions from the audience will only make it a painful experience for both the panelists and the attendees. Evanier keeps things moving while displaying a good knowledge of the material he's presenting, leading the panelists when necessary.

The con booklet is must-have material for all Duck fans. Included in it is the two-page blueprint for Uncle Scrooge's Money Bin that's been published over in Europe already. It's not only interesting to look at and imagine, but hilarious, as well. One whole floor of the bin -- in Don Rosa's imagination -- is devoted almost entirely to booby traps to protect the rest of the bin. It's great stuff.

THE REVIEW

The first issue of Andi Watson's latest series, SLOW NEWS DAY, is now available from the fine folks over at Slave Labor Graphics. When they're not playing hockey at night during comic book conventions, they put out a lovely set of books. I'm actually quite surprised and impressed every year at CCI: San Diego to see just how many good books they have that fly under the radar.

SLOW NEWS DAY is the story of an American abroad. This time, it's an American woman who's working the summer as an intern at a small newspaper in England. She had expected to be working in a professional London-based establishment, but instead got assigned to a failing one-reporter paper.

The tensions between her and the reporter are immediate and tangible. Watson does an excellent job at using small events to show the differences between Katharine, the American, and Owen, the reporter. It's part cultural, to be sure, but there's also personal tension between the two that is not helped by the little differences that can begin to grate on one's nerves.

Watson's art is as clear and iconic as ever. He isn't making use of the gray tones that he did in BREAKFAST AFTER NOON, but the art is still clear and simple. There's one cardboard-looking figure of Katharine on page 17, but otherwise everything looks great.

It's too soon to tell if this one will have the breakout power of BAN, but it is an enjoyable read. It appears that it will be slightly more upbeat than the previous tale of woeful unemployment.

Tomorrow is the busiest day of the con. There are still people I want to see and meet and shopping that needs doing, but the majority of the day will probably be spent hiding upstairs in panels away from the crowded con floor, where the aisles are easily choked by the teeming masses.

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