BREAKING NEWS: NOTHING NEW IN SAN DIEGO
The big news out of the Comic-Con International: San Diego convention is that there is no news left to report. Every publisher, every creator, every marketer and even every fan announced their last bits of news in the week leading up to the convention, just to be sure their news wouldn't be drowned out by every other publisher, creator, marketer and fan's bit of news. The snake ate its own tail, leaving stunned fans wandering the aisles, not sure where to turn next.
Everything on the show floor seems like such old news. It was, after all, on the internet just two days ago. Who cares anymore? All the major comic-themed websites have all agreed to go on vacation for the five days of the convention to recover from the feverish pace of setting up for a convention that's now pointless. The convention will now only be attended by the Hollywood bloggers, who are still pretending that they don't know everything the marketing flac from the major studios seeded them with a week ago as "blind items." The video game journos will be present, as well, because they've survived E3 and CES. This con is a walk in the park.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one Major Publisher said that he was jealous of Robert Kirkman. "With a convention filled with zombified fans, desperate for any shred of news but receiving none, the convention center resembles the biggest set that any 'Walking Dead' television series could ever hope for."
When reached for comment, Mr. Kirkman could only shake his head and say, "I have no comment. Everything I had left to say was in the New York Times on Monday. It's old news now."
Show officials shook their head in disappointment. "Just when we thought we had the hotels right where we wanted them," said one anonymous organizer, "the entire industry committed hari kari on the front page of CBR for the last two weeks.
"We tell them every year: Tease for weeks, announce at their panels. This year, they got it backwards."
According to one insider, the only glimmer of hope for the convention this year is a panel with Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams. If they announce the long-anticipated "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"/"Alias" crossover, new life might be brought to the show floor - ironically, it would be in the form of two dead television series, and not anything related to comics. After all, the proposed "Alias" comic never made it past an announcement right here at this convention some eight years ago.
Changes are in store for 2011. By the time the convention starts next July, convention organizers say, they'll be "very, very" close to a decision as to whether the convention will stay in San Diego for 2013 or not. Observers say that if con organizers could hold out just another week or two past that, there's a chance the hotels will start paying attendees to book rooms, the mayor will personally deliver room service to all, and Hall H will be filled with water for a special Saturday afternoon appearance by Shamu.
ONE-LINERS (THAT OFTEN GO FULL PARAGRAPHS)
- I've long said that expecting back issues to be available for 99 cents digitally is asking too much. The numbers likely aren't there. But, the more I think about the idea, the more I like it. I'd be more likely to buy digital comics in bulk at that price than I would be even at $1.99. I hope Marvel or DC experiment with this at some point. Pick something that doesn't have the world clamoring for it right now, but would likely be enticing at such a lower price. Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle's "Batman" run? Chuck Dixon's "Robin?" Mark Gruenwald's "Captain America?" These are all books that aren't in print right now, I don't think, but might command some downloads. Maybe you pair them up with something else from the archives at $1.99, like Dixon's "Birds of Prey." Or Waid/Garney's "Captain America." Or some of the Batman "Elseworlds" books.
- Belated happy birthday to long-time friend of Pipeline, Tracie Mauk. And congratulations to her and Kevin Church on their new webcomic, "Fight!" Check it out now; the first couple of pages are funny stuff.
- "Justice League: Generation Lost" #5 went on sale last week. As expected, the digital version of the comic came out on the same day at the same $2.99 price point. The previous day-and-date issue remains at $2.99. This is disappointing. What's the difference today between issue #4 and issues #1-#3? They're all back issues that brick-and-mortar retailers had first at that price point. It's time for DC to roll back that one dollar retailer protection fee.
- Now entirely sure what the situation in Hawaii is. Some islands do get comics on Wednesday. Maui no longer has any comic shops. Confusion reigns! But you know what unites them all? Digital day-and-date comics would be available on Wednesday!
- Books I'm looking forward to picking up in the near future: Doug TenNapel's "Ghostopolis" and Jason's "Werewolves of Montpelier." It's not that I've become some kind of Alt-Comics geek or Indy Comics geek, it's just that I look forward to books with spines and complete stories. Likewise, I'm currently reading "Marvels: Eye of the Camera" by Kurt Busiek, Roger Stern, Jay Anacleto, et. al.
- Brian Bendis' new creator owned title, "Scarlet," is the next step from the creator-owned stuff that got him noticed by Marvel more than a decade ago. It's just that Alex Maleev is the one taking the pictures and pasting them up on the art boards now instead of Bendis. . . Everything old is new again.
- "Casanova" is now reprinted in color. People love the book now, because finding an Image title in the Previews catalog and then affording its low $1.99 price was so difficult the first time around.
- Daredevil has a new darker costume for "Shadowland?" Didn't anyone let the New York Times know about this?
- I'm getting back into the Pipeline Podcast habit again. If you haven't listed in a while, go check it out on iTunes. Last year, I did daily podcasts about the goings-on in San Diego during the convention. This year, I'm not promising that. But I just might do it anyway, if big news breaks.
Random San Diego Thought: In the last couple years I went to San Diego, as the con starting growing exponentially to sell-out status, I adopted two rules for myself: It's a comics convention, and so any panel conflicts will be resolved in favor of the comics-related panel. Second, it's more valuable to spend time on the floor talking to creators than in sitting in large rooms with hundreds or thousands of other fans listening to creators talk openly, where their every word will be reported by the major comic news sites and plenty of blogs.
I'm beginning to wonder if that second rule isn't in jeopardy now. No, I'm not worried that CBR won't be able to cover all the major/interesting panels. Although, certainly, there are some panels that just can't be done justice in a write-up, such as Mark Evanier's annual Quick Draw improv panel, or Jim Lee's live art presentation. (Perhaps HERO or the CBLDF should look into recording such things for a DVD that they could fundraise with.) But, with so many panels going on each weekend and so many popular creators booked in panel rooms seemingly all day, who's left on the con floor? Do you have an honest chance of finding one of the "big name" creators at a company booth - or their own - for longer than maybe an hour here and there? Remember that it often takes five to ten minutes to walk from a panel room back to a booth. Give the creator time for lunch at some point. Maybe a bathroom break or two. Allow for lateness from a certain amount of hungover delirium on Saturday and Sunday mornings. All of a sudden, the show floor is a good place for meeting up-and-coming talent, small press, and dealers. But the big names? They're busy trying to talk their way past the security guards and into their own panels.
Further, some booths are just impenetrable. Marvel and DC's booths are swarming masses of humanity that I don't like getting caught in. Call it claustrophobia, call it impatience, I don't care. I don't want to want shoulder-to-shoulder in long lines of people to get a comic signed. If you're going for a sketch, that line wait just quadrupled.
In the end, the panels might just be the best place to see your favorite creators. On the other hand, this is San Diego. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting one or two creators whose names you would recognize. So jump in, have fun, and let us know who you find.
- Are there many comic dealers left in San Diego? I seem to recall that the sale of comics was a shrinking thing, last I was there. That isn't all the convention's fault. Thanks to trade paperbacks, the hunt for back issues is a much smaller portion of the modern comic collector's interest.
- Good luck to all the mobile carriers servicing the Gas Lamp District area this week, as 150,000+ cell phones attempt to Tweet for five solid days.
- The last couple of weeks have been comics gold. A large number of anticipated comics showed up in comic shops, and more are coming this week and next. Thanks, San Diego! As a bonus, an insane number of often-unintentionally-hilarious press releases are being issued. The funniest are from those who are announcing that they plan on making an announcement in San Diego. The convention is so big and so loud these days that I don't see a small press comic or an unknown creator's "big announcement" being seen by anyone next week at all. You're better off stunning us with your news now before the real headline-makers leak out. Ah, it's too late already; you're sunk. Good luck!
- Last week, NBM was advertising for people (5'3" or under) to wear the Papa Smurf costume, and someone to be Papa Smurf's handler. I almost booked a ticket to San Diego just to be a handler. (I'm a foot too tall for the costume.) Dagnabit! Now I want to go to San Diego just to have my picture taken with Papa Smurf. Is that so wrong? I think I still regret not getting my picture taken with Snoopy last time I was in San Diego and had the chance. Regrets, I've had a few…
Next week: Absolute Planetary Volume 2. It's a beautiful book, and I'll talk about it next week in graphic detail.
And if you see Enrico Casarosa at a table peddling his "The Venice Chronicles" book distributed by Ad House Books, give it a try. It's a great book, and one I intend to talk about in more detail soon, too.