July 26, 2004

strolling and goaling

No music for a few more days, I'm afraid--my travels are going on longer than I thought they would. (As I write this, I'm on a plane to Denver, where I'll be seeing a Modest Mouse show for Blender tonight.) And I can't talk here about some of the stuff I saw at Comic-Con, because I'll be writing about it for PW for real. But here are a few more casual notes:

*Comic-Con is huge. I mean, gigantic. Supposedly something on the order of 100,000 people were present this year at one time or another--it's four days, plus Wednesday evening, and it's held in San Diego's Convention Center, which is the size of... something really, really big. San Diego's carrying capacity is maxed; I heard that motels 25 miles away from downtown were charging $500 a night by the time the event started. Motels.

*It's the biggest annual get-together for the pop-culture-fan community; it's also the biggest annual get-together for the comics industry, and for a certain sector of Hollywood, and for comics retailers, and for pretty much anyone trying to buy into the fantasy factory. Which means that there are business people in three-piece suits, booth babes in next to nothing, enthusiastic young Goths in full regalia, and the occasional middle-aged schlub in chainmail all next to each other. There was a problem with people trying to get in on Wednesday night--way too many, poorly planned--and my friend H. and I noticed one particular guy arguing with a guard at a door: maybe 50 years old, deep voice w/ lisp that sounded like Snagglepuss, facial tattoos/piercings/surgical alterations and claws that actually made him look more than a little like Snagglepuss too, enormous breasts. We raced for the nearest pillar we could hide behind and fell over laughing.

*The convention center gets very hot by about 3:30 in the afternoon, and the natural odors of all the above begin to rise.

*Every year, I go to San Diego with one particular comic book in mind that I can look for--something that's not too expensive, but old/obscure enough that it'll be a little bit of a challenge to find, and give me a chance to look at a bunch of back-issue dealers' booths. (The dealers are generally near the west end of the hall, after the T-shirt-and-bootleg-anime people.) This year, it was Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #106, whose cover looks like this:

So well-intentioned! So wrong! So, so, so wrong! Anyway, I found it for six bucks. Also located "The Komplete Kolor Krazy Kat," vol. 2, which I'd been seeking for about ten years, plus two volumes of Krazy Kat dailies I didn't even know existed, and while I was in the mood bought an original Roger Langridge page that I think he'd done for Nickelodeon magazine: Spongebob Squarepants, written and drawn in the style of Krazy Kat. This is why I love Comic-Con.

*There appeared to be a whole lot of Star Wars-related action this year--among other things, Lucasfilm announced the title of the next SW movie ("Revenge of the Sith"), and then spent the rest of the weekend selling $20 "Revenge of the Sith" T-shirts. I didn't buy one. (I did manage to get a couple of T-shirts for Lisa--one really nice one with an Anders Nilsen drawing of a pile of TVs, in particular.)

*Most of my meals were pitiful things: protein drink and bagel for breakfast, pretzel or power bar for lunch, veggies and rice from Wok 'n' Roll in the mall for dinner--add on a 40-pound backpack and it was no wonder I was droopy by the last couple of days. (The Scholastic party would've helped if it hadn't been all meat and crackers on the steam tables...) I did get to dine at Maya and Ben's place in San Diego on Saturday night, though, which was wonderful for food reasons and much more wonderful for company reasons, esp. since Maya's old roommates Liz and Meredith were there. Some of my favorite people anywhere, all in one room.

*Went to the infamous beach party, sponsored in years past by Highwater Press and Fantagraphics. This year, Global Hobo and Jesse Reklaw took over, and printed up a clever flyer with directions to the party on the front, and a bunch of tiny little doodle-y comics about how much the beach party sucks on the back. Unfortunately, the directions were somewhat faulty, so lots of people (including Mer and Robyn and I) got there pretty late. The weather was nice, and the vibe was friendly at first, and there was the usual mass skinny-dipping in the ocean, and then things grew increasingly sketchy--when the people none of the cartoonists knew started setting off fireworks, we figured it was time to hightail it back downtown.

*Favorite new cartooning discovery: Hope Larson--I don't think she's done anything exactly like a conventional comic or even minicomic yet, but her "Put On a Brave Face" and "Sex Rainbow" are wonderful, and so's her web site's name (think Emily Dickinson). She was selling stuff at the "Flight" table, which was the unexpected hit of the show. (The first day, I asked Carla Speed McNeil what I needed to see, and she pointed me at their table. On my way there, Scott McCloud grabbed me by the wrist and more or less dragged me there. I figured that was a good sign, and I was right.) I'll probably write more about the Flight crew in PW, but I'll just say that Clio Chiang's story "The Bowl" is going straight into the hit parade...

*Longest lines for an actual comics-related thing (i.e. not Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was there) were probably to get a signed copy of the single-volume edition of Jeff Smith's "Bone." I was pleased to note that it has a quote from my ten-year-old review on its back cover... and less pleased to note that it adds an apostrophe to a possessive "its."

*Eisner Awards were long, as usual, and the people I thought would win, the people I hoped would win, and the people who actually did win were different in too many cases. But Derek Kirk Kim won "talent deserving of wider recognition," happily, although the frilly panties a few of his pals were talking about throwing at him if he won didn't materialize. (They'd bought them--they just didn't make it to the Eisners in time.) And how often do you get to see Will Eisner accepting the award named after himself, on behalf of his former assistant Jules Feiffer?

*Didn't get to too many panels, but I did see half of the annual fans vs. pros trivia challenge. For which the questioner didn't show up for half an hour, so they fielded trivia questions from the audience--basically ALL of which they knew. "Which character introduced in a Hostess ad eventually became part of Marvel continuity proper?" (That would be Icemaster.) I thought about asking mine--"what was the first Comics Code-approved comic book to use the word 'orgasm'?"--but thought better of it, as there were kids present...

*Metatrend: people asking me if people at Comic-Con were talking about the Chip McGrath article in the NY Times Magazine. Without getting into my complicated response to the article: Yes. Yes, they were.

Posted by Douglas at July 26, 2004 6:18 PM | TrackBack

Hope Larson is amazing, yeah - she did something (aborted? unsure) on Girlamatic.com that basically made me more eager to learn Illustrator than I'd ever been in my life.

Also if I was getting fangs, etc I'd have them throw breasts on while I was in there - why wast anaesthetic?

Posted by: K. Thor Jensen on July 27, 2004 2:55 PM
Post a comment