SDCC '12: The defining moment and the burrito

Even though everyone says Comic-Con isn’t about comics, it’s still the biggest, best comics show in the Western Hemisphere. The guest list and programming alone make it unrivaled as a place to celebrate cartoonists and their creations. From Gilbert Shelton to Lynn Johnston to Katsuhiro Otomo. The Comic Arts Conference. Tr!ckster. So much more. Even with all the fuss and muss, if you love comics, it’s still the best place to be.

Thus I feel a small pang of guilt when I cover all the hoopla and nerdlebrity explosions in the run-up and during the show, because they get the lion’s share of the attention from all the media coverage you’ll be seeing next week. But the experience itself is so one of a kind that it can’t be ignored. We’ll all be complaining about the flyers and the autograph seekers and the Klieg light parties and the giant banners and sky-writing and expensive cocktails…but…well, it’s the whole swirling miasma that creates those fever dreams and sunset memories.

I have made my peace with the whirlwind that is con. Reading some of my past posts on the show, I seemed to have some kind of grandiose idea that complaining could change things. It took a few years, but in the end you had to let go, let Wil Wheaton. And in addition, I had the memory of The Breakfast Burrito to keep me going. Because sometimes you find your perfect moment in all the craziness.

In 2011, you veterans may recall, there was a South Park theme park opposite one end of the Convention Center. And they had a morning media preview. Being a fan of South Park, I trekked over a bit before it opened. And there I found a parking lot filled with food trucks. (And also a giant bus previewing that The Lord of the Rings: War In the North video game which sucked, I guess?) I also love The Lord of the Rings. I also love breakfast. And you know eating at the Con is always a challenge. So I grabbed myself a breakfast burrito from one of the trucks and sat down on a lamp post and ate it while I waited for South Park to open.

And that was the best damned breakfast burrito I ever had. It came with a green sauce that was life-changing. It was like fiesta and Christmas in one bite. As I sat there eating that burrito I marveled at how everything was fitting together. South Park. Angband. Kyle and Stan. Elladan and Elrohir. Coffee. Green sauce. An Adventure Time parade lining up by the trolley tracks. A morning of promise before a day of unknown joys and terrors. A day where anything at all could happen.

I felt that moment of peace, that moment of knowing you where were you belonged for one brief instant.

And for one whole year, I have been dreaming of going back and getting another breakfast burrito, of the creamy eggs and crispy bacon and chewy burrito and tangy green sauce, merging into one perfect bite.

The food truck lot was right next to my hotel, you see. I pictured myself getting up each morning, downing some Vietnamese Instant Coffee, dashing off some posts and then hustling over and grabbing a burrito, and for one more moment centering myself with bacon and eggs and green sauce. A moment before the madness.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought about this.

And then I found out that the city of San Diego has banned food trucks in the Gaslamp district.

The city told the food trucks they had to leave after the Neighborhood Code Compliance received an anonymous complaint, and Murcia said no specifics were given why they had to go.

But the food trucks are working to get back downtown soon, and Murcia has upcoming meetings with city officials to resolve any issues that were presented.

Complaints from local establishments charging $15 for a Batman poached egg, no doubt. No cheap, delicious food for you, con-goer.

But maybe there is still hope? Maybe I can find that food truck? A little googling and I found this:


It seems there will be a food truck festival during the show.
But it is not near my hotel.

View Larger Map
And there is one other problem.

I don’t remember where I got the burrito. The name of the truck is something that escaped into the miasma of con and all the butterfly nets in the world can’t find it in my brain.

I DO remember where it was however. And there’s this video. It’s all I’ve got to go on.

And this list.

If only I study it…put together the pieces…add it up…maybe I can find it again. A shuttle is running from the con to the food truck festival on the pier. A quest, if you will.

Who knows. I’l probably never get there again. A new defining moment awaits. Satori strikes you when you least expect it, maybe on a beach crowned by stars, maybe in a dusty parking lot. There must be a reason. You just keep searching.

NYCC 11: 3-day and 4-day passes sold out; line up outside


It’s official: three- and four-day passes for New York Comic Con are sold out. And fans are being urged NOT to line up to get in today due to having to line up outside in a rain-slicked city:

If you show up at 10am or later after the doors open it will be much easier and drier for you, if you do insist on coming before doors open at 10am please come prepared to be in the weather – this means umbrellas, rain coats, slickers and those rubber things that cover your shoes that my dad always called rubbers, which made me smirk.

Again, here is the deal: We will have 2 lines off of 37th and 38th street, one for those with tickets and one for those that need to pick up tickets (meaning they have bar codes). The have ticket door will not open until 10am to enter the building and the halls. If you need to pick up tickets, we can process your bar codes to get tickets before 10, but you will still be in the have tickets line until 10. Make sense? The best thing is to come a little before or at 10.

Of course, this sensible advice seems to have been only partially heeded, as people on Twitter are already reporting a big line.

Rhys Ifans, The Hall H Shover, will not be charged

While not as bloody an incident as the 2010 stabbing, this year the fever pitch of Hall H at Comic-Con was again marred by violence when Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, who plays the Lizard in the upcoming Spider-Man movie, got into a scuffle with a security guard, which resulted in a citizen’s arrest by said guard.

The incident was said to kick off when Ifans, who might have had a tiny bit to drink that afternoon, him being Welsh and all, went outside for a smoke with his entourage, and upon trying to get back in, found his entourage didn’t have the proper credentials. After a shouting match with the guard, Ifans reportedly gave her a shove, went on stage looking pale and rattled, and upon getting offstage, was arrested.

However, the charges won’t stick. Police were unable to find enough evidence for an indictment.

Gina Coburn, a spokeswoman for the San Diego Office of the City Attorney, said: “After reviewing differing witness accounts, our prosecutors concluded there was not sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

This event is part of a whole new theory we’ve developed for San Diego, namely that it’s now way more stressful for Hollywood types than for comics folk — after all we understand that getting our entourages anywhere without a badge or a wristband is impossible. Actors just aren’t smart enough to figure that out yet.

We’ve been assembling some other evidence to support this theory which we shall perhaps present to you before Comic-Con 2012.

Comic-Con 2011: Perception vs. Reality, Part Two


By TORSTEN ADAIR — special to The Beat

Well, after posting my initial analysis of Comic-Con programming, astute Beat readers suggested I consider the square footage and attendance of each panel.

Using the color-coded programming grids found on the CCI website, and then using the occupancy data for the convention center and nearby hotels, I created a nice spreadsheet for each room or hall.

Here are the totals (apologies for the spacing):

(Media includes Film, Television, and Animation from the grid)

Total Square Feet*Hours of Programming
  • Comics     1,380,275.50
  • Media       4,100,324.25
  • Games          256,110.50
  • Books            172,715.00
  • Other            278,386.00

Why does Media have three times the space of comics?  That’s a result of Room 20, Hall H, and the Indigo Ballroom, which were almost exclusively reserved for Media events.  (The Indigo hosted 16 media, 3 comics,  3 other, and 1 game panels.  Room 20 and Hall H were exclusively media panels, with Room 20 holding the less popular movies and shows.)

If we ignore those big rooms, the numbers are better:

  • Comics    1,306,658.50
  • Media      1,162,928.25
  • Games         232,110.50
  • Books           171,098.00
  • Other          204,769.00

Of course, remove the three-room Media circus, and most of the fanboy furor over Comic-Con vanishes.  As do most of the crowds and journalists.

If we consider seating, it looks a bit better, with media at twice the attendance of comics.  Attendance is hard to gauge, so I used the capacity seating listed for each room layout.  These are liberal numbers… I suspect that the big rooms were packed, while the smaller rooms probably had some empty seats.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the official numbers tabulated from CCI are proportional to the square footage number above.

Maximum Seating *Hours of Programming

  • Comics     226,868.50
  • Media       440,108.75
  • Games        34,377.00
  • Books           25,736.00
  • Other           56,795.00

Without the big rooms:

  • Comics    218,729.50
  • Media      133,787.00
  • Games        31,714.00
  • Books          25,586.00
  • Other         48,656.00

A rather spectacular difference in possible attendance!  Fanboys would outnumber mediots 8:5 (although there would be some dissension, as the superhero comics fans would have to tolerate the cheerful effervescence of the manga/anime cosplayers).  Of course, there is always overlap, and even without the big rooms, I would estimate that attendance of comics and media panels would be equal (with media probably attracting more).

SDCC11: Brian Ralph’s Comic-Con comics diary


Another winner in TCJ’s cartoonist diary series.

SDCC11 Videos: 50 Years of Comic Book Fandom Panel

50 Years of Comic Book Fandom from The Comics Journal on Vimeo.

The Comics Journal is posting video tapes of several Comic-Con panels — so avoiding those crowds was the right way to go after all! Here’s one that we much desired to see 50 Years of Comic Book Fandom with Mark Evanier, Jean Bails, Paul Levitz, Dick and Pat Lupoff, Richard Kyle, Bill Schelly, Roy Thomas, and Maggie Thompson. This is where it all began, people.

Comic-Con 2011: Perception vs. Reality


By TORSTEN ADAIR — special to The Beat

People have been complaining that “Comic-Con” is no longer about comics.

How Hollywood has slowly colonized the show, and that comics are becoming marginalized.  Is this true?

Yes, Hall H and Room 20 are packed full of film fans, celebrities, and press, and much of the news from San Diego each year is media related (even if it does tie into comic book properties).

Yet comics had a fair share of panels in the Indigo Ballroom and the various Room 6 halls, so there were large crowds for comics panels, and a lot of cosplayers dressed up as their favorite comic book characters.

But does media really dominate the programming at Comic-Con International?

Let’s find out!

I used the grid charts found at the CCI site and tabulated the hours for each category.

“Media” is Animation, Movies, and Television.  I grouped them together, since most critics lump them together as well.  (Razzafrackin’ Hollywood…)

I didn’t count the panels or screenings occurring in the Marriott, nor the special events and playbacks scheduled in the evenings.

This is just the panels.

So, looking at the pie chart, we see that comic book programming has 51% of total programming, for an estimated 298 hours of programming!  (That’s twelve days and 10 hours, if laid end to end!)

Media has about a third of the programming pie, with 190.75 hours (almost 8 days).

The remaining sixth is almost evenly divided between Everything Else (toys and other miscellany): 37.5; SF/Fantasy/Horror: 29.5; and Games: 28.5.

The grand total?  584:15 hours of programming!  24 days of programming (not including the Masquerade, Eisner Awards, and the film festivals)!

What is amazing about Comic-Con, what makes it such a mecca, is that it is a fan fest for a wide variety of tribes.  Thumb through the panel grids (ha!  A comics reference!) and look at the “Everything Else” panels.  Yes, lots of toy groups there, but also Harry Potter, costuming, sculpting, and Klingon lifestyles!  Plus a separate track for film-making.  It’s diverse and chaotic, and one hopes that the fandoms cross-pollinate.  Yes, the crowds are crazy, but the energy is intoxicating.  Find a way to enjoy it, not just survive.  (And attend one of the many regional cons which tend to be smaller, but just as much fun.)  And quitcher bellyachin!  Grim and gritty is out!  We’re in the “hippie” phase of the Sekhmet Hypothesis!  Grant Morrison says so! So be happy!  Accentuate the positive!  (Unless you live in New York.  New Yorkers are never satisfied.  We complain/kvetch/grumble/grouse as a form of therapy.)

SDCC, A Look Back: The Beat

One red-eye flight from Burbank later, and I’ve had the most uninterrupted sleep I’ve gotten in two weeks. It will take another 10 hours to really get normal, but for that I’ve got to hang on until the weekend. YOU CAN DO IT!

I’ll have more emblematic con thoughts tomorrow, but for now a few shout outs:

• Big ups to Chandler M. aka kaijuMOSES for cat-sitting. At the show I expressed concern to many people over the well-being of my 19-year-old cat who I had to leave in a horrible heatwave. I’m thrilled to report that Inky was at the door to meet me, and bright and alert as a kitten. I think in the future I’m not going to be able to leave her alone for this long a period, but Chandler did an AMAZING job and I can’t thank her enough. She’s also a cartoonist, folks, so check it out.

• HUGE thanks to the great Patricia Mulvihill who read my pleas on Twitter for an electric kettle to make morning Vietnamese instant coffee and sent one to our hotel, which although old and charming and conveniently located has NO coffeemakers, NO minibar and barely any Wi-Fi. It did, however, have a ghost and a balcony! Trish is the best friend anyone could have, and the electric kettle shall see us through many rocky mornings.


• A sad farewell to my perfect black mesh hoodie which I left behind in the Marina Room at the ICv2 conference, never to be seen again. You served me many long years as the perfect summer cover-up and died a Viking’s death at Comic-Con, mesh hoodie. Never shall I see your like again. Unless Nike makes one.

• Many thanks to all the pals who made the show a better, more enjoyable place: Ben McCool, Lorelei, Jimmy A., Jimmy P., Paul P., the Legendary crew (Bob, Greg, Heather, Joel, Arup and anyone whose name I missed); Ali C and Nate C for all their help; Jah Furry; David B.,; Calvin and Jody, the royal couple of Comic-Con; the guy who let me into the Spike Lounge so I could use their Wi-Fi; Brenda M. for hanging Sunday night; and many people who I will only remember when I look at the hundreds of pictures I took.

• And of course HUGE, HUGE, HUGE thanks to Torsten Adair, Kate “Oracle” Fitzsimons and Shannon O’Leary for all their hard work at the show. Almost nonexistent networks and the general logistics make covering the whole show from on the ground impossible, and having an eye or two in the sky is as necessary as instant Vietnamese coffee. To have folks who can do it with style and insight makes it even better.


SDCC11 A Look Back: James Kochalka

Okay we’re not going to spend weeks and weeks rounding up San Diego memories, but we are going to share a few good ones. James Kochalka has started his sketchbook diaries account, and this is the comics equivalent of the MODERN FAMILY recap.

The Comic-Con Virgin Diaries: Ali C. — Final Report

By Ali Colluccio

[Editor’s Note: as expected our first time Comic-Con attendees are still trying to catch up and deal with the PCSD — Post Con Sleeping Disorder. Ali C. is the first to reënter earth’s atmosphere!]

Days at Comic-Con: 4
Total hours of sleep: 15
Total number of drinks: lost track after 23…
Time of brain death: Sunday, July 24, 12:47am PDT, Hyatt lobby bar
Items crossed off To-Do list: 10 (out of 22)


Brain broken. Nerves shot. Seeking solstice in an over-priced beer at Trickster. Oh, Trickster. I would marry you if I could. You are an oasis in a vast desert of elbows, backpacks, and cosplay. A place where I can breath. A utopia of comics and sanity. Why did I not find you sooner?

Look, I’ve been to cons before. I’ve been to lots of conventions. I did the C2E2/WonderCon double header. I’ve watched NYCC grow exponentially. But nothing can prepare you for San Diego and its sheer dominance of your soul. There’s no escaping it once you’re here. You just have to keep moving. ‘Cause if you stop? Well, to paraphrase Sam Quint, this con’ll swallow you whole.

(2 days and 2,783 miles later)


Seriously, I am in genuine awe of the reporters and bloggers who turn work around at lightning speed while surrounded by the craziness of Comic-Con. San Diego is no place for a Cub Reporter. At least I got about half this post out while I was still in San Diego. And now that I’m back in beautiful, humid New York City–away from the throngs of people (sort of)–I’m able to think a bit clearer.

While Comic-Con may have broken me, it was also a ton of fun. I got to meet new people, see friends I’d only known online, and talk about comics a LOT. There’s a humming energy to SDCC. It’s fueled by the tens of thousands of people all there because they love comics. And while I saw my fair share of rants, the majority of the people were genuinely happy and in good spirits. That’s a rare and wonderful thing. And I’m very glad to have witnessed it.


Also, I got to meet Red Fraggle. RED FRAGGLE!! OK technically it was the Muppeteer who voiced Red, but still. I have a picture of me and my favorite Muppet. I talked to Jonathan Hickman about curling (and hopefully did not bore him to tears). I felt very proud being a girl at the Oh You Sexy Geek and Women of Marvel panels. I got to wear cute dresses to fancy rooftop parties.

That said, when I do go back to San Diego, I’d do things very differently. I’d test out the wifi and get that sorted on Preview Night. I’d take a lot less notes in panels (or maybe just live-blog). I would only go to panels on Saturday and Sunday and avoid the con floor at all costs. I would definitely go to Artists’ Alley before 2pm on Sunday. I’d spend more time at Trickster and less time at the Hyatt bar. I’d sleep in more and stress out less.

It’s not a convention I’d go to every year, but it was most definitely a great experience.

SDCC12: No pre-reg for 2013


While a veil of acceptance settled over most of the attendees of the just passed Big Show, a few people were still miserable, namely those who had to sleep out over night on concrete to get a ticket for next year, with the oft-heard, but seldom-heeded battle cry “I don’t think I’m coming next year.”

Maria and her family from Escondido got into line for pre-registration at 1:00 a.m. Saturday. “The floor was too hard and too cold, but we got our tickets.”

Joyce from San Diego summed up her feeling after her early-morning wait: “It’s just shameful and disrespectful.”

Dennis, from Vista, a Comic-Con attendee for 20 years, said, “I got into line at 5:45 a.m. and was number 741 in line. It took me four hours to go through to get my ticket for next year, and as I was leaving there was a handful of people getting in line for tomorrow.”

People lining up for hours! Well, I nevah! The outrage! Appalling! Terrible! Luckily there is a simple solution:

Yturralde says Comic-Con has a solution for 2013: “There will be no pre-registration…. All sales for the 2013 convention will be done online.”

The Yturralde in question is Mark, a longtime con board member, and certainly not a spokesman, so use the salty cellar, but really, WHY do on-site pre-reg when it is such a horrible experience?

We are creeping closer and closer to the day that San Diego badges go for market price on StubHub. Con official have avoided the truly outrageous extra fees of using a Ticketmaster thus far, but with demand so far outstripping supply, it might be just a matter of time before they go to a pure lottery system (which it already is, informally) or open market. We’d prefer not to see the latter, however, and the con has always tried to make getting a ticket possible for everyone from the teenaged fan to the millionaire.

But, as we’ve ben saying for years, not everyone gets to go to the Super Bowl or Wrestlemania every year. either.

SDCC11: What the hell happened?

We’re still running around and have yet to assimilate all that happened, but here’s some highlights of our reading of other reports, other voices at comic-con:

§ One of the best stories coming out of Comic-con? After they had camped out for two days, diehard Twilight fans got a huge thrill when cast members showed up with some breakfast:

Just a little after 6:15 a.m., faithful Twi-hard fans, who have long been lined up outside of Comic-Con’s Hall H, were rewarded for their efforts when cast members from Breaking Dawn showed up to give their thanks with with a surprise breakfast. Nikki Reed (Rosalie), Ashley Greene (Alice), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme), Boo Boo Stewart (Seth Clearwater), and Julia Jones (Leah Clearwater), sneaked up on on Camp Breaking Dawn. Fans, who were just waking up from a long night in line, thought the surprise were the free Twilight posters and mugs being given out by the studio. Little did they know! Unsurprisingly, when members of the Cullen clan and the wolfpack showed up (with apples, bananas, muffins and water), a delighted cheer rippled down the line, as Reed and Greene posed for photos and signed autographs.

That story is definitely going to inspire about 350,000 more people to go to Comic-Con but its really nice.

§ Chuck Rozanski reports a similar story:

Seventeen year-old Povi Romero was sobbing uncontrollably yesterday afternoon in our booth here at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con international. Povi’s tears were not motivated by sadness or despair, however, but rather by uncontrollable joy and happiness. After traveling 800 miles to be here from her home near Santa Fe, New Mexico, Povi accidentally ran into Alexander Skarsgard, the luscious vampire Eric Northman from the HBO series, TRUE BLOOD. Despite having just participated a wonderful presentation, he graciously signed Povi’s convention badge for her, and then signed her mom’s badge, too. Povi was still so overcome and shocked at her unexpected good fortune that, even ten minutes later, she was still trembling, had tears streaming down her cheeks, and could barely speak.

I am passing Povi’s wonderful story on to you because I think that it clearly illustrates that San Diego Comic-Con is a place where even your wildest dreams can come true. Your personal interests may be vastly different than Povi’s, but I’ll bet that you would at least take a passing interesting in the stunning GREEN LANTERN sketch that Neal Adams drew for Povi’s dad, Mateo Romero, or running into Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, or Lou Ferrigno walking to a panel. Whatever your personal tastes and/or fan enthusiasms, San Diego has it for you!

Once again, these stories are going to fan flames of fan desire even more but, as CCI:SD has become more of a fanfest for entertainment, these kinds of interactions are what will make it all the more special.

§ io9 rounded up Comic-Con Badvertising– the lowest nadirs of awfulness to be seen from a giant, glaring Smurf to other marketing plans gone terribly wrong. We missed about 80% of these — where the heck were they?

§ If it was the movies you were interested in, io9 also rounds up The Biggest Winners and Losers of Comic-Con, including films and TV mostly. No mention of Trickster? Among the losers — Marvel’s confusing Avengers booth, and DC’s attempts to talk directly to fans about The New 52.

§ Vulture has its own Comic-Con news round-up. We never set foot in Hall H, but apparently there’s a movie coming up that features Gia Carrano beating up Michael Fassbender. SOLD. Among the losers, mentioned by many, Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola’s abortive attempts to fiddle with his iPad at his panel. It’s always the AV.

§ Vulture also has a fine photo gallery of oddities and wonderments.

The highlight of the con was probably this well-staged moment with Andrew Garfield pretended to be a weird fan and then delivered an impassioned speech about how much he loves Spider-Man. Dudue is skinny.

§ Vulture also looked at the Tintin movie

Unfortunately, Tintin himself didn’t escape the same fate. There’s something off about this character, and it’s clear why he’s been minimized in the trailers for his own movie. Aside from the swoop in the front of his hair that lends him some cartoonish verve, Tintin looks simultaneously too-human and not human at all, his face weirdly fetal, his eyes glassy and vacant instead of bursting with animated life. The voice performance by Jamie Bell is fine, but the look is lacking.

This dog riding a motorcycle was the undisputed king of the show.

The Comic-Con Celebrity Diaries: James Urbaniak

[We’ve been spotlighting the experiences of first time Comic-Con attendees, but what about the other side? What is Comic-Con like for the many celebrities who breeze on down for a walk-on role in the big panels? The Beat asked old chum actor James Urbaniak for a diary of his trip down to Con this year. Urbaniak has appeared in such films as Henry Fool and Across the Universe, and TV shows from The Office to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and had a memorable role as R. Crumb in the American Splendor movie. He’s best known of course, for voicing Dr. Rusty Venture in The Venture Bros, and he was down at Comic-Con to appear on the Venture panel. Here’s how it went.]

By James Urbaniak


I was planning to arrive at San Diego Thursday morning but I ended up getting a callback for one of my trademarked red herring characters on a crime procedural for Thursday afternoon. (Seriously, why do I still have to audition for these red herrings? But that’s another blog post.) So I ended up taking the train from Los Angeles Thursday night. I arrived around 11:00 pm. An Adult Swim party was in full swing but I was tired and carrying bags. Dr. Venture took a cab to his hotel.

I checked in and although I was by myself was given two keycards. Printed on one keycard was an ad for the new J.J. Abrams series “Person of Interest;” printed on the other was an ad for “Mortal Kombat: Legacy.” First time I’d ever seen ads on keycards. I’d gone straight to my hotel from the train station and the marketing had already begun. Welcome to Comic-Con.

Next morning I took one of the city’s free event shuttles to the Convention Center (I was staying about a 15-minute ride away.) I boarded behind a man and woman both wearing t-shirts for a horror movie called “Blood Fare” starring Gil Gerard (which presumably did not have the money to buy space on keycards.) The bus included the usual array of cosplayers. A noncostumed old guy got on at one point and jovially barked “We’ve got quite a cast of characters here!” He was right.

I headed to the Hilton next to the convention center for the Venture Brothers panel that morning. As I approached the hotel (which was draped with a giant poster for “Cowboys and Aliens”), a swarm of people were exiting. I recognized television’s Johnny Galecki among them. A man entering the hotel said in a matter-of-fact voice “It’s the entire crew of Big Bang Theory.” He was right too.

I was soon found by an Adult Swim liaison who took me to the green room where I ran into television’s Martin Starr (star of Adult Swim’s new NTSF:SD:SUV and a certified mensch). There was an array of eats and drinks in the green room. I asked Adult Swim bigwig Keith Crofford if the spread was for us. Sometimes more than one production company shares a green room at these things and they guard their food with proprietary intensity. I did not want to reach for a grape that I assumed had been put there by Adult Swim only to be sternly informed that it was property of NBC-Universal. But Keith said it was all ours. I snacked with a clear conscience. 


Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer arrived and informed me that I would be wearing a “costume” at the panel. Doc produced a bag of garish ’90s-style hip-hop jackets while Jackson explained that he would be telling the audience that The Venture Brothers is a “new world.” I obediently put on the jacket and grabbed my sunglasses from my bag for good measure.  

We entered to the strains of Bill Biv DeVoie’s “Poison,” each of us high-fiving the mild-mannered Keith Crofford, who had introduced us. Jackson laid out his “new world” line and I offered the idea that the Venture Brothers was about “self-knowledge.” I also babbled something about the ancient wars of the Israelites. We were off to a typically incongruous start.

As usual, Doc Hammer was the engine of the panel, with Jackson and I chiming in during the occasional lulls in his hilariously articulate and energetic tangents. We showed the video for Shallow Gravy’s “Jacket” (wait, was that why we were wearing those jackets?), a teaser for the Shallow Gravy special airing in August. (Check your local listings or key cards.) As is the case every year, on the back of our nameplates  was a reminder that there may be children in the audience. This never kept us from swearing or “working blue” at these panels (why the hell would children be at an ADULT Swim panel anyway?). I don’t remember much cussing at this one although at one point Doc uttered the phrase “my icy priapus.” I don’t recall the context.

After the panel I hung out on the deck behind the green room with my friends and panel attendees the nerd-centric comedy-music duo Paul and Storm. We ate free sandwiches in the harbor breeze. There are worse situations.

It was now time to make my way into the belly of the beast: the Convention Center. The first thing I saw upon entering was a large group of Venture Brothers cosplayers being interviewed by an entertainment journalist. I stood to the side and watched. A guy dressed as Dr. Venture noticed me and we shook hands.

I wandered the floor and encountered the sight of my friend Metalocalypse director Jon Schnepp making his way through the crowd in a hunched, sloping manner. He explained that he was “silverbacking,” a technique he invented for navigating the crowds at Comic-Con by imitating a silverback gorilla. Jon is a large man and it appeared to work. I eventually made my way to the Entertainment Earth/Bif Bang Pow! booth, where Jackson, Doc and I signed Venture Brothers toys (including the new, super-cool Young Rusty lunchbox, containing Young Rusty and Jonas Sr. action figures).  Much pleasant fan interaction ensued.  

Afterwards I met up with my friend Ben Acker (writer for “Supernatural”) who was attending the Con for the first time but whose primary concern at the moment was finding an outlet at which to charge his cell phone. We walked through the center scanning the walls to no avail. Finally, Ben asked a security guard if he knew of an outlet. The guard said no. Ben then pulled out the big gun. He pointed at me and said “Do you know The Venture Brothers? That’s the voice of Dr. Venture. NOW do you know where we can find a power outlet?” The guard’s face lit up. He WAS a fan of the show. “You’re Dr. Venture?” he asked me. But although my status had afforded me various perks at the con, it could not help us find an outlet in that goddamned building. Then I had a flash of inspiration. “The Adult Swim green room at the Hilton! There’ll be an outlet there! And there’s free sandwiches!” We headed to the hotel and as we made our way towards the green room I ran into Sarah, one of the Adult Swim liaisons. “We’re going to the green room!” I announced triumphantly. Sarah looked at me sympathetically. “They just closed it,” she said.  No matter. We would head over to the bar. The food and drink wouldn’t be free but there would be an outlet. We hot-tailed it over there and in addition to finding an outlet we ran into various friends and acquaintances (including television’s Ellie Kemper) and ended up staying for a couple of hours (with me drinking far more nut brown ales than I’d planned).

Television’s Tom Lennon and Ben Garant were hosting the Eisners that evening and I enjoyed the privilege of watching them rehearse their routines as they stood at the bar in their tuxedos. I met television’s Jon Benjamin for the first time. Ben Acker’s similarly named writing partner Ben Blacker showed up. Jackson and Doc followed suit. Look! There was my old friend Maria Thayer, Susie on Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart” along with “Conan” scribes Andres du Bouchet and Todd Levin! A search for an electrical outlet had landed us in PARTY CENTRAL. I didn’t feel drunk when I left but it may be hard to tell at Comic-Con. 

Adult Swim was having a series of parties at a club called Quality Social. That evening’s event featured a Venture Brothers costume contest. Most of the VB cosplayers I’d stumbled upon earlier were there, although Dr. Venture showed up late and missed the prizes (drawings signed by Doc and Jackson) that were ultimately awarded to every contestant. That’s commitment to character. As I was leaving the club at the end of the night I met television’s Eugene Mirman, who was on the street distributing a rose seller’s entire wares (apparently a friend of his had bought them all). He offered me a long-stemmed red and I cabbed it home.


Venture Brothers press interviews in the morning, then a signing at the Adult Swim booth. At one point, a guy had Jackson and Doc sign something, then walked away, leaving me holding my pen. “Denied!” Doc Hammer exclaimed. The fellow then turned around with a surprised expression and asked for my autograph as well. Doc’s always there for me. Later I did a signing for The Devastator, a humor publication created by friends of mine for which I had contributed a piece. The graphic novelist Chandra Free (“The God Machine”), who I’ve known since she was a young commenter on my Livejournal years ago, stopped by and gave me a copy of her latest book and a beautiful drawing she’d done of Dr. Venture. I felt like a proud papa.

After the signing I found myself on a windy deck at the Omni Hotel at a party hosted by Wired (my friend Megan Ganz, writer on “Community,” had gotten me in). I was informed that I had just missed a performance by Cirque du Soleil (I dealt with this fine). I had a Budweiser Select (the only beer available, presumably a proud sponsor of the event) and schmoozed. Dinner afterwards with a group including Megan and “Community” writer Chris McKenna (who was wearing a Venture Brothers t-shirt, permanently cementing our friendship) and creator Dan Harmon. Much to my enjoyment, they talked shop. I hadn’t made it to any panels so this was like my own private (and slightly dishier) “Community” panel. (Sorry, no secrets will be revealed here.) Dan regaled us with the story of how some guy at the convention had talked to him for 20 minutes until the guy suddenly angrily realized that Dan Harmon was not Peter Jackson. My day ended with another Adult Swim party at Quality Social that featured performances by cult music sensations Dan Deacon and Girl Talk. Sadly I did not have the opportunity to regale Dan Deacon by reciting “Drinking Out of Cups” to him in its entirety. I’m sure he would’ve loved it though. No one gave me a flower when I left.


Last day. Slept late and got to the center around noon for one last walk around and saw my hands-down favorite cosplayer, a young man woman dressed as Dustin Hoffman’s red-spangled Dorothy Michaels in “Tootsie.” “Dorothy Michaels!” I exclaimed. “Icon of science fiction and fanstasy!” She gave me the Dorothy Michaels salute. [UPDATE: SEE BELOW] I hadn’t yet swung by Artists Alley so I headed over and as soon as I walked in who did I see sitting alone at a table but Joyce Brabner, widow of the late, great Harvey Pekar. I’d met Joyce ten years earlier when I’d played Robert Crumb in the movie “American Splendor” and hadn’t seen her since. I said hello and offered my condolences. She greeted me warmly and explained that she was there to promote her efforts to raise money to build a statue of Harvey in Cleveland. As she explains on this donation page, “I don’t really need a monument to my husband because our home, our books, our records, our work together- that’s the monument…It occurred to me that if we were to put up a statue, it would have to be about celebrating what he did in graphic novels, comic books for grown-ups, comic books as literature, comic book autobiography…It would be saying something about the medium he championed most of his life. That’s something I could get behind. Celebration, not celebrity.” There, alone at a table at a corner of Artist’s Alley, away from the TV panels and the hotel-sized movie posters and the hip parties and the corporate clamor was this gentle, bespectacled, lady trying to raise money for a tribute to her husband and, by extension, to the medium he loved, the medium that Comic-Con was originally about and, hopefully, still is. Go to the webpage and hit the PayPal button.

UPDATE: After this article was posted, @clembastow tweeted “SUCCESS!! Someone thought I was “a young man” in my ‘Tootsie’ get up. That makes me really happy. #sdcc” Well done, Clem. Well done.

The Comic-Con Virgin Diaries: Lauren A., Days 3-7


by Lauren Adkins
[As the scrum and tumult of con began, our trio of first-time San Diego Comic-Con attendees lost contact with the overweb, but reports have been trickling in. Here’s a mid-con report from Twilight fan Lauren.]

I’m writing from the Indigo Ballroom line!

A wise man once said, Comic-Con plans often go to complete shit. And since my arrival on Wednesday, I’ve been a textbook example, mostly thanks to beer. Here’s how it’s been so far:

Wednesday: beer, beer, beer, CHAOTIC CON FLOOR, brief excursion to Camp Twilight, beer, beer, beer

Thursday: line, line, line, TWILIGHT PANEL (squee!), beer, beer, beer, line, line, line, Showtime panel (more squeeing!), beer, beer, beer.

Friday: party at Wired Cafe, multiple True Blood-themed drinks at adorable Fangtasia bar, several random celebrity sightings, beer, beer, beer.

Today: line, line, line, line, line for Dark Horse: Joss Whedon panel, extreme sunburn.

Here’s hopin’ I get in! I’m already taking notes for next year: Always get in line earlier than you planned. Make friends in said lines. Wear sunscreen.

Detailed post to come!”

SDCC11: The Year Of Acceptance

As the dust and confetti settle from this year’s Nerd Prom, it seems like this was the year that People Came Prepared To Deal With It. Instead of complaining about the craziness, attendees, and exhibitors accepted the long waits, surging crowds and tight security. When you have an event that prompts people to sleep outside for two days, you have something that people are desperate to attend–and desperate people do desperate things. Hence the surrender to complicated procedures and lines. The only person who didn’t get it was a drunk Welshman who paid the price.

It was so the year of the offsite, with events and exhibits turning the entire Gaslamp district into a pop culture extravaganza.

The one area that seemed to draw the most disgruntlement was the pre-reg for next year, which prompted people to camp out — if you weren’t in line by 4 AM each night, your chance of getting a badge for next year was non-existent. Lots of angry sad tweets and blog posts attest to the frustration experienced by fans who waited for hours and hours

Meanwhile, on the show floor, comics sales were, depending on who you asked, fabulous or flat. A few people did gangbusters business, but the overall tone was flat sales. Big ticket items like original art moved very slowly, either because people had already spent so much to get there and had no money left or simply the bad economy.

We’ll have more on San Diego wrapping up the con in the next couple of days!


SDCC Literary Comics: Interview with a Vampire & Uglies Adaptations, Ms. Tree Returns

I wouldn't cross her, would you?

At San Diego Comic-Con it was announced that Anne Rice’s classic vampire novel, Interview With a Vampire, is being adapted into graphic novel format by webcomic creator Ashley Marie Witter for Yen Press, due out in 2012. Also announced was the manga adaptation of Scott Westerfield’s popular young adult science fiction series Uglies, by Tokyo-based artist Shawn Cumming, for an undisclosed publisher. The series is about a society that tries to force conformity and beauty upon its subjects.

Meanwhile, Ms. Tree, a literary character who began as a comic book character, returns to print. Author and comics creator Max Allan Collins announced at the First Comics revival panel that the entire run of the hardboiled graphic novel series will be collected and returned to print. Although Collins has published several short stories and a novel about the character in the years since, the Ms. Tree comics have been out of print since 1993.

Kate Fitzsimons is the producer of PW Comics World’s new podcast More To Come, starring The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald. You can subscribe to it on iTunes here. She will be covering San Diego Comic-Con all week for The Beat – if you have a tip, twitter her at geekiferouskate.

Bring forth the hoverboards!