As mentioned earlier this week, The Beat is 10 years old this month! What was it like in the primitive days of 2004? Thanks to the wonders of digital archiving we can tell you! We can even take you back to San Diego 2004 for a look at skinnier but not necessarily better versions of many Beat favorites. So step with us behind the veils of time for….
Comic-Con International: San Diego 2004
Neil Gaiman accepting an Eisner award for SANDMAN; ENDLESS NIGHTS as Will Eisner looks on, as was the custom until Eisner’s death in January 2005. This was the last time that Eisner was at the awards named for him.
This was the year of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, starring Jude Law, Gywneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. These giant inflatable robots set up across the trolley tracks were, as I recall, one of the most spectacular movie marketing displays to date, and Sky Captain was one of the first movies to fall prey to the “Comic-Con Curse” — despite heavy promotion to the nerd herd, the movie was a flop. If there was anything at SD 2004 that was a harbinger of the future, it’s this. These robots would barely rate a nod these days when entire theme parks are set up to promote webisodes.
I think this is the last year I attended the indie beach party on Saturday night, probably because it was the last year that enough indie cartoonists to have a beach party actually attended. When things were less hectic this was a wonderful respite from the hectic world of the con. I think this may have been the year that Jim Lee drove the McClouds, myself and Peter Milligan and an illegal number of people to be in one car to the party and I was forced to set on someone’s lap all the way there.
Trina Robbins, unknown in the center and Go Girl artist Anne Timmons. Looking at these photos what’s notable to me is how many cartoonists who I would never see at SDCC any more are in them.
Frequent Beat commenter Cary Coatney and his comic Deposit Man. Countdown until Cary comments on this post in 10…9…8…
Robyn Chapman and two people whose names I don’t remember. Yes boys and girls, once upon a time cartoonists went to San Diego!
Dave Roman, John Green and future superstar Raina Telgemeier.
I have no idea what happened to this Cardlings dude, but he was way ahead of the curve on the marketing spectacle that would later become necessary.
Sinister nuclear lemonade they served in the pro room that mutated all the cartoonists.
Pia Guerra and Ian Boothby
Diamond’s Kuo-yu Liang and Roger Fletcher
What then passed for an impressive display in 2004
And every single inch of the convention center wasn’t always jammed. Artist Alley wasn’t anyway. I think this may have been before Hall H even.
Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber were tabling-buddies and even had a hilarious blog back in the day, later to become the Periscope studio blog and then, Facebook. However to prevent each other from being driven insane by the other’s table patter, they erected a fence between them.
Skottie Young and Khary Randolph. I ran into Khary at Heroes Con a couple of days ago and almost didn’t recognize him because he wasn’t wearing a hat.
Dave Johnson, Tony Harris and Phil Noto.
Kirby inker and raconteur Mike Royer who once told me he had seen Blade Runner 70 times.
The Italian contingent, consisting of Matteo Casali, unknown, Giuseppe Camuncoli and unknown. Sorry I don’t recognize so many folks…life was so different then!
Beside the Sky Captain thing, the biggest showbiz buzz at the 2004 con was the presence of Burlyman, the comics company run by the Wachowskis. Both Andy (I think that’s him in the floral shirt above) and Lana showed up at the booth, which got a lot of attention as both had not done a public appearance in years.
The Golden Apple’s Sharon Liebowitz, the late George Gladir and the late Bill Liebowitz. I believe Bill passed away a few months after this photo was taken. I miss him still.
This was one of only two years when the Hyatt bar was closed to to construction so DC arranged to have a bar set up in the grassy area out in back of the Hyatt, a bar I dubbed the Chu-Fong, since DC’s Fletcher Chu-Fong had been instrumental in arranging it. There was never a more pleasant hang out at Comic-Con, as the sea mists rolled in, people satin the cool evening dew and the douchebag rabble didn’t exist yet.
Then as now, folks gather on the steps in back of the Hyatt after last call to talk and have fun. Such a simpler, more innocent time.
So there you go! Pretty much the same and yet subtly different. Do you have any memories of Comic-Con 2004? Did you drink that lemonade? Tell us all about it in the comments.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.