Well, as you may have noticed, there’s a little Hollywood shindig coming up in a few days. Whereas once, San Diego prep — with the accompanying anxiety, dashed hopes and teeth gnashing — was exclusively the provenance of the comics industry, now, the entire entertainment industry is in full throttle PR mode, harried PR girls are cold calling journos, and planning hors d’oeuvres spreads, arranging mini-junkets and sending out press availabilities like there is no tomorrow.
We’ve drifted into a more “official” press list this year, so we’ve been flooded with invites of every kind, and it’s bean a real eye opener. While it’s a given that everyone thinks the Con has left comics behind, this year, we don’t think that’s the problem. This year, the con has left NERD MOVIES AND TV SHOWS BEHIND. And it’s sad.
We can’t tell you how many invites to see some teen sex comedy called SEX DRIVE we’ve received…and ignored. We like a free movie as much as the next Fourth Estater, but San Diego isn’t about teen sex comedies, for god’s sake. It’s about ACTION SCI-FI ADVENTURE COMIC BOOK MOVIES! STAR WARS! BLADE RUNNER! 300! IRON MAN!
With the Con’s place as THE consumer entertainment marketing showcase of the year, every production company in existence is staging a presentation or panel. Look, we’re thrilled to be breathing the same air as G.Butt again, but what does a Guy Richie gangster movie have to do with Comic-Con? Really now! Guy Richie may have written a comic book for Virgin but THAT DOESN’T COUNT.
The TV offerings are even more off-topic — what do BONES, 24 and PRISON BREAK have to do with Comic-Con? Or Samurai Girl? Or Dollhouse…okay, we get THAT one.
Seriously, if you could pull some kind of Life on Mars deal and travel back to a Comic-Con from the 70s with guests Dennis Weaver, Telly Savalas, and Robert Forster, that would be cool. Mannix. We’d like to meet Mannix.
To be fair, this year’s comic book movie slate is particularly weak, due to the writers’ strike. Only WATCHMEN and THE SPIRIT are representing the home team. (No WOLVERINE? Wait a minute…) And in the meantime, where are the comics, anyway? Have they just given up on getting ANY press during the show? Isn’t there a way to treat cartoonists like the superstars they are?
At the giant European comics fests, cartoonist guests spend often an entire day doing press, TV, newspaper and nerd. It’s surprising that more US comics shows don’t adopt this model. We’ve been offered C-list TV stars out the wazoo, but not Lynda Barry. Wouldn’t a comics star’s time be better spent mixing it up between press and signings just like movie stars?
In the spirit of full disclosure, we helped set up an actual comic book press conference this year. (We’ll tell you all about it when we attend it.) It’s a bold experiment, but one we expect to catch on. We’ve heard the idea of more comic books press conferences floated by a few comics publicists, although that’s really what panels have become. Still, for a busy, dizzy, harried mainstream journo, attending a single, say, Marvel or DC event is more practical than going to half a dozen panels.
There are quite a few ways to keep the comic in Comic-Con. To their credit, EW did it right in their Comic-Con preview, including actual comic books alongside movies and TV shows. Granted, it’s hard to compete with the level of excitement over a movie like DEATH RACE, but the funny thing is that all those movie people will just be ripping off the comics in a few months anyway.