By Carolina Cooney
Arriving Tuesday as an exhibitor gives one a special portal into the magical world known as Comic-Con. Having been a show exhibitor for more than ten years now, Tuesday is my favorite day — yes, it’s hot, as the exhibitor hall has yet to turn on the air conditioning, but there is a palpable excitement in the air. Fellow exhibitors still have a spring in their step, a glimmer is in their eye of all the promise a “good” (read: profitable) show can hold. It is a time when old friends reunite, when new friends are made while searching for that booth supply that you inevitably forgot (usually a box cutter).
As always, there are the usual grumblings from exhibitors that this will DEFINITELY be their last year at Comic-Con. Many complain that the show is just too costly and not worth the expense. But in general spirits are high. The show promotors seem to have taken into account artist’s feedback about floor traffic (and lack thereof) and have moved the huge Video Games section to the other end of the hall (affectionally dubbed “Old Con” by long-time convention attendees). This effort to get traffic–and potential customers–flowing throughout the entire hall rather than congregating in one area, is greatly appreciated by the exhibitors.
After a brief scurry around the show floor, I was struck most by the changes. There is a sense of rebound, and by most accounts the comic industry is booming. It’s nice to see Bud’s Art Books, once a convention mainstay with a huge ten-booth display, back from near-existence with a sizable but modest three booths, crammed with as many amazing art books as possible. Last Gasp has expanded and teamed up with Hi-Fructose Magazine, and is now amassing an entire row of booths. They’ll be flaunting an impressive line-up of guests throughout the show, including Junko Mizuno, Mitch O’ Connell, and Katsuya Terada. If you aren’t drooling yet, you should be.
Image Comics, once a small island of booths, now has a huge display. Banners illustrated with their smash hit THE WALKING DEAD reach the ceiling of the convention center, and they’ll undoubtedly be packed to the gills all convention long. Marvel, outdoing themselves once again, has a massive display of about 40 television screens assembled to create one huge screen. It is impressive, to say the least. As of yet, their other surprises remain hidden in large crates teasingly stamped “Marvel”.
Other eye-catching booths include an audacious display for the upcoming LEGO MOVIE, a jungle-laden alcove promoting the new PREDATOR film, and an expanded display for MY LITTLE PONY, apparently experience a renaissance. Lucasfilm has a giant television screen above their booth, which was playing the classic Star Wars: A New Hope as I walked by. But perhaps the most jaw-dropping display, at least at this stage of the game, goes to Gentle Giant/WETA Workshop; no surprise, really, considering their amazing fx and creature creations.
Another amazing show is in the works, without a doubt!
Carolina Cooney is a comics creator who’ll be at booth 5530 this weekend at SDCC. You can also find her on twitter!