As we walk around and read our email and check Twitter tag #sdcc, maybe it’s just because of the explosion of the social networking, but this year, like no other, it seems comics have been left sitting by the side of the road waiting to get a ride to the big show. Of course it isn’t true — everyone we know in comics has been slaving away for a month to get ready, tons of books are debuting, there are tons of announcements in the works, and tons of programming — but the movie/TV/entertainment media has really taken over the popular imagination. We’re probably a bit too jet-lagged right now to put this all down in any coherent way but it’s the only time, we’ll have so here goes.

We’ve been suggesting for a few years — ever since we started getting the press releases that the entire SD press corp gets — that comics companies have their own press conferences and media availabilities. Having seen the list, and naming no names, we can guarantee that there are many cartoonists that would make for better copy and would be more popular than some of the dubious “nerdlebrities” who are being offered up every hour on the hour.

This year, exactly one comics company has done this — Radical. Their media event includes not only comics personnel like Steve Niles, Jim Steranko, and Jimmy Palmiotti, but their Hollywood contingent, like Gene and Nick Simmons and director Sam Sarkar.

Say what you will about Radical’s comics output and business plan, but this seems like they’re trying to keep up with the Joneses and Jacksonses. Maybe more comics companies don’t do it because they’re afraid no one would show up, or other, better reasons, but we’re guessing this will eventually become much more common.

From the other side, many con vets are just wondering when the Hollywood contingent of San Diego Comic-Con is going to do an “E3” and try to scale back. Our own concept of one possible course is that in a few years, Hollywood is going to wake up and wonder why they are spending so much money on giving fans tchatchkes and try to scale down to a press-only event, just like E3 tried to do. However, everyone hated it and eventually the video game conference came back bigger and louder than ever. If SDCC’s space issue doesn’t resolve itself, maybe the con WILL go to Vegas..or part of it, anyway.

Or maybe EVERYONE loves Nerd Prom too much. You can see a little of the future of the con unfolding in this piece from Variety on how going to the Con has gone from being a dreaded task to a much-loved perk for Hollywood stars. According to the piece, it was Angelina Jolie’s appearance to tout TOMB RAIDER 2 in 2002 that really touched off Starapalooza:

In the years since, “They all want to go,” says one studio marketing exec. “Any actor who is fighting against going to Comic-Con doesn’t have any friends who have been down there. They have no idea how great it is.”Genre consultant Jeff Walker, who has bridged the gap between the convention and Hollywood for decades, says it’s always an “eye-opening” experience for first-time attendees (this year’s debutantes include Tim Burton, Robert Zemeckis and revered Asian filmmakers Park Chan-wook and Hayao Miyazaki, with rumors swirling about possible appearances by Jim Carrey and Denzel Washington). “Very few have come away saying, ‘That’s the worst experience I’ve ever had,'” Walker insists.

Now, stars have to be actively dissuaded from coming to the show if they have nothing to promote. And the unthinkable can happen, even in Hall H:

Regardless of the star caliber in attendance, Comic-Con crowds expect to see footage or other assets, and when that material isn’t ready in time, it can potentially damage a film’s reception. And as one veteran publicist notes, “If you can’t ‘eventize’ your panel, why allow the talent to come down anyway? (Dwayne Johnson’s) panel for ‘Witch Mountain’ was half empty last year.”

While the Hollywood Factor seems more unavoidable than ever this year, let’s not forget that it’s Comics’ own “Big Tent” that someone makes this possible. No matter what happened, there is still some core of comics that shines through, like the phoenix feather in the core of Harry Potter’s magic wand. Seth Green of Buffy and Robot Chicken has a nice piece on this in the EW Comic-Con issue:

Over the years, the craziest thing I’ve experienced has been my transition from attendee to professional. My friends and I used to wait in long lines to sit in a huge room full of equally stoked fans just to catch a fleeting glimpse of the next big flick, or hear Eastman and Laird explain how the Ninja Turtles aren’t selling out by saying “cowabunga.” Now I’m a part of those panels, explaining to a room of our supportive fans how we’re the same as them and we’re making stuff we love.

You could do worse.


  1. I’ve always liked Seth Green. I don’t know about anyone else, and anyone else can do as they please, but I’ve learned that the best way to have fun at comic con, is to make it about the comics. I’m looking forward to driving down and being there this morning, and I hope that I get to meet a lot of you there. Here’s what I look like if anyone wants to come up and say hi… http://vipglamour.net/wp-content/uploads/2006/05/jessica-alba-1.jpg

  2. ““Very few have come away saying, ‘That’s the worst experience I’ve ever had,’” Walker insists.”

    I suspect that comics have been reduced to a kind of tolerated minstrelry at these massive media events, which is probably okay I guess. I mean, if you like being a minstrel. It’s hard to protest when odds are in 5 years we’ll all be wishing again for more mainstream attention.

  3. I’m not sure why Comic-Con has to be primarily about comics. I agree that the show should change its name to reflect its evolution into something different, but I’m not sure why we spend so much time discussing ways for the show to change back to what it used to be.

    The San Diego show today is a general gathering of fans to celebrate a lot of fan cultures — sci-fi, horror, superhero, action-adventure, blockbuster film, blockbuster comics, video games — and it makes sense since all of those genres and media and art forms overlap so often. From that perspective, comics doesn’t have to struggle to be heard amongst the noise that threatens to crowd them out. Comics just has to accept its slice of the general fan culture pie that’s served at the show.

    We have plenty of other industry shows that focus primarily on comics, just like there are shows focusing exclusively on video games or horror or what-have-you. I think it makes sense to let Heroes Con (or Wonder Con, NYCC, etc.) be the huge comics love fest we all need and let San Diego be what its particular attendees want it to be.

  4. Me, I’m waiting for the day when the “Science Fiction” part of the original
    Comic-Con triumvirate of “Comics Art, Films, Science Fiction” [as seen in that ’73 SDCC Program Cover by Neal Adams, say] will take over the Convention Center as much as its older brothers…

    Not a good sign though, to see that SCI-FI Channel NOT on the Exhibitor Floor this year—- that landmark purple blob is GONE?? Where will we sit now while waiting to meet up with friends?

  5. All I know is that I’m not at Comicon this year and that has me bummed out.

    And naturally, it seems that every time I pick up a newspaper, watch the news on TV, scan the Internet news, or read a weekly periodical, there’s a mention of Comicon.


  6. The problem with SDCC becoming a multimedia entertainment event instead of comics-centered might be that the change feeds the perception that the comics format, as such, isn’t worth much attention, and that comics are useful primarily as storyboards and for generating characters to use in other media (videogames, movies). If comics stories aren’t appreciated for what they are, the industry isn’t going to progress.

    The critical attention ASTERIOS POLYP has garnered is wonderful; the book has gotten reviews that examine the effectiveness of practically every panel and bit of dialogue, but such reviews are nothing like the standard review that gives an issue a numerical rating and assumes that artwork can entertain a reader by itself, even if there’s no story. ASTERIOS POLYP isn’t a model for the comics industry.

    It’s possible that in the next several years, the split between the low end of the market (DC, Marvel, comics as storyboards, etc.) and the high end (indie creators) will widen, leaving readers who just want good genre fiction with little to choose from.



    I love how that guys says “very few” have come away with saying “this is the worst experience ever.” Meaning, there’s been a few. LOL Ah, Nerd Prom, we love thee.