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SDCC 12: Bill Willingham won't be back to Comic-Con


by Gabriel Neeb

The 2012 Convention is winding up and news about who will attend next year is starting to emerge.

At the Fables panel in Room 6DE, Fables creator Bill Willingham announced that he would not be attending the 2013 convention. This was not unexpected given a convention dedicated to Fables will take place in (snowy) Rochester, Minnesota from 22 to 24 March 2013. As the majority of the panel was a celebration of the series’s 10th Anniversary, the atmosphere of the panel, panelists, and attendees was receptive and tranquil. So when Willingham announced that he would not attend in 2013, it came as a mild shock to the audience.

However, for those who follow Willingham on Twitter he revealed an incident which occurred around 4:30 pm where:

Some ridiculous bodyguard of some pissant little minor TV personality, I couldn’t recognize, just threw a hand in my chest, to clear the…
…path for his pissant little celebrity, who’s actually been on TV once. Dear pissant little wannabe celebrity, next time come heavy. 

Later, Willingham was able to identify the “pissant little minor TV personality” as:
Okay, I found out the diminutive celebrity who needed the pushy bodyguard in order to feel adequate was some lost soul named Paul Scheer.

(I know, I’ve never heard of him either. Why did he need a bodyguard?)

Whether this incident was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” is unknown, but it seems reflective of some feelings of many long time attendees, that Comic Con has changed, and not necessarily for the better.

Paul Scheer has claimed on his Twitter feed, that he had no personal security and that:

Been wracking my brain. It might have been the SDCC security who we were forced to have. He was a dick. Not affiliated.

However intended, such a statement is a long way from any sort of reconciliation or apology. It is also a failure to acknowledge that whatever action that occurred against Willingham, was done on the behalf of Mr. Scheer.

Also unknown: will there be a Fables panel in 2013 at SDCC.

  1. With so many celebs and security running around it’s possible to create such confusion. Sad to hear that *events* (no matter what they were) has built up to the point that Willingham’s appearances might be modified.

  2. I mean, if you haven’t heard of Paul Scheer, you’re just not looking. The League is a major hit on a cable network known for its original programming, and while NTSF:SD:SUV:: doesn’t have the same saturation, it definitely had a presence at Comic-Con. Beyond that, I’ve interacted with Mr. Scheer a couple times and he has been super cool. OTOH, Bill Willingham is judging people on their level of celebrity, calling them pissants and telling them to “come big next time.” So… maybe he’s not necessarily the victim in this case?

  3. Um, whatever happened in this incident aside, Paul Scheer is tremendous and you will be a better person should you acquaint yourself with some of his work.

  4. Fables is arguably the most successful comic series that Vertigo ever launched (Sandman having come out as a regular DC title originally).

    And this other guy is a minor irreverent hipster celebrity.

    But it’s 2012 so it makes total sense that the comics internet community would side with the celebrity guy. Especially since Willingham does not have an in-your-face liberal “support me or get labeled ‘reactionary'”-style persona.

  5. @Horatio
    Balzac worked his life away composing a body of work that would make Stephen King green with envy, all for the love of his life. When he finally proved himself worthy and won her hand, he had nothing left emotionally to give her and died.

    Rimbaud gave up on being the world’s first rockstar to go run guns in North Africa.

    So if you ask me, a definition of celebrity is…Stan Lee. We may not always love him or his ego, but how much more dull would our lives be without his decades in the battlefields?

  6. I’ve attended since 1986, and exhibited since 1997, and I had EXACTLY the same experience last year when I arrived to my hotel (The Hyatt). Private security goons physically moved me away from the hotel elevator and around a corner so that a “celebrity” (I don’t know who, since I couldn’t see from around the corner) could enter the hotel and elevator without anyone being nearby to see. That, among other reasons, is why I gave up my booth, and didn’t attend this year. They need to change the name to Hollywood Con, or Media Con, or Celebrity Con, or something. Comic Con, it ain’t — not anymore.

  7. >> I mean, if you haven’t heard of Paul Scheer, you’re just not looking.>>

    Who cares? I haven’t heard of him, and I’ll happily agree that I’m not looking. But I’m not required to.

    I don’t go to San Diego myself unless someone brings me in, because otherwise it’s too expensive, too grueling, too much time away from work and aside from all that, the security staff seem to be selected for their level of assholery.

    I’m glad people like the show, but I’d rather go to other, smaller shows, with more breathing room. If someone’s security person shoves me, the idea that I should be paying enough attention to cable shows to know who that person was is irrelevant to the fact that some security asshole shoved me.

    If someone isn’t enjoying themselves at SDCC any more, they shouldn’t “get a helmet,” as one poster says. They should quit going, because they don’t enjoy it, not endure what they don’t enjoy (and pay inflated hotel and food prices for the privilege). There’s no requirement to attend.

    I doubt Paul Scheer meant to offend, but whether you know who he is or not doesn’t make a security guy shoving someone more acceptable.

    On the other hand, I’m really looking forward to FablesCon.

  8. Kurt, the point isn’t that people ought to recognise Scheer’s celebrity, just that I think it’s stupid both Willingham and the writer of this article felt it necessary to say they hadn’t heard of him. Who cares? Rudeness is rudeness, but to attack someone who, outside of comic audiences, is a good deal more famous than the writer of Fables as being a “pissant diminuitive soul” totally misses the point of the incident and comes off as childish.

  9. I’m confused. So he is supposed to apologize for the behaviour of security personnel whom he didn’t ask for and who don’t work for him? Perhaps the apology should be coming from whoever hired the guard.

  10. Well let’s not beat about around the bushes, we all know comic in comic con is just grandfathered in. The show has been co-opted for a long time, it’s become a massive business machine and I’m not really that surprised that the VIPs don’t necessarily have anything to do with comics. There are lots of people who go there just to see the movie and TV show panels and see previews, but they don’t read or care about comics or where so many of those ideas come from. I mean it’s marketed as a celebration of geek culture but it’s just a celebrity zoo, which is fine but I do think it’s time we change the name to reflect reality.

  11. >> Kurt, the point isn’t that people ought to recognise Scheer’s celebrity, just that I think it’s stupid both Willingham and the writer of this article felt it necessary to say they hadn’t heard of him. Who cares? >>

    I don’t care whether it’s someone I’ve heard of or not, myself, but the “Hey, you’re just not looking!” response seems to suggest that he should be looking.

    >> So he is supposed to apologize for the behaviour of security personnel whom he didn’t ask for and who don’t work for him?>>

    If someone assigned to follow me around and see to my security shoves someone else, I don’t care if I’m not paying the security guy. Hell, if a total stranger shoved someone out of my way because they felt that I was such hot shit I shouldn’t be bothered with peons, I’d make sure the guy who got shoved was okay, and apologize to him. The idea that it ain’t my problem if it ain’t my payroll seems pretty callous.

  12. In any case, judging from their own later tweets, Bill and Scheer both seem to be laughing it off, so there doesn’t seem to be much need to get up in arms about it on either of their behalf.

    But people have been griping about SDCC security for a decade or more; if there’s something that needs fixing, that’s where it is.

  13. I have to assume Paul didn’t have control of this security personnel or wasn’t aware of any physical interactions being done on his behalf. Paul Scheer is an incredibly nice person.

    I understand avoiding the con, as Comicon hasn’t interested me in a long time because of the Hollywood takeover, but I just don’t want people blaming Paul for Willingham’s avoidance of the convention, or people thinking Paul has a huge ego.

  14. Paul’s right, San Diego Con security is mandatory even when the person doesn’t want it or need it and in no way is the person with it throwing their weight around. If the guard was a dick he should be called a dick and Paul called him a dick. Done and done.

    The problem isn’t the celeb and if you’re heard of him or not but the disrespectful security and the con not having ways for people in panels to get to them quickly without disrupting things for folks on the floor.

    And Paul’s work is well worth checking out if you like laughing and junk.

  15. Word has it SOYLENT INTERNATIONAL will begin test marketing its delicious multi-colored food bars @ SDCC in 2013.

  16. I’m friends with Paul Scheer and he’s a great guy. I’m friends with Bill Willingham and he’s a great guy. I’ve heard of both of them.

    And I would shove either of them out of the way to meet George RR Martin. So there.

  17. I don’t think Willingham is a dick. I do however think almost every security person has an over inflated sense of self importance.

  18. I’m really not surprised… Half of comics news is now dedicated towards blockbuster movies and stuff that has nothing to do with comics other than being on some sort of nerd periphery.

    Comics has been mined for all its ideas from folks who have zero imagination and made them rich. We are all muddling around in a strip mine panning for scraps. Golden Age, Silver Age, Copper Age and now we’re scrounging in mud.

    Willingham sounds like a macho ass, though. Thinly veiled physical posturing just sounds sad coming from an adult.

  19. ..every security person has an over inflated sense of self importance.


    I think there might actually be some who really do keep things in some sort of practical prospective.

  20. I’d push over Ed Brubaker, Kurt Busiek, Paul Scheer, Bill Willingham, and George R.R. Martin for the chance to meet the actress who played Daenerys.

  21. >> I would shove either of them out of the way to meet George RR Martin. So there. >>

    I ran into George at the DC offices last time I was up there, and we were complimentary at each other. It was nice.

    >> I’d push over Ed Brubaker, Kurt Busiek, Paul Scheer, Bill Willingham, and George R.R. Martin for the chance to meet the actress who played Daenerys.>>

    That’s why she has security…


  22. This kind of stuff has been going on (and off) for years to the fans so maybe the pros are finally feeling it.

    In the 90s, there were always those celebrities who would take that tour of the dealers room with a bubble of security around them to push anyone away.

    In recent years, it was the Elite security (red shirts) that were notoriously bad while the regular comic-con ones were good. But after some vocal bitching by fans, Elite was much nicer the following years.

    Last year, many fans and cosplayers were getting yelled at by some new third group of security regarding all the standing around upstairs. But after some complaining to the con, from my perspective, security was incredibly nice this year. Crossing guards were telling us to have a nice day. Night security telling us to have a good night. Security joking with fans to get them to do what they needed them to do rather than trying to get results by screaming at them (something I witnessed last year).

    The point is, I think David Glanzer and the con DO listen to any feedback and complaints and actively make changes regarding the security for the next year. I have to think that security is being instructed to essentially “be nicer when doing their jobs”.

    The problem is, I don’t know how much control they have over the private security. The only beef I had this weekend was with the Fox Studio goons yelling at the crowd to move and blocking them in the aisle while they did their BONES signings. The people were not the problem, it was the security causing the problem and whomever decided it was a great idea to have a signing on the exhibit floor and not upstairs in the autograph section where lines can be controlled.

    Will these guys get a talking to or do the studios and their money for the big booths wield too much power now where they can’t yell them no?

  23. >> I’d push over Ed Brubaker, Kurt Busiek, Paul Scheer, Bill Willingham, and George R.R. Martin for the chance to meet the actress who played Daenerys.>>

    I’d push over all of them to pick up a copy of the first Captain America Essential.

    OK, I’ve met Kurt, so I’d probably say, “Please, could you move so I can buy some Kirby Komics?”

  24. Speaking for myself, I love the League and met Paul last year at Comic Con and he took a picture with me and could not have been nicer.

    As for Comic-con, it’s just too much now.

  25. After we left Hall H Saturday night and were heading for the Hilton Bayfront we saw the black car motorcade heading out of the place.
    They got stopped at the intersection because they were in the midst of letting people cross the street. This one guy ran up to the car and began pleading for something from Robert Downey Jr.
    circling the car a few times knocking on windows. Then sprinted down to the next intersection to repeat the process when they hit the light there.

    Couldn’t help wondering where security was at that particular moment.


    Pitch for a Feature film

    Log line: A popular comic book writer thought he left his tough military background far in his past – but when a gang of brutal private security agents, looking to make a name for themselves with a blackwater type para-military network, assault the artist at the star-studded San Diego Comic Con… ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!

  27. I’m seeing Mickey Rourke (in glasses) and Michael Madsen (as sadistic, murderous head of SDCC)

    Madsen’s third act reveal: his secret plan is to turn all of America into one big 24/7/365 ComicCon — A BIG GIANT WHOREHOUSE FOR THE WHOLE WORLD!

  28. Horatio, you didn’t use the “Elevator Pitch” template:

    Think [movie one] meets [movie two] by way of [movie three]!

    Here’s my “Contretemps” pitch:

    Think “La Dolce Vita” meets “Anything Goes” by way of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.

    I’ll be writing the graphic novel next week, in the hopes of pitching it to Hollywood next July.

  29. Ed, GRRM is actually extremely approachable; last year I ran into him three times at Comic-Con, and spoke briefly with him once. No entourage nor security (admittedly two of these encounters were outside of the Convention Center, the other at the 50th anniversary of comics fandom evening event). He’s even more available at classic sf cons. If I really wanted to meet him, I’d go to Worldcon, this year in Chicago over a long Labor Day weekend, rates go up at the end of the month.

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