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?

G Butt

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.


  1. I’m always grateful to The Beat for clearing my head when I think about enabling the comments function on CR Briefings.

  2. Well, while the medium of comics does tend to get ignored by its “big brothers” of television and movies, the genres of comics are varied. Yes, I’m (re)reading Watchmen, but I’ve also just finished the third volume of Absolute Sandman (fantasy), as well as two Minx previews (reality based teen fiction). Then there’s the multitude of non-fiction waiting to be read (Nat Turner).

    SDCC offers a variety of programming for a variety of interests. The last Comic-Con I attended, I sat in on the movie panels for Warner Brothers (Harry Potter, T3, Dreamcatcher) as well as the Disney Treasure Planet sneak. I would sit in on an Arrested Development panel.

    Yes, I would love to see a European style comics salon here in the U.S. (Can’t believe how little internet press Erlangen got last May.) BUT… if you hold a massive con that attracts 125,000 people, then the publicity sharks are going to notice the blood in the water.

    For you pop-culture junketeers, I recommend “John Henry Days” by Colson Whitehead.

  3. Here’s what Comic Con will be all about for me: Eddie Campbell, Exhibit A Press, Neko Press, Dan Brereton, Dave McKean, Penny Farthing Press, David Mack, Dame Darcy, Molly Crabapple, Alex Ross, saying hi to the Beat, saying hi to Tom Spurgeon (run Tom, run :) ) Comix Mix, Rick Viech, artist’s ally, and so much more that I’m not thinking of right now. In short, it’s about comics as an art form. I’ve got my camera, my little micro tape recorder (for EVP’s as well as interviewing people) my list of booths I want to stop by, mental list of comics, prints, sketches I want to get, and copies of my own, latest projects to show around. What comic con is all about has never changed for me, and you’ll be hard pressed to find me at most panels about non-comic related stuff. Sure their might be one or two things if I have the time, but for the most part the real fun is in the exhibit hall, anyway. Here’s to comic books at comic con! God love em, and all that the support em!

  4. “Seriously, if you could pull some kind of Life on Mars deal and travel back to a Comic-Con from the 70s with guests Denis Weaver, Telly Savalas, and Robert Forster, that would be cool. Mannix. We’d like to meet Mannix.”

    Damn … that would be the GREATEST panel of all time!

    MANNIX — my favorite tv show as a kid, and now as an adult. I purchased season one of MANNIX last month. Mike Connors and Joseph Campanella provide commentary, and they both look terrific for being in their 80s. And they live in California. It’s still possible to meet Mannix, Heidi …

  5. Kenny says:
    “The less nerd shit at SDCC, the better. I’d much rather see promos and panels about stuff I care about than more horror and sci-fi snooze fests …”

    I guess what baffles me is why a guy with no apparent interest in comics is reading and posting on a blog about comics.

  6. rich,

    I love comics. I *love* the medium. I read mostly Image, manga, and indie stuff. I just love laughing at the nerds who think Batman is a real person or who think 200,000 sales of a comic matters in the real world.

    And SDCC has gotten *way* better since it’s deemphasis on nerd shit. The more panels on movies and TV shows people actually want to see and the less on the nerd shit, the better! Because, nobody cares about Batman comics, except that 200,000 or 300,000 that read them. 0.1% of the world’s population…..yeah, the less nerd shit, the better!

  7. I used to think that comicbook conventions were killing
    comicbooks -I mean what hope does the medium have when
    the conventions play up to the very stereo type that I would think
    comicbook people would want to avoid. Well, I guess the world has
    become a lot geekier and the geeks have now won -and I have in the process gotton over myself and got back in touch with my inner geek:)
    Though reading this latest from the very astute Heid one can’t help but wonder if maybe I was a little right -are comics now on par with teen sex comedies. (Actually, I don’t know why I’m complaining I like sex teen comedies:) what was my point again?)

  8. Comics and the artists for them were only 20% of the SDCC last year. What does that tell you? If they could put Artist Alley out the back door and into the real alley, they would. SDCC sucks and it should be two shows instead of all this corporate bullshit taking over. One for comics as it used to be and one for Hollywood. Last year there was Good Luck Chuck? Why?? Cause Jessica Alba is in it? When she’s there for the Fantastic Four fine, but they should only allow movies or shows that have a comic book like 24 or movies that are based on them…this is why I don’t go anymore. It’s a waste of time.

  9. Yes yes! Say it all again!!

    This is all exactly why I forego SDCC for NYCC nowadays. It’s a “big” comics show much more suited to my tastes. In fact, at NYCC comic book pros get the exact star treatment you’re talking about, Heidi. There, Grant Morrison and Stan Lee and George Perez are the heavyweight attractions. I’ve never been to Heroes Con but from everything I read it’s more like what SDCC used to be.

    I don’t think SDCC needs to change to suit my tastes, mind you — it’s evolved to what it is with remarkable success so it might as well remain a general pop culture show as long as that keeps bringing in more audience each year.

  10. Oh, and Torsten — good on you for picking up “Nat Turner!” I’ve already read it twice and can’t get it out of my head. It’s made me creatively jealous in a way usually reserved for Jim Ottaviani. “Nat Turner” better sweep all the awards next year, by gosh.

  11. Well, it was a no-brainer… been a fan of Kyle Baker since “Cowboy Wally”. Would love to see a Ghost Chimp comic!

    And if I can learn something from a non-fiction comicbook, I will. (Jim O is working with Zander Cannon on a science book.)

    SDCC is a fanfair. They do offer other conventions as well (one of which is advertised above). True, SDCC is a nice nexus of realities, allowing fans and creators and producers from all different tribes to comingle and discover cool stuff. It’s just too much for me.

  12. What does BONES have to do with Comicon? Actually, a bit more than you might think. Boreanaz’s character is into comic books, and there have been tons of comic book references throughout the series (there may have even been an entire episode dealing with the death of a comic book creator, but I’m a bit fuzzy on that at the moment).

  13. What makes SDCC great is the scope of the programming. While, yes there maybe a bunch of panels that have no appeal to you, I bet you can find others at the same times that do.

    And if you can’t find anything in the panels. or on the floor, then go to the beach.


  14. Well, SAMURAI GIRL is being promoted at SDCC because the showrunners are heavy-duty comic book fans and know that the alpha consumers that will spread the good word about their show are in San Diego this week. And I’ve never met a comic book fan who didn’t enjoy ninja, ninja are the enemy of samurai, SAMURAI GIRL is chock-full-of-ninja, ergo, ABC Family believes comic book fans will enjoy SAMURAI GIRL.

    It could also be that everyone involved was going to be at SDCC anyway, so might as well make it something business-related, yeah?

  15. Steve Flack Says: What makes SDCC great is the scope of the programming. While, yes there maybe a bunch of panels that have no appeal to you, I bet you can find others at the same times that do.

    True. But I think my overall dislike of the convention is the lack of any real convening there. There’s a communal aspect to other shows that reinvigorates the tired, beaten, jaded comics fan/comics creator within. NYCC has it even with the Batmobile flying around your head. And the MoCCA Art Festival does it better than anyone (though admittedly, with fewer capes).

    But like I said, if your tastes generally run more broad and more towards huge spectacle, then SDCC is the place to be.

  16. I’ve never gone to this con, but I can’t stand hearing how so many shows and movies that have nothing to do with comics are leeching off this con for comics.

    Speaking of having nothing to do with anything… Why are images of Gerard Butler littering this post? Well, aside from that he’s dreamy. Er.. um.. I mean..

  17. “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 also apparently about getting in a few more test screenings before the release. Why go to this show and bring one film when you can bring 3 films and spread out the cost between 3 different marketing budgets. That’s why Hollywood needs to reduce its presence at Comic-Con. They’re treating it like it’s ShoWest lite, and they’re bullying all of the comics stuff around with their large trucks full of advertising money.

    That said, I know it would make my girlfriend’s Comic-Con adventure so much better if Hugh Laurie was there to promote House.

Comments are closed.