Comic-Con Thursday

2009AnnualFinalCoverI must be the easiest sell the self publishers at the Con floor have ever seen. I filled up 3 bags of goodies today. I also lost count of how many of my cards I handed out, but I have a soft spot for self publishers. It takes guts to put your time and money into putting your own heartfelt art out there for the world to see. I respect that, and there’s some real talent to be seen. Most of the creators were people I was unfamiliar with and they were all willing to have a chat with this man with the strange accent. A few people were familiar with Broken Frontier, which was great and I even got invited to a few press parties and got freebies for review. Ah, percs of the ‘job.’

I visited a few panels today as well. The guys from Tripwire Magazine were up first with their free danishes and witty banter. On the panel were Kody Chamberlain, U.S editor Andy Grossberg, UK Editor-In-Chief Joel Meadows and everybody’s favourite comics columnist Rich Johnson, formerly of CBR and now of Bleeding Cool. It was a casual and somewhat meandering discussion which included, but was not limited to how Twitter is killing English, companies clothing the homeless as sponsors, the merits of facing graphic novels face out or spine out on the shelf and how monthly comics are similar to singles, while TPBs are albums. It’s obvious that the guys from Tripwire love comics and are glad to see Hollywood making non-superhero films, and gaining credibility as an art form. They see being dropped by Diamond as a hurdle not a disaster and are focused on spotlighting the diversity of sequential art. Their 2009 Annual is available at the Con and you can see a preview here.

the surrogatesNext up was the Top Shelf panel. These guys put out some seriosuly good stuff, and I was glad to discover that I wasn’t the only one who discovered the wonders of spandex free stories via one of their books. After the obligatory technical difficulties publisher Chris Staros gave a visual rundown of the company’s 12 year history. Fun Fact: Top Shelf was originally the name of an early anthology series. Moderated by PR guy Leigh Walton, the guests included Robert Venditti, writer of The Surrogates, Far Arden creator Kevin Cannon and Nate Powell of Swallow Me Whole fame. Staros mentioned that although they are known for their high-end mature books such as From Hell and Blankets, their all-ages line is turning heads too, thanks to series like Owly, Korgi and James Kochalka’s stuff.

Things became more interesting when the creators revealed their artistic backgrounds. It’s well known that Venditti started in Top Shelf’s mail room (according to Leigh, he’s “a demon with a tape gun”) and now his first book is a movie starring Bruce Willis! Surrogates comes out on September 25, and the great trailer was shown.

Powell mentioned that he’d been self publishing since 1992 and back then had made a list of 25 people in the biz who he admired. Staros and co-publisher Brett Warnock were pretty much the only ones who responded and critiqued his work. Powell also mentioned that although he does have an autistic older brother, Swallow Me Whole was more influenced by his own grandmother, who after being diagnosed with cancer began painting and then in the last few months of her life experienced delusions. Powell lifted a lot of her dialogue in his book from those experiences.

Staros mentioned that although many of the Shelf’s creators’ works are very literary that they could give most fanboys a run for their money in a superhero quiz. He also seems genuinely inspired by Top Shelf’s success and critical praise and revealed that at Christmas time their orders go up, as fans buy their fave books as presents for others, which is always a good sign.

My final panel was the one focused on The Clockwork Girl, Arcana’s widely praised all-ages OGN, in which a trailer for the CG film was shown,which is in the works now. It looks very impressive.

Tomorrow’s another busy day. So much to see and buy.

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