Comic-Con Farewell

Well, it’s been a week since I arrived for San Diego Comic-Con,which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. I’ve seen some of my favourite writers, such as Mark Waid and Alan Burnett. I chatted to people I’ve interviewed for Broken Frontier and Extra Sequential and handed out about 200 business cards. I talked to cover artist Greg Horn about the dangers of kangaroos. I caught a bus with the wife of Doug Murray, who created The ‘Nam for Marvel and now writes Red Sonja for Dynamite. I mentioned to artist David Mack how he’s a gateway drug, and I got mistaken for an Englishman twice. I finally bought the gorgeous Elephantmen Trades and designer JG Roshell let me know that there’s a film in the works, with possible assistance from WETA Workshop. It will be a combination of live action and CGI. I saw a few Hollywood players and I bought  a ton of new comics. Really 4 days isn’t enough for it all, as it is a spectacle. 125 000 people transform the city each year and radio shows, TV news and newspapers all focused on the Con. It’s a mammoth endeavour.

I also managed to talk to a publisher about the exciting future of Extra Sequential, and generally had a blast. It’s tiring, but hopefully I can sleep for my 20 hour flight home.

Darth Busts

Tron/Condorman

Green Lanterns

Ghostbusters

Master Chief

Con Farewell

Empty Con

Comic-Con Video

Yes, I know it was over almost 2 weeks ago, but here’s my short film of the event. With the photos and footage I had, it was somewhat difficult to keep it under 5 minutes, but I tried. To truly get a sense of the Con’s epic nature, take a peek at this video walkthrough of the Hall. It’s big.

Best Rob Liefeld picture ever.

A Look Back

Home, sweet home. After two weeks in the US for San Diego Comic-Con, here are a few facts for the curious mind :

No. of airlines taken to and from San Diego – 3

No. of hours spent travelling there and back – 42

No. of hours spent waiting in airports – 24

No. of fond memories – almost infinite

Before I start sounding like a credit card advert, allow me to break down the good, bad and ugly of my first SDCC. Well, I really enjoyed making a few new friends and sticking my head (and ‘business’ card) into a lot of the smaller publishers’ faces. I even met Victor Ho, one of the Movies guys from my INFUZE days. As I flick through the cards I gathered from the various people I talked to at the endless parade of publishers, it’s pretty impressive, I have to say. I hope to set up interviews with a few new kids on the comics block soon. I just filled a bookshelf with all of the TPBs and promo stuff I picked up over the 4 and a half days, so I have plenty to read and review. The independent companies were happy to talk to me and of course, welcome any exposure they can get. I figure they deserve it, as they’ve risked a lot to follow their dream. It’s not an easy step for them to make and the industry is full of uncertainties, so that kind of courage to create diversity should be rewarded.

The bus drivers who ferried us to and from the Con and the hotels around it were usually good for a chat too. One remarked that a female fan dressed as Poison Ivy had to get her desperate boyfriend behind her to cover her, as her plants kept falling down, revealing more than she was willing to. The same driver also noticed that overweight middle-aged people should not be wearing spandex, as “gravity affects us all.” It’s a fair point, but often times, enthusiasm defeats modesty at the Con. One day I saw X-Men baddie Mr Sinister step off the shuttle, in a rather impressive costume, soon followed by She-Hulk. She (?) certainly had the bulk for it, but I’m still not sure if s/he was more Hulk than She. Still, all in the name of fandom and everyone wearing a costume was happy enough to pose for photos. Meeting nice-guy David Mack was a pleasure, as was briefly meeting DC top dog, Dan DiDio and BOOM! dude, Chip Mosher. Another treat happened as I was talking to a guy who said he, “worked for DC.” Yeah, right. By his age I assumed he was the coffee boy or some such. Then, he said he was a penciller. Curious, I flicked his name badge over and he was Patrick Gleason! One of my fave artists, currently working on Green Lantern Corps. He’s one of the few artists whose books I’ll buy by name alone. Scott McDaniel is another one, and it turns out their good buddies. Meeting the team from CCAS (Christian Comic Art Society) was also a treat, as was shopping. I got a heap of trades and look forward to reading them all. I have enough to last until next Comic-Con I reckon.

Two interesting non-Con experiences were the earthquake in Temecula, where I stayed after the Con, with some wonderful people from the Calvary Chapel there. My first earthquake and it measured a 5.5 apparently. It only lasted a few seconds, but not many of us Aussies can say we’ve experienced one. Narita Airport in Tokyo was cool too. Yes, it’s huge, but when I had to kill a few hours there and grabbed the shuttle (and train) between terminals, I kept being reminded of Austin Powers. In the first film, all of Dr Evil’s henchmen wear the same clothes and work silently in his factory. The Narita employees, with their silent to-ing and fro-ing, clean hard hats and gloves reminded me of this. I was amused.

The only downside to the Con was that I didn’t really experience anything outside of shopping. Not really any panels or exclusive screenings at all. I was too busy getting rid of my US dollars, but it was all worth it and I’d definitely go again. Now that it’s over (unlike my jetlag) I can focus on comics news and reviews once more.

CCAS Events at Comic-Con

Apart from crowds, costumes, coffee and comics, there was something else at Comic-Con – Christians! I saw a flyer for CCAS (that’s Christian Comic Arts Society) on the always popular freebies table, so I had to go. The guys and girls from CCAS have been going to the Con for the last 12 years, shining the light. They have seen many Christian companies come and go during that time, but have been blessed enough to always get a table, and have continued growing in numbers. It’s encouraging to see such talented, humble believers using the gifts God has given them. The first of the three panels was entitled, “Spirituality in Comics,” and had an eclectic mix of panelists, including Captain Marvel expert and Alter-Ego writer, P.C Hamerlinck, Cory Edwards (writer/director of Hoodwinked and the upcoming Fraggle Rock: The Movie), Scott Wong (Brethren Entertainment) and Holly Golightly (Broadsword Comics). It was hosted by author Leo Partible. You gotta love the Con – where else would you find a bunch of Christians and a self-declared witch discussing the same topic?
There were plenty of laughs and light-hearted discussions all focused on the portrayal of spirituality within the medium of sequential art. The highlights included the love of Japanese artists for anything remotely religious to cram into their work. (The CEO of Squaresoft has apparently never read the Bible, but most of his video game designers get their information from the Internet and take what they like, thereby giving the world the dazzling mix of “nuns with guns.”) and the similarities between Emperor Palpatine and Oprah.

The biggest laugh however came when the panel was asked, “What is the main aim of spiritually based comics?” to which Holly replied, “To pay the rent.”

Saturday night was a time of networking and fellowship hosted by the CCAS team. We had a great time getting to know other believers and encouraging one another in our work. After prayer and a brief history of CCAS we mingled and laughed loudly for the next 3 hours. According to CCAS, this has been their most successful year with many visitors to their table on the showroom floor, lots of free comics given away and a host of new members joining the Society.

The last of the events was the CCAS panel hosted again by Leo Partible on Sunday morning. Writer/artist Robert Luedke (Eye Witness) gave a short, but inspiring sermon to the packed room, starting with the unusual question, “Do you smell?” This lead to an explanation of our aroma and whether we smell of life or death to the world around us. The panel also included Clint Johnson (Faith Walker), Robert H. Flores (CCAS), Jerrell Conner (Revelations: The Prophets), and Sergio Cariello (The Lone Ranger). Luedke mentioned that comics are the easiest way to share a message in a creative fashion, quoting creator Doug TenNapel (Earthworm Jim) who stated that he does not have access to millions of dollars to make a film, but is able to produce quality comics on a much smaller budget. The main thrust of the morning was a challenge to fellow Christian creators to identify their gifts and a way to use them. Luedke emphasised the fact that creative talents are spiritual gifts, while Cariello encouraged us to no be afraid of who God has created us to be, noting that often times, Christians can be stricter on themselves than God is. Both also mentioned that they don’t hide their faith from the mainstream press and have been bold in declaring their Christianity in interviews, with God blessing them for it.

The future of Christian comics looks to be in good hands. There are some genuinely exciting books out there and a number of mainstream artists working in The Big Two who are writers and artists of faith, all glorifying the Original Creator.

New Sight Article

I’ve written all about my travels from Perth to sunny San Diego  for the Comic-Con and what it was like for a first-timer. You can check it out here. There’s even two new pics. Enjoy!

Friday at the Con

Another 7 hours that sped by. I managed to do a lot more shopping today though. By dinner time, my backpack was about to collapse under the sheer weight of..wait for it..16 TPBs, a bunch of free mags and comics, some shirts for the family, and two DVDs. I had to go home to minimise my chiropractor bill.

I’ve decided that tomorrow will be my filming day. I’ve taken a bunch of photos already, but the hotel’s slow PC charges by the minute and takes about that long to upload each pic. When I return home on August 3, watch this space for an influx of happy pics and videos.

I would’ve liked to have seen film-maker Kevin Smith and the new Batman: Brave and the Bold cartoon panels, but I’m not one for lining up with the masses. The convention floor was slightly less packed this afternoon, as all the various screenings and Q&A sessions were under way. I could move around a lot easier and spend more time talking to retailers, without worrying about people waiting behind me. I saw Mark Waid, one of my favourite writers at BOOM! Studios booth, and Dan DiDio, head of DC Comics, and managed to sneak in a photo with him before he left in a hurry. Nothing personal, I’m sure.

I also chatted to creators Rod Espinosa (The Prince of Heroes) and David Hutchinson (Biowulf) at the Antarctic Press booth about their careers. Then I saw David Mack. What a nice guy. I told him that his work on Daredevil and Kabuki was a hit with some of my mates from work and showed them the beauty that comics could reveal. Mack’s art really is amazing and his work as writer/artist on Kabuki is an experimental joy. He was genuinely happy to hear that his work had opened the eyes of a few comic novices and was very warm and friendly. I picked up his Kabuki Vol. 1 TPB and a DVD focusing on his craft, which I can’t wait to see. The process of an artist is always interesting one. He also threw me a handful of free, signed Kabuki books. I told you he was a nice guy. Oh and I took a photo with him too, just to make my mates jealous.

 

Handing out a bunch of my cards to a few companies in the small press section was a joy. They all seem happy enough to add mine to their growing collection. One of the main things that has surprised me is how many people are aware of Perth. I thought my sleepy little town would go unnoticed in this with-it metropolis. Good to see us little people aren’t forgotten.

The last stop of the day was a visit to the freebies table. Well, I thought it was the last stop, until I saw a flyer for the CCAS. That’s the Christian Comic Arts Society. I was struggling to contain all my goodies with the only two hands God has given me, but I knew I had to visit this booth. I spoke with the two friendly guys there for a while as we discussed the thriving Christian comic creators community, my work for INFUZE and a bunch of other stuff. With their, “Free Prayer” sign they stand out from the crowd, that’s for sure. Over the last two days of the Con, they have three panels, which I will do my best to attend. I should be in my element there and make some interesting contacts. All in all; an eventful day. My budget has pretty much evaporated, but then again, I’m surprised it’s lasted this long.

He-Man Pics

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