I’ve only been to San Diego Comic Con once. In 2010. At the time I remember how insane it seemed to purchase tickets in September 2009 for an event taking place in July 2010. But it was an exciting life goal to cross off my list. My spouse and two closest friends were in attendance. We booked hotel rooms together and spent the weeks before planning out itineraries and scouting out the convention center. Or maybe just I did. Yeah, I think it was just me.
It’s a great experience. Not only is there a chance of spotting or chatting with your favorite writer, artist or celebrity, but you end up meeting all kinds of cool people in epic hours-long lines with the same kinds of passions and enthusiasms as you. Magic happens when people with like interests meet. I’m still Facebook friends with a couple we met in line for The Avengers panel, wherein we hugged random strangers afterwards because there was so much joy and love in the room.
Once in a lifetime was enough for me. Especially since topping The Avengers panel is pretty much impossible.
There was a moment in 2010 when we were standing in line to register and looking at the booth set-up for purchasing 2011 tickets. I almost dashed over and bought a ticket a year in advance. I thought better of it.
I don’t regret the decision. As much as I loved my San Diego Comic Con experience, there were parts of it that never jived well for me. The near-crushing at the WB booth, standing in line for hours to get some crappy trinket I wouldn’t buy with my own money (SWAG!), and the cattle like approach to meeting people you’d admire where the seconds-long interaction is a blur.
ALSO: The relentless product whoring and Hollywood inundation was stifling and frustrating. Everywhere you turned some movie or television show was jammed in your face. You essentially pay money and wait in long lines to be advertised to, all for the promise of exclusive content with leaks to the internet within days or hours anyway. You pay for the privilege of being a test market audience, radiating the promise of future box office profits to pleased investors. There is a seedy element to the manufactured fun at SDCC I never enjoyed.
Attended the Bridge City Comics Stumptown Hard Cover Signing on Friday March 25th with a couple friends. We arrived there a bit later than expected due to some family issues on my part.
This was my first experience with Bridge City Comics and I’ll have to say it looks like a great store to service the North Portland area. The shop is a bit small and crammed, but it’s well lit and clean. Not at all like the dingy, spooky local shops of our imagination. All the staff seemed friendly enough – there were some ladies sprinkled in amongst the mens and even some parents with their kids.
Because it’s completely out of my territory, I probably won’t do a lot of repeat business at Bridge City unless there’s an event there. But I always make a habit of buying a book when I attend a free event. Baby’s gotta eat, ya know. BTW – we also bought two X-Factor trades, which I’m looking forward to reading in the next week.
It’s funny, I was chatting with a nerd friend yesterday about how comics is a struggling industry, and sometimes that’s such a difficult concept for me to grasp from this vantage point.
Portland is a city that is a complete outlier when it comes to comics. Instead of shops closing down left and right, we have new ones opening. Portland really does love comics, and that’s why it’s so strange to imagine that the industry could be struggling nationwide…because it seems to be growing in our city and the Pacific Northwest in general.
Especially the convention aspect. Stumptown Comics Fest is upgrading to a larger venue, Emerald City Comic Con has grown every year and it’s not even been around for a decade, and a new GeekGirlCon in Seattle is rising up this year to join the ranks. Conventions have almost become the hub on which most pop culture runs – sucking in the television, movie and even sometimes book publishing industries.
But comics, as an art form, may be dying. It’s tough for me to chat with folks who’ve been collecting longer than I have and hear them reminisce about the days when conventions were only for stocking their long boxes. We have something like that here in Portland – the Comic Book Show. We can purchase back issues, graphic novels and trade paperbacks tax free without having to drive three hours away. I like that it’s low-key. And honestly – it’s where I do most of my shopping.
This has kind of turned into rambling about the Portland scene in general, but I do feel like it’s hard to see where some of the comic book sages are coming from. The medium has been transformed in the last ten years and sometimes it feels like the publishers aren’t really completely on board with what is happening. Some people have stopped collecting floppies. Lots of folks are welcoming a digital comics revolution and/or reading webcomics. There are Kindles, Nooks and iPads roaming the streets consuming paper print media in their wake.
The comics industry IS struggling because of those things, but it need not be the end of the medium as we know it.
PICTURES AND VIDEO BELOW THE RANT
DAY THREE RECAP: DARK HORSE PANEL, STUMPTOWN SIGNING, GEEKS AND GOOD WORKS PANEL AND TONY HARRIS SKETCH
We woke up fairly early on Sunday to grab breakfast and doughnuts before Smalls had to board her train back to PDX. After discovering only crazy
expensive breakfast places within walking distance, hampered by my jacked up knees slowing down any further searching, we decided on breakfast sandwiches and coffee at Starbucks which is totes appropriate cause we were in Seattle. Grabbing the sandwiches also left us plenty of time to hit up the real treat of the morning – Top Pot Doughnuts.
HELLO PEOPLE OF SEATTLE – THESE DOUGHNUTS ARE FRAKKIN’ DELICIOUS!!! Why there wasn’t a line out the door and snaking down the sidewalk is beyond me. The only one I could stuff in my already fairly-stuffed maw was the Raspberry. RASPBERRY DOUGHNUT. With no nasty creme or berry filling. So heavenly I’m imagining how long it will be before my next trip to Seattle and thinking…not that long. 😀
Everyone snacked on and enjoyed at least one doughnut (my ma purchased a dozen) before we moseyed on back to the hotel, packed, loaded up the car, checked out and hit the Con floor.
Just in time for…
THE DARK HORSE PANEL
Since we’d missed the BPRD Panel the previous day where they announced Guy Davis leaving, we thought it would be appropriate to drop in and see if one of our favorite local publishers had anything exceptionally interesting to say about their books, aside from the news that exceptionally interesting people are leaving.
Turns out – the lovely Ms. Felicia Day was sitting in on the opening of THIS panel as well to chat about The Guild comic book series. Looks like each character will be getting their own one-shot origin via Dark Horse -Vork’s was released on December 22nd, 2010. According to Felicia Day – Bladezz will be released next (within two months or so) and then one can only assume that Tinkerballa’s will be out after that, given the signed prints that were being offered up at their booth this weekend.
Zaboo’s book will be co-written by nerd hunk and scribe Sandeep Parikh and drawn by the lovely Becky Cloonan, whom I follow on the Twitter because I like her drawerings and because she’s funny. She also did the art for DEMO.
Felicia also mentioned she has decided NOT to pilot for anything this season that is not Science Fiction related. Or I suppose she could have meant “SyFy” – either way she hasn’t piloted YET so one can either assume that there is a small market for scifi this year or that SyFy isn’t producing any new shows.
My vote would be for her to appear on BSG: Blood and Chrome (which sounds eerily similar to Spartacus: Blood and Sand). People of Syfy, make it happen! Though she is so funny and sweetly charming I’m not sure how well she could fair on the intense drama of the BSG Verse. Balls.
ANYWHO – back to comics world. We then sat through about 20 minutes (or 2 hours) of Axe Cop panel which boasted a 6 year old making crazy bird screeching noises, eating candy and offering it to everyone in sight. It was cute bordering on annoying but I really love the concept of the book and the collaboration between the brothers, as I imagine it would be difficult to find something to bond over when your sibling is 25 years younger than you are. The book is probably a bit too ridiculous and comedic for me…but the folks involved seem successful and happy with the work they are doing so props to them. If you like the random imagination of five year olds, you should check it out.
Scott Allie revealed he WILL continue to edit the work of Joss Whedon who signed on to write Buffy The Vampire Slayer through Season 10. Whoot to BTVS fans everywhere!! I dropped out in about the middle of Season 8. Hopefully a collection will be published soon so I can catch up before the next season hits the shelves.
Allie clarified there will now only be 25 books per season (maybe he meant 24?) to keep them at two years versus four. Everyone involved recognized that was far too long a “season” for even the most die hard fans.
Apparently there’s some other big news in store for Buffy that Allie is waiting to reveal at Wondercon, so keep your ear to the ground if this book is your cup of tea. Change is a-comin’.
– Hang over this morning caused us to get a slower start to the day. We arrived around 11:30am, and immediately hit up Matthew Southworth‘s booth to get two copies of Stumptown #1 signed. He DID remember us from last night (he asked what time we finally left). Uh-oh. I need to seriously curtail the drinking next year. We hung out for about an hour or so while he inked and colored a couple prints. Here’s a short video of the one he made of Dex.
– Next up was a Q&A Panel with Craig Thompson. It was very informal – he had a friend hosting and asking him questions. The audience members could also chime in at any point with questions of their own. I was consistently surprised and pleased with the depth, intelligence and respect that went into each question (as with the Saturday panel). Not that I don’t think Comic Book fans can be intellectuals, it’s just that I’ve never experienced such a large group of folks taking the art of comic books so seriously.
– After that – Craig Thompson was signing books. We picked up a ticket earlier, and were among the first five or so people in line to chat with him and HE DID A SKETCH. Ah! Wonderful, lovely sketch. Having the signing immediately following the Q&A was awesome, because it didn’t feel awkward at all to engage in conversation with him. Something that frustrates me about cons or interacting with celebrities/famous folks is how artificial the space can feel. This wasn’t my experience at this fest – ever. Everyone was very approachable, friendly and willing to talk about their work, themselves, and other randomness.
– We arrived at the Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 around 11am yesterday, checked in and got our volunteer badges. Our first stop was the Dark Horse Comics booth to pick up some freebies (buttons, poster, etc) AND Dan showed off his tattoo to the guys, who took a pic and posted it on Twitter.
–We promptly ran into Joe M. – a friend and former co-worker who also has a strong obsession with comic books. It was a pleasant surprise. Joe is big into the Yelp community, and was attending a Food Cart event later that day, but he hung out with us long enough to attend the first panel.
– We made a beeline for Natalie Sept and Matt Howard’s table – they were selling some awesome buttons and prints. You can find their products on this website here: natmatt.org.
– We browsed for a little while longer, and ended up at the Things From Another World booth – where they were selling a ton of Trade Paperbacks for 50% off. It was pure torture! Dan scored a BPRD paperback and I bought the Marvels paperback – each for about $10. You can’t got wrong, right?
– Then it was time for the Teaching Comics panel. I’ve put together some video from the event.
The video is not comprehensive by any means – the panel itself was nearly two hours, and the real meat of it happened towards the end, but it might give you a better idea of what it was like to spend two hours witnessing the intriguing conversations brought up by these folks. It felt like the beginning of something wonderful. The initial moments of a movement to make comic books a more respected literary tradition. The professors were just as compelling as the industry folks – sometimes more so. Featured in the video – James Sturm (Center for Cartoon Studies), Diana Schutz (Portland Community College), Brian Michael Bendis (Portland State University), Benjamin Saunders (University of Oregon), Trevor Dodge (Clackamas Community College, Pacific Northwest College of Art), Katya Amato (Portland State University).
Another exciting factoid – Portland State University has the ENTIRE DARK HORSE COLLECTION available for viewing. No really, everything. How wonderful is that?
Attended the Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 Kick-Off Party at Guapo Comics last night. There was free beer and food to munch on, and the registers were open until the party closed down. I picked up the second installment of N – the comic book based off of Stephen King’s short story featuring the art-work of Alex Maleev. Apparently it’s already a motion comic (no wonder this Maleev cat is so tired of doing books right now!).
There was a comic book reading, and for anybody wondering how you possibly read comic books to a large audience – it involves a screen, projector and amusing narration. Some folks had come down from Seattle to pimp their material. I was well into my second beer and it was impossible to take names in the darkened room…but by and large their sketches were short and fairly amusing. Some of them drug on way too long. Also, as a Portland based event (Stumptown) I was kinda wondering why we were being treated to Seattle readers. Come on, where’s the local talent pimpage?
Following that, an award was handed out to Sarah Oleksyk for her work on a mini-comic. It wasn’t stated exactly what the mini-comic was – apparently they had a copy in the building and it would have been a good opportunity to advertise it. The chick does some pretty good art though, and I might be picking up some of her work or following it now that I’ve seen it. See – it helps to win awards! And I’m sure the $350 check she was presented with didn’t hurt either.
Here’s a few other pics from the event:
More pics, videos and info to come – we’re heading out to the Fest right now!
Posts regarding the Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 will be dominating this blog for the weekend – I’ll also be doing a lot of tweeting with pics and some footage from the different events I attend, so prepare for some uniquely Portland, Oregon content gracing these walls. The agenda breaks down in the following days.
Celebrate the start of the Stumptown Comics Fest in style! Featuring a book release party, slide rule comic strip slideshow, $450 in prizes. Art exhibit by Graham Kahler.
– Arrive at the Fest at 10am to get volunteer badge and schmooze a bit
– Enjoying the Fest until our volunteer gig starts 4pm-6pm
- Scoring a signed copy of Spell Checkers from Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
- Visiting with Natalie Sept and Matt Howard (HS friends who are exhibiting)
- Hitting up the Dark Horse Comics booth for some promised free goodies
Other than that – just soaking up the atmosphere of Portland’s Big-Little Comic Book event. I’ll try and do as much live blogging as is humanly possible!
Let me know if there’s something I’m missing folks. 😉
Hoping to return with more reviews and other kinds of love next week.
Dan Robertson and I attended, had a few drinks with locally distilled vodka and brewed beer, then took in the art. Mayor Sam Adams made an appearance and officially proclaimed April 2010 to be Comic Book Month in Portland, Oregon.
Free guided tours featuring the PCPA exhibit as well as other local galleries (City Hall) will be provided to Stumptown attendees during the fest. Lots of cool artwork up on the walls. Really stoked for the Stumptown Comics Fest at the end of the month.
Check out a video I put together of the Mayor’s speech. An entertaining, funny and laid back dude.
A List of the 40+ Featured Artists:
Skipping yoga last night was totally worth going to this event. I was doing some research for an entirely different story (on Brian Michael Bendis teaching at PSU) and happened upon an internet flyer promoting a ‘gallery display’ of original sketches by Joelle Jones at a comic book store downtown. This is in conjunction with the PDX First Thursday that happens in the Pearl District every month.
The news piece on the Floating World Comics website didn’t necessarily say that Joelle herself would be there – it only stated Matt Wagner (Grendel scribe) would be there signing copies of the Madame Xanadu issues which Joelle inked. It seemed like a cool opportunity to check out some of Joelle’s sketches AND pick up a few books that came out on Wednesday. Two birds, one stone.
Imagine my surprise when we finally arrive and not only is Joelle there, but so is Jaime S. Rich, writer of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her and You Have Killed Me fame. Joelle was seated at the signing table, but Jaime was loitering around talking to other Oni Press staff and folks who’d come to the signing. Crazy!
Still feeling gawky about approaching them, I held the book and started browsing again. Insanely enough – Jaime S. Rich approached me and started up some conversation – and he was totally cool. I let him know that I was a big fan of his work, and had just checked out the 22 page preview of Spell Checkers which is being released in April.
Inside scoop: He told me they are planning to unveil it at the spring Chicago Comic Con the week of April 16th, and that it should be available in stores on the following Wednesday. Right now they are doing the final edits and he spoke a bit about that process.
The Oni Press website says it will be available on 4/14/2010 – but I suppose that date might change according to when the book actually gets to press.
After that I was able to get both Joelle and Jaime to sign the book and snap a pic with them. So, one of my goals of the San Diego Comic Con is accomplished before I even get there!
Other cool news – they WILL be at the Stumptown Comics Fest which I’ve signed up to volunteer at, and that’s where I can pick up Spell Checkers and have them sign another book. Woot!
Another super awesome comic book fan showed up to the event as well. Our friend Hisham, who writes a comic book review blog here stopped by and we got the opportunity to chat about all things nerdy. He happened to have a copy of Kick-Ass in his car (fresh from his review/early screening) and let me borrow it, so I didn’t have to drop another $20.
On the docket for review is:
2. Stumptown #1
Not to mention a stack came through from the library – and hopefully I’ll be getting books 6-8 of Ex Machina this weekend and writing up my thoughts on that.
But the true success of last night is now plastered on the inside cover of my brand new book.
Totally worth skipping yoga for. 😉