Comic-Con International: San Diego is a beautiful thing.
For less than a week, the San Diego Convention Center fills with geeks, nerds, fanatics and curious parties, all of whom want to get together, chat, network, exchange cash and/or bodily fluids, and generally exploit one another and themselves. Some people dread it, others treat it as work, but I love it. As a San Diego resident, nothing’s more exciting than watching downtown fill with people who would otherwise never be caught in downtown San Diego, an area that is full of drunken clubbers and D-bags. Once a year, it swarms with drunken nerds and cosplayers. I’ve never seen anything like it, and if the Con ever leaves San Diego I will cry.
So here’s my ten favorite panels, moments, awkward moments with creators and memes.
Honorable Mention: CIA-Obsessed Minivan
Comic-Con often draws forth lunatics who have nothing to do with nerd-dom. Take, for beautiful example, this thing we found on the way to the convention center.
I know what you’re thinking: “How does he drive around?” I have no idea, but that’s the least of his worries. Let me give you a closer look at this:
They’ve already taken his brain. Who’s next?
Also, it’s a MINIVAN. Not exactly the best method of fighting the Establishment. Unless your soldiers are also those rambunctious little tykes on the Dave’s Hardware Tigers soccer team. They may never score a goal, but they’ve got serious hustle.
10. DC Focus: Grant Morrison
Simply seeing Grant Morrison in person is a near-religious experience that causes crowds to crumple to the floor, speaking in tongues. Hearing his flawless Louis Armstrong impression impregnates all fertile women and makes babies grow full beards — male or female. Grant Morrison is an all-purpose tonic, a comic book panacea.
That said, the “DC Focus: Grant Morrison” panel was a grave disappointment. Morrison himself is as charming and personable as you’d expect, but as panel moderator Ian Sattler almost immediately opened the floor up to the Q&A, an entire ballroom full of people had to stuffer stuttering fans prefacing their questions with “Hey Grant, I love your work, particularly ________ which changed my life. Now, I have a two-part question…” Yeah, we know a Grant Morrison book changed your life because it’s a Grant Morrison book.
That said, Morrison’s answers were generally pretty interesting (highlights: shouting out Tales Designed to Thrizzle, explaining that Aquaman HAS to be a badass if he rides a seahorse and proclaiming an admiration for the Schumacher Batman films) and there were a few nice moments like a Native American fan presenting Moz a copy of his self-published comic in response to a statement that there aren’t enough Native American creators. Oh, and the announcement of an Absolute We3 with all-new pages from Quitely.
But what do I know? My dream Grant Morrison meeting would just involve friendly small talk.
9. Kody Chamberlain/Sweets
Nothing pleases me more than to see indie creators get a ton of attention. Well, besides seeing me get a lot of attention. And Kody Chamberlain got a lot of attention since the release of his new comic through Image, Sweets, a crime book based around Hurricane Katrina. With great art and a promising story that doesn’t seem to force its setting, people really latched on to the book, including yours truly.
I paid Chamberlain a visit, since I featured Sweets on another site and we talked about how much attention the book is getting. Apparently, everyone’s been coming by to check out his work thanks to a G4 spotlight. I picked up an earlier book, Punks: The Comic, which featured fanzine-like cut-and-paste art. It looks badass.
And speaking of Image creators with meteoric rises to fame…
8. Nick Spencer’s Bowtie
Desperate for a nice long sit after a few hours of wandering the convention floor on Saturday, I ended up catching the tail end of the “DC Universe: Event Horizon” panel hosted by DC Comics Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler and featuring such big names as Gail Simone, J. Michael Straczynski, James Robinson, and Judd Winick. Nick Spencer, he of Forgetless, Existence 2.0 and the upcoming Morning Glories, was also at the panel, as he’s now doing Jimmy Olsen stories for Action Comics. He’s also had a lot of attention this year.
More importantly, he was wearing a bowtie to commemorate the occasion, and it was exceptionally dapper. Spencer, seemingly a “cool dude,” is clearly trying to kick off a trend, piggybacking off of Matt Smith’s portrayal of The Doctor to reintroduce bowties into the fashion vernacular.
You heard it here first, from Clothing Bulletin: bowties are back.
One of my favorite panels last year featured the Dumbrella webcomics collective (or “non-aggression pact” as they call it) as they discussed webcomicking and all that comes along with it, and Rich Stevens would derail the whole thing with his hilariously incessant jokes. When you meet him in real life, you realize that Rich could do Diesel Sweeties forever.
One interesting trend I’ve noticed is that many of these webcomickers have a bit of notoriety for other things almost completely independent of their webcomics, so we’ve got the T-shirt guy, the Poop sign guy,the Google Android toy guy, the “Republicans for Voldemort” bumper sticker guy and, um, Meredith Gran. It’s a bit like being a one-hit wonder and having this brilliant musical career that nobody knows about, and you try to explain just why “Popular” isn’t Nada Surf’s only moment of relevance and nobody believes you.
Except, of course, you’re talking about webcomics.
I caught Matt Frac
tion and Phonogram writer Kieron Gillen paying a visit to Rich Stevens at the Dumbrella booth, and I had to go to the hospital from too much awesome, as they form some sort of weird late-Naughties holy trinity for me. If they three were to touch, surely the San Diego Convention Center would have been destroyed.
Yeah, so I went up to Kieron Gillen’s table. He was friendly and approachable and sold me a women’s large Phonogram tee — I’m not gonna lie, it was for myself — and we chatted about San Diego Britpop nights and scripting comics while I waited for Phonogram artist Jamie McKelvie to come by and sign my recently-purchased copy of Suburban Glamour.
I explain a recent scripting indulgence: “I tried putting, like, 13 panels on a page and my editor said, ‘NO. The artist will kill both of us.'”
Soon enough, Jamie approaches and asks what’s up.
“Scripting comics,” Kieron explains. “Writing thirteen-panel pages.”
“Wow,” said Jamie. “And your artist didn’t kill you?”
I took their souls with my camera.
5. Moving Pictures/Kathryn & Stuart Immonen
I must have walked by the Top Shelf booth three times just eying the Immonens and the table covered with dozens of copies of their graphic novel Moving Pictures. I was killing time before lining up for the Grant Morrison panel and my mind decided to engage me in life-altering debate.
No, you fool, just wait until Sunday! Don’t spend your money now!
B-but! The line for the Morrison panel is going to be so long! I want something to read!
Chit-chat! Make friends! That’s what you’re here for.
Nobody likes me! And I like comics!
I won (I think?) and picked up a copy of Moving Pictures, which is a relationship drama between a French museum curator and a German officer set in World War II as French curators attempt to keep their galleries out of the hands of the Nazis looking to take them. I haven’t read it yet past the wonderful opening silent sequence, but I can’t wait.
Talking to the Immonens, I realized two things. First of all, they’re very nice people. And secondly, they’re adorable. You know how some couples just look like they fit together, like puzzle pieces or corresponding salt and pepper shakers? Yeah.
Anyway, two days later I came back and bought another copy for my friend.
4. Eye Stabbing
Hey, remember that one time some dude got stabbed in the eye in Hall H over a petty argument?
Choose your own punchline!
A) They must not have seen eye to eye.
B) Turns out it was a result of Disney testing their new 1D technology.
C) I heard the guy wanted it so he could better rule over a community of blind people.
D) He had it stabbed so Apple could install their experimental iEye.
E) “None of the above” is not an option.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Pass it on: Scott Pilgrim is the new Twilight. Soon all this Team Edward/Team Jacob nonsense will give way to Team Knives/Team Ramona and girls will be dying their hair a thousand different colors every week and instead of indulging some creepy Mormon woman’s abuse fantasy. Some of us might be annoyed, but we should embrace it.
Not satisfied just giving us nearly the entire cast and a sizzle reel, Edgar Wright BROUGHT the damn film to Comic-Con just to screen it for some fans lucky enough to get 1-UP buttons. Unsurprisingly, the movie is great and the screening was accompanied by a DJ set by Dan the Automator and Kid Koala plus a surprise performance from Metric. Oh, the Avengers cast held hands on stage? I guess that’s cool.
I walked by the theatre where they were screening in Horton Plaza on my way to a Comics Bulletin staff dinner and immediately started beaming at the mere sight of Edgar Wright.
2. Look Around You
Somehow in the past year Peter Serafinowicz has skyrocketed in my consciousness from “That dick roommate from Shaun of the Dead” to becoming one of the funniest men alive with one of the best voices in the world. Blame his Twitter, in which he invites followers to tweet topics for jokes at him, therefore thinking of every single joke a human being could ever think of and killing the careers of scores of comedy writers. Also, we should blame things like the hilarious Peter Serafinowicz Show, directing music videos for Hot Chip and his roles in films like Couples Retreat and TV shows like the upcoming Mitch Hurwitz showRunning Wilde (please be good please be good please be good).
We can also blame the first season of his TV series spoofing educational videos, Look Around You (co-created with Robert Popper), which seems tailor-made for Adult Swim, which began airing the ten-minute episodes last year. I hadn’t seen them until the panel, but they’re incredibly funny and I can’t wait to put myself into debt buying a DVD after Comic-Con.
1. “The Batman Dreams of Hieronymus Machines,” or the Matt Fraction Spotlight Panel
Just before the panel I found myself at the Marvel booth, embarrassing myself gushing at Matt Fraction over how much I love the new Casanova. I told him I was excited for the panel and he seemed a bit nervous for it.
But then, an hour later, he did it. And it was great. It was so great that it’s now one of my favorite convention experiences ever. The first section, which lasts about 17 minutes, is Fraction’s performance about the importance of comics that he’s been doing at W00tstock. It’s equal parts hilarious and touching, and much of it is about Punisher firing a bazooka into Stilt-Man’s taint. If it doesn’t convey to you just why comic books are so special, then there is no hope. For anyone.
Then SNL funnyman Bill Hader came up and the two spent the rest of the panel shooting the shit, cracking jokes, answering questions from fans, and making fun of anyone who decided to leave the room early. After sitting through some children’s TV panel to get a good seat for Fraction’s and watching the writers pretending they weren’t wishing they wrote for Fringe instead, it was a fun, casual relief.
You can find video of both the San Diego W00tstock performance and the Comic-Con performance, which I highly recommend.