Forgive the hyperbole, but it seems that the constant refrain I heard from people over the past month has been that a: San Diego Comic Con is no longer about comics and b: there is a distinct lack of comics at said con.
I have had the privilege of attending SDCC for three years now, and each year has netted me some amazing comic books and fantastic memories. San Diego does not have a lack of comic books. San Diego has a lack of fans attending with the intention of buying comics and meeting creators.
Let me put it another way: We, the fans, are charting the course for San Diego Comic Con.
People stand in line for HOURS to get a poster from an upcoming movie. People stand in line for HOURS to get a variant edition of a toy. People stand in line for DAYS to get into Hall H so they can be within 100 yards of some movie/tv star or another. No one stands in line to meet Jim Steranko. No one stands in line to meet Walt Simonson. No one stands in line to chat up Jeff Smith.
At each of the past three conventions I have attended, I have had the opportunity to meet comic book royalty. Not once has it been because of my press badge. Each time it has been because I simply walked up to the table where they were sitting and struck up a conversation. These people who have brought me so much joy and enjoyment are brushed past as each con goer rushes from line to line, hoping for that SDCC “exclusive” they can re-sell on eBay as soon as they get home.
If we want more comics professionals to come to the convention, we need to support the pros who are there. If we want fewer movies and tv shows, we need to stop queuing up Tuesday night for a glimpse of a speck the we think might be “someone”.
The convention itself made a significant change this year which made the comic book/comic pro search a lot more enjoyable. This year SDCC moved the video game pavilion to the opposite end of the floor from Artists Alley. The first two years I was at the con, it was downright unpleasant to be there. The noise and crowds made it next to impossible to have any kind of conversation with an artist. This year, the crowds were still there, but they were all interested in the artists, not rushing past the artists as a short cut to get in line to try an upcoming game. Because of this, I spent significantly more time in Artists Alley and, more importantly, more money there.
These are the books I ended up with at San Diego this year. I could have bought significantly more had I not promised my children a trip to Disneyland on the way home (fun fact: Disneyland employees will not sell you beer, no matter how much you beg, plead, or bribe!). I had to be frugal with my expenses, and as such I was very selective. My big purchase was the gorgeous new art book by Jim Mahfood which debuted at the show. I saw him at Trickster later that night and had him sign it. I was in heaven.
Jamal Igle was in Artists Alley with advance copies of Molly Danger. I picked up a copy from him and read it almost immediately. Everything you have heard about the book is true! It is fantastic!
I found a couple of my beloved self-published mini-comics. It is difficult to move mini-comics at a show like SDCC. Everyone seems so focused on spending $10 on variant covers or $100 on back issues, that spending 50 cents on a hand-made comic just doesn’t compute.
I tracked down a copy of Dead-Pooh. Been looking for this one for quite a while. Turns out a second issue was just released. Maybe that will be my next quest.
I bought a stylish sketchbook from an exceptionally talented artist. I am not normally one for sketchbooks, but this was gorgeous!
I bought two horror books from a family outfit (father, brother, cousin) who guaranteed I would love their books. After talking for a few minutes and thumbing through the books, I bought them both.
There were a couple of other books which were either handed to me (Science comics which will be given to the science teacher at school, IDW’s new tie-in to a tv show, something from Zenescope), or were given to me for review (reviews to come!).
There were also a variety of other comics I bought. All in all, there is plenty of reading enjoyment in my future!
I could have spent a lot more. Had the House of Mouse not been looming in my immediate future, I would have spent more. Next year all those Disney dollars are going to comics!
I did not buy any limited edition toys. I did not get any movie posters. No celebrity signatures. I went to San Diego Comic Con for the comics and found it to be supremely satisfying. If everything works out, I’ll be back again next year and be ready to dig in and find even more comics!
So next time you start to see a convention slide towards the celebrities and the movies and the “exclusives”, how about, instead of complaining about it, spend a little more time (and money) on the things you want there to be more of (like comics, sketches, and drinks for creators – or bloggers – at the bar). Make SDCC (and every other con) the convention you want to see.