As I said before, I had no intentions of attending San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) – certainly not as an exhibitor. My books sell much better at other conventions for less overhead cost to me. The audience for this show is there for the spectacle of it all, for the tween-movie premiers and for the major announcements in pop culture. I don’t bring any of this to the table (pun intended), so they’re not there to see me. I’m also not a fan of how little space comic book publishers and even resellers get in comparison to other pop culture phenomenons – I think that Dexter had a booth this year. SDCC just serves no purpose for me. Well, maybe not.
The best part of going to SDCC for me yesterday was seeing friends that I only see at shows. That was great. These are generally people that do or are aspiring to do what I want to do. These are people that I’ve worked on projects with and these are people that I want to continue to work with or be influenced by. It was great to see everyone that I already knew on our panel and to meet some new faces. SDCC also makes it possible for CCI, their parent company to put on what I consider to be better comic book shows, like WonderCon and APE. Both WonderCon and APE have thriving small press and artist alleys. There is no doubt that either of these shows are about comic books.
At SDCC yesterday, artist alley felt more like artist ghetto and it felt like small press had become “the press against the back wall”. Neither my wife or I could find where it started. One could argue that was a good thing – “the indies are out there competing with the big dogs.” But what it meant is that I could not find small press when I wanted to and that they were blotted out by the hustle and bussle around resellers and other exhibitors selling tchotckes. I will say that I did notice that there were several booths out on the floor that were what I would normally call small or medium press. Although I may have missed them in previous years, examples of these were Neko Press and 2000 AD. Later, I found out via their panel that there was a First Comics booth. I was never able to seek out their booth in the maze of SDCC because I had to stay in the room for the panel I was speaking at.
There were definitely some some amusing, interesting and pretty cool panels. Comixology, a digital platform that I walked away from as a publisher because they did not seem to have time for my small company had a panel where they were talking to creators about how to make work for their application(s). However, most of the panel was interrupted by constant technical difficulty in getting their MacBook Air to synch with the local projector system. In the end, they were able to use an overhead projector to show the screen of the computer. A panel I caught the end of was Graphic Novels: The Bookstore Crowd. This panel was fun and reminded me of how panels that I’m on usually go: lots of talk about how they made it and recommendations to others on how to get your books read. There were lots of sweet stories about working hard and persevering.
The last panel I was able to attend was the First Comics panel I mentioned above. It was nice to see them talking about their books because they are all so interesting and unique. It was also nice because that’s where I first heard that First Comics was going to publisher The Drude by a comic book buddy of mine, Omaha Perez. The panels were by far, the best part of the show. Our panel went as they always do: we talked about how we broke into the industry, what we’re working on and then we answered as many questions form the audience as possible. It never ceases to amaze/amuse me how of the question of how to find artists comes up – I always tell those writers to just look around the room.
So, SDCC12 reminded me about why I’m not necessarily a fan of that particular show. It’s intensely packed and busy – there is serious sensory overload. But it also gave me a chance to talk to friends and family. It also allowed me to get in front of people and tell them why I’m involved in comics but also how I keep going in the comic book industry. While that part was refreshing, I also walked away form the show feeling like I had no spent all the money I wanted to, all the money I could have. I just was not able to find enough unique and interesting comics to satiate my thirst. And so, I find myself holding onto my belief that I will never attend SDCC as an exhibitor unless someone else is paying the bills.