Comic-Con’s comics winners and losers

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I know Comic-Con is long gone and people have moved on to the TV Critics Association tour and actual vacations and what not, but as I like to put it, San Diego is the end of the “fiscal year” for the comics industry. It’s time to move on to new projects (I updated this site’s sidebar!) and new announcements, but while looking ahead to what’s next, I had a few tabs I wanted to close. So if you’re ready to move on already…no hard feelings. There will be ONE MORE Comic-Con post after this and then it’s done. Promise.

¶ A little business first. A few people mentioned the comic con attendance chart Matt White and I put together for PW. I made it as an image and not a table so that people couldn’t just cut and paste it (although I have actually seen people put up edited versions of the chart!) A lot of people mentioned this con or that con not being on it. The reason Wizard is not on the chart is they didn’t get back to me with figures until after the issue had gone to bed. (I did totally whiff Dragon*Con though.) I plan to update it but with only numbers that can be verified by con-runners as to how the figure was arrived at. In other words whether it’s turnstile or head count or another method. I’ve had a few people already give me figures for an expanded chart, so if you want to pass along your numbers AND HOW THEY WERE DERIVED, the email is comicsbeat at gmail.com.
IMG 2791 Comic Cons comics winners and losers
¶ Ever since I saw this sign outside a restaurant I’ve been mentally calling people in San Diego during con Comic Connies. I think it’s the perfect name and it’s what I’m going to use from now on.

¶ Lists of winners and losers from the show biz end of the show have come out in several different sites, although few of them mentioned comics. (Oh here’s the The 10 Biggest Bombshells.) If I did a “comics losers” post following Comic-Con I could never eat lunch in this town again, so here are some

Winners:

BOOM! Studios: 2 Guns money made for a better booth, and allowed Ross Richie to treat himself to buying a few things, like Archaia. According to this NY Times piece on the upcoming film, the deal money was “just shy of seven figures,” which means BOOM! and writer Steven Grant shared something in the six figures. Winning.

Steven Grant. Speaking of whom, it’s great to see a veteran creator get a payout for a long, honorable career. For all the horror stories out there, this is how it should be done. The NY Times story is a primer on the “creator participation” model, but when the participation is 50%, it’s a fair deal that keeps the publisher engaged in trying to be as successful as possible. Yes, I know there are many models that net the creator 100%, but for various reasons, some people may not be totally DIY. There should be a variety of paths to success out there. (And yes, it is a little sad to think that making a ton of movie money is the ultimate bar for comics success, but economically speaking, it’s hard to argue.)

Dynamite. They rolled out a ton of announcements in the days just before the show, and thus didn’t get lost in the shuffle. All without a booth or a panel.

Monkeybrain. Okay maybe it’s just the crowd I hang out with, but for the first few days of the show, everyone seemed to be talking about Monkeybrain, maybe for its one-year anniversary, but in a larger sense because there are a whole bunch of cartoonists who have followings from Tumblr and Twitter and other social media who aren’t about to be published by larger publishers. A digital-first imprint is just the way to get work out there.

Vertigo. Maybe Vertigo is a winner just for not being dead, but as someone mentioned to me, the DC booth seemed to be pushing Vertigo as much as the superhero stuff…a pretty huge change. The new Sandman prequel was obviously a big part of that, but the Vertigo brand has produced some of the greatest, most loved comics of all time, and people want to see it stage a comeback.

Robert Kirkman. Don’t think I need to explain that one.

Comics. Things are going good. “Even curmudgeons are finding it difficult to complain.”

LOSERS

Okay, there has to be at least ONE

• Marvelman Yet another Marvel presentation ended with a slide of the Marvelman logo and a “Coming Soon!” tease. SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT, people. (Actually, I understand shit is coming, but still…we’ve seen it all before!)

Easy socializing. This is the one where the most people are going to say it’s me, and yeah, I had a very busy con with a lot of panels and meetings and events, but so does everyone else, which means you never get to see anyone for very long. I lost track of all the people I saw fleetingly who I used to hang out with. I spotted Pia Guerra and Ian Boothby at a bus stop and then—WHOOSH!—they were gone. Ditto Douglas Wolk and Laura Hudson and so many more. Of course, there were a few golden random moments too—listening to Maggie Thompson regale Karen Green with a few of her great stories, and a badly needed breakfast with Eva Volin, Amy Chu, Brigid Alverson, and Deb Aoki with special guest Glen Weldon—but balancing those “I only see you once a year!” moments with “I will never get to see this again!” is hard. But so is life, I guess.

¶ PARTY PANIC. It was a topic of some grumbling that Marvel, DC and Image had all planned parties on Friday night opposite the Eisner Awards. The Eisners should be the big whooptedoo comics party of the con, but somehow it never works out that way. Why are SO MANY parties on Thursday and Friday and so few on Saturday? Back in the olden days, it was suggested to me that venues charged way more for a Saturday night, but given the level of top shelf liquor flowing these days, that can’t possibly be true any more. I think the reason for the Thursday-Friday orbit is that a lot of showbiz folks go home on Saturday morning to spend the rest of their weekend doing things you do at home; the only people who stick around are the ones who have panels or are going to the EW thing. Years ago people got the idea that Saturday was the busy hellish day of the con, but that isn’t true any more, either.

Maybe no one throws a party Saturday because they’re afraid too many people will come? At any rate, I suggested to Eisner administrator Jackie Estrada that the problem could be solved by moving the Eisners to Saturday, and she reacted with the level of horror you might expect had I suggested she throw an infant on the train tracks with a trolley bearing down: “But the Masquerade is Saturday night!”

That is true, I replied, but does anyone go to to the Eisners AND the Masquerade?

Now I admit, I knew going in that my modest proposal was unlikely to be met with favor by a single person on the planet. It is tradition. The Eisners are Friday and the Masquerade is Saturday. The Masquerade is the most sacrosanct of old traditions as the big winger dinger that caps off the big day, Saturday. To do otherwise would be to let the douchebags win. Saturday is just not for parties any more.

¶ LINKS — this is more for my own benefit than because anyone might want to read MORE about Comic-Con, but I had bookmarked a bunch of links of import.

OKAY FIRST OFF, you MUST READ NPR’s Glen Weldon’s daily postings—it is quite simply the best, most insightful “con virgin” coverage I have ever read. (Plus he proved you could stay on Coronado and still go to the con!)

For the past few months I’ve been nervously joking with SDCC veterans: “It’s pretty much like the Small Press Expo (an annual gathering of indie/art-comix creators and devotees I’ve attended for years), right? A bunch of beardy, fixie-bike guys and eye-linered Betty Page girls talking soberly about the linework of Tony Millionaire and Kolbein Karlsson, right?” Wrong. “You’ll see,” they say, and sink into a reverie, gazing fixedly into the middle distance like a hard-bitten ‘Nam vet at an American Legion spaghetti dinner.


Glen not only managed to experience the con but write about it in all its paradoxical glory as well:

12:30 p.m.: I am sitting in the Marriott bar attempting to write up the events of the past day, and failing miserably, and growing more anxious with each minute that passes, because sitting in the bar writing about a thing means I’m not, you know, EXPERIENCING the thing, and the more time I sit here not experiencing the thing the less of the thing I’ll have to write about tomorrow.

Okay, a few more:

§ The Christian Science Monitor interviewed Gerard Jones, author of the seminal comics history Men of Tomorrow about comics past and present.

§ Comic-Con best- and worst-dressed is now a thing.

§ Here’s the kind of story I love, a look behind the scenes with You shall not pass: The weapon inspectors of San Diego Comic-Con

Weapons check supervisor Jaime Limon is closing in on his fourth year of Comic-Con security, and he remains surprisingly excited about essentially being the cosplay TSA. “We look at thousands of different types of weapons,” he said. “We get a lot of simulated guns, knives and stuff, but people take apart computers, take the components off, add them to different tubes – it’s kind of hard to explain in one sentence what the most interesting thing we’ve seen is.”

§ Maggie Thompson, who was a guest star in Glen Weldon’s diary, had one of her own, and she obviously didn’t have the problems Glen and I had juggling being and doing.

Exhausted and happy but unable to leave the delights of one of many wrap-up events in the city, I found the day delightfully concluded by: Reciting Canterbury Tales to scholar Karen Green; hearing Graffiti’s Bob Chapman refer to T-shirts as “a gateway drug” (“They already buy T-shirts, and some get into comics initially just from the images on what they’re wearing”); confirming that Bob (whose early T-shirt stock had come to Comic-Con in his van) had had to use four 25-foot trucks to get this year’s stock to the show); photographing another photographer; meeting John Cassaday and so many others for the first time; hearing from Eric Shanower that he’s working on writing a four-issue version of a modern Little Nemo; pitching an Ed Wheelan Minute Movies collection to editor Scott Dunbier ..

§ Here’s an interview with The Beat’s own Bob Calhoun, author of “Shattering Conventions:

Bob Calhoun: We are one convention-going society. We choose our presidents at conventions. The biggest revolutions in electronics—the iPod, the iPhone, and so many others—have all been introduced to the world at Mac World or CES. The convention industry brings in $7 billion to San Francisco each year alone. There are books about Trekkies, and other types of fans, but there really isn’t a book about conventions themselves. I mean this country and our whole form of government was founded by a convention—the Constitutional Convention.

§ Augie didn’t go, so he knew all:

If you don’t want to do all that and are local, there’s now a second option: Go to San Diego and check out everything happening outside the convention center. The convention is quickly turning into the centerpiece for the festival. San Diego is turning into Angouleme, the French convention that takes over an entire town in January. Yes, much of it is the TV and movie studio pimping their wares with large balloons and posters the size of hotels, but there appear to be more and more activities and alternate conventions/shows happening in parallel. Tr!ckster started it and is still going, but more of those types of events are happening every year now. It’s still geek-related and some of it even relates to comics, such as the Teen Titans balloons. In a couple of years, the show will grow again as the convention center grows. It’ll be another touchstone in the show’s history. How will they fill the new space? Will it be Hall H doubling in size? Will they buy up one of those sideshows and bring it into the big tent? Will Hollywood just buy all that floor space and segregate itself from those silly comic book people? I don’t know, but it’ll be fun to watch. From afar. It’s too much work for me now.

§ Deb Aoki’s new site hasSDCC 2013: Best & Worst Manga.

§ Here is an excellent post by Philip Nel about comics at Comic-Con.

§ Comics Alliance had an excellent gallery of comics creators that included their names, unlike some other photo galleries.

§ Sean Kleefeld had a history lesson:

The first comic-specific “convention” was held in March 1964 at Jerry Bails’ house. Bails was the editor/publisher of the fanzine Alter-Ego, where he and co-editor Roy Thomas had decided to hand out awards to their favorite comics and creators based on votes from their readers. The votes for these Alley Awards (named after the comic strip character Alley Oop) were counted at Bails’ home by a dozen or so big name fans of the era, including Ronn Foss, Maggie Thompson and Mike Vosburg. The gathering was dubbed the Alley Tally and included viewings of original comic art and rare collectible issues (primarily from Bails’ personal collection)

§ Oh, very important! ICv2 had the only interview with Comic-Con’s David Glanzer:

There really is more of a ‘Comic-Con campus,’ with us being able to move to hotels and taking some of the public park space.  But there is a lot of stuff we don’t know about, or aren’t really informed about, that happens even further away, and I think there was even more of that.  What we are seeing, finally is a lot of those entities trying to contact us.  Sometimes it’s very late in the game, but a lot of them now are starting to say they want people to have a Comic-Con badge; they want to go ahead and make sure the people who come to this event are the people that are enjoying some of this stuff, and not just people coming downtown to people-watch or what-have-you.  So if it’s an added value for attendees, in most cases I think it’s probably a good thing.

§ Finally, Alexa Dickman salutes only the fourth woman to be inducted into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame, Trina Robbins

A week ago at the Eisner Awards, Trina Robbins was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. She brought the number of women in the Hall of Fame up to four (out of 128). Hers was the last name announced, and I had already braced myself for disappointment when Sergio Aragonés said that the final inductee was “the most deserving” and called her name. I didn’t need a legend like Aragonés to tell me that, but I’m happy he agrees. Because here’s what Trina Robbins’s induction into the Hall of Fame means: Women matter to comics.

Comments

  1. so glad to hear about Steven Grant’s payday… guy’s been a top writer for decades as well as a stylish dresser and I have a great respect for him so glad that the movie paid off…and I think it’s going to do very well this weekend, too, so hopefully some of that leads to people buying the graphic novel like I did.

  2. Feeling you on the socialization troubles, Ace. Sorry I only saw you for 12 seconds.

  3. Comic-Con isn’t really over until all the packages you’ve FedEx’d home arrive.

  4. Loser: All the fans that didn’t get to go because Comic-Con’s “waiting room” was full the second tickets went live on the website.

  5. The only really omission from your winners list that I’d add is Top Shelf (and I know you mentioned them already in an earlier post). Rep. John Lewis owned Comic-Con. Him signing at the Top Shelf booth was enough to get me to break my No Waiting in Lines for Anything policy.

    And I totally identify with the social aspect. So many people I only saw fleetingly.

  6. Aw, you! Great to see you – and it was so much fun to haul Glen Weldon from place to place! AND to meet Karen Green! And! Which is what I try to explain to folks about SDCC: There’s so much fun, it’s pretty much impossible to convey. Kudos for all you do!

  7. Do many Eisner award winners see a significant (on scales of significant that may vary by creator) boost in sales on the floor the day after the presentation? And if so, would they see that boost on a Sunday?

    The answers to those questions would be pretty important to any discussion about moving the awards.

    Also, as soon as you move it to Saturday on the basis that no one goes to the awards and the Masquerade, Phil Foglio will be nominated for everything.

  8. Really happy for Steven Grant (Boom!) and excited for 2 Guns, the movies (and 3 Guns, the comic sequel). Kudos to all.

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    Add to the winners:
    Lego
    Hello Kitty

    Unknown status:
    Ender’s Game
    Good press on Hailee Steinfeld’s style, much spinning on Card’s politics, Harrison Ford gets curmudgeonly.

    Could the Eisners be held earlier? The show starts at 8 PM. Why not do what the Oscars do (since CCI calls them “the Oscars of comics”) and start it in the afternoon? The show is done by 8, and then you have the parties just like in Hollywood. Need to fill seats? Get Ricky Gervais to host. }]

    Or move them to Thursday. That way, publishers can then promote the winners Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

  10. I don’t know the logistics, but I totally agree that having the Eisners on Thursday (or heck, even Wednesday!) would be pretty cool. Those nights are not as crazy party-wise, and it would give artists and publishers the ability to capitalize on their winning, especially the small and independent presses. I always intend to go to the Eisners, but have only made it once because so much stuff starts to happen by Friday night.

  11. Jackie Estrada says:

    The Exhibit Hall closes at 7 pm. Most of the publishers, sponsors, nominees, presenters, etc. have duties in the hall until that time, then need to be able to go to their hotels, change, etc. before getting to the venue for the awards.

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