San Diego DAY 0 report

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Beat Action HQ is The new Bayfront Hilton this year, a hotel that it is impossible to gain ingress or egress to unless you are “IN THE KNOW.” Seriously, we’d heard some people telling us it was hard to find the entrance, but we didn’t expect to have to wander around for two minutes before we could find a way to get out. That said, it’s a gawgeous location, right next to the Twilight Tent City and with a charming faux-salt marsh to bury bodies in. Plus Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries!

Did we mention the Twilight tent city? Some 2000 Twilight fans — overwhelmingly female — are literally camped out next to Hall H. They are spread out on blankets, sitting in bathrobes in tents, talking, communing. Some mothers and fathers are also present, as well as a few loner male Twilight fans. It’s pretty fucking amazing and anyone who says these people don’t belong are idiots. This is fandom as powerful and focused as anything. You haters just don’t understand!

Interestingly, a few folks suggested that IRON MAN 2 was the biggest thing at the con — and in terms of superhero movies which are in short supply, that may be true. But everything is dwarfed by TWILIGHT and luckily tomorrow at 1 it will all be over!

We spent the day at the ICv2 conference after a nice breakfast at Cafe 222 with FMB and Mark Coale, our able assistant and official Lost blogger. After that it was off to the ICv2 Comics and Media conference…although there were great soundbites from all the participants, the main takeaway seemed to be the usual: a good comic makes a good movie, and as long as the ideas are flowing, Hollywood will keep a courtin’. Or as Jeff Katz put it “They need us more than we need them.”

The line for badges was long but moved swiftly. Actually getting a badge was as easy as swiping a UPC code. After that, we experienced about 20 minutes of con floor scrum…people were lined up like crazy for any kind of giveaway and as much as we admired the oversized Harry Potter bags from the WB booth, it wasn’t worth the agony. We spotted a few old pals and talked to James Owen about how he had gotten the rights back to his Imaginarium Geographica fantasy series after it had languished in an option. He feels he’ll be in a way stronger position now that even more books are out and all have had strong sales.

Elsewhere the DC and Dark Horse booths were mobbed. We spotted Tyrese Gibson at the Image booth, where he was enthusiastically signing and hyping.

Other takeaways? Lots of conversations with friends engaged in new ventures, new ideas. There’s a real feeling, in the larger universe, that the old model is changing forever, and the smart people are surfing the waves of change. Looking around, it’s hard not to think that comics will be at the very center of the wave.

UPDATE 1:30 am….just toured Camp Twilight…wow…all those girls, sleeping on concrete with only a blanket beneath them. Huddled masses in sleeping bags. Gotta read these TWILIGHT books someday.

Some pictures below the fold

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How can you not love it?

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Happy to run into pals Steve Leialoha, Len Wein and Steven Grant!

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James Owen, whose fantasy novel series has sold millions lots of of copies.

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Nice costume!

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The new Marvel Booth’s Iron Man display is awesome.

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Loyal Beat reader Robert Liefeld,

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Radical’s new giant booth…but are legal woes looming?

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Nice Heroes diorama.

 San Diego DAY 0 report
People are going to be talking about the Tent City of Twilight for a looong time.

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Oh yeah, we TOTALLY saw a big rat scurrying around outside the HIlton! It must be a MARSH rat!

Comments

  1. “This is fandom as powerful and focused as anything. You haters just don’t understand!”

    The thing is … they’re creepy – like the girls who chased Orlando Bloom in Spain, the teenagers who would scream and faint in the presence of Elvis or the Beatles. They’re people who have obsessively focused on other people to the point at which they have abandoned rational action in relation to those people, and often act as a frenzied mob in which there is no rational concern.*

    *I know this isn’t entirely true, but it is true too often. The case of Orlando Bloom’s car being chased into a traffic jam outside a studio in Spain (or of Robert Pattinson into traffic in New York) is a good example of the frightening irrationality of the persons involved in this sort of behavior. What did they hope to accomplish by chasing his car? Why did they surge forward with such glee? It’s clear they were treating him as essentially an object, not a person, and that he himself was relatively irrelevant to the intensity of their pursuit. It’s very creepy.

    “Interestingly, a few folks suggested that IRON MAN 2 was the biggest thing at the con — and in terms of superhero movies which are in short supply, that may be true. But everything is dwarfed by TWILIGHT and luckily tomorrow at 1 it will all be over!”

    On the other hand, Iron Man has a very good chance of being the highest-grossing film promoted at the convention. It’s all but certain to lead Twilight by hundreds of millions of dollars. Which, I would suggest, makes it the most relevant film to general culture, just not to fandoms. (Which are kind of weird and overrated, anyway. I’ve been a fan of many things, and I’ve talked about them with other people who enjoy them, but none of us has identified ourselves as a member of a fandom; they’re things we enjoy, not things that define us. Our sense of community is elsewhere – school, state, city, country, generation, political faction, etc.)

  2. It’s a shame HBO’s TRUE BLOOD series doesn’t have the mass fandom appeal that TWILIGHT does. IMHO, it’s a much better production and considerably more fun.

  3. Not much that people can accomplish by knocking Twilight.

    I saw the Twilight movie recently, loved it, and have just begun to read New Moon.
    I do agree that the writing is not Charles Dickens or Alice Munro, but the ideas are good, and the story seems to be going somewhere.

    What can we take from this?

    Teenage girls WILL buy something, even during the days of ” everything must be free and online” and WILL camp out on the lawn in front of an American convention centre to be a part of something they feel passionate about.

  4. Oh, c’mon, Greg. They’re (mostly) teenage girls, and they’re just having a little fun, camping out to be sure they see some stars they like. Do you find the crowds camping out for tickets to various sporting events just as creepy, or is it only the obsessions of teenage girls that brings out the haterade?

  5. Heh… “drinking too much Hater-ade”… joining the disdain targeting a specific group or demographic online. Similar to “Drinking the Kool-Aid” (see: Jim Jones).

    I think it’s cool there’s a makeshift camp for Twilight fans. If Summit Entertainment is clever, they will return next year with an actual compound of tents and stage and booth set OUTSIDE the convention center. (Much like the first Image booth at the Chicago Comic-Con many years ago.) Maybe hold it at the Petco parking lot. (And if you can’t stand Twilight, ask Summit about “Hurt Locker”.)

    The True Blood box set is currently #8 on BN.com. The Season One DVD collection is #2 in DVDs (followed by Coraline and Watchmen). And it got four pages in the comic-con issue of Entertainment Weekly. It’s big.

  6. I definitely think Twilight belongs at SDCC, but any time I see fans camped out for anything, I always think, couldn’t the organizers just hand out wristbands and let them go home (or in this case their hotels)?

  7. But then they would camp out to be first in line for the wristbands.

  8. Alan Coil says:

    The people at Jonestown didn’t drink Kool-Aid.

  9. mark coale says:

    the couple times I passed by, the twilight folks seemed to be having a good time camped out, chatting and making friends.

    a contrast from your stereotypical introverted and anti-social comics nerd.

  10. eyvind earle says:

    James Owens has NOT sold Millions of books. Indeed he has not sold A million books. His books barely sell at all if one looks at actual sales charts. Pimping friends is fine but if you do so inaccurately you lose credibility.

  11. michael says:

    pictures!!!! :D

    thanks H!!!

  12. I am glad that I wasn’t crazy about the egress/ingress of the hotel. I was looking to move the BOOM party there this year… and when I scoped it out in may I was just FLABBERGASTED at the layout. The designers obviously didn’t count on foot traffic… wild!

  13. lol@ Chad and Greg

    I havent heard of reports of teen guys going after hot actresses in a mod like fashion.

    “Why did they surge forward with such glee? ”

    tears coming out of my eyes at this statement, reminds me of a manga that drew girls like that. I can imagine the sparkles :)

  14. eyvind earle says:

    Boom Party? Can I come and ask Marc Platt how all the Boom movies AREN’T doing?

  15. Michael says:

    Frankly, there’s little about Twilight fandom that’s more extreme, nerdy, or creepy about other fandoms. And hey, it’s not like comic nerds won’t be clamoring to get into panels about event comics that are just as crappy as Twilight, if not more.

    By the way, Heidi, don’t read Twilight. It’s terrible on every level, and you will never get that time back.

  16. Synsidar says:

    Teenage enthusiasm for anything can be extreme. Twilight fans camping out is no worse than teenage boys playing video games so much that they develop joint problems, or anyone standing in line for hours to buy a video game or book, just to able to say “I was one of the first!”

    As long as the fans of a show don’t confuse fantasy with reality and make the actors’ lives miserable in the process, they’re being exuberant and socializing.

    SRS

  17. maija says:

    Frankly, there’s little about Twilight fandom that’s more extreme, nerdy, or creepy about other fandoms.

    Yep. See also: sports fans after The Big Game, rioting, looting and burning because some objectified athletes chased an object around a playing area and got that object into the opposing team’s goal a superior number of times. Or they didn’t. It’s as rational as mobbing Orlando Bloom.

  18. ^ I think most of us could agree that rioting is, though not creepy, very disturbing.

    What separates the crazed-teenage girl phenomenon from other fan-based ones are its objectification and its power. (That the persons involved are teenage girls isn’t germane; teenage girls and boys can both be involved in all sorts of obsessive activities without creepiness being involved.) The adoption of persons as obsessive objects is what’s disturbing about Twilight fans, and of the phenomenon in general.

  19. “They’re people who have obsessively focused on other people to the point at which they have abandoned rational action in relation to those people, and often act as a frenzied mob in which there is no rational concern.”

    Replace “people” a few times with “comics,” or “anime,” or “busty resin statues,” and that describes…well, pretty much all of us, at some point in our lives or another. Or maybe RIGHT NOW.

  20. Maija, I suspect there is almost universal agreement that rioting is very disturbing.

    What separates the crazed-teenage girl phenomenon from other fan-based ones are its objectification and its power. (That the persons involved are teenage girls isn’t germane; teenage girls and boys can both be involved in all sorts of obsessive activities without creepiness being involved.) The adoption of persons as obsessive objects is what’s disturbing about the phenomenon evidenced in Twilight fans. Not at sporting events*, not at male-dominated rock concerts, not at video game releases, not at geeky movie openings do you see the stars chased, the fans passing out with excitement, or the treatment of persons as desire objects in an obsessive way. The phenomenon is creepy. Twilight fans as fans aren’t, nor are teenage girls.

    *With a few exceptions, which are generally viewed with horror.

  21. Sorry, I didn’t mean to post twice.

    ““They’re people who have obsessively focused on other people to the point at which they have abandoned rational action in relation to those people, and often act as a frenzied mob in which there is no rational concern.”

    Replace “people” a few times with “comics,” or “anime,” or “busty resin statues,” and that describes…well, pretty much all of us, at some point in our lives or another. Or maybe RIGHT NOW.”

    But that’s an important difference. Comics and anime *are* objects. So are busty resin statues, but their similarity to people makes them creepy when they’re sexualized. (My grandmother collects resin statues, some of which happen to be busty, but which have angels and other religious matter as their subjects, but aren’t creepy the way, say, DC’s imported Japanese statues are.*) Objectifying and obsessing over *persons* is categorically different from obsessing over objects.

    *Not because they’re religious, but because they’re non-sexual.

    As it happens, I’m fairly sure I’ve never obsessed over comics. I have a tea box full of them (most in sorry shape), but I’ve never really been one to focus on them much. Even when I was little, X-Men, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Girl weren’t any more important to me than, say, Star Trek and Law & Order, or Duck Tales and Talespin. Actually, I’ve always found the obsessed fan element (like Comic Book Guy) creepy, for much the same reason that I don’t like setting foot in record stores. There’s a degree of excessive focus, counterculture, and exchange of shibboleths that I’m just not comfortable with.

  22. Synsidar says:

    Psychology Today recently had a short series by a blogger on the Twilight phenomenon that includes the reasons why one teenage girl loves the (book) series. The girl has discovered fandom. The blogger, a well-adjusted woman, “loathes” Twilight and fears that attitudes toward the characters could be transferred to real-life affections and relationships.

    Part 1:

    As a “treat” to myself I decided to read TWILIGHT during my recovery from the operation. My expectations were high. Rebecca wasn’t the only one to be a fan of Meyer’s work: the books fly off the shelves (no bat wings necessary), some of my best undergraduate and even graduate students at UConn (smart babes all) are also wildly enthusiastic readers of these books, and the movie adaptation did incredibly well at the box office.[. . .]

    What happened? I loathed TWILIGHT. I was surprised. What was I missing? I wanted to like it, I was willing to like it, I was waiting to like it.

    I didn’t like it.

    Part 2:

    1. Finally, it is very easy to see the Twilight-obsessed girls as a kind of cult. And, indeed, that’s a bit what it felt like when I first started reading. I was welcomed in with a “Isn’t he great?” by my friends who were fellow obsessives—though not, I am proud to say, by any weird, preteen, Edward-devoted websites. Though the hearty welcome didn’t really make me feel any cooler for having read the book, it was kind of a thrill to be joined in this alternate reality by your friends—to discover that what you thought was a private universe that took place in your room was actually shared by people you know (and millions of others, predominantly twelve-year-old girls—though I prefer not to think about that). Ultimately, Twilight becomes more than a book—it is an experience.

    Part 3:

    Precisely BECAUSE the TWILIGHT franchise is more than just a goofy boxed-set of romance novels, a la Barbara Cartland or Danielle Steele (both of whom, no kidding, are far better writers than Meyer), The TWILIGHT Experience IS scary and people should be warned. I’m serious. [. . .]

    So the BIG reason to loathe TWILIGHT?

    Fear of your lover should not be an aphrodisiac.

  23. Michael says:

    “Objectifying and obsessing over *persons* is categorically different from obsessing over objects.”

    Not when the objectifiers and obsessives are treating the objects like persons. Which is pretty much the definition of obsessive fandom: forgetting it’s all make-believe.

  24. ““Objectifying and obsessing over *persons* is categorically different from obsessing over objects.”

    Not when the objectifiers and obsessives are treating the objects like persons. Which is pretty much the definition of obsessive fandom: forgetting it’s all make-believe.”

    Yes, but the problem with obsessively objectifying people is that the objects *are* people. If you forget that, say, “His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz” is imaginary, it doesn’t affect anyone. When you forget that Edward Cullen is a person, not an object of obsession, it can hurt him. It nearly did in NYC.

  25. Rob Jensen (aka ShutUpRob) says:

    Greg: “What separates the crazed-teenage girl phenomenon from other fan-based ones are its objectification and its power. (That the persons involved are teenage girls isn’t germane; teenage girls and boys can both be involved in all sorts of obsessive activities without creepiness being involved.) The adoption of persons as obsessive objects is what’s disturbing about the phenomenon evidenced in Twilight fans. Not at sporting events*, not at male-dominated rock concerts, not at video game releases, not at geeky movie openings do you see the stars chased, the fans passing out with excitement, or the treatment of persons as desire objects in an obsessive way. The phenomenon is creepy. Twilight fans as fans aren’t, nor are teenage girls.”

    Mmm-yeah. As if Halle Berry wasn’t nearly trampled to death at Comic-Con by overly hormonal fanboys when she was there several years ago to promote a Movie Which Shall Not Be Named.

    As if the repugnant mouth-breathers among the fanboy crowd didn’t make the same requests for hugs, the same marriage proposals, and stuff that is, frankly, sexual harrassment (poor Jennifer Love Hewitt — and I hate The Ghost Whisperer) at Comic-Con and other conventions.

    Greg, please quit while you’re only this far behind and only bordering on misogyny rather than fully epitomizing it.

    — Rob

  26. It seemed like every line today was crazy.

    I only went to one (sparsely attended) panel partially cuz I didn’t have all day to just wait in line.

    It also seemed to take at least 20 minutes to get from the dc booth to artists alley, if a person didn’t wisely go outisde the hall to make the trek.

  27. Rob Jensen (aka ShutUpRob) says:

    Mark: “It also seemed to take at least 20 minutes to get from the dc booth to artists alley, if a person didn’t wisely go outisde the hall to make the trek.”

    That’s pretty much been the case since about 2002. If you really want to get from the north end of the floor to the south end of the floor, you’ve absolutely *got* to skip the middle because of the traffic jam caused by all of the TV and Movie booths and the Mattel and Hasbro booths in the middle.

    That’s a large part of the reason why, when I’m able to go out there from Missouri — I’ve had to miss the year due to a family-related vacation taking up all the money this year — I do most of my comics buying on Preview Night. Actually, I do most of my comics buying on the Day of Preview Night at my old LCS, San Diego Comics, two miles east of SDSU.[1] Because, well, the comics dealers’ tables at Comic-Con all suck *and* because San Diego Comics has, well, a great back issue selection, better even than most of the larger stores (glorified convention tables with walls) these days. So I fill my wantlist at the store and limit my movement at the Con as much as possible by sticking to the Movie and TV panels.[2] So when I absolutely *have* to get from one end of the floor to the other — say, I’m at the Comic Relief table and need to get to Stan Sakai’s booth because I finally remember the title of the next Usagi Yojimbo TPB that I need to get (I’m still about 10 TPBs behind), I go into the lobby and walk always the across the lobby hallway to get to the south end, where Sakai’s booth (and Terry Moore’s and Dave McKean’s and . . .) always are.

    If I don’t do my shopping on Wednesday or take the lobby “shortcut” (short by time), then I wear myself out waaaay too fast and have to ditch either Thursday morning or go back to my motel early on Thursday or Friday. Limiting travel and standing time is the name of the game, IMO.

    — Rob

    [1] A relatively easy trip from Mission Valley via the Green Line to SDSU and then the 15 down El Cajon to 70th.)

    [2] I don’t even go to the comics panels anymore because I read The Beat, Newsarama and Journalista on a daily basis throughout the year and thus, the panels are boring, partifcularly when they get to the fan Q&As, which are always the same old newbie questions.

  28. ^ Please disregard the above. I seem to have a tendency to accidentally click the submit button while still writing. : o

    “Greg: “What separates the crazed-teenage girl phenomenon from other fan-based ones are its objectification and its power. (That the persons involved are teenage girls isn’t germane; teenage girls and boys can both be involved in all sorts of obsessive activities without creepiness being involved.) The adoption of persons as obsessive objects is what’s disturbing about the phenomenon evidenced in Twilight fans. Not at sporting events*, not at male-dominated rock concerts, not at video game releases, not at geeky movie openings do you see the stars chased, the fans passing out with excitement, or the treatment of persons as desire objects in an obsessive way. The phenomenon is creepy. Twilight fans as fans aren’t, nor are teenage girls.”

    Mmm-yeah. As if Halle Berry wasn’t nearly trampled to death at Comic-Con by overly hormonal fanboys when she was there several years ago to promote a Movie Which Shall Not Be Named.

    As if the repugnant mouth-breathers among the fanboy crowd didn’t make the same requests for hugs, the same marriage proposals, and stuff that is, frankly, sexual harrassment (poor Jennifer Love Hewitt — and I hate The Ghost Whisperer) at Comic-Con and other conventions.”

    I wasn’t aware of this. Given that we recognize such persons as creepy and socially maladjusted, this may provide a useful male example of the behavior – like the stalker.

    On the other hand, what has been seen at Comic-Con (why is the city omitted?) may be stampede-like behavior based on the individual obsessions of individual persons rather than the apparently group-linked behavior evidenced in the Twilight/Bloom phenomenon. (The latter is remarkably similar to the so-called “collective hysteria” which has brought on rashes of fainting spells among similar groups in other contexts.)

    “Greg, please quit while you’re only this far behind and only bordering on misogyny rather than fully epitomizing it.”

    My concern isn’t sex-related, but behavior related. Please note that I’ve taken care above to point out that I’m not discussing the behavior of females, but of a certain subset of society which happens to largely be female. The sex of those persons isn’t apposite.

    (I do see that I poorly referenced “male-dominated rock concerts”. What I intended was to differentiate non-Beatle/Elvis-like events from concerts that are of that type. I should have phrased it more clearly (Pink concerts, say, don’t evidence the behavior).

  29. Actually, “Eyvind Earle”, with three books (and counting) in the series, in hardcover and paperback, it’s not hard to get to millions of books sold when the books are being published in a couple of dozen countries. If the books hardly ‘”sold at all”, then the first book would not still be in print (and in its sixth hardcover printing) three years after release. And taking shots at authors like myself and successful companies like Boom under a pseudonym hardly adds to your credibility.

  30. Synsidar says:

    Greg, you might be overcomplicating things in trying to explain the actions of teenagers. Take a look at the linkage of impulse control and obsessions, also called “impulsive obsession.” As people age and mature, they develop impulse control.

    SRS

  31. eyvind earle says:

    Boom is held together by paste. They do not support creator ownership. They are NOT successful, James.

    Your books about something that nobody can pronounce may be good but they have NOT sold anywhere near a million copies on planets Earth or Venus.

    Fact.

  32. By sheer coincidence, we’ve just announced that the rights to the Imaginarium Geographica books have been sold on Venus:

    http://coppervale.livejournal.com/226989.html

    YA fantasy has done pretty well there, although as I understand it they won’t be using my cover art (opting to instead use a local artist, as my Spanish and Portugese publishers have done). Still, the books won’t be released there for some time, so it’ll be a while before we can add in the sales figures to the total.

  33. James may want to look at using proper punctuation (the comma goes inside a the quotation marks) the next time he chooses to defend his writing ability against a fact-producing critic.

Trackbacks

  1. […] SDCC got under way last night, and Tim Sheehy reports on Preview Night at Japanator. Lissa Pattillo checks in as well, and she has photos. Deb Aoki has a manga-lover’s guide to the exhibit hall at About.com. Heidi visits the huddled masses at Camp Twilight. […]

  2. […] Gestern Abend war nun die sogenannte Preview Night. Das heisst, die Halle ist offen für ein paar Stunden am Vorabend des eigentlichen Anfangs, an denen sich die Superfans die erste Menge Swag und Exklusivgoodies angeln können. Wie ihr auf dem Foto unten erkennen könnt war das Conventionzentrum zum Brechen voll. Offenbar soll die Air Conditioning auch schon ihre Wirkung verloren haben und es soll unangenehm heiss gewesen sein. Der klare Filmfavorit dieses Festivals ist Twillight, für dessen Panel sich die jungen Mädchen schon gestern Abend mit Schlafsäcken vor der Halle angesammelt haben, wie man in einem Blogeintrag auf Bleeding Cool sehen kann. Das ist Hingabe! Würde für Comics wohl kaum passieren. Auf dem gleichen Blog gibt es auch noch eine Meldung, dass das erste Hotel in San Diego schon kein Wasser mehr hätte. Das kann ja heiter werden. Ungewaschene Geeks in einer gefüllten Halle ohne Air Conditioning… The Beat (der Blog von Heidi MacDonald von Publishers Weekly) hat eine gute Zusammenfassung mit Bildern. Nichts weltbewegendes, aber ein paar nette Eindrücke. Mehr, wenn wir weitere Berichte finden. […]

  3. […] SDCC got under way last night, and Tim Sheehy reports on Preview Night at Japanator. Lissa Pattillo checks in as well, and she has photos. Deb Aoki has a manga-lover’s guide to the exhibit hall at About.com. Heidi visits the huddled masses at Camp Twilight. […]

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