SD07: Showdown at Hall H

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helltown SD07: Showdown at Hall H
Where was I? Thursday dawned bright and sunny. I blogged a bit and then sat down in a cafe for a healthy, nutritious breakfast with Laurenn McCubbin. It was to be my only vaguely healthy, nutritious breakfast for many days. As I walked to that most excellent breakfast place on Island, everyone else was heading towards the show, and many people I knew on the street told me I was going the wrong way. Little did they know I had breakfast on my mind.

Once I got to the show I experienced LESSON LEARNED #4: Even if you have a schedule. no one else does. I have no idea what I did all day. Everything got behind schedule and nothing ever turned out quite the way I expected. I stopped by the Fox Atomic booth for a while, but its locale at the nexus of Paramount and the Warner Bros. Smallville bag giveaway corner made it only slightly less insane than the fall of Saigon. While I was hanging out there I was interviewed by a writer for the local paper and got quoted the next day, which someone even texted me to alert me to.

Then some friends of mine who are “not in the business” as they say needed help getting into the show, so I had to do that. I had planned to do some video blogging, but I didn’t make it over to that side of the hall in time. I did make it to a meeting or two, and managed to get outside for a bit.

Thursday was — and here’s the mind boggling thing — the only day on which you could walk up to the show and get in if you didn’t already have a ticket. It was already mad crowded. To tell the truth, I couldn’t see any difference between this day and any other, crowd-wise. Every time I walked by the WB booth I heard announcements that there would be more bags and more shields LATER. Despite their scarcity those bags were everywhere. Some people would drag their bag behind them, filled with swag, the way a lion drags a wildebeest carcass.

 SD07: Showdown at Hall H

As time passed, people kept texting me with their whereabouts and activities. One of my friends went to get his pro badge and ended up standing in line for OVER TWO HOURS. (That was bad luck, it seems. Although there was lot of confusion over having your bar code letter or not, registration seemed to go smoothly most of the time.) Towards the end of the day, there was a signing for THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY, the most truly awesome graphic novel I edited for Fox Atomic Comics. I got to say hi to Joe Harris, Ben Templesmith, Stuart Moore and Michael Gaydos, as well as my FA fearless leader Eric Lieb, who in addition to being the EIC of Fox Atomic Comics, also ran the booth, which means he is made of sterner stuff than most people.

After the signing I realized I hadn’t eaten since that healthy, nutritious breakfast, so I managed to get Stuart and Michael to come EAT with me. That was awesome! We went to the fish taco place outside the Omni…we got there early enough so it wasn’t crowded, and the fish tacos were top notch. That was definitely a highlight of the show.

I would say that Thursday was a busy night of socializing except that every night was a choice between at least half a dozen parties. I missed the CBLDF party and the IDW party, both of which I heard were excellent. Instead, I went back to the convention center for the Friends of Lulu awards, only to arrive after everything had already happened! I was bummed, but I did get to eat a brownie and drink some lemonade. That’s what Friends of Lulu is all about! MK Reed told me the winners, and John Green and Shannon Crane gave me their hellish airline travel stories — John’s was by far the most hellish, involving a detour to Atlanta, a ride on a golf cart and other things even more alarming.

 SD07: Showdown at Hall H

Then I decided to hit the Avatar party since it was right across from the convention center. I always wondered what went on at that round building right across from Hall B and now I know. This was a laid back and pleasant outdoor affair. In addition to his nibs, Warren Ellis, I spotted Robert Englund hanging out, and a bunch of people from Marvel and Top Cow. My NYC homegirl Nina Kester of Cartoon Allies managed to find her way to the party, and as a first time attendee I enjoyed hearing all her impressions of the show. I also ran into my old time homies Rantz Hosely and Derek McCulloch, and then, in one of those weird things that only happens at Comic-Con I heard someone shouting my name and it was Jula Bell, punk rock goddess and my one time assistant at Disney Adventures. Jula — who is one of the coolest people on earth — was accompanied by her beaux, who happened to be Thom Ang, who I knew back in the day from Disney. Thom had worked with Rantz there as well, and I even have a Polaroid of Rantz and Jula sitting together at my going away party in LA in 1994…but we had never all been together in the same spot before, if that makes any sense. This is definitely one of those moments that only means something to the people involved, but it is one of the dimensional warps of Comic-con — at any given moment ANYONE from your past can appear and suddenly become part of your present or even your future, and after a few episodes of this, your mind starts to melt just like a Dali print, and anything seems possible.

Then more of my present and future pals showed up and we decided to hike back to the Hyatt. People urged me to go to the excellent CBLDF party or the excellent IDW party, but they were clear on the other side of town, and there was no way I was going back.

At the Hyatt all possibly realities were colliding. I mean, “tumult” doesn’t even describe it. With the high ceilings and lack of padding, the roar of voices was deafening. In about 10 minutes I ran into about 100 people I knew, and by the time I got to the bar, at 1:15, they had called last call. I couldn’t even get a glass of water, but as if by fate, Jim Lee happened to show up, and worked his magic and got me a glass of water. God bless Jim Lee.

By then I was zoinked, already having had as much activity as a normal human would experience in a week, and I was only a day and a half in.

FRIDAYdawned with a few cups of Vietnamese coffee and a bagel. No more healthy nutritious breakfasts for THIS blogger.

From my vantage point at the Omni, I could see the lines gathering outside Hall H. By now it was 10 am. Early, but not early enough. I struggled to get some posts up, but couldn’t help looking out the window every few minutes. The Warner Bros presentation including Watchmen was at 10:30 and was sure to be crowded, so I had to decide fast: blog or stand in line?

Finally I dashed out of the hotel room and across the tracks. The line was long but moving, which was good because the early morning sunlight was strong. I heard someone call my name, and it turned out to be my pals Joanne Starer and her man Marc Letzmann so I cut in line with them. The line had suddenly begun moving in fits and starts. I was already suffering from general morning crankiness, and the line not moving wasn’t doing my mood any good.

Plus, and here I must throw myself on the mercy of Nat Gertler, I began to resent the fact that I had to stand in line at all. If 23 years of covering Comic-Con doesn’t get you a pass, what does? We got inside and out of the sun, near the concession stand for people who don’t want to leave Hall H. Hall H is its own little ecosystem…it has its own food and bathrooms for people who don’t want to leave. If you really want to cover the goings on there you need to get in in the morning and camp out. But I didn’t have time for that.

As we waited, someone came out and seemed to be saying that the hall was full and now it would be one person out, one person in. I decided to ditch this line and, perhaps only out of perverse curiosity, see what was going on at “SE”…the special entrance.

 SD07: Showdown at Hall H
As poorly marked as the door to Disneyland’s legendary Club 33, this is where the people who have passes to Hall H can get in without standing in line. The entrance was manned by some Elite guards and a Comic-con staffer. Alex Romanelli of TV Week was also trying to get in.

“Where is the press list? Who has access to it?” I asked, probably not in the most polite tone of voice.

“There is no press list,” said the Elite guy. And I admit, this really pissed me off. I am a grown up and you don’t need to lie to me. And in fact, the nice lady from Comic-Con said that if you were on the WB press list you would already have your wrist band and your pass. I guess this pissed me off even further, and flashed me back to LESSON LEARNED #2: If you don’t have it planned months in advance it isn’t going to happen. Poor Alex wasn’t getting any further than I was, and there was no way I was going to the back of the line to get in, as we were told to do. Rather childishly, I thought, well if I can’t get into some dumb panel, I guess I’ll go call Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons instead. And so I gave up. I would just have to read about the panel on ComingSoon, and IGN, and about 100 other websites that were on the proper lists.

There I was, a poor Saxon in a rude tunic trampled beneath Norman hooves. It wasn’t like I was asking for a limo or dinner, or lox and bagel or a free cup of coffee. I just wanted to cover an event at Comic-con. Judging by the number of complaints I heard from other members of the “legitimate” press, I was not the only person who couldn’t get into some panel they wanted to see. The reality is that the studios have all the control over who gets into Hall H. That means I need to call each and every studio publicity person and try to convince them that I want to cover their panels, which, I know, isn’t like invading Normandy or anything, but its 20 other things to do. UPDATE: I’ve since been informed that this isn’t exactly the case.

I realize that thousands and thousands of people get “press passes” to Comic-Con and some of them are little dinky bloggers, and some of them are EW and the New York Times. And not all of them deserve equal access. And I’m not kidding myself — I have access to people and places that regular folks don’t have. I know that. But I don’t want to be a prima donna. After all my whining, someone from Comic-Con walked me into the SHOOT’EM UP panel, and I appreciate that, but I wish there were a system in place where I didn’t HAVE to call in favors like that. My immediate suggestion would be that Comic-Con just have its OWN press list for Hall H events — but I’m guessing the studios would not allow such a thing, because they have their own feuds and tiffs and rules and regulations.

The new sold-out paradigm means that there need to be new ways of doing things. This year, judging from the online reports I read, it wasn’t just Hall H that was impossible to get into. Ballroom 20 was also limited access, as was room 6. Everywhere I went I saw giant lines for the media panels. The press should certainly NOT take up all the seats at these panels (although ironically, the studios probably wouldn’t mind that, since the main reason they put on all these dog and pony shows is to get internet chatter started.) But the system as it worked this year seems to have left a lot of people frustrated and pissed off. The result: a series of movies-only events, and comic book working stiffs like me left out in the cold.

A lot of this goes back to LESSON LEARNED #3: You cannot do it alone. To get into Hall H you need that ground crew to help with the calls and the credentials. I generally go it alone, because I work best alone, just like the Rangers of Arnor. But that isn’t practical any more.

After being rebuffed at Hall H (and by the way Joanne and Marc got in a few minutes after I left, but I don’t regret what I did.) I went upstairs looking for the press room. On the way I ran into Trina Robbins, who was as fed up and tuckered out as I was. Now, it is safe to say that Trina Robbins is not a person who keeps her opinion secret, and her opinion of San Diego was that she would never come back. As we swapped gripes, it dawned on me that here I was with one of the ORIGINAL Comic-conners, one of the valiant 300 who had sat around the pool at the US Grant and the Pickwick with Milton Caniff and Kirby and all of that.

UPDATE: In the comments, it has been revealed that though Trina was NOT one of the Noble 300 at the US Grant, she did begin attending in 1975. I think my comments should make it clear that it is not who was or wasn’t sitting around that legendary pool that I am talking about, but rather, that entire era, and by any definition, Trina qualifies as an original Comic-Con-er.

“Didn’t you win an Inkpot?” I asked her. (The Inkpot is an award given to meritorious folks by the Convention.) As a matter of fact she had…in 1977. That’s before most of you reading this were born, I’m guessing. When you win an Inkpot you also get a Golden Pass that gets you into the show for free for life. I suggested that the Con should have special entrances for people with Golden Passes.

“But I lost it a long time ago,” said Trina. Indeed, who could imagine holding onto a piece of cardboard for 30 years.

I began to feel a sense of pride for people like Trina, the originals who had made the con what it would become…for REAL. Hollywood people like Sam Raimi and Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Uslan and James Cameron used to come to the San Diego Comic-Con to meet their favorite cartoonists, not the other way around. In the beginning it was Sergio and Jack and Gil, Scott Shaw, Stan Sakai.

I am not for one INSTANT suggesting that the folks who run Comic-Con do ANYTHING to disrespect these people. Far from it. I want to stress that everyone from Comic-Con I dealt with was incredibly patient and helpful, and I heard no different. That is not my point. But with a crowd the size of Disneyland now surging around the halls, it’s not too much to ask that the originals should be treated with some of the perks the movie stars get. I truly believe they are the real stars. I believe that with all my heart. The Spurge talked about “wily veterans” who have survival strategies. Indeed, we all have our secret taco stand or unknown Starbucks or surreptitious sushi chef. But at one point I talked to a hardened Comic-con vet exhibitor who said that he was tired of making plans to go to Ralph’s at either 7:30 in the morning or 10:30 at night. YOU CANNOT GO IT ALONE.

One day the exhibit hall was opened a half hour early by complete surprise, and some people weren’t even at their booths. If people are going to be asked to man their booths for even longer hours, they need their OWN coffee stand, dammit. No one has time to stand in line for half an hour for a cup of coffee all the time. By Saturday there was a half hour wait for the SUBWAY sandwich shop. It’s ridiculous.

I imagine that to some of you reading this it is all coming off as privileged whining. I’m sure I’ll be castigated at various blogs for my sense of “fangirl entitlement.” I’m as wily a veteran as anyone. but this time all my secret routes were blocked off and my usual getaways were packed with roving gangs. New crowds, new survival strategies. If I have to hire someone to go to Ralph’s for carrots, and get me coffee and stand in line, well I guess that’s the way it has to be.

Back to our thrilling narrative. After showing Trina the secret elevator to the floor, I went to the press registration desk and asked if there was a “Schedule of events.” No there was not. There was a very nice guy there whose name I do not, unfortunately, remember, and he knew who I was (I didn’t mention my affiliation) and listened very patiently while I ranted and raved for a while. I later got a very nice call from David Glanzer, which, again, I very much appreciated. I have always had a very good relationship with David, and he has always been available to me for all my press needs. That is not the problem. The problem, as I told David, was that there should be a better system so I don’t HAVE to call him when I need him. After this whole thing, I heard about how Kate Beckinsale was late for the WHITEOUT panel and Steve Lieber and the producer of the movie couldn’t even get past the people at the Special Entrance, which is wristband ONLY. When the co-creator of the damned comic book can’t even talk his way into a panel, something is seriously odd.

I went back to the press room, which is Spartan and not in a good way. The San Diego Comic-Con press room is by far the most meager press room for any event I have ever seen. At Toy Fair there are computers and ethernet lines and press kits and coffee, donuts, and tea. (The food does go very very fast.) In the San Diego press room there are tables and chairs and a water cooler.

The only reason I’m going into this at some length is because everybody sits around talking about how big the show has gotten, but I don’t think everybody is ready to come to grips with changing procedures to solve the new problems that come with that popularity.

Or maybe I am just a crank. U decide.

ANYWAY back to the show. As my regular readers know, Clive Owen has been a running gag here on the Beat since the very beginning! I could have called up the New Line people and odds are that I could have gotten into the press roundtables with Mr. Clive. But I didn’t do that. I didn’t because…well I guess it would have been anticlimactic. Plus, I probably would have embarrassed myself. As one of my fellow journos told me. “I choked. He’s too handsome to talk to. It was awful.”

No, no I didn’t want to risk that and lose my cool cred forever.

cowenccon SD07: Showdown at Hall HInstead I sat in a row midway in the hall and did a little blogging. I was completely unaware of the contents or history of SHOOT ‘EM UP, but when they showed about 10 minutes of footage I thought “Jeez, this looks just like a cartoon!” Then director Michael Davis came out and explained that he used to do storyboards for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and other cartoons and had made an animatic of 20 minutes of the movie. Which they showed. And which looked just like the movie. Then the Clivester came out. I went into the photo pit by the side of the stage and took a few pics. I noticed a bunch of photogs were in front of the stage, so I went up there and got a nice close picture. Only AFTER I had my shot, a guard came up and said, very politely, “Ma’am you can’t stand here.” So THEN I went and crouched among some other Clive Owen groupies in the front of the hall and took some MORE pictures. The guard there kept saying, very quietly and without much conviction, “No more pictures,” but once again he waited until everyone had quite a few shots and then made us stop. So how do you like that, even the security was polite. And Clive Owen is very funny and handsome, apparently. But he should wear a suit that actually FITS him next time.

Well, THAT saga was over. It was time for some meetings! At four o’clock or so, I found myself escorting Paul Pope across the hall. Paul hadn’t been to San Diego in 10 YEARS and was amused by the madness. Just getting across a few halls now took a minimum of 10-15 minutes. Somewhere south of the big Jabba the Hut set-up there was a huge commotion, and a logjam near the G4 booth.

“What’s going on?” Paul wondered.

“They must be giving something away,” I guessed. “No hold on, they’re interviewing some handsome guy…wait, it’s Clive Owen!”

While Paul’s steady hand kept me on course, I found the idea of the toy-eschewing, classical actor Owen actually walking the floors of Comic-Con the most amusing notion of all.

That said, when Jessica Alba and Dane Cook got on the floor, or Kevin Bacon, they caused similar logjams. I’m not sure having movie stars on the floor is a very good idea.

Friday would be a day without food or pity. Since that lonely bagel I ate only…a pretzel and a Rockstar energy drink I think. I don’t remember. I made sure to leave the hall before the 7 pm mass exodus, dropped my shit off at the room, and started on the longest night of the con.

WOW! I’ve written nearly 4000 words and I’m still only halfway done.

Okay. One more day. I crave your indulgence.

Comments

  1. David Oakes says:

    “I don’t think everybody is ready to come to grips with changing procedures to solve the new problems that come with that popularity. ”

    I think the first decision that has to be made is whether San Diego is a Trade Show, closed to outsiders, existing purely to generate “buzz”, or a Fan show, a place where Trina Robbins gets the respect she deserves, and Leonardo DiCaprio might not be able to see Sergio Aragones because six year old Timmy Smith from LaJolla has been standing patiently in line for the past twenty minutes.

    Now, as someone who is never going to be a Blogger, much less an employee of a newsworthy one, I know how I would vote. And as an Anarcho-Syndicalist, Leo et al can take their special privilages and perform acts unfit for a public blog. When it comes down to me and Timmy, well, I can take him, but I hope I have enough self respect not to try. I have been going to San Diego longer than he has been alive. He has the entire Comic Book Experience still ahead of him. Which one of us “deserves” it more?

  2. I saw a young lady take one of those SMALLVILLE bags and make it into a (very) cute (on her) cocktail dress.

    The ingenuity of fans amazes me sometimes.

    Did anyone get a pic of her? I saw her walking around on Sunday.

  3. At almost two weeks later I’m still seeing pictures of things all over the net that I didn’t get to see that were on the main floor where everyone could see them. I’m not talking about people in costumes or stars or anything like that, I mean just static stuff.

    In the good old days(2005) I’d walk from one end to the other of the main hall to check everything out before I even decided to talk to anyone or make a purchase. This year the center of the hall was all but impassible and clausterphobic. I had to walk out of the hall or into the street to travel from one end to the other.

    Heidi you have opened my eyes, in years past, I’d watch the press photogs and writers getting into places and I’d think “man, I wish I was a member of the press, maybe I should start a blog”, now I realize that’s like the minimum wage worker wishing he/she was the boss without realizing what it takes to do that job. You have my respect and empathy.

    Will I return for more of this next year? I really don’t know.

  4. “Now, it is safe to say that Trina Robbins is not a person who keeps her opinion secret, and her opinion of San Diego was that she would never come back. As we swapped gripes, it dawned on me that here I was with one of the ORIGINAL Comic-conners, one of the valiant 300 who had sat around the pool at the US Grant and the Pickwick with Milton Caniff and Kirby and all of that.”

    Actually, Trina was not one of the “original” Comic-Conners. I think she started coming in 1975, and Comic-Con by then had a few thousand people. The first San Diego Con that everyone cites as having 300 people was in the basement of the U.S. Grant. Starting in 1973 it was at the El Cortez Hotel, which is the place that had a pool. The Con was never at the Pickwick. Since I was there for every San Diego Con, I sorta know this stuff.

    As far as exhibitors being surprised at the hall opening early, all they needed to do was read their exhibitor materials, which stated that the hall would open at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. It has been that way for the last few years.

    Jackie E.

  5. Mark Coale says:

    The more Con travelogues I read, the more I’m glad I’ve eschewed it for smaller cons like Charlotte or Baltimore in recent years.

    I saw on someone’s FLKR page last week someone being stuffed into a Smallville bag and carried around.

  6. I had the most fun I’ve ever had at the Con. I felt no pressure to see everything or buy everything. I took pictures ( a paying gig) all Con long, and just had absolute fun photographing Princess Leia(s), Mario, Big Boy, Supergirl and anyone else I came upon.

    Yes it was insane, and I didn’t get into the Heroes panel, but really, is that so important? I took the two hours sitting outside that ballroom to relax, take photos and destress before going back to the madness.

    I can’t wait ’til next year.

  7. Torsten Adair says:

    New Word: clusterphobic : being afraid of being pressed into a tight crowd.
    I know the New York Comic Con once sold VIP tickets for fans. Perhaps something similar could be offered for journalists (with proper credentials), industry veterans, and the occasional terminally ill child.
    The press room? Get the Motion Picture Association Of America to sponsor it. Studios can assign staff so that reporters can avoid the main hall chaos.
    And why not make it a seven day event? Monday and Tuesday for trade, Wednesday 12 to 6 for previews, thursday to sunday for everyone.

  8. I saw the girl in the Smallville schwag-dress on Sunday. Very, very cool. She told a friend of mine she got the bag on Preview night and worked on it until it was ready on Sunday.

  9. Tom S. says:

    After this year’s Comic Con, I will not do it again. I can get a better view of the event from Youtube and The Beat than I could by trying to go to the panels myself. I did get to see the Paramount panel. I think they should make the event only for those who have four day passes. You would reduce the number of people who would attend. I bet at least half of the attendance is from those who are there one day.

  10. Here’s a small complaint about the SDCC badges: the type face for your name on a SDCC is tiny–maybe 14 points, although I haven’t measured it. BEA badges blow your name up to enormous sizes so you can actually tell who you are talking to without squinting at their chest. How about larger type face on the badges, Comic-Con? Blow those names up to 64 points to help out those of us with near-sightedness.

  11. why not make it a seven day event? Monday and Tuesday for trade, Wednesday 12 to 6 for previews, thursday to sunday for everyone.

    * Prohibitively expensive (and simply exhausting) for exhibitors. Many merchants would not be interested in exhibiting during trade-only days (no customers, no sales) and the infrastructure within a convention center does not exist to let booths be set up after a show has started (no freight on the floors once the carpets get rolled out)
    * Convention centers need 1-2 days on either end of an event to clear out the old event and set up for the following weekend’s show.

  12. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I am looking forward to the final episode and how you work in that one paragraph I wrote into that one, too.

    Have there been any complaints about access from reporters that are actually covering the events they had problems getting into? I mean, I would totally love a special pass into the Hollywood panels and I would abuse it like crazy, but it seems sort of odd anyone from PW would complain about not getting on-site access into panels about things not, you know, published.

    Not to mention that now I feel stupid for waiting to get into Darwyn Cooke’s panel and not minding.

    That’s a serious question, by the way. I’m working on a piece and I’d love a link to someone fitting those criteria that had access problems.

    A lifetime pass for Inkpotters is a fantastic idea, btw.

  13. There actually was a period when there was a trade show before the con — the “trade”, I should note, being comics retailers, with publishers set up to display to them.

    I’ve seen calls elsewhere for Wednesday to be noon to six, rather than later. Barring the rebirth of a trade show and making it just about mandatory for exhibitiors, this would be problematic for smaller exhibitors, many of whom drive or fly in on Wednesday and need those hours to get set up.

  14. Was Trina the first woman pro to start showing up? Is two years in really that far removed from being an original?
    Has Trina not done enough for comics, in that she preserved women’s history in same and gave me an education and inspiration I could share and teach with others?

    Pshaw, say I.

    Heidi, reading this makes me gladder than ever I have stayed home for two years. If YOU can’t hummingbird around, it’s not just big, it’s miserably, pointlessly, uselessly big.

    Sometimes more is just more.

    Lea,
    Hoping she is in the same unsecret opinion class as Trina. Word.

  15. And by “woman pro,” I mean “woman working professionally in the comics business.”
    Which Trina most definitely was in 1975.

  16. Tom: I wanted to see Brad Bird’s panel so so much, but I not only couldn’t spare the time (waiting through three or four other panels to attend Bird’s), but would I have waited two hours? Even bought tickets? Oh hell yeah.

  17. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they totally re-do the access thing, both for press and for the audience members with the sit-throughs. Now that they’re at capacity, I think it’s the big issue, and one that can be solved administratively. I mean, they do know it’s there.

  18. Tom Spurgeon says:

    solved or at least mitigated

  19. Tom:
    Inkpot Award winners DO receive lifetime memberships in Comic-Con for themselves and their immediate families. They are given what is called a Gold Card. They don’t have to physically have their card with them to get into the Con free; they just need to remind the pro registrar that they are Gold Card holders.

    Lea:
    In the early years of Comic-Con most of the female guests came from the sf/fantasy field: Leigh Brackett (1971), Katherine Kurtz (1972), D. C. Fontana (1973), Majel Barrett (1974), along with perenniel guest June Foray (the first woman to receive an Inkpot). In Dale Messick and Maggie Thompson were guests. Trina was the first female comic book creator to be a guest, in 1977. The next year Shary Fleniken and Wendy Pini were guests, but numerous female underground artists were there, including Trina, Melinda Gebbie, and Lee Marrs, as part of an underground comix theme, and the program book (which I edited) had an article about women in “comix.” The year 1980 was also big for female cartoonists, since nearly all the National Lampoon comics creators were on hand; including Flenniken and M. K. Brown. Wendy Pini got her Inkpot that year.

  20. A date got left out–it should say “in 1975, Dale Messick . . .”

  21. Jackie, thank you for that informative answer.

    I recall that last year or the year before you had said an actress was never a guest at SDCC/CCI. June Foray is most definitely an actress, as is Majel Barrett. Anyway.

    I said,
    “‘And by ‘woman pro,’ I mean ‘woman working professionally in the comics business.'”
    Which Trina most definitely was in 1975.”

    Which means (by my definition, which includes ALL women doing sequential art), that Dale Messick was the first female guest.
    First are tricky things, are they not?

    That’s interesting that so many women were there in 1980. I wish I could’ve seen that. In 1986 (or was it ’87?), my first year at the then-SDCC, I could count the female pros, including myself in the number, on much less than two hands.
    Jill Thompson, Vicki Wyman, Trina Robbins, Wendy Pini, Heidi MacDonald, and myself. John Byrne’s best colorist, Petra Scotese, was there but walking around enjoying herself. If there were any other female pros in that comparatively small room, I sure didn’t find ‘em, and I was looking.

    Interesting that of these seven early adopters, five of us are still in the business. Not bad.

  22. I saw a young lady take one of those SMALLVILLE bags and make it into a (very) cute (on her) cocktail dress.

    Bill, I didn’t see her myself, but I saw a picture of her on an LA Times blog post.

    I did, however, see a woman who had converted hers into an apron, and a man who was wearing his like a barrel (both posted here).

  23. Steve Leialoha says:

    Trina’s first SDCon was in 1977. George DiCaprio was a regular at those early cons, also. I seem to remember him dragging his kid along at least once. At one of those (early 80’s?) he mentioned that young Leonardo had been bitten by the acting bug and had started to audition for commercials. Worked out well for him.
    -Steve Leialoha

  24. Thanks, Steve!

    I’d edit my previous, but, obviously I can’t!

  25. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Jackie, I stand corrected.

    I’d still love to hear from or about any reporters locked out of panels in their specific area of coverage.

  26. http://images.comicbookresources.com/cons/cci2007/photos/pinguino/part5/IMG_5920.jpg

    Same girl as the LA Times, but this is a better picture.

  27. Jonathan says:

    Since I’ve never been to SDCC, this makes me not want to go. First off, I’ve got no friends that would want to go with me so I’d have to go it alone (which I was recently informed one cannot do). Second, I’d have to plan it out probably 11 months in advance in terms of taking off work, getting a hotel room, etc. Third, it would cost an unbelievable amount when you look at taking off a week from work, traveling 2500 miles and then all the associated expenses of actually being at the con for several days.

    Why would I spend all of that to go to something that sounds (to me personally) utterly horrible? Well, I know the answer to that: perhaps my only chance in life to meet some of the artists that I admire the most. I’m not one of those guys that gets a sketch from every artist and then puts them on eBay, rather I would pay/sacrifice almost any amount to have original artwork hanging on my wall from people like Aragones, or Sakai, or Smith, or Lee. That’s what would make it worth it.

    However, the rest of it? Forget it. I don’t give a shit about whatever the Sci Fi Channel is pushing, for example. I couldn’t imagine wanting to go to one of these panels, let alone waiting in line for one. I realize that’s not everybody’s feeling, but it’s certainly mine on the issue. I went to DragonCon years and years ago when I was about 10. My brother took me to a Marvel panel and I don’t even remember who was there, but they played games and shit. They had a contest to mimic Galactus and see how many planets (represented by oversized marshmellows) one could eat (by fitting them in your mouth at the same time). There was a creators versus fans tug of war. Some game where we crawled along the floor between people’s legs (and there was much debate about who would get to crawl between the girl dressed up like Elektra was going to be). Stuff like that. I remember I won an autographed Jim Lee issue of Ghost Rider that I still treasure to this day. To me, that was what a panel should be: interaction. If they’re just gonna talk at a table, no thanks. I’ll read the summary on Newsarama or watch the footage on YouTube if I’m REALLY interested (like the Image reunion panel). So why the fuck would I wait any amount of time, let alone 3 or 4 goddamned hours, to get into one of these things???

    Why would I want to fight the sweaty/smelly herds? Why would I want to dodge the punishing gauntlet of things I don’t care about? I know that there are many many more people that do care about those things, enjoy that stuff, and so forth, but for me? Not worth it. I’ll wait for my first time in about 7 years when the studios have left the scene (don’t lie, you all know it’s gonna happen!).

  28. Lea:

    Other female pros at the 1986 CCI included special guests Lynn Varley and Dale Messick. Also there were Carol Kalish, Karen Berger, Lee Marrs, Lynda Barry, Deni Loubert, Kate Worley, Diana Schutz, cat yronwode, Wendy Lee, and Joyce Brabner, just to mention a few. I’m sure I could remember a lot more if I dug into my photo files for that year. It may well be that Mary Wilshire, Lois Buholis, Louise Simonson, Christy Marx, Jan Duursema, and other female pros who regularly attended Comic-Con were there that year as well.

    Jackie

  29. I remember that Roberta Gregory and Lee Marrs were at SDCC in 1987, as well.

  30. Thanks Kelson and Neeb!

  31. TChav says:

    I have been going to SDCC for only a few years now (since 2002) and even during that time the swell (and smell) of humanity has been evident. I attend with family members tying it in with a yearly vacation. We have stopped attending on Saturday and Sunday due to the crush. Thus I missed my cherished Jack Kirby Tribute Panel which was moved to a Sunday. Though now I doubt I would have made it in due to the presence of Mr. Gaiman.
    This year I had the least fun and enjoyment ever. Waiting in line Thursday morning for nearly two hours in the sun did me in. I was beat even before stepping in the hall. I have to imagine that the walk up line was faster than pre-registration. Is anything going to be done about this wait and the line which wrapped around the convention center? Is this just the new reality of SDCC? I really want to enjoy this once a year spectacle and not plan on simply surviving an ordeal just to see and possibly meet some favorite creators.
    I only whine hear because the con people will respond to The Beat but could give a damn what some nob thinks.

  32. *smack* Roberta Gregory!
    I bought Winging It from her. Sorry, Roberta! Thanks, Eric.

    Like I said, I was looking for other women and didn’t find them. It’s good to know it was better than I remember, as I sure did enjoy it. SDCC was the highlight of my year until 2000. Good times.

  33. Thinking more about 1986, how could I have forgotten the great Barb Rausch, my collaborator on a story for Deni Loubert’s “Renegade Romance”? And it is was in the mid-1980s that Carol Lay and Mary Fleener started attending Comic-Con. I’m pretty sure that Dori Seda was there in 1986, as well as Krystine Kryttre and others of the “Twisted Sisters” gang.

  34. To heave a simple solution doesnt really mean the fix of the problem . Research and find if something works first. j?mf?r priser

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