Monday, July 25, 2022

A Week in Writing #414 - Report from the Front: SDCC 2022


Hope everyone is staying safe, and, of course, writing.

Sorry this is a day late but it takes a day or so to absorb and process everything. San Diego Comic-Con is over-stimulation for everyone. As someone told me it's like multiple conventions going on at once with comic books, film, television, gaming, books, collecting and other things in between all being covered somewhere, and, all at once. There is really no way to do everything as plans are often eschewed or ruined by events.

There is a lot of walking involved, so it's not for tenderfoots. For the four days and preview night we were there, I must have walked 86,429 steps per my Fitbit, an average of 17,285 per day while the previous week I averaged about 9,317. Your mileage may vary of course but combine that with a lack of sleep and it can be a tiring experience. 

People go to the convention for a spectrum of purposes, from geeking-out fandom on one end to trying to learn and share about their craft on the other. We fall in somewhere in between in my family and, sometimes attend very different panels and events. My intentions are to mix the two but the results, sadly are mixed.

I attended what I thought were professional panels about How to Get Press Coverage. Enamel pens, Help I'm Lost in a Sea of Content, and How to be a One-person Comic Book Company. I had intended to also attend one on Kickstarters but, for reasons I'll get into, I did not.

Blame Ozzy Osbourne for my missing the latter panel. Apparently, he is releasing a new album Patient #9 and got Todd McFarlane to do the artwork. The two of them were to do a noon time and 1:10 pm signing of a poster (no size indicated) at Stern Pinball's booth (?). I thought I was safe to attend the first and make the Kickstarter panel. 

Did I mention that you not only had to win a lottery to gain admittance but you also had to arrive at the Convention Center before the doors open (6:30 to 9) and stand in line to claim a wristband (both times had the same color). But, no, that's not enough. As with every event at SDCC, you have to arrive early, which I did, getting in line sometime soon after 11 am. I was already in the third curve of the line which snaked out from the wall into the floor of the convention center, where I stood backpack on my back and holding a poster tube in anticipation. 

And, even then, that wasn't enough, as you had to get a ticket to redeem for the poster. That doesn't even get to the rules involved: No photographs, no video, no interaction. As if you were on a conveyor belt get your poster and keep moving. While I am not a huge fan of Ozzy, I had seen Black Sabbath on their final tour. The rest of my family had signed up for the 1:10 signing which while I'm standing in line seemed like an afterthought to the organizers as they didn't seem to know where people should line up for that. 

As if that weren't bad enough, 12 o'clock comes and goes and we don't move an inch. Sometime around 12:15 Ozzy shows up. I know, big star and I'm only a peon but there is such a thing as respecting other people's time and the effect you have on them, especially at a place like SDCC. Now, the professional might have gotten out of line to attend the Kickstarter panel, the father in me wanted to make sure we got one, as others are bigger fans. 

They take us 10 at a time over to where the Prince of  Darkness is waiting. The closest thing I can compare it to is a freak show (not that I'm calling him a freak) but the experience was somewhat similar There is no interaction or eye contact and by the time you've seen him, they're already hurrying you through the line, with an attendant handing you a pre-autographed poster. And as soon as you have that, they cut the wristband off of you and send you on your way with a stiff 11 X 17 poster into the wilds of SDCC. 

There appear to be four autographs on the poster. Ozzy's, McFarlane's and a couple of randos who I'm sure are crucial to the process but unidentified. I'm sorry to say I don't know what Todd McFarlane looks like so he might have been there; another man sat across the table from us but there was no time to see who he was and there were no introductions made.

I wasn't even sure what time it was but I knew I couldn't keep this in any sort of quality condition as is. I saw one of my sons, Trevor, in line for the next signing and told him I was going to look for a top loader for the poster. Artist Alley was nearby but none of the art supplies there sold them. The only place I knew of was somewhere on the other side of the floor. I'm trying to contact my family using my phone with one hand as I feared putting the poster down. Others were aware and wanted to see it. One guy offering me $10 for it. I countered with $1000 and the negotiations stopped.

Finally, find Hot Flips in the 1200s buy two top loaders and head back to where I had last seen Trevor. However, by then his line had moved and been capped, without him and Paul, who had also arrived for the line and sent him on to another signing. With the 1:10 signing in doubt, we go to eat while things are sorted out. 

Long story short, all three, Paul, Trevor and my wife, Nancy, all managed to get through and get their posters, though none were signed by Todd MacFarlane, adding insult to injury. Given the experience the booth could have given the posters away instead of trooping people by him. 

Rant over, several of the panels that I thought might help me didn't really address anything that would help me in the long run. I had thought about turning some of the artwork for Powers Squared into enamel pins. Well, the panel Enamel Pins: Creating Collectibles, held promise, it was more about those who make them and do it as a side gig. I already have a side gig and there are already people who make custom enamel pins so while I listened I don't think this was right for me.

Neither was the How to Be A One Person Comic Book Company. While it is certainly possible and the guy leading the panel was making a living doing it, his presentation was more about the software you'd need to have in place to pull it off. While 3-D modeling has it place and with three batches of software, you can make them talk, it would be a much different look than what Powers Squared looks like and I don't know about you, I'd rather write than learn how to make iClone 7 work with Poser and Blender.

Also, I enjoy the collaborative nature of putting together the books. Writing with Paul, and watching Rachel Wells put together the visuals and Julia Canon's coloring add to the enjoyment. Oftentimes, Rachel will come up with something we hadn't thought about for the visuals. I would think being the one person who does it all would be the end of all of that.

While the title Help I'm Lost in a Sea of Content seemed to address my world, the panel really didn't. The panelists were involved in other aspects of content, clothing, reporting, and streaming they really didn't offer anything that turned the lightbulb on, "if only I did this" sort of thing. I did learn that reactive videos are a thing, as if people had the time to watch someone else watching something. I know I don't.

The first panel I attended, How to Get News Coverage was probably the most helpful. I had attended it at least once before at WonderCon and while some of the panelists were the same, having sent press releases that failed to get published I was interested in learning from my own experience. So, pro note: reach out to publications beforehand and introduce yourself. Ask how they want to hear about you and your work, don't assume that you know what they're looking for. Try to get to know the journalists at them, by reading their stories and following them on social media. Contact them before you do something, like a Kickstarter, not after it's already going. Be short and get to the point. A lot of groundwork but in many ways common sense.

There were other panels I attended and people I reached out to, though there were several I would have liked to have met there but didn't. Some of the best moments at the con are conversations with people and while those may be hard to have they really do mean the most. 

What's in store for the next one? Well, I'm going to try and get a table next time, maybe even Small Press for SRCC Press.

As I mentioned last week, no real writing got done this week though some things did move forward. New reviews hit Trophy Unlocked with Paul's review of Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach coming out on Wednesday Game Day and his review of  Atlantis: Milo's Return being the Saturday Morning Review.

The most pleasant surprise was how well On the Air with Powers Squared did without us. Rachel and Julia did a really great job without us. I think it's one of the best shows. I find it rewarding that something we started and sustain without us. The two of them have really great chemistry and did some art challenges related to Powers Squared. We're a little late with some of the technical aspects: the audio version, but it will go up on Wednesday on our YouTube channel and I would highly recommend the show.

Well, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

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