Monday, July 24, 2017

A Week in Writing #152 - Report From the Front - Comic-Con 2017

Back from San Diego and ready to report. I'm taking a recovery day to sort out things from the trip and to get caught up with some other things in my life, like paying bills, reviewing pages sent while we were away and doing this post. I sort of feel like I missed my deadline, but I did write last week that this might happen. Not quite as impressive as Nostradamus, but perhaps less ambiguous with the prediction.

Let's get the rest of the week out of the way since there isn't much to talk about from Monday and Tuesday as everything was about Comic-Con prep. I did manage to get a Saturday movie review ready and schedule it to post without me pulling the trigger so to speak; He Ran All The Way (1951)Very pleased to see it got 20 page views without any prompting.

As mentioned before, pages as in layouts for the last four pages of Issue #4 and colors for pages 13 through 16 came in while we were gone. My apologies to both artists, but we never got out our laptops while we were down there. Reviewing them on our phones didn't seem right either so those are two things that will be addressed today.

Wednesday did mark the release of Powers Squared #2 on comiXology, which is one reason we met with the head of content on Thursday, but more on that later.

Now on to the main point of this post, San Diego Comic-Con, which started on Wednesday. I'm going to break it down to the Good, the Bad and the Meh.

We've been going now for 11 out of the past 12 years and over that time, SDCC has gone for us from being an overwhelming spectacle to an overwhelming spectacle with exclusives to an overwhelming spectacle with exclusives and panels to an overwhelming spectacle with exclusives and panels that help with craft, whether it be writing in the case of Paul and myself or art for Trevor. More about the panels later, but our attitude about attending has changed over the years is really what I want to say.

The Good

Things started out pretty well on Thursday, Day One. Over the last few years at various cons, Bot-, Wonder- and Comic-, we've run into the same editor from one of the major publishers not named Marvel or DC. (Note: I try not to name names in this blog.) He's always been or at least acted happy to see us, and after a few years, we actually introduced ourselves formally. We've never brokered that we were working on a comic-book, but now that it's published, wanted to share. Now I came prepared with a thumb drive with the two issues on it and I was also prepared for him to politely reject our offer. But instead, he seemed very interested and enthusiastic about it. When you get that reception from someone that you respect it sort of makes your day.

Later that morning, we had our meeting with our publisher in the comiXology booth. To say it was short would not be an exaggeration. Our contact wasn't even aware the books had been published, telling us we should have let him know, which seemed a little odd. The point was we had never got the support we had been expecting since our meeting at Wonder-Con in the spring. To make a short meeting even shorter, he promised to make the big push for us with the third issue and told us not to submit it until we had a meeting with him first to discuss the marketing. That sounds promising, as he said, you only get one bite at the apple unless it catches on.

All the panels we attended this year were of the How-To variety. That wasn't necessarily the intent, but that is how it worked out. Our meeting at comiXology meant there were several we couldn't attend, like How-To: Dynamic Story Creation in Plain English; or How To Get News Coverage and there were others that we could have attended, but didn't for whatever reason, but I did attend five in all: Comics PR and Marketing 101; How-To: Point of View, What's the Point?; Taking Comics from Web to Print; How-To: Show Your Story, Don't Tell It; and How-To: Making Magic Believable. Three of those panels/classes were led by Maxwell Alexander Drake, a fantasy writer who really knows his craft. I found those classes very useful and I think that I'll be using what I learned in my own writing. It wasn't my intention to be taking so many classes from Drake, in fact, I hadn't planned on taking the last one or even was aware he was the moderator, but I'm glad I did.

The least informative panel for me was Taking Comics from Web to Print, mostly because I had different expectations for it. I was hoping to see a way to bring Powers Squared to print, but instead it focused on two artists, both of which seemed to be more on the fringes and no pathway was really discussed, though I did see the cold reality that one of the two, even though she was on a panel as an expert, doesn't make a living from her work. This is a situation much more common than you might imagine.

One of my goals for SDCC was to speak to an artist we like to see if they might do a cover for Powers Squared. We have a cover for Issue #3, but not one that seems quite right. If we're getting our big push with Issue #3, I want to be as big as we can get it. We know this artist through his teaching Trevor in one of his post-graduate seminars and have met him at a small showing at a Burbank comic shop and at Wonder-Con. In the meantime, his fame seems to have blossomed. While at WonderCon we could walk up to him; at Comic-Con there was a long line ala Katie Cook of people waiting to meet and buy from him. We put off trying to talk to him until Sunday morning and while there was another long line, he did come back through it and we were able to at least tell him we were interested in doing a commission with him. No details. I will follow up later this week with an email as he suggested.

The Bad

Comic-Con is an overcrowded mess with people scurrying around, some more willy-nilly than others. At about ten minutes before our meeting, Paul and I were about half a floor away and had to hurry to make it. On the way, some woman moving diagonally across the flow of traffic stepped squarely on the ball of my foot as she hurried to whatever exhibit she had to get to. I write that as an example of the sort of things that go on.

With time of the essence, I had to navigate through a crowd mostly going in the opposite direction and had to maneuver through openings that might have been a tad too small. I wasn't running, mind you, as that is not allowed, but sometimes you can't help but run into people, even when you're not in a hurry, it is the nature of the beast.

I've been raised to say "You're welcome" when I hear the words "Thank You." It's an instinct, really. As we were maneuvering through the crowd, I heard someone say "Thank You" and I said the appropriate response. I must admit, I don't know who was saying it or why, but it just came out. I took a few steps before I felt the backpack on my back being forcibly tugged backward.

I first thought it was my son, who was trailing me, trying to catch up, but instead, it was a larger and angry man. "What did you say?" he asked. "You're welcome," I replied. He proceeded to tell me that I should have said "Sorry" and then made some vague threat to knock all of my teeth out before storming away. I honestly don't remember what the guy looked like only that he was bigger and younger than I was. I'm not small mind you and I wasn't really afraid of him, I had other things to worry about, but his reaction seemed a little over the top.

I didn't actually see what if anything I had done, I was focusing on trying to get where I had to get. I do know I didn't squash a baby or knock anyone down, I wasn't really bullying my way through. More than likely my backpack had hit him as we passed, I've been told it was something sticking out the top that hit him in the chest, a rather common occurrence in these crowds. It has happened to me many times and it is one of the "risks" you take. Trust me, he wasn't any worse for wear and never said exactly what I had done to him.

So "You're Welcome" was the wrong word choice, I'm not sure what I could have said that would have been the right choice. Even saying nothing would have been wrong. I'm sure even if I had said "Sorry" that would not have been enough. Since this was less than two hours into Day One of the Con, this didn't bode well for how he would react when the next guy or gal got in his way. You have to let things like this roll off your back. You're not at Comic-Con to teach people manners, especially with your fists.

The Meh

There are many attractions around the Con which are also available to non-ticket holders as well. This year was no exception with a Laika Experience pop-up store, an Interactive Zone and Adult Swim On the Green as examples. We tried to attend all three, but those experiences were disappointing.

The Laika Experience had a line longer than the store could handle. We're not the type to want to spend an hour or more in line and that would have been the case either of the two times we walked there. It bodes well for the popularity of Laika, but it proved to be a disappointment for us.

Also a disappointment was the Interactive Zone, which we went to twice. One of the big draws was supposed to be free food, but Wikia’s Fandom food truck with Pepsi was shut down as a threat to public health and the Blizzard attraction Lich King's Ice Cream Citadel was giving out a scoop of something for those who braved the long wait to get in.

When is a VIP pass not a VIP pass; when everyone takes advantage of the offer, as was the case with Adult Swim's On The Green carnival. We had passes that were supposed to get us in ahead of the crowd, but so did hundreds, if not thousands of other people on the day we went down there. We were killing time before a panel to start and we would have spent most if not all of that time in line to get in.

All were disappointing in their own way for us, though they were all popular attractions.


I will admit to being sad as we left Comic-Con. After all the planning, like Christmas, it is all over way too soon. I think we all had a lot of fun and are looking forward to next year. But for now, it's back to reality.

Until next week, keep writing.

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