Comic Con 2009


How to keep track of your friends in the Hall H crowds.

So, I went to Comic Con San Diego and it was a very mixed experience. On the one hand, I went to some wonderful panels and got to see “First Flight,” on the other, I could hardly get through the crowds to see or do much more than that.

I took the 8:30 train from LA and checked my suitcase at the con. I have to wonder why the bag checkers rifle through the bags, but they do. I went into Hall H and was shocked by the crowds and humidity. The Thursday crowd was as bad as Saturday usually is. This caused me to wonder what Saturday would be like: how could it possibly be worse? But felt certain that it could.

It was very sweaty in Hall H. I remember walking into the convention center in 2003 and it was like waking into a swamp This was similar, except the swampiness was confined to Hall H.

Undaunted, I shouldered my way through the crowd and wound up in the VIZ booth.

I got a big hug and a powder blue VIZ bag from the wonderful Ev Duboq.

She and Jane Lui have been wonderful to J LHLS over the years.

I continued on to the Prism Booth because I was on a mission from Brad Rader to deliver an envelope for him. I left it with Justin Hall. I assume it got where it was supposed to go, teeth marks et al.

I was hungry by then, so I went out to meet Wendy Lee of Furies Press

for lunch at The Tin Fish

And it was very yummy. Crowded as usual, but also delicious as usual.

After lunch we braved the hall again, ran into Fred Lui of Digital Manga, and stopped by Square Enix to say hello to Amelia C, who wasn’t there at that moment. I then braved the baggage check, wheeled my suitcase to La Pensione Hotel and took a shower and a nap.

A few hours later, I went off to see the Green Lantern feature, “First Flight,” and loved it. But first, I had dinner at The Burger Lounge at it was one of the best burgers ever. I ate there twice this trip. I think I got smarter this trip, I altered my route from the tram to the hotel and found The Burger Lounge and a lovely bakery to have breakfast in. I bought a three day tram pass so I wasn’t stressed about getting a ticket in time to make the trams (which do not run frequently enough on Saturday, but are great on Thursday and Friday).

I got up on Friday and made it to the Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Fan Power. There was a talk by Dr. Daniel Debowy about the Millennial generation hero, who, unlike his Oedipal predecessor, wins by not competing. He used the example of how Luke Skywalker would rather die than kill or be killed by his father in battle. Dr. Debowy mainly used examples from the TV show “Heroes,” which I’ve never seen, for his talk, but it wasn’t necessary to know the show to get a lot out of his talk. I later interviewed him about it. The next speaker was Andrew Friedenthal who had a paper on the pros and cons of how Wonder Woman became a feminist icon due to Gloria Steinem’s fangirling her. Also interesting stuff.

Then I went off to the 70s comics panel because there is nothing cooler than guys who have great careers in comics and can let their hair down and say whatever the hell they want to say. But first I wandered into the preceding panel about Gene Colon…who was not there, so Mark E and Marv W were telling Gene C stories.

That’s Gene Colon in the red hat.

As the 70s panel guys came in, they told Gene C stories. It was great! Then they talked about the 70s until Gene C arrived and then they talked to Gene until he had to leave. Then there were questions and the question that stuck in my mind, probably because of the panel before, was asked of the whole panel: “When you went into comics, did you want to be the next Jack Kirby?” And the answer was great: they all went into comics because they wanted to draw comics. Mark E had the best answer, that he wanted to be Rob Petrie: write comedy all day, trip over ottomans, and sleep with someone who looked like Mary Tyler Moore. Not a bad aspiration at all. He wrote “Welcome back, Kotter,” my favorite show of those years, so he’s a god to me. He and Marv W were very funny moderators, actually the whole panel was a riot. I’m sorry I never got Elliott S’s last name.

I would have stayed for the next panel, but I had a horrible headache and needed to get out of the crowds and stuffiness (it was stuffy on the second level). After some Advil, a shower and nap, I came back for the “Four Color Reality: Making Comics Relevant to Readers Across Cultures,” which was about getting more diversity in comics. Many fascinating things were said, but the basic message was just do it and ignore the fall out from the lunatics because there will always be fall out from lunatics. I got to meet Gail Simone and she is just as gracious as I’ve always heard she was.

And Stuart Moore, who’s editing co-writing “The 99,” which is a comic about the 99 attributes of God in Islam. The other writer, Naif Al-Mutawa, was inspired to get this comic book going because he was traveling in the Middle East and came across trading cards for kids illustrating how to become suicide bombers. Dr. Al-Mutawa felt a comic for children about Islamic superheroes would be a good thing. I think it’s overdue and I’m very impressed and really enjoying the issue of “The 99” I got at the panel.

So, I was very tired and went back to the hotel and slept. I woke up on Saturday with a horrible headache and just couldn’t face another day at the con. I think I might have gotten a little dehydrated and it just kicked my ass, alas.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to shop in Artist Alley and the Small Press Pavilion—too many crowds, too much stress—which was a helluva shame because I go to Comic Con to find new comic artists and see what the small presses are doing. A quaint idea, I know, but I’m funny that way.

These and more photos at Flickr: I took some very bad photos at this con, partly because I wasn’t feeling great and I’d forgotten my camera battery charger and the camera focus goes to hell when the battery is low. Oh well. There lots of promotional stuff going on across the street from the con, and also some odd Christian protest and a guy who didn’t like the Octomom. It was a circus, yes, indeed.

Stuff I did from the program notes:


8:00-9:30 Green Lantern: First Flight World Premiere—Warner Home Video, Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation proudly present the World Premiere of Green Lantern: First Flight, the fifth DC Universe animated original PG-13 movie. Green Lantern: First Flight finds Hal Jordan recruited to join the Green Lantern Corps and placed under the supervision of respected senior Lantern Sinestro. The earthling soon discovers his mentor is actually the central figure in a secret conspiracy that threatens the philosophies, traditions and hierarchy of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Hal must quickly hone his newfound powers and combat the treasonous Lanterns within the ranks to maintain order in the universe. Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) leads the cast as the voice of Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern. The cast includes Emmy Award nominee Victor Garber (Milk, Titanic), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), Juliet Landau (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and John Larroquette (Night Court). Produced by animation legend Bruce Timm, Green Lantern: First Flight is directed by Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman) and scripted by four-time Emmy Award–winning writer Alan Burnett (The Batman). Warner Home Video will release Green Lantern: First Flight on Blu-ray Hi-Def and DVD on July 28, 2009. Ballroom 20


10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Fan Power—Daniel Debowy (MGH and McLean Hospitals) argues that the Millennial generation, represented by Hiro and Ando of NBC’s Heroes, has moved away from Oedipal narratives of individuals desiring parental power toward quests that end with abandoning it. Andrew Friedenthal (Dartmouth University) examines the 1968 revision of Wonder Woman into a kung-fu superspy and the push by second-wave feminist activists to “rescue” Wonder Woman, and finds she is ultimately a moneymaking commodity and fan appropriation can only go so far. Room 30AB

12:00-1:30 That ’70s Panel—Comic-Con started in the nostalgic decade of the 1970s, and this panel—moderated by Mark Evanier—takes a look at the comics industry way back then. Joining Mark are comic book superstars writer/editor Marv Wolfman, and Comic-Con special guests Steve Leialoha (Howard the Duck), Mike Royer (inker, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World books), Doug Moench (writer, Moon Knight, Master of Kung Fu), Nicola Cuti (writer, co-creator, E-Man), and a few surprises. Bell-bottoms optional. Room 8

6:30-7:30 Four Color Reality: Making Comics Relevant to Readers Across Cultures— Comic book stories have become the core of American pop culture—is there a big-budget spectacular that doesn’t in some fashion owe its existence to comic book roots these days? But sales of traditional-format comic books themselves have been in decline for years. This panel explores one reason for this shrinking market: the divergence between the identities of mainstream comic icons, who are typically straight, white, male, and American, and the demographic makeup of a new generation of readers. How can the comic book industry connect with changing audiences—not just of diverse races and backgrounds, but of different cultural and national origins as well? Moderated by Jeff Yang (editor-in-chief, Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology). Panelists include Dwayne McDuffie (Milestone Comics, JLA, Ben 10: Alien Force), Gail Simone (Wonder Woman), Gene Yang (American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile), Stuart Moore (Wolverine: Noir, The 99), and Jai Nitz (Blue Beetle, El Diablo). Room 3