The Eisner Award nominees have been announced! Congratulations to every single person and publisher that received these prestigious nominations!
As per the SDCC website, “Voting for the awards is held online, and the ballot will be available at www.eisnervote.com. All professionals in the comic book industry are eligible to vote. The deadline for voting is June 14. The results of the voting will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 19 at a gala awards ceremony at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. Jackie Estrada is the Eisner Awards Administrator.”
If you are a comic book industry professional, please make it a point to vote in these awards. Every vote counts! Voting opens on Monday, April 29th.
Here’s the list of every category with their respective nominations below:
It’s been universally accepted that San Diego Comic-Con is the place to be when it comes to elaborate comic-con parties, including a slew of more exclusive events. For no other genre convention do multiple news outlets make long, detailed lists of where to go for a (potentially) good time each evening.
And while the party scene may be shrinking due to companies focusing more on the activations, there were still plenty of parties to fill out your SDCC weekend.
I’ve been covering the SDCC party scene for years now. And while I haven’t been to every party (because to do so I’d have to propagate more clones of myself than Spider-Man ever had), I’ve been to enough fab parties and flops that I both think it’s worth it to make the rounds if you can, and know the downsides that go along with trying to do so.
Before I get into this year’s parties, let me share a few things I’ve learned about the SDCC party scene:
Unless you are a Legit Famous Person, getting into invite-only parties can be a crapshoot. Even with my consistent press coverage at SDCC and other cons, as well as writing about genre entertainment throughout the year, I’ve had years where the people who immediately put me on the list the previous year didn’t even respond to an event inquiry, and years where the opposite happened or I receive an invite to an exclusive party I didn’t even know about. There are some companies that are more (what I see as) loyal, and consistently invite you to their SDCC parties and treat you well, and some companies that are weirdly flaky. And then, there are events that only happen in that particular way one year; or where you manage to squeeze onto the list for one year, but a spot can’t be spared another despite your knowledge that it’s not personal; or where the rules change so that one year only people who directly work with the company are invited. Sometimes, invites seem random; and sometimes, you truly do have to know someone. But also, even if you are on the list, SDCC is so chaotic that if the person at the door can’t find your name, you might still be screwed (depends on how understanding the check-in staff is, really). Or you’re definitely on the list, they’ve got your name right there, but it turns out the party is already “at capacity” thirty minutes in. Like I said – crapshoot.
It is often impossible to predict how good a party will be. I’ve been to amazing parties that were not that “exclusive,” and really-hard-to-access parties, with famous people right nearby, that turned out to be kinda lame. (And yes, I’ve even crashed some parties. That’s not a predictor either, although it is occasionally a good time.) What’s fun about this spectrum of events is even a lame party is still a party (possibly with free drinks!) and you can always leave if you’re bored (oh, except for that one nightmare time I got stuck in the literal cordoned off press pen they set up at The Last Ship party a few years ago, where we weren’t allowed to go to the actual party if we’d said we’d take red carpet pics first; there was no food or water or seating; and we were told we couldn’t go to the restroom or we wouldn’t be let back in. It was awful and I’m still bitter and PR people take note: press never forget being treated like second class citizens. Anyway. Moving on!)
Another fun thing is the coolest party you go to might be a nice surprise because it’s a thing you didn’t expect. (The downside, of course, is if you roll the dice on two simultaneous parties and it turns out the one you didn’t pick was The Best Thing Ever and all your friends ended up there and had a blast. Oh, FOMO, how I wish you didn’t exist.) This is because a cool venue and big-name company, property, or guests are no guarantee of a hit. What really matters is if there’s stuff to do (this could be literal stuff, like gadgets to play with, photo booths, a game to watch or play, artists to watch as they draw, etc., or interesting people to talk to, including creators and celebrities who actually enjoy mingling instead of being cordoned off at their private tables the whole night, or friends who have been permitted to attend as your plus-one), thoughtful theming in both decor and good food and drink, and people treating each other well and like we’re all people even if we’re not all famous. This is why even the open parties can be a blast if done right (the Nerd HQ parties, which I mourn the loss of, being one example).
Some parties really are just The Best Thing Ever. Events that stand out over the years include the NickelodeonDouble Dare party (put that one in the Hall of Fame, it was perfect!), the American Gods rooftop party, the Scholastic parties, the Dent the Future cocktail parties, the Fashionably Nerdy cocktail hour, the NVE + Nylon Mag parties, the Nerd HQ parties, Michael Davis’s shindigs, and, of course, that time I went to a club to see Elijah Wood DJ on a whim and it turned out he was really good.
So given that, what parties did I hit up this year? And which ones were the most fun? Well:
Wednesday night is usually low-key, since preview night runs until 9 and can be exhausting. This year we stuck with what’s become a tradition and headed over to Basic Bar/Pizza with a small group of friends. Basic does a really good pizza, and is also the location for Gabe Eltaeb’s Annual Comic-Con Kickoff Party, now in its 5th year. I’ve been to every one of these, and although I confess when I walk in the door the biggest thing on my mind after preview night is “food!” the event is also really neat. They have quality artists doing live sketches which they raffle off along with other prizes to raise money for the Hero Initiative, which helps comics creators in need due to medical or financial crises. This year, the live sketches were done by Gabe Eltaeb (Harley Quinn), Todd Nauck (Deadpool), Jim Calafiore (Exiles), Chad Cavanaugh (The Map), and Jeff Martinez (Skull Thumper); and other prizes came from companies like Blizzard, Funko, and Dark Horse Comics. It’s a cool, laid back event to try on the first night, you can usually walk in without too much trouble, and it’s done for a good cause. And even while rapidly consuming large quantities of pizza, I appreciated both the atmosphere and the party music coming from the event side of the bar.
This year, it seemed like almost every single party I wanted to hit up was on Thursday night. I made it to four of the five I’d decided I might be able to get to based on start times (I really wanted to make the Dent the Future Reception, too, but I confess I took a nap instead). Here are the ones I got to:
Tor Books / Den of GeekHappy Hour – this was at the Horton Grand Hotel Courtyard, and was an invite-only party for industry insiders. The setting was nice (an airy open atrium area with a connecting indoor room) and they had open bars in both rooms with themed cocktails (The Superhero and The Supervillain – I got the Superhero, which had blue curacao and vodka, pineapple, triple sec, lime juice, and soda, and it was mighty tasty), hors d’oeuvres, and a full dessert table. They also had a variety of swag, ranging from funky branded sunglasses and Den of Geek’s SDCC magazine to a gift bag with a bunch of Tor books. I always like it when parties have something fun to do, and this one had a photobooth with great props that I hopped into with NPR’s Petra Mayer, YA author Alexa Donne, and other friends. I also had fun chats with the delightful author and co-editor of Boing Boing Cory Doctorow, YA author Scott Westerfeld, and other industry greats. This party was excellent, and I only left because I didn’t want to miss…
The Scholastic GraphixParty – this was on the pool deck of the Hotel Palomar, which is a great outdoor venue, and was an invite-only party. I always make sure I stop by the Scholastic shindig, which has good food, themed desserts, and open bar; nice (if heavy!) swag bags of books; usually at least an activity or two going on; and fun guests – plus, at this event not only are there friends around, but also I somehow always end up running into at least a couple of industry friends I otherwise might not have seen all con (this year it was author and editor Joe McCabe). This year’s party featured guests such as Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Ian Boothby (Sparks!), Jarrett Krosoczka (Hey, Kiddo), Molly Knox Ostertag (The Hidden Witch), Aron Nels Steinke (Mr. Wolf’s Class), and Gale Galligan (The Baby-Sitters Club), as well as Jim Kay, Daniel Jose Older, Victoria Schwab, Maggie Stiefvater, and Scott Westerfeld (again!). I couldn’t stay at Scholastic forever, though, because I didn’t want to miss…
The Lion ForgeTalent Reception – this one was an invite-only gig at The Bootlegger (and I’m a sucker for anything with a speakeasy feel, so I loved the venue choice). To be honest, that’s about all of the setting I noticed at this party, because my entire time there was spent catching up with the wall-to-wall awesome comics creators and industry folks I was surrounded by – including Gail Simone, Dean Haspiel, Ben McCool, Reilly Brown, Ben Fisher, and Jim Calafiore. (I also got to attend the Lion Forge Fall Preview panel on Sunday, where they talked about a slew of great comics coming soon from names like Michael Uslan, Andrew Pepoy, and David F. Walker, and announced that Gail Simone will be the “Chief Architect” of the Catalyst Prime line of comics. More about that in another piece). How did I end up at this party? Well, let’s just say Ben Fisher and I are working on an exciting new project! As much fun as we were having, though, I still had one party on my list, and I couldn’t miss out on saying hey to the crew at…
The Line Webtoon Green Room Party – this one was an invite-only event at the Altitude Sky Lounge, and it was over-the-top excellent, as are all Line Webtoon parties I’ve attended. (P.S. If you haven’t checked out their comics, you really should. They have a great variety of cool stories you can read for free on their super easy-to-use app.) The view was amazing; they had a crazy setup with green lights everywhere; and we all got casino chips with which to “gamble” before using them to try to win a big ticket raffle item. There, Ben and I met up with Thom Zahler, Luke Daab, The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, Tony Fleecs, and so many more. It was a great end to a pretty crazy night, and the swag bags had several cool items, including a classy set of branded coasters. Everything Line Webtoon does has style, and this party was no exception.
Okay, so Thursday was pretty wild, and we paid for it on Friday. I ended up skipping a couple of planned parties (Sorry to miss you, Nerds of Color/Women in Comics mixer!) but did make it to:
The NatGeoand Nerd NiteMars Party – this party is consistently quality, and this year was great from the get-go – from the reasonably-sized VIP line to the cool red glowstick wristbands. Set on the pool terrace at the Hotel Solamar, this party had a ton of good food, free drinks, and the coolest entertainment I saw at any party – performers inside giant LED-lit hula hoops, whirling and twisting between the crowds and the pool. Advertising the NatGeo series MARS, which begins again November 12, the party had a projection of Mars on the side of a building, a glowing red décor, MARS pillows, miniature MARS cornhole games, and “astronauts” on stilts handing out Mars Bars. And on top of all of that, it featured a number of talks about real science, featuring Alejandro T. Rojas from Den of Geek, Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Emily Manor-Chapman, Bobak Ferdowski, Systems Engineer with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA, and Leland Melvin, former NASA astronaut. This party is a combination of awesome fun and real nerd substance, and it was an absolute blast.
One thing I love about SDCC is that sometimes, randomly, an awesome event pops up for the first time; and if you’re lucky enough to hear about it, you can end up being one of a select crowd of folks enjoying something that may eventually become another crowded, sought-after evening event; or may be that magical unicorn that only occurs once and that you got to experience. Either may happen with the fun event I went to on Saturday night:
The Bootsy Collins House Party, hosted by DJ Lance Rock and featuring Tom Kenny & the Hi-Seas Rocknsoul Revue. I don’t know how the other attendees got the word on this party, but I lucked into it when I texted Tom (best known as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants and other great cartoon voices) a couple of weeks beforehand to see if I’d be seeing him at the con. At that time, the event was just coming together, and even Tom wasn’t sure quite what to expect. It was held in the courtyard of the San Diego Central Library, and had the charm of being lively, funky, and a bit unpredictable. I arrived as the band was setting up, only to immediately run into the delightful Fred Tatasciore (best known as the voice of The Hulk). We caught up as Tom warmed up the crowd with an amazing “mic check” song, and then all hung out with DJ Lance Rock until the Hi-Seas, dressed in New Orleans-themed sequins, were ready to go. They are super talented, and Tom, along with being such a versatile voice actor, is a fantastic singer. He’s also a super energetic performer, and totally into it, which makes it more fun for the crowd to let loose.
One of the fun things he did was take down the barriers that had been set up between crowd and performers and invite little kids, and anyone else who wanted to, to come up and dance. A bunch of kids went up, along with a variety of adults including at least one couple who were dressed in classic clothes and could have easily won a couples dance contest. It was great to watch everyone dancing, as well as to see Tom roaming out into the crowd to interact with attendees. The band also sang Happy Birthday to a few folks; and eventually, performed some SpongeBob songs. Around that time I was dying for some food – but happily, the Central Library snack bar had stayed open, so I chilled in the back with Fred and ate a sandwich while the music went on. And then came Bootsy Collins. How do you describe Bootsy Collins? I mean…over the top? The sparkliest man I’ve ever seen? Extremely warm and giving to his fans? (The first thing he did was dance out into the crowd, take a million selfies with anyone who indicated they wanted one, and sign some autograph books, all while grooving to the beat). He was great to watch, and along with performing, hosted a dance competition with Tom (I couldn’t see everyone who won, but congrats to the Death cosplayer who was dancing up a storm and won the first round). The whole thing was crazy fun, and I’m so glad I got to go.
And that was the end of the party scene for me this year – although I also want to mention the fun I have just chilling with friends in the evenings between the other excitement. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need at SDCC to balance things out and recharge – so shout-out to all my friends who invited me to come relax the rest of the night away at bars and hotel room parties. Cheers to you, fellow nerds. You’re what makes life precious. See you next time!
As you know, iZombie was renewed for a 4th season, but as you also know it’s a midseason show, so we won’t get to enjoy it until early 2018. Boo!
But as Halloween approaches, if you are in the mood to find out what your favorite morgue-working zombie and her brain-eating squad will be up in New Seattle, Maddy had a little press room chat with show runner Diane Ruggiero-Wright and the cast including Malcom Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, Rose McIver and Aly Michalka.
So, spoiler alert. The comic industry as we know it is going to die. Well, according to Dan DiDio and Jim Lee it is. At the San Diego Comic Con – which I clearly didn’t attend because I already knew comics were dying – the DC honchos all but shook their rain sticks at the assembled retailers to eulogize the industry before revealing how they would save it.
Forgive me. You no doubt heard the thundering cacophony of my right eyebrow arching high on my face at a speed worthy of Barry Allen. The speed at which it jutted there clearly broke the sound barrier in a reflex akin only to those meta-humans with the ability to transcend space and time.
There’s literally too much to unpack from all they blabbed on about for me to fit in a single column. And rather than present evidence how the comic industry isn’t dying at all, I’d like to specifically snark back on one particular point DiLeeDoo made.
“Comic books have become the second or third way to meet characters like Batman and Superman, and we want to change that.”
The statement itself is a bland platitude at best. It’s big-wigs trying fluff up their retailers – as well as comic fans – into believing their medium is purer than the first or second ways fans meet their heroes. That somehow, DC’s publishing arm will find a way to get kids into the comic shop before they see any licensed character on TV, movies, or frankly… the Internet. Of all the laughable things said at this panel – forgetting the whole part where they confirmed Dr. Manhattan made Rebirth happen – trying to pit comics against their motion picture counterparts takes the cake and crams in a pie to boot.
I am 35 years old. The first time I ever saw Batman? It was Adam West on the campy syndicated re-runs, in between episodes of Happy Days. Superman? Learned about him second-hand on any number of references dropped during episodes of Muppet Babies, or an errant episode of Challenge of the Superfriends. And while I would eventually seek the printed page for more mature and significant adventures of those (and all other) characters, the tent-pole flagship Trinity of DC Comics was met in motion long before the pulp.
Furthermore, as a Gen-X/Gen-Y/Millennial/Whatever I’m classified as these days, my generation learned and loved superheroes first via these extraneous ways, because the comics themselves were mired in the muck of massive continuities. As I’ve long detailed in this space previously, when comics peaked my interest it was because of an adaptation of an X-Men cartoon I’d seen the week prior. Investigating at the local Fiction House stressed me out when I saw an actual X-Men comic was on issue 568 (or whatever), and the shop keep made no qualms telling me he wouldn’t even know where to start me out if I was wanting to collect the book.
Times have since changed aplenty, but that doesn’t mean the same issues still exist if we are to take to heart Dan and Jim’s sentiment.
A 9-year old girl goes and sees Wonder Woman with her mom. She falls in love with Diana of Themyscira and begs her mom to learn more. They venture into the local comic shop, and what then? If the cashier is worth her salt? She’ll have a great big display of the now Eisner-Award WinningWonder Woman: The True Amazon ready and waiting. But peer over to the rack, and where does our 9-year old go? Is the current issue of Wonder Woman ready and waiting? And where is Batgirl, and any other female-driven comics all set and ready for their newly minted fan?
And beyond that, how on Gaea’s green Earth would you ever suppose you’d find a way to get this 9-year old girl into the shop before she’d been enticed by the multi-million dollar blockbuster action film. Simply put, that’s proudly brandishing a knife in a nuclear bomb fight. It’s dumb to even think it, let alone declare it like a campaign promise.
To this point, credit where it’s due: Dan DiDio denoted the need for more evergreen books – titles that live outside any common continuity to tell great one-off stories – to specifically meet the needs of fans who come in (or come back) to comic books. The truth of the matter is no book will ever compete with a big release movie or a weekly television show. Video killed the radio star for a reason. And the Internet murdered the video star and put the snuff film on YouTube. To cling to printed fiction as some form of hipper-than-thou solution that could wage war with more ubiquitous platforms all in the name of changing the way the public meets their heroes is a dish I’ll never order, even if I’m starving.
To declare this was all in part to save the industry … well Dan: is it fair to have cultivated the problem only to turn around and say now you’ll save us from the very issues you created? That is some Luthor-level vertical integration if I ever did hear it.
Save me, Dan DiDio. You’re my only hope. Well, barring Image, Boom!, Lion Forge, Valiant, Aw Yeah, Oni Press, IDW, Dark Horse, Action Lab, and Unshaven Comics.
Was that a sigh of relief I just heard? That means you’re back. All you San Diego Comicon pilgrims. Bags stuffed with loot and a different kind of bag under your eyes because the lack of sleep will do that to you. Knees sore from being forced into space obviously meant for a Lilliputian? An autograph bestowed by your favorite demigod while you actually stood there in front of him breathing the same air!
You’re home now.
I’ve gone to a lot of these shows, probably somewhere north of 20 and my feelings are mixed, as they often are. At best these San Diego affairs are a grand gathering of the tribes, a place to re-meet professional colleagues and fellow hobbyists, folks who may not live on the same continent as you do but who share your zeitgeist and are nice people, besides.
At worst…oh my. Too much! Noise and crowds and frantic scurrying to get a glimpse of an admired celebrity before said celeb vanishes whatever alternate universe the convention organizers must make available to these Big Names to hide in between appearances… And if one of them actually speaks to you, well… oh, my! It happened to Marifran a few years ago and she might tell you about it if you ask sweetly.
For some conventioneers, it’s business. They’re looking for work and will settle for a civilized conversation with an editor, and no complaints here. And there are the editors themselves who are looking for… talent, I guess. I never actively searched for possible contributors when I attended cons wearing the ol’ editorial guise but if I found someone whose portfolio had exactly what I needed or knew that I was going to need soon, I didn’t shoo the person away.
So, some seek employment, some want to network, some might be searching for congenial company, and for some, the bigger cons – and San Diego is the biggest in the country – are a chance to don bizarre finery and compete in costume contests or be happy just to rove around looking cool. I’ve enjoyed myself just sitting in hotel lobbies watching the passing parade.
Everyone should have the San Diego Experience once. Maybe once will be enough, unless you have a fondness for heat and noise and traffic or you’re looking to buy stuff – a Star Trek uniform, anyone? – you might have trouble finding elsewhere, in which case, get yourself to the edge of the continent, live long and prosper.
I didn’t go this year. The convention staff has treated me particularly well in recent years, and there is fun to be had. But the crowds, the noise, that stuff… I can pass unless there’s a compelling reason not to.
This year, I’m particularly glad I skipped the trip because I would have returned to sad news. Flo Steinberg, a woman I met when she was Stan Lee’s assistant and whom I’ve known and cherished for a half-century, died of cancer. Maybe I’ll write about her sometimes, or maybe I’ll be satisfied with memories.
I’m going to ramble a bit about an annual phenomenon. In many important ways, New York City and San Diego are about to trade places.
Even with DC Comics having moved its flat drawers and some of its staff from the Right Coast to the Left, New York City remains inundated with comics people. Marvel, Archie, Dynamite, and Valiant remain in the Baked Apple, as does King Features Syndicate and sundry Internet outfits such as comiXology and ComicMix. We’ve still got the only weekly magazine venerable enough to publish single-panel cartoons, The New Yorker. You’d be familiar with this publication if you went to the doctor more often. Overall, the Greater Comics Racket continues to dance to the beat of east coast drummers.
Except for next week.
Next week, New York goes to San Diego to participate in the annual “how many college freshmen can you stuff in a phone booth” contest, a.k.a. the San Diego Comic-Con. They prefer to call themselves just “Comicon,” maybe with two c’s, but there are a lot of tradespeople who consider this something akin to theft of intellectual property. We’ve got a ton of ComicMixers there, including Glenn Hauman, Adriane Nash, Ayna Ernst, Maddy Ernst, Jen Ernst (do you detect a theme here?), Ed Catto, Emily Whitten, Bob Ingersoll, Michael Davis, Arthur Tebbel, and whomever I forgot because my memory is like a well-tuned car – as long as that car is a Stanley Steamer.
That leaves Martha Thomases, Joe Corallo and me in Manhattan watching a double-feature. I’m not sure what Denny and Molly and John and Marc will be up to, but at least I’ll be seeing Marc in Kokomo this fall. How can I pass that one up?
So, for some reason I’ll be spending time wandering the hot, summery streets of Manhattan, coping with high humidity, high temperatures, pissed-off Long Islanders and the pervasive smell of rat urine, the stench that shouts “welcome to our subways!” During SDCC week, San Diego is overcrowded, overpriced, and over-partied but with perfect weather (except, oddly, when I’m there). I’ll be happy to be here. Besides, I try not to fly anymore. In airplanes, I mean.
I’ve dedicated my current travel schedule to the “smaller” conventions (of course, by comparison to SDCC the Roman Coliseum held “smaller” conventions). You know, the shows where I can talk with the fans, find out what people like and don’t like and might like, talk with the retailers and guests, and never have to wait more than five minutes to get through the bathroom line. I’ve been doing comic book conventions for 49 years, back when our product was printed on papyrus. The late and deeply lamented Phil Seuling held his first “big” convention in New York City in 1968. There were 300 people there, and all of them were thinking the same thought: “Holy crap! There are 299 other people who are just like me.”
Well, it was 1968, so “just like me” meant possessing a Y chromosome. It also helped if you were white but, then again, it usually does.
We’ve come a long way. SDCC dumps about a quarter of a billion dollars into the San Diego economy. Comic book conventions attract several million fans and professionals. Much of Hollywood moves down to San Diego for the week, and we see equivalent attendees in places such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Belgium, Chile, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia… I think I may have received an invite from Togo last year.
And to think it all started out as a hobby. 300 geeks in a hotel ballroom who never, ever thought the word “geek” would become a badge of honor.
No, this isn’t advertising copy for a comic convention coming to your town. These lines are from the trailer for that old monster movie, The Blob. But it could be used to describe any upcoming comic con.
Comic conventions are not only thriving but, like the Blob, they are now oozing out from the walls of their convention centers and invading local towns. Geek culture cannot be held within its original confines.
Who would have ever thought, way back when Geek Culture was nestled in little comic shops in the scorned section of town, that we’d get to this point? Unlike the foreboding tone of that Blob movie trailer, this expanding, oozing primordial mass inspires a sense of awe and wonderment.
The San Diego Comic-Con is probably the best example of this. The nation’s longest running convention is held annually at the San Diego Convention Center. (And it will be held there until 2021, but that’s a whole ‘nother column.)
The entire city seems to get behind this show. Most of the shops, bars, and restaurants in San Diego offer specials and decorations to welcome convention attendees. It seems like every waiter and waitress is wearing a comic book or Walking Dead themed shirt, in fact. And the show itself is so sprawling, it now schedules events in nearby hotels, local libraries, and even the town baseball’s stadium.
I have a great friend who lives in San Diego. Walshy, as we’ve called him since grade school, doesn’t know anything about comics or pop culture. Check that – he loved MAD magazine. That counts. But by and large, he just doesn’t have a passion for graphic novels, or science fiction, or horror movies, or Doctor Who, or any of the cool stuff at the San Diego Comic-Con.
But each year he attends Comic-Con and has a blast. There is one particularly wild story about how he partied with Michael Rooker (“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”) and Miss Venezuela on a hotel rooftop… but we’ll save that one for another day as well.
Walshy throws himself into San Diego Comic-Con because, as a resident, he can’t escape it. It’s so big and so boisterous that it’s all encompassing, even for locals.
And the great news is that Geek Culture is very welcoming. It pitches a big tent and invites everyone to come on in and have some fun.
The same thing is happening at other conventions. New York Comic-Con now hosts “Super Week” before their show, for example. Not surprisingly, it’s also happening at the up-and-coming shows in smaller markets.
Over the past year, I lent a hand to help grow Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con. It was a rousing success: it doubled in attendance and exhibitors reported very strong sales. It was officially held at the local convention center in the middle of Syracuse’s downtown area. But in reality, the event stretched to make the two days of the comic-con much longer.
The Mayor: Even Syracuse’s mayor got involved. Neal Adams was the guest of honor, and Mayor Stephanie Miner proclaimed the Saturday of the show to be “Neal Adams Day” in Syracuse.
Comics on Campus: It turns out Syracuse University has an incredible collection of original comic strip art. And for the past 80 years, only researchers have been able to view these treasures. We worked with SU’s Special Collections Director for an exhibition of original pages for fans. I never thought fans would be able to hold the very first Prince Valiant page, by Hal Foster, in their hands, but they did! One of our favorite artists, Joe Jusko, stopped by the exhibit and was in awe. His posts of viewing his favorite artists (Foster, Frank Robbins, Stan Drake etc.) went viral. And yes, we’re planning something bigger for next year.
Barley Quinn Craft Beer: The local brewpub, Empire, created a specialty beer called Barley Quinn and debuted it the week before the show. They gave away free Comic-con tickets and comics publisher Aftershock offered up a box full of Captain Kid graphic novels. Tom Peyer, the co-author of the series, is based in Syracuse and the publisher wanted to support him.
Cosplay: The convention partnered with the nearby Schweinfurth Art Center, a museum with a specialty in fabric arts, to host a cosplay “pre-game” event. I always feel bad when cosplayers put so much time and energy into their costumes, and can only wear them for a day, or two, at a convention. I suppose it’s the same way for brides. It was fun to be able to offer one additional “wearable opportunity” for cosplayers.
So even in a market like Syracuse, Geek Culture has creeped and crawled to ooze out beyond the confines of both the calendar and the convention center to become something bigger. Unlike the teenagers and townsfolk in The Blob, I’m not terrified. I’m elated! And you should be too.
If there every were a set of sister cooler than The Tweeks, it would have to be Shawna & Julie Benson. There, we said it! And it’s so true. They are the absolute coolest & nicest & most talented!
For those of you who haven’t been waiting (im)patiently for the release of DC’s Rebirth Batgirl & The Birds of Prey, let us briefly explain how awesome it is.
The Birds of Prey are a team of female superheroes who team up to fight villains. The team consists of Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, and Huntress, as well as a few girls who pop in to help out sometimes (though not in this latest one). The comic was revamped for DC’s Rebirth and was released yesterday. So, off you go to the comic book store or to download it, whatevs, just do it. The Birds of Prey are one of Maddy’s all time favorites, so according to Maddy, it’s even better than Tweeks Approved!
Anyway, back to The Benson sisters! They wrote the comic (among all sorts of other stuff, google them) & Maddy had a chance to talk to both Shawna & Julie about these fantastic ladies. In this interview, you’ll find out about what we can expect from the Birds, what’s up with Barbara Gordon/Oracle, some possible special guests, and then we talk about guacamole and leather jackets and nail polish.
The Benson sisters also are both, no surprise, Team Maddy.
I wonder if there will come a time when banks and post offices close to commemorate The San Diego Comic Con.
Because for at least some of you, the con is already a holiday. Not one of the important holidays, the kind that observe the primitive realities of our existence and offer hope for their continuance; you know – Christmas and New Year’s (the return of the light), Thanksgiving (the harvest), Easter (the renewal of growing things)…Your particular tribe may have different labels for these remembrances. (I’m still toting around bits of my Irish Catholic boyhood, and so I cite Christmas instead of, say, Hanukkah. Like the fella says, write what you know.) But certainly your tribe, somehow, celebrates them, subject to local variations, unless yours is a very exceptional tribe (and if it is, I cheer.)
Then there are the other holidays that have little to do with survival and everything to do with… I don’t know. Something happened in the past that some folk want remembered and this event is remembered on a given day every year and that day has been declared a holiday: Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July, your birthday… I’m not knocking them, but I think we can agree that they lack the depth of meaning the celebrations mentioned in the previous paragraph have. Whatever their genesis, these events have begun to be about money – gifts, decorations, gluttony, journeys that require either fares or lots of gasoline… That’s true of the days mentioned in this paragraph and even more true of the ones previously mentioned. (What did St. Patrick do, exactly? Who cares, ‘cause it’s paaarrrt-tay time!)
Which, believe it or not, brings us back to The San Diego Comic Con. Shall we propose a new holiday? Let it be observed in the middle of summer and so serve as a kind of temporal punctuation mark, a semi colon; what’s gone before is pertinent to what follows, but it’s different, too. Or something. For many of us, the annual trek to the west coast is a family outing, or a revisiting of old friends who are mostly out of our lives, or an opportunity to acquire souvenirs – oodles and oodles of thingies that will strain the seams of your suitcases and maybe get you a cocked eyebrow from a security guy.
Oh, yeah, there is plenty for sale at SDCC, just as there are at Christmas. Thousands of items? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Citizens, I call upon you too let your credit cards be your amulets and a sneer on he who doesn’t need to buy additional luggage.
Let’s call it “Comicon Day” and let’s tell the world that it celebrates the geeks and misfits who, in school, suffered the persecution of the jocking class and past school wrote stories and poems and made pictures and films and played music and invented computers and devised software and sent ships into space…That’s what we’ll tell the word that Comicon Day is about, the misfits and geeks who are today’s true heroes. But we’ll know the truth, won’t we?
All those things, all those hundreds of thousands of things for sale…
This past weekend was the arguably biggest event on the geek calendar, San Diego Comic Con. It is an explosion of headlines, news clips, and video spots that most geeks salivate over. However, I was not one of them. That’s right, I spent the biggest geek weekend of the year creating Sesame Street characters out of fruit. It was awesome.
My niece, Baby Destructo (as I call her), turned three last week and wanted a Sesame Street birthday party. Elmo is kiddie crack, I swear. As she is my very favorite person to spend time with, my family and I spent the weekend trying to make it the best day of her year.
Hanging out with a three-year old is a reminder of how active an imagination can be. She was always pointing to nothing and seeing trains or butterflies coming through the house. She makes force lighting and names everyone after My Little Pony characters. We sat together and she read books to me, and even has her favorite book memorized. My personal highlight though was when she pointed to Spock on my t-shirt and said “I like him.”
Towards the end of the weekend, when she was all passed out from playing her favorite game of me chasing her through a museum, I finally got to check out some of the highlights from SDCC. I was particularly disappointed to see some news pieces. A male con staffer decided to hijack a Women in Film Production panel to teach the panelists about the film industry. I can’t quite understand why, but he thought that he needed to help the female panelists explain their careers and run their panel for them. Then I checked out the reviews of The Killing Joke. I admit, I haven’t seen the film yet but the descriptions I have read are not promising. They took Batgirl, whose part in this comic is small in itself, and added a storyline that made her a lovesick child who only seems motivated by a man.
I was excited to see the Wonder Woman trailer; it was a surprising breath of fresh air after reading some of the others. It was a strong woman standing up and being an equal partner with a man while fighting for the equality of others. I would love to see more of strong female characters in all media, but what really hurt was seeing that a strong female character was dragged down. Mostly though, I think about the world that my tiny, imaginative, smart niece is growing up in.
Media will shape her more than any generation before her. She will grow up in a world where equality is an active topic, where in her formative years a woman is the first presidential nominee for a major American political party. But in the same breath, entertainment has dragged its feet in making changes. Every time we get a Ghostbusters or Buffy, another demeaning instance seems to rear its ugly head.
We have a responsibility to the future to make sure that our entertainment is diverse and equal. And in some ways it seems silly. After everything that has happened, this fight should be over but the current climate of this country has proven otherwise.
I want my niece to grow up in a world where she is treated equally along with everyone else. So the next time you read something that is not quite right or hear a joke that uses a minority group as the punchline, think about the future you want for the next generation.