It occurred to me that I never wrote about our exhibiting at Comic-Con International in San Diego last July 2010.
As with the last couple of years, I spent the Wednesday morning prior to the show in Balboa Park. Designer extraordinaire, Randall Dahlk, joined me in visiting the gardens. I snapped pictures of some pitcher plants among other types of flora. I can get into a Zen-like state when photographing nature. I find it very relaxing. The quiet interlude was a welcome experience after preparing for the convention.
With the show starting Wednesday evening, we got put into the spin-cycle and hung on until our release on Sunday night. I don’t want this to sound bad, because it isn’t. However, most other shows allow small breaks here and there, and offer a chance to walk around and escape the booth. Comic-Con doesn’t offer this luxury for me.
I did manage to escape the booth for a little bit on Sunday, but otherwise didn’t see the show. Because of this I don’t have any insight into the event itself. I am a little jealous of those that are free to run around. That’s the price of being a publisher. I actually have to go online and read blogs to view pictures and hear how the show went, even though I’m there!
The primary purpose of our setting up is to promote the books, artists and company. Selling books is also important, but that is secondary. Having the opportunity to meet new people that have never heard of us and talk with those who have is all very rewarding.
As with previous years, Mark Schultz was kind enough to sign at our booth for two hours each day. The big news for 2011 is Schultz has given up his spot at the booth that he shared with Gary Gianni and Jim and Ruth Keegan. Instead, he will be at our Flesk booth. I’m trying to get a few more artists over for signing in 2011, too. I’ll announce them as they come on board.
One funny story is how Tron actor Bruce Boxleitner stopped by. We chatted and he bought some books. One of my helpers freaked out and asked me if I knew who I was just talking to? I said “no” to his dismay. I enjoy movies and TV, but rarely get the chance to watch them, as I am too busy on my own projects, family and life. The cast of Glee was signing a few rows from us on Sunday. I asked someone what the huge line was (blocking the aisle into our row) and the individual explained what it was. I thought to myself, “What is Glee?” I had never heard of it before. Unless 10 million people are watching and it has been on for five years, I usually don’t know about it. That’s how out of the loop I am with TV. I went back to my booth thinking, “Glee, what a show!”
I had the honor of having dinner with a group of people I admire. One special night was the Spectrum dinner hosted by Arnie and Cathy Fenner. William Stout, Brom, Donato Giancola, Angela Wheeler and Arlo Burnett all had a pleasant evening together. I had never met Brom or Donato outside of a brief encounter at a show. It was nice getting to know them.
On another topic, an interesting observation I made was how many people I saw at the WonderCon show earlier in the year that I normally only see at San Diego. This was following by noticing how many people I normally see in San Diego that didn’t show up. (And again who I saw at WonderCon.) It makes me wonder with the economy if some people are taking a year off from Comic-Con, and/or if certain fans are getting tired of the increasingly difficult and expensive arrangements to get to the San Diego show. I hear a lot of complaints from the people who have been going to San Diego for years, but the fresh new faces are ecstatic to be there. It’s no secret there is a changing of the guard in the attendance, but is this a bad thing? Not in my opinion. There are plenty of other shows that you can still attend that are geared more towards the hard-core comic fan, like WonderCon.
Furthermore, each year I hear more concerns expressed about Comic-Con not being solely about comics anymore. I agree that comics are not the main highlight anymore, but is this a problem? Does someone have to collect comics to be a legitimate attendee? No, I don’t think so. Do you have to buy Spider-Man comics to be a raving Spider-Man fan? Nope. Comic-Con is a place for comic book fans to buy comics and about enjoying the culture and experience of modern pop culture for those that do not. You don’t have to buy comics to be a fan of the characters that derive from comics. The programming guide, guests and theme of the show are still devoted to comics. This introduces the field to a whole new audience with each year, therefore promoting comics. To me, that’s a good thing. Like it or not, if you don’t go next year, there will be someone eagerly awaiting the ticket that is freed up.
For those continuing to make the pilgrimage to Comic-Con, see you in July 2011!
text and photographs © 2011 John Fleskes