My Experience at Comic-Con International San Diego 2008 (In Brief)

Comic-Con International went very well for us. I am happy to have met so many new people, as well as to see a good amount of familiar faces stop by to visit. To have the opportunity to answer questions, and share our upcoming projects with people, is both welcome and fun for me.

I was very excited to have our new book The Prince Valiant Page by Gary Gianni on hand. This title turned out to be our best seller at the show, especially with Gianni providing head sketches in the book! We also unveiled our new Mark Schultz Xenozoic Tales print, which was our number two seller at the show. This is our first time producing a print and I am pleased with the results. Be on the lookout for a Mark Schultz portfolio in 2009.

One thing I appreciated at this year’s show was the crowd control. From the first day I showed up, I noticed a strong presence of comic-con workers directing people traffic. At the end of the day they even closed off the streets in front of the convention center, allowing for a quick crossing into the downtown area. The show opening earlier than last year seemed to relieve the crowds, too. There certainly were moments of deep crowds, but overall I found it much easier to get around this year, when compared to last year.

Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz signing at the Flesk Booth

It was great having artist signings at our booth throughout the show. Thanks to Mark Schultz, who signed for two hours each day, Thursday through Sunday, and also to Gary Gianni and Steve Rude who made appearances. I am always impressed by how courteous Mark, Gary and Steve are with the fans. Each are gentlemen in their own right.

Gary Gianni
Gary Gianni signs a copy of The Prince Valiant Page

One of my perks is to go through Mark and Gary’s original art portfolios to savor the nuances of each drawing. Gary’s Prince Valiant original with a giant crab attacking a ship was unbelievable! And, Mark’s recent portfolio plates, prelims, and Storms at Sea Drawings! Wow! Later, I stopped by Steve Rude’s booth to see his art, especially the cool original demo he did live at the show.

Steve Rude and John Fleskes
A Dude (me) with The Dude!

I received an unusually high number of book proposals at the show. Almost all of which came on Friday. I have no idea why Friday was THE day for this? I normally do not view book proposals. The reason being is I collaborate with a small group of artists who I enjoy working with, and only have the time to publish a handful of titles each year. All of which I am extremely passionate about. Between the few artists I work with, and my personal projects, I am booked for the next four years–at a minimum. To date, the only book submission I have accepted is Brian Kane’s wonderful book, James Bama: American Realist. Brian set a high bar for other book submissions to follow. He provided me with a very professional and detailed book synopsis and chapter design samples to give me a full picture of his vision. That was in 2004. The reason why I immediately committed to Brian was because of his presentation, and the artist in question, James Bama, is someone who’s work I am crazy about. In brief, I am looking for someone who is capable of doing a suburb job on the book, and shares a passion with me for a particular artist.

Gregory Manchess
Gregory Manchess demo at the Spectrum booth

Throughout the show, I was pleased to visit many creators I admire. One person I always enjoy talking with is Gregory Manchess. I have been familiar with his work for about fifteen years, going back to his children’s book illustrations and article in the Step-by-Step magazine. He is a supurb and powerful painter. He illustrated the third volume of The Complete Conan. Unfortunately, that’s the only collection that did not come out as a special edition from Wandering Star and has not been reproduced in color, yet. During the show, Greg did a painting demonstration of Hellboy at Arnie and Cathy Fenner’s Spectrum booth. I caught about ten minutes of the two-hour demo. This is one of the highlights of the show for me. You can view the demos online at their website.And speaking of the Fenner’s, I was ecstatic to spend more than a few minutes at the show with Cathy and Arnie and get to know my early inspirations on a more personal level. It’s no secret that the Fenner’s and Walt Reed (and Jim Vadeboncoeur) are my biggest influences in starting publishing. I’ll definitely need to write a blog covering everything they have accomplished and how they inadvertently helped get me started.

I got to see my friend Charlie Kochman, editor at Abrams. He’s the man behind the sweet new Jack Kirby book. It was a pleasure to see him, as always. I met Todd Hignite for the fist time at the Heritage Auctions booth. He has done some phenomenal work with his Comic Art magazine, and has completed a Jaime Hernandez book for Abrams. Other artist I respect and admire that I had the honor of talking with include Jim Silke, Geoff Darrow, John Zeleznik, Terry Dodson, Dan Brereton, Arthur Adams, Frank Cho, and many more.

Stopping by Albert Moy’s original art booth was as amazing as ever. His booth is like a museum. If you are interested in purchasing the finest comic art around, this is the place to go. Stuart Ng had a wide-assortment of cool books by artists I have never heard of. He continues to find a plethora of interesting French and random art books that make their way into my library.

One thing I hear every year from a certain few is the grumblings of San Diego not being like it used to be. The complaint revolves around the idea that the show has little to do with comics anymore. I disagree. Personally, I think the show is better than ever and I am excited by the changes and growth in the last five years. I agree the show is very different than fifteen years ago, but it’s still fun.

I think comics are greater than ever. I say this knowing comic book sales are dropping, but that doesn’t mean comics are dying. The difference is the delivery of the content is changing. People are getting their fix through alternative channels like graphic novels, books, television, movies, and pop-culture publications. What I recognize is that comics are still loved and enjoyed by a huge audience. Just because the individual sale of a comic book is dropping, does not mean the genre is dying. It’s alive and growing, as far as I’m concerned.

As always is the case, I came back from the show pumped-up to get to work. Having the chance to meet many talented artists and see their originals inspires me to work harder and get better at publishing.

Cliff Moore
Cliff Moore enjoys himself at the
San Diego Natural History Museum

A special thanks goes out to Cliff Moore, Paige Silverman, and James Walker II, who were a terrific help at at the Flesk booth all throughout the show! I couldn’t have survived without them!

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by, whether it was to visit, or purchase one of our products. Your support is greatly appreciated!



John Fleskes
Flesk Publications