The webcomics blog about webcomics

Weird Times On The Exhibit Floor

Welp, Saturday was Saturday, meaning it was the busiest day, but it was an odd kind of busy; the lulls were shorter and the rushes were longer (that’s normal), but the buying pace was definitely off from Thursday and Friday. I didn’t register seeing so many Saturday badges, so maybe it’s a case of four day attendees saving their money for Sunday?

In any event, I won’t try to draw any conclusions beyond the fact that two separate people came up to the Dumbrella booth cash register, waved a sticker in my general direction and threw a dollar bill at me before walking off without the minimum level of human interaction. For the crime of acting like Rich Uncle Pennybags (who I saw on the floor) tossing a hundo at somebody desperate to buy food, you people are banned from ever buying anything again. Have fun obtaining food and shelter.

  • My intentions to see the Steven Universe panel¹ were thwarted by the Hilton Bayfront Indigo Ballroom line management policy. I walked down around the far south end of the convention center (past the famed Hall H line, which was moving as people were let into the giant room) and followed the signs for Indigo. There was a very convenient grab-and-go food stall set up across the aisle, a few people lined up near the entrances, and a staffer who immediately intercepted me to instruct I go downstairs and out the building. If you’re going to stage a line outside, why direct people inside with the signage?

    Then I saw the line, which went that way for several hundred people, then back this way then kept going until this way became that way again; I’m going to guess there were maybe two thousand people in line, not moving, 20 minutes before the panel was due to start. As I decided that wasn’t happening and made my way back towards the convention center via the bay, I passed the end of line volunteer, who was being told by a protesting man But the panel doesn’t start until 1:00! So whatever tricks they’ve learned to keep people moving and crowds properly staged for Hall H apparently haven’t been applied to Indigo, and in future iterations will have to be.

  • So I went to talk to Matt Inman about his Eisner win the prior night. You may recall that Inman had two nominations, for Best Digital Comic and for Best Short Story, one of which was a good nomination and one of which was less so. The short story nomination was good — digital-only work was going head-to-head against printed work as if they were both comics because hey, they’re both comics. The digital nomination was the less good, because the Eisner committee is again applying its own criteria inconsistently. They’ve set up the category to indicate that only long-form works are allowed, but then they have repeatedly nominated works that don’t meet even the most generous interpretations of that criterion².

    Inman and I shared puzzlement that he if he was going to win, he won for Best Digital Comic (because The Oatmeal doesn’t feature long-form works, or characters, or plot; these days it’s mostly a variant on autobiography) and not for Best Short Story (unless voters took his short story — about having his house burn down when he was a kid — as representative of his general work, which is hilarious because by its nature a short story isn’t a long work, and thus wouldn’t qualify for the digital category).

    It’s kind of a mess, it’s going to continue to be kind of a mess until webcomics effectively cease to be considered a different type of comics (a change that can’t come too soon) and it’s frustrating, but Inman was genuinely happy and honored to have a little statue with a spinny globe on it, so that’s all right. Also, work continues apace for this September’s Blerch Runs, which project seems to be making him really happy. Speaking of which, I also ran into Pat Race, whose SDCC Saturday 5K fun run efforts netted five participants, or a 25% growth on last year. Well done, Pat! Keep on racing, Race!

  • About the same time I was also lucky enough to spend five minutes chatting with Raina Telgemeier, who is just about a month away from having three books simultaneously on the New York Times graphic novel bestseller list, as Sisters will likely take the top spot, Drama will return as interest in all things Raina peaks again, and Smile hasn’t left the list for more than two years. Everybody that’s ever said Comics is in trouble, comics needs new readers, comics is stagnating needs to shut the hell up. Week after week, new readers (who could become lifelong readers of comics if you would give them something to read) pick up a book by Kazu Kibuishi, or Gene Yang, or Mike Maihack, or Andy Runton, or Dave Roman, or Faith Erin Hicks, or Hope Larson, or Yuko and/or Ananth, or a dozen other names but especially Raina Telgemeier.

    These books are words and pictures; they’re comics and they make reluctant readers into enthusiastic readers and just like that one off panel voice at the beginning of Understanding Comics who protests But you didn’t say anything about Batman³, if you deny that this is where Comics needs to expand its horizons to meet the readers, you need to be frog-marched out of the discussion until you accept the terms of the discussion.

  • And then in the afternoon I met Bobak Ferdowsi, and thanked him for his work. He was gracious, and modest, and gave all credit for success to the thousands of people working in concert, but you will never convince me that there isn’t something special about the person in the Flight Director’s chair, the one who has to look at those controllers, with their back rooms of experts, distill down a lot of information and be the one voice to convey the decision: Go or No Go.

    He may be a little puzzled that he wound up as the public face of Mission Control, but he is, and like every controller and director in a line back to Bales, and Aaron, and Craft, and Kranz (look ’em up, their names should be taught to every schoolchild), and thousands of others, he is a goddamn hero and embodies what can be accomplished by people that work hard, work smart, and work together. The timing didn’t work to see if I could have earned my spot in the Flight Operations Center, but I will never be bitter about that as long as the likes of Ferdowsi and his colleagues did make it there.

  • We drifted away from comics for a bit there, didn’t we? I did make it to one panel yesterday, as the comics journalists (Heidi Mac, Jill Patozzi, Joshua Yehl, Matt Meylikhov, Rich Johnston, and The Spurge, who I was pleased to finally meet in person) held forth on the news cycle, useless stories, unexpected things that blow up huge, having publishers or editors to run interference for you, and what’s changing about how comics get covered.

    Macdonald, Johnston, and Spurgeon fell into a familiar interaction (having done this panel with each other multiple times), as the various exemplars of old school approaches (Spurgeon especially doesn’t believe in chasing hits or writing for popularity), and Pantozzi, Yehl, and Meylikhov (all of whom are recently into senior or supervisory roles in their outlets) bringing fresh eyes to the discussion. Also, Spurgeon was curmudgeonly in a charming fashion, declaring his biggest desires for his journalistic endeavours were to do better and have a sandwich.

    Unfortunately, time ran out just as Macdonald and Johnston were about to get into it over Johnston’s assertion that he’s not a journalist, so be sure to catch the next time that panel comes around. As the group was clearing out, the next panel was coming in, meaning I got to congratulate Brigid Alverson for her contributions to CBR, which took the Eisner for comics news this weekend; it’s well deserved.

I didn’t personally catch sight of a lot of good cosplay, but here’s link to a Link.

Panels to watch for today:

  • Panels and Pictures at noon, 32AB; graphic novels for kids, with Sonny Liew, Emily Carroll, Mike Maihack, Kazu Kibuishi, and Raina Telgemeier
  • :01 Books at 3:30, 26AB; Faith Erin Hicks, Gene Luen Yang, Lucy Knisley, and Paul Pope

Spam of the day:

Why couldn’t I uncover this checklist months back when i was looking for it. In any case, I’m glad I have it now. Thanks for sharing.

I dunno, maybe because I wrote it six days ago?

¹ Okay, and to ask Ian Jones-Quartey when RPG World is coming back; I’m evil.

² Example: Dylan Meconis’s excellent Family Man is an ongoing story with more than 300 pages, and hasn’t been nominated. Dylan Meconis’s Outfoxed is a 22 page one-off and was nominated in 2012. It’s “longform” in the sense that it’s got definite characters and isn’t gag-strip oriented, but that’s it.

And yes, I do talk about Dylan a lot in the context of incorrect decisions by awards voters because her work is awesome and should win everything.

³ McCloud: There’s always one….

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