AISLE SEAT 2.0.83: SDCC 2014 PART 2
By Marc Mason
I woke up Thursday feeling great.
A few years ago, I let my con partying (not just at San Diego) get a little bit out of hand, and I have been much more cogniscent of that ever since. Throw in the fact that I have mostly given up booze anyway, and that meant the only thing I was going to be hitting hard at night was the ice water. Doing so meant waking up without a hangover. Damn, what a difference that makes.
Breakfast was a pastry from the deli next to my hotel, and then I engaged in mapping out a strategy to best make use of my time that day. Once, I did, it was off to lunch with friend and colorist extraordinaire David Baron, then I hit the convention floor.
Pro tip: not showing up right when the con opens is always the way to go. No lines. Security is less stressed out. There is movement between people. These factors make the day loads easier.
I wrote a screed last year about how comics are still a huge factor for the show, and it remained true this year. I roved the comics end of the show for quite some time, visiting retailers, looking for books that my shelves need, all that fun stuff. The aisles were full, attendees were not just walking through – they were stopping – it was what you want to see. After that I moved over the publishers area and began making the rounds. So much of running a website like CWR is in networking and maintaining relationships with the folks making the product – you can never take that for granted. That’s why CWR is in its eighth year, still around. We need news and we need books to review in order to survive. I took a great deal of time to work on that and keep this place going.
Of course, the networking was way, way different this year, because I wasn’t just there to promote the site. No, I was also there to promote me.
My name now adorns the credits list of a couple of mainstream comics (and more are on the way). I’m a multi-published novelist. Bluntly: that stuff is my top priority now, which is why CWR has slowed down a bit. Being on the other side of the table (metaphorically and occasionally literally) changes one’s point of view a bit. It also requires a lot more hustle when you aren’t exactly a household name.
Thursday I also did something I haven’t done for a couple of years: I hit a couple of panels. Seriously, I have somehow missed hitting panels at the last two SDCCs! So I headed upstairs and walked into “The Sergio & Mark Show,” which is one of the con’s perennials. Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier have been working on comics together for decades, and their charming and hilarious rapport makes for a fantastic panel. They tell funny stories, take questions and give funny answers… and this year they had the great Stan Sakai on stage with them, giving the whole thing an extra layer of cool. It was a breezy affair, passing by quickly, and well worth the time.
Next up in the same room was a panel on THUNDERBIRDS, the old Gerry Anderson show, which is now being revived by the special effects gang at Weta. Some of the look of the old “super-marionation” will be there, but this will obviously look far more modern. I was impressed by the gents on the panel, and the test models they showed looked great – but I was even more impressed with the crowd. Young and old, male and female, the fandom for this show covered all bases. That surprised me a bit, but as I thought about it, I realized just how strong a family show the old one was (and the folks behind the update are dedicated to keeping it that way) and the whole thing just clicked for me. Looking forward to seeing the update when it finally hits screens.
At that point, I took the long walk back to the hotel to take a break and pull myself together for the evening. After resting, I headed out to dinner, then made my way to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund party. The CBLDF is one of the most vitally important organizations we have, dedicating themselves to protecting creators, publishers, retailers… whomever censorship or misuse of prosecutorial power strikes. It is always a pleasure to make a donation to their coffers.
The party, at The Westgate, was excellent as usual. The best part was my friend and editor Joe Rybandt arriving, as it had been three years since we had last seen each other. Along with Joe, I got to chat with local AZ pals John Layman and Henry Barajas, as well as cool comics folks like Allison Baker, Chris Roberson, Tony Fleecs, and Joshua Dysart. I had never met Dysart before, but I was grateful for the opportunity. His UNKNOWN SOLDIER series from Vertigo a few years back remains one of the finest things that imprint has released in the past decade. Set amongst the unrest in Africa and dealing with subjects like child soldiers, it was meticulously researched, “ripped from the headlines” stuff, and it remains as incredibly relevant right now as it was when it first hit shelves. In fact, you could move the book to a setting like Gaza and it would still play. Powerful stuff, some of the best that comics has to offer.
But as the night began to truly sink in, I set aside my empty glass of ice water and decided to pack it in. Saying goodnight to my friends, I cabbed back to my hotel, wrapped up my day, then turned out the light around midnight. There’s no substitute for a great night of sleep, and my pillow was giving me a come-hither look.