I Got The Moves Like Xander

Here’s a mostly true San Diego Comic-Con 2012 Story starring my good friend Stepto (who you may remember from a previous appearance). It seems that while I was decompressing from the w00stock 4.0 festivities in Balboa theater as all the performers signed things and shook hands, Stepto was across the street at the Geek & Sundry party getting his groove thing fully engaged with Joss Whedon. The very same Stepto who was in my company mere moments before at w00tstock. The VERY same Stepto who has my cell phone number and know good and well how texting works. Yes, THAT Stepto. The VERY SAME STEPTO WHO IS NOW DEAD TO ME! HE DANCED WITH GOD DAMNED JOSS WHEDON! THEIR HIPS MET IN A BUMPY FASHION! DEAD! DEAAAAAD TO MEEEEEE!

But, I digress. In addition to breaking my heart and betraying my trust, Stepto did do something very nice for a fan that night. It has become a w00tstock tradition that Stepto will find the fan with the worst possible seats, high up in the balcony, take their camera and fill it with backstage photos throughout the night. You can see the results of this year’s shenanigans here.

I have a guest comic up at Cyanide and Happiness!

Grammar Dalek Shirts should be going on presale soon. As early as Monday of next week! Stay tuned for ordering info.

People have been asking me what I thought of SDCC this year. I told one friend, “Being on the show floor of SDCC is like working in the gift shop of the amusement park.” I think that sums it up pretty well. Unlike EVERY OTHER larger show I do, comics are no where near the focus of the show. They are really an after thought and that vibe is starting to permeate my (and other artists’) SDCC experience more and more each year. You really get the impression that the attendees are going to make time for you, if and when they finish up with everything else they have planned. Namely, standing in a line for 8 hours to see a 50 minute panel, then standing in line for 4 hours to get an SDCC exclusive toy, then leaving the hall entirely to go to one of the MANY offsite activities.

The fans I met through out the week were great, but they were also few and far between. In fact, the only day that felt like a normal convention was Sunday. There was a steady stream of fans, and sales and I distinctly got the impression that most people were saving the actual COMIC portion of Comic-con for the final day. Luckily, I got the sense of this trend early in the week and basically visited the booth a bit each day then headed out into San Diego for various parties, fun times and hang outs with my friends. All things being equal I would much rather be at the booth, meeting readers and selling merch. But due to the extremely odd vibe of the show, the slow booth traffic and the VERY limited booth space we had this year, I wasn’t really hurting anyone by not being there. Sunday was basically the only full day I spent at the booth. It’s really hard to justify taking a week off of work, the travel expenses and fighting the crowds of SDCC to do what was essentially a one day show.

I want to back up and say that I am NOT complaining about having the best job in the world, but San Diego Comic-Con has changed drastically in the last couple of years and everyone I talked to seemed to be feeling the same thing. Don’t be shocked if some of your favorite artists take a year or two off. I almost feel like the comics and the movie/TV/video game stuff should be officially separated into two events. Maybe then we could get some panels with accessible comics creators instead of ABC’s newest fairy tale-based show. It feels like the entire show has finally tipped to where it is basically unfriendly to an independent comics creator and that creator’s time could be better spent almost anywhere. I don’t expect it to get any better unless they built more hall space, which would probably have to be on floating barges out in the marina. Still, it is ONE HELL of a party, and it’s the only time that nearly all of my friends are in the same city at the same time for the same reason. It is a Comic-Conundrum.

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33 Comments

  1. You might have met more of your fans had you been at your booth instead of offsite partying. We came by the booth a few times well before Sunday and you weren't around. I wanted to get a sketch card but alas it wasn't meant to be.

    • It had a lot more do to with the lack of space and the fact that any time I spent at the booth I was basically in the way, but thanks for chastising me. I totally deserved it for trying to make the best of a less than ideal situation.

      • Sorry. That came off more dickish than I intended. I totally get the lack of space. Your booth was really cramped. If I might make a suggestion. If you're going to have space issues and won't be able to man the booth all weekend, try to schedule set "signing" times like the big publishers do. Also letting people know ahead of time when you are planning to be at the booth would help people find you a lot easier. I know you tried to tweet when you would be there but the cell coverage on the exhibit floor was shitty at best and getting through to twitter was harder than trying to keep a sci-fi show on FOX for more than a season.

        • I did set signing times on Thursday and no one showed up. It became clear pretty quickly that chaos would reign and I could either sit and stew in frustration (which is what I did for the first two days) or I could NOT do that.

      • Yeah my wife and I totally did the creepy fan-stalk thing on you during the con. We were those Crumbs people. My apologies.

        I'll say this, when we were on the floor, even in the comic area, the convention floor was always packed. I can see that business at Blind Ferret was slow, but not to be a dick or anything but that had as much to do with their booth layout as anything. I know they think they did what they had to do in order to put as much merch as possible 'on display' but what they really did is make it possible for one person to completely block absolutely everything… oftentimes this person wasn't a customer but a blind ferret employee or friend.

        All that casual con-goers will ever see is what you have on the table facing the aisle and maybe what you have hung up on the wall behind. You can't expect a causal fan to walk into a crowded dead end to look at merch that might be at the end of the table. Heck I'm certainly not a casual fan (Sorry about that stalking again), I came around the booth 3 times, and I still never got a chance to walk in the aisle to see whatever else Blind Ferret had to show.

        Sorry, I don't mean that to be nasty, I just want to give an opinion as to why things might have been extra light at the BF booth. I still agree with everything else you said about the Con, I just think that BF's booth layout made it even worse.

        • "…BF's booth layout made it even worse."

          All of these things are true and are 90% of the reason I accepted my fate and didn't spend much time at the booth. I would consider it an experiment that failed and I hope they do not replicate that set up in the future. I, however, get no say in such things.

  2. I love that most of the photos from the side of the stage I can see me. lol. Got to meet the lucky owners of the camera the next day and Geek & Sundry. They were still smiling and checking them out. Awesome thing for Stepto to do. I thought that was you there Joel on the side of the stage drinking beers.

      • I just wish that security did put the case of Stone in lock up. That was suppose to be for all of yall. Guess Wil will be force to drink it at home. Next year a flask my be in order or hitting up the Lincoln Room for more drinks.

  3. I was the girl who criticized you for not being there on Wednesday, but I was lucky enough to wander by and catch you on Thursday 🙂 My new prints (first one to get the firefly vs star wars print, bitches!) will go up on my wall soon.

    My hubby and I seem to be the only ones of our comic con friends who actually give a damn about wandering the floor. We stocked up on webcomic swag from HE, SMBC, and C&H. It's called COMIC con for a reason. Go away Twihards and Gleeks and leave the convention to the nerds and geeks.

  4. I'm still mad at myself for not getting to your booth when I attended last year, but I was a total newb and didn't get all my days planned out as well as I wanted to. (I also fainted while giving blood during a weird chain reaction fainting session that I did not start and that threw off my whole Friday. )

    I definitely understand the feeling that artists have that the tone is changing. I am personally a giant tv freak and have been since I was little, this is part of why SDCC became more and more appealing to me over the past few years until I finally went last year. (Didn't make it this year, but am already planning for next year.) And not just for the big panels, but for the smaller panels with my favorite writers, people that I've been following for years. I freaked out when I found out my favorite tv writer, Ben Edlund, who I've been following since his Tick days about 20 years ago, had his very own panel this year and I missed it!! GARSDHFASH!!!!

    So yeah, I totally would go to a separate tv/movie type con if there was one. BUT, on the other hand, the experience last year got me to seek out a bit more of the actual comic experience after attending and I do want to make that more of a priority when I go next year. I've always been a nerd/geek, but comics weren't the main medium I was into. I read em, but not religiously enough to follow writers. But I want to know more and will continue to get more into them this year so that I'm more prepared for some of the smaller comic writer panels as well.

    I also want to try to hit more of the parties next year. I really, honestly, felt last year like I was at the greatest summer camp ever. I didn't grow up with a lot of nerd/geek friends (or a lot of friends period, we moved a lot) so I even felt left out of the nerd community for a long time. I never had people to play tabletop games with. It was me and the books and the tv. I have since made many nerd friends and hang out with them all the time but being at that con was AMAZING.

    And thankfully no Twilight next year? RIGHT?

  5. What you described is why I never went back to SDCC after my first (and I went in 2006 before it got as crazy as it is now).

    I'd love to go and actually talk to creators of WebComics or traditional comics and enjoy that sort of thing, but having a huge glitzy ordeal….it ends up like you said. You're in line all freaking day, don't get to do anything, the small creators have no reason to come back so they won't.

    What's a bummer for me is living in SoCal, most content creators go to SDCC only and so I have a choice between deal with the huge circus that is SDCC or just never get to meet creators of stuff I like. There have been 2 other expos in the area in the last year (Comikaze and WonderCon) but I never see any of the webcomics folks looking into making an appearance at those.

  6. SDCC is becoming another symptom of what’s wrong with comics today. If Marvel & DC want to make comics that are nothing more than advertising for their movies then they should start giving them out for free, and if SDCC is nothing more than trailers then they should stop charging admission.

  7. I think the change to SDCC is best summed up by something I learned about (not having been there myself, doggone it…)

    Cryptic is a software publisher. They make the MMOs "Champions Online" (a superhero game) and "Star Trek Online" (which I'm pretty sure you can figure out).

    There was an offsite party in which STO was celebrated; goods were given away, and the game was generally put out there so folks would be aware of it.

    There was absolutely *nothing* there about CO. At the *San Diego Comics Convention*. A built-in audience, one would think – and yet, Cryptic felt their advertising money was better spent on STO than CO. Comics seem to be ever more shunted into a metaphorical back alley there.

  8. Oprah is a member of the Silents, who have controlled and shaped the course of human events for millenia?

    That actually makes so much sense when you think about it…

  9. I live in NY so it's cheaper for me to go to NYCC than SDCC..after reading the reports of packed aisles, quickly sold out tickets, I'll have to start begging my favorite webcomic artists to come to NYCC next year. hint hint

  10. Yeah, it seems as though your interests may be better served by working some of the smaller cons. Never been to SDCC, probably won't ever go (that's what I get for marrying a cool kid), but it sounds like the football team is invading Nerd Prom. The smaller trade shows may have better opportunities for Meet and Greet and the all important Swag Sale. Then again, I did miss your most-like one and only appearance at Baltimore Comic Con, so I'm the bigger jerk.

    • I actually did Baltimore comic-con 3 years in a row. It was my first ever show. For me it has the opposite problem to SDCC. It is TOO MUCH about the comics. Not the creators but ACTUAL COMIC BOOKS. It's what we call a "longbox show." Tons of great fans and webcomic supporters, but the focus of the show is on people going to buy, sell or trade comic books, and get their books signed by writers and artists from Marvel and DC.

  11. That problem may have peaked this year. I’ve seen a couple of news stories that the big studios have decided that SDCC is not the golden marketing opportunity they thought it was. They are likely to be scaling back on their craziness for promoting “geek friendly” properties.

  12. On behalf of San Diego, let me just say that we're trying damn hard to add more convention center. Unforntunately we have alot of whiny old people who never go anywhere and don't want to ever build anything new or cool ever (see: Qualcomm Stadium, Valley View Casino Center, City Administartion Bullding (they're all crap)).

    That said, stopping by the booth on Thursday was alot of fun. We ended up getting quite a few comments on the sketched backpack. Hopefully a better balance of the SDCC elements will come about soon. I'd hate to lose the artists and writers to the major studios; most of whom aren't even trying to present relevent movies/shows anymore (I'm looking at you Silent Hill 3D and End of Watch).

  13. I totally understand the wish to split SDCC into two different conventions, but I hope they never do that. I spend most of my time in panels (or lines for panels) it's true; the dealers' hall is so crammed that I can't spend more than a short time there without feeling really jittery and claustrophobic. (Enochlophobic?) But I do really like having the opportunity to flip through comics and merchandise and to swing by my favorite webcomic artists' booths. We came by Blind Ferret at least twice.

    Obviously it doesn't make sense for you to do SDCC if it isn't a worthwhile use of your time or money, but I hope you know that some of us would miss seeing you there. =)

  14. Toronto is the only Con I've attended (twice), and I loved it! They separate they're comics/TV/gaming/horror stuff into different areas and basically do 5 Cons at once. It's also great because it's about the exhibitioners, not so much about advertisers. There were a few big screenings of trailers and stuff, but it's more about getting to see/meet the creators and performers, which is obviously why most of us go. In 2 days I met Adam Baldwin, Kevin Sorbo, Crispin Glover, Marina Sirtis, and Alice Cooper! How randomly awesome is that? Nerd-vana.

    Come back to Toronto Joel! I didn't get to go last year and I missed you! 🙂

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