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Wil and I made you a Sparks McGee T-Shirt! 

sparks mcgee t-shirt wil wheaton sharksplode

Confused? Of course you are! Read up on Sparks McGee and his awesome adventures.

Big thanks to my friend David for both creating Vampire Dog and not protesting too much when I told him I was stealing his idea and using it for a comic that he would also be in whether he wanted to or not. Here are some of David’s Vampire Dog tag lines:

  • This dog is man’s best fiend.
  • Vomits up your blood, then eats it again.
  • This dog really knows how to roll over and play UNDEAD.

I have lots of complicated feelings and opinions about San Diego Comicon. I recently did a write up on my Tumblr called “Everything I know about North American comic conventions.” Here’s what I had to say about SDCC:

SDCC (San Diego): Creators avoid at all costs. Fans? Go for it. Stand in line for 12 hours to see a panel and have a great time. This show is 100% about Hollywood blockbusters and 100% NOT about comics. Every artist I know hates it and threatens to never go back, but the first time you don’t go you lose your booth forever. And I do mean FOREVER. There is no space left and the waiting list is hundreds if not thousands long. It’s a deplorable mess for a guy like me. Sales aren’t as good as ECCC or Pheonix but costs are more than twice as high. It’s a status thing. I kind of hope it goes away or at least individual artists just stop going. Let Hollywood have it. That’s all any of the fans are spending money on anyway. The only reason to go to SDCC for me is to see my friends (All of whom dont want to be there), and for the offiste activities like w00tstock, Geek and Sundry and Nerd HQ, etc. The rest is a fucking nightmare.

I should add to that, the readers and fans I’ve met at SDCC have been some of the most supportive and gracious of any show I’ve ever done and I REALLY don’t want to diminish how special it is to get to meet them face to face, do sketches for them, talk about geek stuff and carve out a happy little shared experience in the midst of the geek world’s most unbearable “clusterfart.”

COMMENTERS: What’s the longest you’ve ever waited in line for something? A movie, a book release, a video game, a concert, a con panel? Was the wait worth it?

Comments (42)

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Zelda: Ocarina of Time pre-order.

I was the first person in the store. But the delivery wasn’t unpacked yet. They told me to come back in a half hour. (I came back in 15) to a store with 20 customers. Apparently, they never organized the pre-sale slips and they were just tossed into a box. The store continued to fill up so quickly that they had to from a line outside. So they grabbed a random slip from the box and called out the name. If there was no answer, they grabbed another slip.

This went on for four hours and I was one of the unlucky ones that was one of the last ten called. >:(

Stephen's avatar

Stephen · 101 weeks ago

So. Which is higher on the list: Teaching David how to curse, or finding out when the vampire dog panel is?

I think the longest I’ve waited in line was either for the Wii on Black Friday, or for Borderlands 2 the night it came out. Both at Gamestop.

MichaelH's avatar

MichaelH · 101 weeks ago

I went there too! Didn’t wait four hours, instead my friend and I grabbed food first, then joined the queue somewhere back in Islington…maybe it was Camden… long queue anyway. Very worth it!
I’ll be there exclusively to see the innependents. Yo.
Dave's avatar

Dave · 101 weeks ago

While this is a post where I’m going to say “Well I’m not like that” I want to be clear that I am NOT saying that what you say about comic-con is wrong. My Anecdote != Data. What this post IS trying to say is “Hey all you other comic-con go-ers… why not try to attack the con this way… you’ll have more fun! I promise”

I avoid Hall H and ballroom 20 like the plague. Truth is they’re just not worth it. Do I love Sherlock? Absolutely. Am I super excited for Agents of SHIELD? Oh you bet I am. Would it be a blast to see Matt Smith’s final con as Dr. Who? Oh you betcha.

But if I am to see any of those things I have to give up a huge chunk of my life in line, and even more watching panels for bad teen romances from the CW. All to get maybe 10 minutes of sneak preview footage, 20 minutes of honest to goodness awesomesauce, and 30 minutes of awkward questions from the fans promptly dodged by the folks on stage.

Friends, Neighbors, fellow con-goers, let me tell you that this is NOT worth it. At a certain point the OMG I AM IN THE SAME ROOM AS ROBERT DOWNEY JR wears off and you realize he’s just another dude. An awesomely cool dude who is charismatic and fun, but he’s a dude. You miss out on SO MUCH in order to ‘see’ him. Let’s be honest, more than likely you’re watching him on projected screens above the room. You lose out on so much to get those 20 minutes of awesome.

And then the convention floor… holy god is it crazy on the Hollywood side. My wife won’t even go. If we want to go see artist’s alley we leave the floor, walk down the front of the convention center, and come back in to avoid the massive flustercluck that is the hollywood booths. It’s so insanely crowded and people go so crazy over the chance to get a free sharpie that they’ll run you down… again, not worth it.

Here’s what we do: We hit the small press pavilion. HARD. We’ll wander up and down those aisles 4 or 5 times through the week. We hit the webcomics guys. There’s your chance to meet a real person. You’re not watching them on a screen while they’re 100 yards away surrounded by thousands of other people… they’re right in front of you making awkward small talk with you directly. You can buy something where your purchase MEANS something.

When we want to see a panel we look for something we’ve never done before. Something we’ve never seen before. Something way outside of our sphere.

The magic of the Con is experiencing your passion AND being exposed to someone elses’. There is SO MUCH passion at the con and none of it is to be found in the Hollywood panels. Those are carefully crafted commercials. Find something you have a passing interest and check out the amazing passion some people have for it. Learn some new detail you’ve never even thought of before. It’s a TON of fun and only costs you 1 hour none of which is spent in line.

If you must get the hollywood experience, why not check out some of the unique events they create outside of the con. The offsite Godzilla event looks pretty cool. The Tron arcade Disney put up was far superior than any panel they ever did. One time Adult Swim put together a skate party (with busses to take you to a roller rink to skate with Seth Green).

I can’t tell you how many friends of mine I have had fly in from across the nation to stay at my place and go to Comic-con and how many leave disappointed because they kicked and clawed and scratched to get into Hall H or Ballroom 20 and in the end came out frustrated, annoyed, and underwhelmed.

comic-con is what you want it to be. Every single kind of nerd passion is there. You don’t have to single out the big ones.

Oh and to answer the question, I once waited 3.5 hours to ride “Batman the Ride” at Six Flags Magic Mountain right after it opened. Totally wasn’t worth it. I also waited an hour for Star Wars Phantom Menace on opening night. That was worse than getting my head banged around by a gigantic metal contraption.

1 reply · active 101 weeks ago

You speak the truth, but having been to so many cons I can assure you and everyone else that “The magic of the Con is experiencing your passion AND being exposed to someone elses’. ” is available at MUCH better, MUCH less insane, MUCH less hollywood focussed cons all over the country. Emerald City in Seattle is a great place to start.
I need to believe that despite being from two different comic universe, Vampire Dog is a spin-off from Dog Cops from Hawkguy.
Also I think the longest I’ve waited for something was for entrance into the wand shop in the Harry Potter theme park. It was August and sweltering and it was worth it.
HikingViking's avatar

HikingViking · 101 weeks ago

I camped out overnight for Star Wars Episode I. That’s right. I spent the night waiting to see Jar Jar Binks. Was it worth it? Meesa don’t thinkie so.

3 replies · active 99 weeks ago

Yousa people gonna have life long regrets?
lou's avatar

lou · 101 weeks ago

I don’t. I’m over whatever shame or disappointment watching the prequels may have induced. The key is just not watch them for a few years, then ease yourself back in, one scene at a time.
I hear that.
Last year I also found and downloaded one of the “fan edits” of Ep 1. Almost no Jar Jar, no midichlorians, less senate floor, and nothing is “wizard.” It actually wasn’t a bad movie.
Rick's avatar

Rick · 101 weeks ago

Vampire Dog is actually a thing. But you knew that. (I knew that because I have kids, and kids have no taste.)

2 replies · active 101 weeks ago

I… I did not know this. I have to rethink everything in my life now.
Dave's avatar

Dave · 101 weeks ago

Seconded. I know HE had a rough con last year, but a serious part of that had to do with Blind Ferret’s booth layout. Please tell me that this year you’ll have it set up so that more than one person can get ‘inside’ and look at the merch? I gave up trying to see your stuff after 3 times passing by.
We have a different booth this year that should be larger and laid out more sensibly.
It’s certainly not a giant fuck you to anyone but the organizers of the con. And, Im sorry, but its not your home town convention. It’s something else entirely. It’s a domed city that forms once a year and exists for a brief while like Brigadoon.
You might enjoy TCAF. it’s SUPER small and free and in a library. A bit too artsy for my audience to show up in droves but ive never heard of a bad experience there.

Ill be at Fan Expo again. You should come say hi.

My wife and I (correction, my 8 months pregnant wife and I) slept outside of a Target for probably 10 hours for a Wii. It was… not worth it.
I hope it will be a bit better in that (a) all the webcomics are together; (b) you’re near the Small Press Pavillion for synergy; (c) you should be out of line up range of the long lines for video games and autographs; and (d) you’re not in the path to any cafeteria line.

Good luck!

Rick's avatar

Rick · 101 weeks ago

Mummy + Tumbler = Mumbler

2 replies · active 101 weeks ago

Neph Sy's avatar

Neph Sy · 101 weeks ago

I waited and slept in line on cement for 19 hours for the yearly opening of the student employment centre, and it snowed (this was May 1st!).
It was worth it, as I got first crack at a government job (they only let a small number of people apply for these government student jobs), which I kept for 3 years while going to school. I should never had admitted that I was going to graduate.
Other than that, can’t think of anything beyond standing in line outside in the heat for 1 hour to but tickets for Return of the Jedi
I used to go to SDCC long ago, first for fun (before it became so crowded) and then for work (I was in animation).

I miss aspects of it, but the crowds, inability to see panels because of said crowds and the crowds drive me nuts.

Really if I think about it, I miss lunch with friends I never get to see otherwise and meeting creators LIKE you Joel.

Then again, if I got off my ass for say NYC CC or whatever it’s called when you were there, I could take care of some of that.

I’m still grinning at BOX PUNCH.
lou's avatar

lou · 101 weeks ago

I waited 5 hours in line to see quite a few movies at their midnight premieres. Well, “line” a loose term, because the waiting areas outside the cinemas weren’t very organized. If there’s time and someplace is still open, you could grab a bite to eat somewhere in the shopping center (all the cinemas where I live are attached to a shopping center or mall, so your dinner is just a short walk away). Strangely, it’s cheaper than theater snacks!
anxiety.junkie's avatar

anxiety.junkie · 101 weeks ago

When my husband (then boyfriend) and I lived in Reno, we spent over 4 hours waiting inside a club with no chairs to see Loverboy. (Yes, Loverboy.) I didn’t want to be there. After the 2nd hour I tried to get him to leave but he wouldn’t. At one point I saw a 6ft, 300+ lb woman in a full body fishnet stocking and a giant blond wig walk by.

They were 4 hours late, and then didn’t apologize or anything, just started playing. As I hatehatehate Loverboy, it was not worth it. (And I still married the guy…)

Chaucer59's avatar

Chaucer59 · 100 weeks ago

Four hours in the Texas sun saving places for my (step)daughter and her friends so try could get in to see Lemony Snicket. The girls were all eleven and twelve and I really thought I was just holding their place. My wife’s little Ariel had read all of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. I’d read a couple of the books to see what the brouhaha was. They were okay–nothing all that funny IMHO, but I was over 40. When the line started moving, though, Ariel gave me that baby seal look and said “But, Dennis, aren’t you coming in with us?” *Sigh* I’m easy. I was also surprised by the show. The man put on a hilarious show. He had the adults laughing as hard as the kids. So, yeah, definitely worthwhile.
PowderMonkey's avatar

PowderMonkey · 100 weeks ago

Vampire Dog? Definite contender for 2013 Unfortunate Initals of the Year. Especially if you’re going to use the word ‘panel’ in conection with him – or is this all a thinly veiled public health initiative for the over-enthusiastic cos-players (“Yeah! Waited 6hrs for the V.D. Panel! You want to swab up my what now?!”)
bowtiesarecool's avatar

bowtiesarecool · 100 weeks ago

4 hours for the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy, now with blinking Ewok eyes! I was first in line, and got a #1 written on a piece of paper. Very official…
ian's avatar

ian · 100 weeks ago

2 hours in a line at PAX for the wil wheaton panel because i was too tired for anything else. I think it was during the pax pox outbreak year

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.

SDCC 2012 Fancy Sketches

I am still recuperating from SDCC. I will resume drawing Fancy Sketch Drive sketches this week, and start mailing them out as they are finished. There were almost 60 ordered so it’s going to take me a while. I appreciate your patience.

Hijinks Ensue Cyanide and Happiness Guest ComicI have a guest comic up at Cyanide and Happiness for my explosm bros (exBROsm, amirite?), who are also sleeping off one too many a San Diego fun time.

Grammar Dalek Shirts should be going on presale soon. Stay tuned for ordering info.

I had an amazing time in San Deiego, but I spent almost no time on the convention floor itself. Normally I am at the booth from open to close every day, but our limited booth space meant that most of the time I was just in the way. And when I made scheduled signing/sketching times, no one really showed up. It was a very odd convention this year and all of my cartoonist friends seemed to echo the same sentiments. People just weren’t visiting their favorite creators very much this year. I think either A) the show has finally tipped and there are only a small percentage of con attendees who are actually there to meet and buy stuff from comics creators (the rest are their for panels or other big media events) or B) There is so much off site and ancillary entertainment outside and around the convention itself, that most fans are going to the actual show maybe 1 or 2 days to see panels, then exploring the other (free-er) events surrounding the con.

For all of these reasons, I spent most of the weekend hanging out with friends, going to parties (especially w00tstock!) and generally having a fantastic time (in which I earned essentially no money and probably didn’t break even on my travel costs, but hey… whatever). I was at (or hovering around) the booth for most of Sunday and oddly enough it felt like a regular convention day. There was a steady stream of fans and sketch requests, and sales. Perhaps the new thing is to save your actual COMIC-coning for the final day. All I can say is that I won’t be surprised at all if many creators take a year or two off after this year. There are far better cons, that cost thousands less to exhibit at, and are far less of a hassle from every angle.

I still think I would have gone (and will continue to go) even if I didn’t have a booth or a floor pass. There is just no other time where so many of my friends and professional acquaintances are in one place at the same time. I reconnected with old friends and made some new ones.

Also this happened: 

Joel Watson of HijiNKS ENSUE and George R.R. Martin

Chewbacca was at that party. So were Geordie and Data. Life is wonderfully weird.

COMMENTERS: What was your favorite/least favorite announcement or news to come out of SDCC 2012? Any other thoughts on the show in general?


HijiNKS ENSUE At San Diego Comic-Con 2012

I am leaving for San Diego Comic-Con in 4 FREAKING DAYS!!!PANIC!!!AHHHHGHGHGH!!!

SDCC con-goers will be able to find my merch (t-shirts and books) with Blind Ferret at booth 1332 in the webcomics area. Due to our booth accidentally getting cut in half this year, I will not have table space to sit and draw, but I will be hanging out during the weekend.

CHECK MY TWITTER through out the weekend for scheduled booth/signing times. I will have sketch cards and prints with me when I’m at the booth.

Since the Grammar Dalek shirts couldn’t be ready in time for SDCC, I am bringing a limited number of Grammar Dalek prints. I don’t know if they’ll be on display so you may have to ask me for them if you want one.

San Diego is a special kind of chaos that both invigorates me and drains the life clean from every cell in my body. I am going to run 1, maybe 2 new comics during the week of SDCC, then I am going to run sketches from the Fancy Sketch Drive for the rest of the week. Possibly for the rest of my life. I usually don’t want to do much of anything but sleep for about 6 months to a year after SDCC. See you there!

You Can’t Take This Guy From Me

HijiNKS ENSUE eBook iBook iJinks Ensue Drawing Hands Is HardIf you are a Donation Subscriber, you are A) one of my favorite people, and B) going to get an email today with a link to download the first HijiNKS ENSUE iBook/eBook. It’s called iJinks Ensue: Drawing Hands Is Hard, and it contains all of the HE comics from 2007-2008 plus some neat extras at the end.

It will be in iBooks format for iPad and PDF format for everything else. My wife and I have worked CRAZY hard on it, so I really hope you guys enjoy it and understand how much I appreciate your donations. If you are not a donation subscriber and don’t plan to be ($2 a month? C’Mon!), you will be able to get my eBook offerings on a pay-what-you-want donation model starting later today.

Looks like you’re going to have to wait at least one more day to find out what repressed “rememberies” Eli was starting to uncover.

I doubt I will get to see the Firefly panel at SDCC since people are probably already in line for it, but thinking about their “huge announcements” has sent me down a certain train of thought. Has anyone else seen Tron: Uprising on Disney? Can’t you imagine a Firefly/Serenity animated series done exactly in that style? The visuals look serious enough that you can take the story seriously. Does that make sense? And it wouldn’t cost $20 million an hour like the movie did. If the crew can never be reassembled for TV or features again, and the occasional comic just isn’t cutting it, doesn’t animation seem like the most logical choice for carrying on the verse?

Speaking of SDCC: Due to booth problems beyond my control I will not actually have a spot to sit, but I will be hanging out at the Blind Ferret booth (1332) throughout the weekend. Check my Twitter for signing times and availability. More info HERE. Despite the lack of a table I will find a way to do sketches for you. I’ll probably bring a little collapsable stool or something. NEVER GIVE UP! I WILL SKETCH FOR YOU!

Speaking of sketches, money is EXTREMELY tight in HijiNKS land right now, so I am going to do a live sketch drive this week. Starting tomorrow you’ll be able to order custom sketch cards from this site and I will draw them (whatever you requested withing reason) live on Ustream with times to be announced on my Twitter. I’ll probably limit them to 100, but if it’s a success I’ll do it more often.

COMMENTERS: What do you hope they announce at the Firefly 10 year anniversary panel at San Diego Comic-Con? Realistically and in your wildest imagination? How about my animated series idea? How would you see that playing out?