Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Last Thing About Comic-Con

Well-reasoned arguments have no place in San Diego. As I mentioned before, Entertainment Weekly hosted a trifecta of panels at the SDCC this year. And, as many of you may know, I work at Entertainment Weekly. In fact, I played a pretty decent-sized part in the planning of those panels. (Hell, I even named 'em.) Two of the three times I attempted to make it into the holding rooms for those panels, to either greet our guests or sooth my fellow moderators, I was stopped at the black curtain by SDCC's redshirts.

"Sorry, you can't go back there."
"No, I work for Entertainment Weekly."
"No press allowed."
"But this is an Entertainment Weekly panel. We're running it."
"No press, sir."
"Entertainment Weekly is right there in the name. Entertainment Weekly Presents The Visionaries. Look, my badge says I work for Entertainment Weekly. I need to get back there."
"Without a backstage badge, I can't let you go."
"This is kind of ridiculous."
"It is what it is. No press."
"I'm not press, now. I'm just a dude who wants to thank Fraction for showing up."

And on it went until our Special Projects Editor—the brave, talented, resourceful, and all-around-awesome Lisa Simpson—saw me trying to use the Force to overpower weak minds and rescued me.

I understand these guys were just doing their jobs, and I'm sure they were besieged by fanboys trying to harvest the sweat from Grant Morrison's head or clone their very own Zack Snyder from stray hairs plucked from his wavy mane, but I'm a big fan of processing information as you get it and deciding upon action based on that information. Clearly, independent thought wasn't on this redshirt's allowed-to-do list. Just one more item for the Cons of Con list.

With that, I'm done.

(Adam has a rundown of the business-y stuff we did over the course of the last week, for those of you interested.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

So, it's over, yeah?

Yeah, it's over. My fifth San Diego Comic-Con, under the belt. What did we learn this year?

That it's great to do the hard work before the show. We had already locked up Push (licensed six-issue series from Wildstorm, out starting this November) before the con even started. Same with with another Top Cow book. And, contracts willing, another mini with a promising upstart publisher. It made for a pressure-free show, comics-wise.

I love funny people. The panel I hosted—in Hall H—might've been a clusterfuck had it not been for Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow. Moderating a single-topic panel (say, for Battlestar Galactica or Ghost Whisperer or Watchmen) isn't easy, but at least everyone on said panel has the work in common. ("Who's the last Cylon?" "How are you dressing up Jennifer Love Hewitt's boobs this year?"). There's only but so much that Frank Miller, Zack Snyder, Kevin Smith, and Judd Apatow have in common besides being awesome. (And I gave serious thought to doing the whole panel like Chris Farley: "Remember that time, in Dark Knight Returns, when Batman beat the snot out of Superman? That was awesome.") So I had to lob a whole mess of general-question softballs over the plate, and hope someone would step up to the plate. Kevin and Judd are fucking sluggers. Zack gets on base more often than not. And Frank's the dude who surprises with a clutch double just when you think he won't.

The secret to getting people to attend your panel is in the name. We were on an AiT/Planetlar panel, hosted by Larry Young. We thought it was gonna be, like, AiT's 2009 lineup—and he asked us to be on it because we had the Disney deal to announce. Instead, Larry called it "So, You Wanna Make a Graphic Novel." And the room was standing room only. Hundreds of people. Because, while people might be mildly interested in the AiT slate, they're overwhelmingly interested in being in the OGN business. And it was an hour of very lively Q&A. Smart man, that Larry.

Liquid courage works. I met a bunch of people this year who've I've long been interested in meeting, and probably wouldn't have without a couple of drinks in me. (Yes, it helps that EW can open a few doors, but still.) Damon Lindelof, Tahmoh Penikett, James Callis, Darwyn Cooke, Josh Friedman, Felicia Day, Javier Grillo-Marxuach (god, I hope I spelled that right), and I reinforced the bond of brotherhood/man-crush with Nathan Fillion. But, damnit, Joss still eludes me. He tasks me, but I will have him.

I am an old man. My hips hurt. I've never said that before. And I didn't even walk the floor until Sunday. Most of my con was going from booth-signing to booth-signing, with off-site meetings tucked in there. And is was staying at the Hilton, right across the street. And my hips are funky, my calves are sore, and my dogs are barking. When did 36 become the new 50? Egads, I sound like Warren. But it's true.

One of these years, and probably soon, I think I'll skip it. It's fun and all, and I really like the people, but if we can continue the trend of locking work up before the show, there will come a time where it's not going to be entirely worth the time away from my family and the roughness of the reentry back into the real world. Plus, I didn't see a single panel that I wasn't involved in either the planning or moderation of. I'm a geek, and I missed 95% of the geek crack. I know there's no way I'll be able to do this show as a pure fan again and, while I'm not saying there aren't some perks to being a pro, I do kind of miss that innocence. The weird thing is that while I'm well aware that I gave some of that innocence up willingly, the show is responsible for some of it vanishing as well. Just five years ago, you could run from a panel in Hall H to something in Ballroom 20, hit something in Room 6A, and then back again, and get seats in all of them. Not any more. Having fun shouldn't be this much work. It is, as they say, what it is.

Oh, and flight-delaying weather systems that strand a fella in an airport for hours suck. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And...We're Off

You know where. And, thanks to the handy schedule right below, you know when. Come find me, and I'll regale you with tales of gilded wonder. Or sullied dreams. One or the other, depending on how much I've had to drink...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

SDCC: Where I'll Be And When

A busy show this year, but if you're trying to track me down, here's where I'll be, fo' sho:

Genius signing at the Top Cow booth (#2329)
Monster Attack Network signing at the AiT/Planetlar booth (#2001)
Milling around EW's Comic Creators panel (Room 6A)
AiT/Planetlar graphic novel panel (Room 3)

Genius signing at the Top Cow booth (#2329)
Milling around EW's TV Showrunners panel (Room 6CDEF)
Moderating (!) EW's Filmmakers panel (Hall H)

Genius signing at the Top Cow booth (#2329)
Monster Attack Network signing at the AiT/Planetlar booth (#2001)

Friday, July 18, 2008

"The my penis"

Every time Fillion says that, it makes me laugh.

What, you haven't seen Dr. Horrible yet? Then we're totally going to take away your internet.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wallcrawlers? Really?

What is it, exactly, that makes people want to climb shit? Is it something genetic? Can you trace it back to something in their childhoods? Why is it that they look at something mundane and say to themselves, "The only way today would be complete is if I rolled up my sleeves and crested that motherfucker"?

I guess I can sort of understand mountaintops: If you can make it to the top of Everest, then you get a view that only a rare few have ever taken in. But these schmucks that climb the New York Times building in Manhattan? Three guys in six weeks have just up and scaled it's rod-encrusted walls...for what? To get a good look at a city that you can see from any one of a dozen legal observation points?

I went to an event at the Explorers Club Mansion on the Upper East Side last night, primarily to see inside the Explorers Club Mansion. And it was cool, in a "it'd be really neat to throw a small wedding in here" sort of way. But it wasn't, as I expected, like the Batcave, with giant pennies and stuffed T-rexes and glass cases containing Sir Edmund Hillary's climbing gear. (To be fair, there was a stuffed polar bear and a canoe that must've been someplace cool.) There were other floors that were roped off, ostensibly for members only. I guess that's where one finds the super-sweetness, the rooms that look like the headquarters for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

As I left, I grabbed a brochure—really just to prove to myself that I'd been there. And on the last page there's a bit about becoming a member. To do so, one must "demonstrate credible contributions to field research, scientific exploration and educational dissemination of that knowledge."

Where's the "sitting on one's ass thinking up cool ways to blow shit up with lasers while drinking Bass Ale and eating nachos" club?

Oh, right. San Diego.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I'm About Done With Anti-Comic Book Bias

I was reading New York magazine last week--which is a rather good mag, despite what I'm about to say--and I came across the following phrase in their review of Wanted:

"Jolie is a happy distraction from a lot of twaddle (the movie is based on a comic-book series)..."

And I'm sick to death of that, the idea that simply because something is based on a comic means that it inherently is starting from a place of inferiority. What is it going to take for some people to understand that "comic book" is not an adjective, not a paint-brush term with which you can instantly convey juvenalia?

I get that many magazine writers, hell, many mass media professionals got their first exposure to comics, and movies and TV shows based on those comics, when they were uniformly shitty, with the rarest of exceptions. At times, I've had to serve as a watchdog for that knee-jerk application--I made it my mission to make sure that "comic book" wasn't used as an interchangeable stand-in for "silly" or "stupid" or just plain old "bad." And I'd like to think the writers I worked with got on board. But in a day and age when Persepolis, Ghost World, From Hell, V for Vendetta, American Splendor, Spider-Man, and Batman Begins can all emerge as mature films that can stand next to any movie based on the more cognoscienti-friendly novel, it's time for folks to wise up.