Despite all the hyphens in the title above, I’m going to try to keep this post brief. Elsewhere across the web are numerous recaps of others’ experiences at Comic-Con International. Here’s mine in a nutshell.
• Best Overall Year ever sales-wise for us (but due to offering LOTS of things on sale, and cutting expenses all around)
• Most fun I’ve had in San Diego since the 1990s (due largely to getting to finally meet two of my long-time long-distance friends in-person for the first time: “Fantastic” Frank Johnson, and my French pal Jean Depelley)
• Least number of “regulars” in attendance of any year I can recall (but I knew going there that most of our regular friends wouldn’t attend, either due to finances, sold-out tickets, or the ever-present “it’s just too crowded” or “it’s just not fun anymore” responses)
• Best food I’ve had in SD (we rented a condo with a kitchen, and my wife Pam cooked the entire week, so we didn’t have to deal with long waits at restaurants)
• Least amount of comics stuff I’ve ever seen at Comic-Con (but boy, the Hollywood shills were there in force!)
• Most fun my kids have had there (they were old enough to attend the “Quick Draw Panel” and the “Phineas and Ferb” panel, and no one stabbed them in the eye)
• Best overall West Coast trip we’ve taken (largely due to vacationing the week BEFORE Comic-Con instead of after, when we’d be much more tired, and also due to a simply fabulous trip to the Grand Canyon to start our journey)
• Tied with last year for Weakest Kirby Tribute Panel ever (not due either year to the panelists, who were all excellent—the Con has cut the panel from 90 minutes down to 1 hour because of lack of programming room space, and by the time all the intros are made and announcements of upcoming Kirby items are made, there’s little time for the panel to talk about Jack)
• Awfully long Eisner Awards ceremony (which it usually is; but at 11pm, they were only about half-way through the awards, and I had to call it a night, since I had to get back to our condo, and be in the Exhibit Hall to open our booth at 8:30 am the next morning); even if Alter Ego had won, I still hope they’ll find a way to shorten it in the future.
There’s lots of hub-bub about whether or not Comic-Con will move out of San Diego (with Los Angeles/Anaheim the most likely new location if they do). I love San Diego. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, and the weather’s usually picture perfect at Comic-Con. But if they don’t find a way to expand to accommodate more panels about comics, and sell more tickets, I think they should move. With Hollywood and other non-comics stuff basically taking over 2/3 of the event (in my unscientific estimate of the floor plan), the comics representation is basically about where it was back in 2000. Yes, there’s arguably about as much comics stuff as years ago, but now there’s lots more non-comics stuff, so the comics are being dwarfed in comparison. And with so many non-comics people and companies competing for tickets and booth space, Comic-Con will soon completely lose its old identity unless they find room to expand in their present locale, or move.
If it’s the only way to keep the “comics” in Comic-Con, I hope they move to Anaheim. There’s plenty of cheaper hotels there, more exhibit space, and hey, you can still take a couple of extra days after to vacation down in San Diego. Frankly, SD’s a lot more fun as a vacation spot AFTER the Comic-Con crowd leaves, and the pace slows down.
Having said all that, I want to make one thing clear: Comic-Con is still by far the best-run convention I’ve ever attended. The fact that it’s so large makes that even more amazing. After having organized a LEGO Convention in Raleigh, NC this year, I have an even greater level of respect for the Comic-Con organizers, and amazement at how they run it without a hitch year after year. As long as there’s comics at Comic-Con, TwoMorrows will be there every year, and everyone involved in running it deserves major kudos for a job repeatedly well done.