SDCC 2012: Back on the fan side
So as some of you know, we did not manage to score a Small Press table this year for Comic-Con International. We did what we could in terms of getting our paperwork and jury submission in early, but in the end we were put back on the wait list, and this time there was no April call to bring us forwards.
Disappointing? In a sense, sure, but if you read my report from last year, I did mention how exhausting it is. Also I was hearing some disappointment from our vendor friends that we talked to, expressing a similar sentiment to that of Jeph Jacques that traffic and sales seemed down.
Does that mean we didn’t turn in our application for next year? Of course not! I mean, hey, maybe that disappointment will translate into some spaces opening up again. Or maybe not. But Dawn and I were attending SDCC for many years before we ever had our table, and it was easy enough this year to slip right back into the freedom of keeping our own schedule. Eating where and when we wanted, checking out whatever interested us… sleeping in. Oh how it was nice to sleep in again.
Also, I have to say that we had enough nasty happenstances getting there that I’ve decided this was more blessing than curse. To begin with our car suffered a breakdown before we even got out of the L.A. area, and although the station we pulled into was kind enough to run a speedy diagnostic in hopes of a quick repair, the trouble turned out to be of the expensive and time-consuming sort. Then the car we borrowed ended up with a flat tire. Then the spare also turned out to be flat, although fortunately that was just a case of refilling it since it had never been used. Also fortunately, it was a robust enough spare to finally get us down to San Diego (and eventually back again), but by the end of it all what should have been a three hour trip became six and a half and had us arriving dirty, sweaty, and drained of energy. We were also too late to hang Dawn’s art in the Art Show and had to wait for that until Thursday morning, which we knew would be a zoo all over again. But can you imagine if we’d had to deal with exhibitor set-up on top of all that? I think my head would have exploded. Now it’s entirely possible that if we’d scored a table we would have driven down the previous day instead, but then our car might have died on us either halfway to San Diego or down in San Diego, leaving us with potentially even more stress and problems. So hey, file that under Just As Well.
Was it worth all the trouble? Well, to tell the truth… yes. It always is, and 2012 was no exception. This was possibly our most hassle ever in arriving, but we got there, and because we did, we got to do stuff like this:
That’s me there in the back, punching a demon in the mouth on the way to seeing a free Dethklok concert on an aircraft carrier last Friday. Dawn of course, is highly visible there in the front. She didn’t get to go to a lot of concerts growing up, and absolutely adores Metalocalypse, so this was kind of a can’t miss opportunity. We did not miss. It was fantastic. Oh, and then there was this:
Dawn made herself a Boot Angel costume for last year’s Long Beach Comic Con. Don’t know Boot Angel? Then you haven’t been keeping up on the latest Love and Rockets collections of the past few years, where Jaime Hernandez started weaving whimsical tales of an all-girl supergroup called the Ti-Girls. SDCC also saw the first debut of the book that collected all those episodes plus some new additions into a single volume, titled God and Science. If you click the link you’ll see Boot Angel front and center on the cover.
But anyhow, Dawn retouched the costume for San Diego since we knew all three Hernandez bros. would be there to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets (which I’ve gushed about in a prior article). We didn’t know if they’d be doing signings, or how mobbed they’d be if they were, but she brought everything just in case. And in the end, we not only got to talk to all of them and get their signatures on several books, but they were especially pleased at the cosplay. From Jaime’s own mouth (and I have no reason to believe he was lying), he said that in 30 years of doing what he does he had almost never seen anyone cosplay as any of his characters, and the one that he did remember was part of a contest with prizes rather than just doing it out of pure inspiration. That floored me, but also it was easy to understand why their faces lit up seeing Dawn arrive at the Fantagraphics booth. She made their day. You can’t ask for much more than that. But what the hell, while they were in good moods I gave each brother a copy of Zombie Ranch #1. Don’t judge me, we’d just been at their panel where they talked about their love of unusual stories and how they started in do-it-yourself efforts… we may not have had a table, but I still had a backpack to carry a few issues around in for just such moments of shamelessness on my part. I did the same after a nice conversation with Karl Kerschl, creator of The Abominable Charles Christopher. I don’t expect anything to come of these offerings, really, they’re more like sacrifices to my Gods… and at least I’ve stopped shaking like I did when I offered them to Scott McCloud and Kurt Busiek two years ago.
I think Dawn’s doing better, too. Just walking around with a Professional badge, you’ll get people asking what you do, and that’s a great icebreaker for telling them without feeling like you’re imposing yourself. I think being on the other side of the table has also helped a ton, because we now better understand things like trying not to “block the merch”. We said hi to a lot of friends, bought some good stuff, and had some great times. And Dawn sold her She-Ra vs. Rainbow Brite picture, of course.
Comikaze comes up in September and we’ll be back on the exhibitor side, but all in all this turned out for the best. If there’s any show where the siren call of wanting to just walk around and experience it tugs at you, it’s SDCC, and it’s a privilege these days just to be there in any capacity. We’ll still see how it pans out for 2013!