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Category >> CCI

What Comic-Con Means To Me
Written by Eric Reynolds | Filed under CCI 29 Jul 2010 2:20 PM
My name is Eric, and I'm a recovering Comicon attendee.

Okay, that's a loaded opener and implies that I had an unhappy experience this year. I didn't; I just couldn't resist. But my way of navigating the show and finding ways to make it more enjoyable have definitely evolved over the years. I've been to every Comic-Con but one since sometime in the early-to-mid-1980s (and I'm only 39 -- you do the math), long before the current convention center was built. I've gone as a child, an adult, a fan, a retailer representative, a journalist, a publicist, and a publisher. I know my way around the show. And the way that I've found I can make the best of it anymore is, frankly, by making the least of it. I've given up on trying to soak in as much as I can and find I'm happier if I let go and try to soak in as little as I can. Work the booth, talk to fans, enjoy a few quiet dinners, go to the Eisners. That's about the extent of it. Forget walking the floor, forget hitting the best parties, forget cramming as much into as little time as possible. It's madness, and my body can't take it anymore.

So, Mike Baehr has already chronicled the Fanta goings on at Comicon far better than I ever could -- I still can't figure out how Mike had time to take pictures and tweet all day, every day, while he was also constantly helping customers and our authors and barely had any breaks for about six days straight. Mike rules.

But here's what I can tell you: On behalf of all of the Fantagraphics staff, I really want to thank everyone who came all the way down to our end of the hall with a little bit of money left in their wallets and bought some books from us. When you think about it, what with all of the hundreds of thousands if not millions of items that are for sale at Comic-Con, to know that enough people find what you're doing worthwhile enough to cover our significant expense of exhibiting is really kind of incredible. I say that as someone who knows our books are great; I just don't necessarily expect anyone else to agree with me. So when you do, well, it makes us feel good, and I know I can speak for everyone we had down there that we honestly enjoy talking to the people that read our books. We have a lot of really nice customers. My biggest fear about Comic-Con is that it is getting so big that casual comics readers unwilling to make plans a year in advance are getting squeezed out by hardcore fans who only want to see Twilight panels or whatever. That's not to sound anti-Hollywood; it's just the reality of the logistics of Comic-Con anymore.

That said, I kept telling folks all weekend that even though it's in my nature to complain, I had almost nothing to complain about in regard to this year's show (which I realize makes for a boring con postmortem). Yes, I find it weirdly condescending and annoying that every retail worker in downtown San Diego now seems to wear some generic comics-related t-shirts or capes for five days straight (especially when you know they're being forced to do it and probably resent it every bit as much). But so be it. When I go to a nice restaurant downtown, I can promise you that I'm not so hungry to relive my day on the floor that I need Green Lantern-themed cocktails or steaks named after the wild creatures of Pandora. But I will be famished enough to forgive it.

Oh, sure, I could complain about "Hollywood," I suppose. At the Eisner Awards, I was sitting with two nominees in one of the categories that the cast of Scott Pilgrim presented. Given that one of the other nominees actually was a Scott Pilgrim book, I guess I could complain that the presenters effectively eliminated any element of surprise over who was going to win. But really, we just thought it was funny. If you can't laugh during the Eisners, you're in for a long night.

So, I can dig it. My 13-year-old con-going self would have stabbed somebody in the eye to see a panel about an Avengers movie. Nowadays, I'm fairly ignorant to the pervasiveness of the cult of celebrity of Comic-Con. I'm good at tuning things out. This year, I noticed the creeping influence of tinseltown less within the show than I did outside. As soon as I stepped outside the convention, that's where I felt the constant, sensory assault of shameless hucksterism, with sidewalk salesmen shoving video game and movie-related hype left-and-right into my face and hands whether I wanted it or not (I didn't). The con itself is a breeze compared to walking up First Ave. on Saturday night at 7PM.

Within the con, I keep to the comics end of the floor and rarely set foot more than a row or two past our own aisle towards the "popular" end of the show. It's civil and peaceful; everybody likes each other. And if you get bored, there's a lot of good books to read, and a ton of really great cartoonists who will do free drawings for you. If you come next year, see for yourself. And if you came this year, thank you.

Comic-Con 2010 panel audio-rama
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under RC HarveyPeter BaggeMoto HagioJohnny RyanGary GrothCCIBlake BellBill EverettBen Schwartzaudio 29 Jul 2010 10:43 AM

Save me a seat! - Johnny Ryan

Jamie Coville of TheComicBooks.com has posted audio of several panels at Comic-Con 2010, including: the Spotlight on Moto Hagio (MP3); the Spotlight on Peter Bagge (MP3); the Comics Criticism panel with R.C. Harvey, Gary Groth and others, moderated by Ben Schwartz (MP3); the Comics Reprints Revolution panel with Gary Groth and others (MP3); and the Bill Everett panel with Blake Bell & Wendy Everett (MP3). Thanks to Blake Bell for the tip-off! Illustration swiped from Johnny Ryan's Facebook page.

Comic-Con Day 3 Part 2: Peter Bagge, Dame Darcy & Tony Millionaire
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionairePeter BaggeDame DarcyCCI 28 Jul 2010 5:40 PM

Tony Millionaire, Dame Darcy, Peter Bagge - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

We packed three powerhouses of alternative comics behind one table and the result was one of our busiest signings in a week full of busy signings!

Peter Bagge was kept busy by a long line of fans requesting sketches of Bizarro, Buddy Bradley and so on:

Peter Bagge - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Peter Bagge - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Peter Bagge - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

He also used the occiasion to debut his band's new CD!

Peter Bagge's Can You Imagine? - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Dame Darcy brought along her usual assortment of lovely couture dolls and other merch:

Tony Millionaire & Dame Darcy - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Poor Tony Millionaire got lost in the convention hall for a while but quickly settled in for a brisk round of signatures and Drinky Crow sketches:

Tony Millionaire - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Tony was joined by a camera crew from our pals at Bright Red Rocket, shooting footage for an in-progress documentary about Tony.

Tony Millionaire, Dame Darcy, Peter Bagge - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Comic-Con Day 3 Part 1: signings galore
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tim HensleyRIP MDCCICarol TylerBlake BellBen SchwartzAbstract Comics 28 Jul 2010 4:53 PM

Mitch Schauer & Mike Vosburg - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Our Saturday morning kicked off, appropriately enough, with Mitch Schauer & Mike Vosburg, co-creators of our new all-ages graphic novel RIP M.D.

Mitch Schauer & Mike Vosburg - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Next up, Blake Bell, Andrei Molotiu (seen here talking with Douglas Wolk I believe) and Ben Schwartz & son joined us:

Blake Bell, Andrei Molotiu, Ben Schwartz - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Here's Ben meeting actor James Urbaniak, whom you may remember from his portrayal of Crumb in American Splendor and whose voice you may recognize as that of Dr. Thaddeus Venture:

Ben Schwartz meets James Urbaniak - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Tim Hensley met eager fans, hawked copies of his Victor Banana CDs, and signed copies of Wally Gropius:

Tim Hensley - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Tim Hensley - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Carol Tyler brought some amazing collectibles to sell, including copies of You'll Never Know Book 1 signed by her dad (the "Good and Decent Man" himself) and a copy of the Twisted Sisters compilation signed by every contributor:

C. Tyler - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

You'll Never Know Book 1 by C. Tyler, signed by Chuck Tyler - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

To be continued...

Daily OCD: 7/28/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Zak SallyMickey MouseJaime HernandezFloyd GottfredsonDaily OCDCCI 28 Jul 2010 2:31 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Sammy the Mouse #3 [with Bonus Signed Print - Pre-Order]

Interview: The Minneapolis City Pages talks to Zak Sally about the "2nd Annual Report," a big old hootenanny celebrating and benefitting his small press imprint La Mano which took place at Eclipse Records in Minneapolis last week (which we found out about too late to Flog, dang it): "La Mano is what it is, the stuff I love. A celebration of stuff that people make and create by hand. Last year was great, and if every year there could be a sort of one spot where all that stuff is able to happen in, I'm happy as a pig in shit!"

Comic-Con International logo

Comic-Con: Jason Geyer of Action Figure Insider declares our Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse announcement "the biggest news at Comic-Con 2010"

Comic-Con: Comic Book Resources' Sonia Harris recounts a happy encounter with Jaime Hernandez at our booth

Comic-Con Day 2 Part 3: more signings
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Stephen DeStefanoLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezJohnny RyanEsther Pearl WatsonCCICarol TylerBlake BellBill EverettAbstract Comics 27 Jul 2010 5:59 PM

Mario, Gilbert, Natalia & Jaime Hernandez - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Brother Mario made a surprise appearance with the rest of the Hernandez clan for their Love and Rockets signing on Friday morning, which I only managed to capture with my crummy, crummy cameraphone.

Carol Tyler - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Moto Hagio was joined for the second half of her signing by Carol Tyler, who brought flowers swiped from outside the convention hall.

Andrei Molotiu & Stephen DeStefano signed in - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Andrei Molotiu and Stephen DeStefano made their first Comic-Con signing appearances with us. Andrei, though best known for his work with abstract comics, is also a whiz with the representational sketch, as he proved in my sketchbook. Stephen obliged another fan with a 'Mazing Man sketch.

Andrei Molotiu sketches - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Andrei Molotiu & friends - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Stephen DeStefano sketches - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Johnny Ryan & Esther Pearl Watson signed in - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

I missed getting any actual photos of Johnny Ryan & Esther Pearl Watson during their Friday signing, but here's their whiteboard sign-in. Esther's is particularly funny if you know the secret symbolic code from Unlovable.

Wendy Everett (daughter of Bill Everett) & Blake Bell - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con

Friday's final signing was a special treat as Blake Bell was joined by Wendy Everett, daughter of Bill Everett, subject of Blake's new book (and an almost-immediate con sell-out) Fire & Water.

Wendy Everett (daughter of Bill Everett) - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con

Blake Bell - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con

Comic-Con Day 2 Part 2: Moto Hagio & Monte Schulz
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Moto HagioMonte SchulzMatt ThornCCI 27 Jul 2010 5:39 PM

Moto Hagio's Leo on our whiteboard - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Moto Hagio signed in for her second day at our booth with a drawing of her cat Leo, who also stars in her most recent Japanese release.

Moto Hagio mania - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

It's a bit hard to tell here, but the line for Hagio-san goes all the way around the side of the booth. She's accompanied by translator/editor Matt Thorn.

Moto Hagio signing A Drunken Dream and Other Stories - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Monte Schulz, Matt Thorn & Moto Hagio - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Joining Hagio-san for the first half of her two-hour signing was This Side of Jordan author Monte Schulz.

Monte Schulz - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Moto Hagio sketches - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

Hagio-san drew many beautiful sketches for appreciative fans! Apparently this practice is rare at Japanese comics conventions, but Hagio-san was happy to do it.

Comic-Con Day 2 Part 1: general booth sightings
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Johnny RyanFour Color FearCCI 27 Jul 2010 5:20 PM

As the con started getting busier on Friday, you might notice a few gaps in the photo coverage:

Comic-Con Debut: Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s

Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s was a late-arriving con debut and, before too long, a con sell-out.

Matt Groening stops by the Fantagraphics booth, Comic-Con 2010

Our annual visit with Matt Groening is always a highlight of the show. See ya next year, Matt!

Mario & Luigi - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

The only other celebs I spotted at the booth on Friday were Luigi & Mario here.

Last copies of Prison Pit Book 2 - Fantagraphics at Comic-Con 2010

We knew Prison Pit Book 2 would be a hit; we didn't anticipate being down to our last 2 copies by 4:30 on Friday! Thanks Johnny Ryan fans!

Daily OCD: 7/27/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tim HensleyreviewsPrince ValiantPeter BaggeMoto HagioMickey MouseMatt ThornmangaKim DeitchJoe DalyJim WoodringJasonJaime HernandezHal FosterGilbert HernandezGary PanterFloyd GottfredsonDame DarcyDaily OCDCCICarol TylerBlazing CombatBlake BellBen Schwartzawards 27 Jul 2010 4:26 PM

I thought I could keep up with Online Commentary & Diversions while at Comic-Con. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Special Exits [October 2010]

Coming Attractions: At Robot 6, Chris Mautner takes a look through the 46 (!!!) upcoming books listed in our Fall/Winter catalog (note: listed release dates may no longer be accurate and are all subject to change)

A Drunken  Dream and Other Stories [Pre-Order]

History/Profile/Review: "What A Drunken Dream reveals is an author whose childhood passion for Frances Hodgson Burnett, L.M. Montgomery, and Isaac Asimov profoundly influenced the kind of stories she chose to tell as an adult. ... For those new to Hagio’s work, Fantagraphics has prefaced A Drunken Dream with two indispensable articles by noted manga scholar Matt Thorn. ... Taken together with the stories in A Drunken Dream, these essays make an excellent introduction to one of the most literary and original voices working in comics today. Highly recommended." – Katherine Dacey, The Manga Critic

Review: "Anyone interested in the historical development of manga and the women who’ve contributed to the art form should read this book. I hope A Drunken Dream sells well enough for Fantagraphics or other publishers to consider putting out some of Hagio’s longer works. Her short stories are great, but I’d love to see what she does with a longer storyline." – Anna Neatrour, TangognaT

Plug: "What Osamu Tezuka is to shonen and seinen manga, Moto Hagio is to shojo manga -- a true innovator who challenged and stretched the conventions of the medium by created touching, memorable and truly artistic comics stories. ...  Fantagraphics had copies of the absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition of A Drunken Dream available for sale at their [Comic-Con] booth..." – Deb Aoki, About.com: Manga

Interview: The Comics Journal's Shaenon Garrity sat down with Moto Hagio & translator Matt Thorn for a conversation at Comic-Con International: "I find it very embarrassing to read my very early work, but when you see the stories arranged chronologically it gives a good overall impression of my career.  In Japanese, too, it’s common to present an author’s works in a sample spanning his or her whole career, so it’s turned out very much like that."

Review: "Deadpan dialogue, drawings that move from panel to panel with the strange and deliberate force of kung fu performance art, and a subtle interweaving of humor and angst come together to make [Werewolves of Montpellier] a brief knockout of a book." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

The Search for Smilin' Ed!

Review: "...[T]his cartwheeling shaggy-dog story begins, like a lot of metafiction, with the semblance of reality... But by the time a frog demon reanimates a 19th-century French peasant whose brains it has eaten, it’s fairly clear that Deitch is making stuff up. The fun of [The Search for Smilin' Ed] is the way it constantly darts back and forth across the line between genuine show-business lore (a favorite Deitch theme) and delirious whole-cloth invention. There are stories within stories, unreliable explainers, secret passageways that lead from one part of the tale to another." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Wally Gropius

Review: "Wally Gropius is a book that’s constantly lying to the reader, with a terrifying chaos roiling just immediately below its surface. The book is a flood of visual and textual information, but the information itself is near constantly false. ... For me, it’s a book that lies constantly, that lies at its very core, but that nevertheless ends up getting at a greater truth of things. And so, yeah: I thought that was pretty neat." – Abhay Kholsa, The Savage Critics

Prince  Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940 [Pre-Order]

Review: "There’s more derring-do [in Prince Valiant Vol. 2: 1939-1940] than you can shake a sword at! Foster’s stories are filled with vivid, colorful characters, none more engaging than the aptly named Valiant and his never-ending quest for adventure. The artwork is breathtaking. Foster’s figures are handsome and graceful whether eating a sumptuous feast or fighting on a crowded battlefield. ... Even if the age of chivalry is not your flask of ale, Foster’s art and storytelling will win you over." — Rich Clabaugh, The Christian Science Monitor

Blazing Combat [Softcover Ed. - Pre-Order]

Review: "This book is why Fantagraphics is one of the best and most important comic publishers in the business today. [Blazing Combat] is a series that could have easily been forgotten to the ages but Fantagraphics always is at the forefront of making sure important works of sequential art are remembered. ... This is a brilliant collection of stories that should be required reading. Intelligent, gripping stories and fantastic art! Grade A +" – Tim Janson, Mania and Newsarama

Bottomless Belly Button [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

Review: "Formally inventive and emotionally acute, Bottomless Belly Button indeed proves to be all those things: as fascinating and affecting a depiction of family ties as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections or Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums." – Ed Park, Los Angeles Times

Weathercraft

Plugs: Alex Carr of Amazon's Omnivoracious blog has Weathercraft by Jim Woodring ("I am woefully ignorant when it comes to Woodring’s Frank comics, and this looks like the weirdest place to start") and Dungeon Quest Book 1 ("After The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, I will read anything Joe Daly produces") on his summer vacation reading list

Love and Rockets #1  (Unpublished)

History: For the Los Angeles Times, Ben Schwartz compiles an oral history of the 1980s heyday of L.A. alternative comics with Matt Groening, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, David Lynch (!), and Gary Panter

Comic-Con International logo

Comic-Con: ICv2 provides a few additional details (including price and publishing schedule) and The Beat, Cartoon Brew, The Daily Cartoonist, Disney Comics Worldwide, disZine, Publishers Weekly cover our announcement about publishing Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips; Sean T. Collins wins for best commentary: "Given Disney's relationships with both Boom and Marvel I'm a little surprised, but only a little. I imagine that if you walk into a conference room with an armful of the Complete Peanuts, Dennis the Menace, Popeye, Krazy & Ignatz, etc., you probably walk back out with a handful of contracts."

Comic-Con: Anime News Network reports on Moto Hagio being awarded an Inkpot Award last week

Comic-Con: Read Blake Bell's daily reports from San Diego: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 

Comic-Con: The San Diego Union Tribune talks to our own Eric Reynolds and other publishers on the floor of Comic-Con about the recent surge in classic comic-strip collections

Comic-Con: Publishers Weekly's "Photo Mania" from the floor of Comic-Con includes nice shots of Moto Hagio, C. Tyler and Natalia Hernandez with Tio Jaime taken at our booth

Comic-Con: Bad Lit's Mike Everleth reports on Peter Bagge's Comic-Con Spotlight Panel

Comic-Con: Making the scene at the USA Today Pop Candy meetup, Dame Darcy

Comic-Con: Scan The Comics Reporter's "Notes from the Convention Floor" posts for more various tidbits: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.

Comic-Con Day 1 Part 6: celebz! (with video)
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionairetelevisionMichael KuppermanMaakieshooray for HollywoodeventsDrew FriedmanCCIBlake Bell 23 Jul 2010 3:18 AM

We had a flurry of exciting celebrity shoppers toward the end of the day:

Blake Bell & Lake Bell, Comic-Con 2010

Above, Fire & Water author Blake Bell meets the television & movie actress of the oddly similar name Lake Bell and the world does not implode, possibly due to Lake's boyfriend, comedian Nick Kroll, executing the perfect photobomb.

Nick Kroll loves Drew Friedman, Comic-Con 2010

Here, Nick strikes a perfect mirror-image pose with one of two Drew Friedman books he picked up while Tom Spurgeon botches his photobomb.

Robert Popper & Peter Serafinowicz, Comic-Con 2010

Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz, creators of the BBC comedy series Look Around You among other things, stopped by the booth after a friendly hint from our own gutsy Janice Headley during the Q&A at the Look Around You panel shortly beforehand about Michael Kupperman's involvement in The Peter Serafinowicz Show (video link):

And finally (actually earlier in the day): Kick-Ass displays good taste in comics with his newly-purchased copy of Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury!

Kick-Ass loves Maakies! Fantagraphics booth, Comic-Con 2010