A Day in the Life of Comic Con International 2015

My plan had been to leave Pacoima early – by 5:30, ideally. That would have meant reaching San Diego before 8, and taking the trolley to the convention center, picking up my badge quickly and being on the spot when the exhibit hall opened at 9:30. It was a nice plan. I failed at it.

I didn’t get myself out of the door until after 6:30. Then I had to get some cash and gas, so it was just before 7 when I finally got onto the freeway. Oh, joy. Morning traffic all the way. I discovered that I have no love for Waze because it won’t show me the whole route upfront. It expects blind trust for each turn, and won’t give you advance knowledge of route changes. This is why I prefer maps. Then, of course, there’s the way it eats through the battery charge.

I reached the Qualcomm Stadium parking a bit after 10 a.m. I plodded over to the trolley stop, and was fortunate enough to get on one that was loading up at the stadium and not further out on the line. I got a good seat by the window. The ride in was nice, as I struck up a conversation with a couple across from me: the wife was in a Star Trek: Next Generation costume (yes, she was in engineering red). The nice thing, though, was that I breezed for registration.

I walked into the Exhibit Hall, right by the Kotobukiya booth, and was confronted with some good looking statuettes and action figures that are supposedly coming out later this year. A very nice Wonder Woman in the group, but I was more interested in the Black Canary. There was also a pretty good Black Widow one. But they would all require some pretty pennies to purchase.

Checking the quick schedule graph, I found out that the Spotlight interview for convention special guest Butch Guice was happening at noon. I got a hot dog on the way to the panel (since I’d only had an egg salad sandwich at 7 as I hit the road).

Spotlight on Butch Guice

Spotlight on Butch Guice

It was good to see Butch again – we’d met face to face back in the CrossGen days. The nice thing was that I also finally got to meet his wife Julie. We sat by each other and snickered over some of the comments during the interview.

Given how stiff my knees turned out to be all day, I realized that I was not going to be flitting about the convention center. I made my way to the far wing for the next bit of programming I wanted to see. I did snag a pretzel along the way, however.

That panel was the Ghostbusters panel, covering IDW’s comics, what Sony is doing, and the games that Cryptozoic has created. I had one particular reason for attending this, and that is that my good friend Erik Burnham has been writing the Ghostbusters title for IDW.

Erik Burnham

Erik Burnham

It’s a very cool thing to see Erik get recognition. He’s always been a sharp writer, and he’s earned his place at that table. The rest of the panel arrived and settled in.

Ghostbusters panel

Ghostbusters panel

I got this shot of the panelists, minus IDW editor Tom Waltz. Seated next to Erik are the art team that have worked with him on the Ghostbusters book, and then the two gentlemen at the end are the Cryptozoic guys. They got to talk about the game they developed, after crowd-funding the development. Tom spoke highly of how supportive Sony has been of the work that IDW has done, and that they are taking the Ghostbusters franchise very seriously.

From there, I made my way around the Hall G end of the upper floor. I made a brief stop in the Industry Lounge because, hey! CHAIRS! I actually had a nice conversation with the guy next to me, I showed him a copy of Creating Graphic Novels that I had in my shoulder bag, and we exchanged business cards. (I finally had updated ones with me, having just had them printed from Vistaprint a week earlier.)

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Marvel’s Agent Carter cosplay

Seated across the table from me was a young woman who had pulled together a very good Agent Carter cosplay outfit. I had once again not been swift with the camera on the floor or in the halls, so I hadn’t taken pictures of cosplayers (I was sorry I missed the opportunity to catch the two Weeping Angels I’d seen in the Exhibit Hall). But my friend Corrina Lawson has really had Agent Carter cosplay on her mind the last several months, so I had to take this picture for her.

Then I was off to Barbara Randall Kesel’s panel on “Just What Does an Editor Do?” She’s taken to doing this fairly regularly, and gets good attendance at it. This time out, her panelists were Mike Marts, Joe Illidge, Diana Schutz, Shannon Eric Denton, and Joe LeFavi.

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Barbara Randall Kesel’s “Just What Does an Editor Do?” panel

I get a kick out of listening to what the editors have to say about pulling books together. And the Q&A from the audience was interesting as well. There are so many aspiring writers out there, who are serious about wanting to get things right. Barbara’s panels are always good listening.

Next up – fortunately for me, in the same room – was the Mouse Guard 10th Anniversary panel. Mouse Guard is a beautiful graphic novel fantasy series, that I’ve become very fond of.

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The Mouse Guard 10th Anniversary panel

Moderated by Mel Caylo, the panel included editor Cameron Chittock, creator David Petersen himself, and actor-comedian Hal Lublin. It began with Lublin performing a dramatic reading of a Mouse Guard short story, with the visuals displayed on the big screen. Then there was a discussion of the origins of Mouse Guard. It wrapped up with a Q&A from the audience.

The last bit of the day for me was my friend Brandon Easton’s Writer’s Journey panel. This is one he does regularly, with a slightly varying rotation on the panel. It’s about breaking into comics and screenwriting. Often the subject matter has been literally about the basics of that, but this one also veered into the territory of diversity in the business. He was putting up information about the various fellowships that are available for television writing.

Brandon Easton's Writer's Journey panel about breaking into comics and screenwriting.

Brandon Easton’s Writer’s Journey panel about breaking into comics and screenwriting.

Usually, Brandon does not get personal about his experiences, but this time he opened up about some of the obstacles he’s run into. As he said, he’s a 6’2″ big black guy, and that at first meeting he’s often had the white executives that he’s met obviously mentally back away from him. Not having credits up until recently, he kept running into unconscious bias in many people. But now that he is taking part in the Disney fellowship, and is on staff for Season 2 of Marvel’s Agent Carter, he can get past that roadblock. His discussion of the realities of the hidden biases seemed to energize the audience a lot – everyone responded with excitement at his encouragement for people to persist.

After the panel, I chatted with Brandon briefly. And then I headed over to the Tin Fish, across the street and the train & trolley tracks from the convention center. It’s one of my Comic Con rituals, to have a meal at the Tin Fish. I still think back to one of my early experiences at Comic Con years ago: I had stopped into the Tin Fish on the Sunday afternoon before heading home, intending to have their clam chowder – and they’d run out. In the time since then, they’ve learned to keep stocked up for Comic Con. They do a booming business. I had a delicious grilled sea bass, with criss-cut fries and cole slaw.

Then it was back on the trolley, back to the stadium, and to my car. I knew I would not be able to drive the whole way back to Pacoima. It had been a long day. I’d made a motel reservation in Tustin. As it turned out, that was about as far as I could have driven: I was getting groggy at the wheel by the time I turned into the motel’s driveway.

All in all, I had a good day at Comic Con. I was disappointed that my hobbling kept me from visiting my friends in Artists Alley. But other than that regret and not having spending money for some of the goodies I saw, I enjoyed myself. I just have to work hard, save up, and plan ahead, so I can get back to attending the whole of the convention again.

 

About Sarah Beach

Now residing in Southern California, I was born in Michigan and moved to Texas when 16. After getting my Masters degree in English, I moved to Hollywood, because of the high demand for Medievalists (NOT!). I love writing all sorts of things, and occasionally also create some artwork.

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