Sunday, July 24, 2016

San Diego Comic Con 2016: The Reggie Report

Everything’s Coming Up Harley

Despite the overall International Comic-Con ban against Jim Werner and all members of Weird Science DC Comics Dot Com, Reggie was able to sneak in by virtue of the fact that Reggie is not his real name. Reggie is, however, actually old and cantankerous and can’t really shuffle along in corridors for too long without aggravating his sciatica or needing to sit a spell to rest his rheumatism. Combine that with a general distrust of technology and a firm belief that everything was better in the “good old days,” as well as Reggie having gone only two of the five days and attended zero panels, and you’ve got the recipe for possibly the worst recap of San Diego Comic Con on the web today! So read on to experience the magic of having been there at the San Diego Comic Con this year, without having cared about actually being there!

I live in New York City, and have gone to one or more days of the New York Comic Con for the last three or four years. I always hate it. The problem is that it is so fucking crowded that you can’t even get the elbow room to look through a long box of comics, much less weave through some densely-knotted crowd to look at a cosplayer or glimpse at a creator. I always leave with a crick in my neck and a paltry few comic books I bought for pity’s sake, or just to make the trek to the Javits Center worthwhile. So I was pretty anxious going into SDCC, because I understand that it is attended by even more people than NYCC. I looked into getting one of the motorized scooters for old people and the morbidly obese, but apparently you need a “medical condition” diagnosed by a “licensed doctor” in order to get one. Bah! What is the point of subsidized healthcare if we all have to walk around on our own two legs like a bunch of idiots?
It's morning in comics Hell.
I planned to be in town for a couple of days, deal with the throngs for as much as I could stand it, and then hang out at the hotel pool most of the time. They’d even set up some masseuse stations near the pool area that I figured I could use to alleviate my inevitable stiff neck. So Friday morning, I pressed my Walking Dead badge against a Walking Dead obelisk, which then beeped positively and beamed a green LED light indicating I was in. As I stepped through the doors to the convention floor, I couldn’t help but think, “suckerrrs…”
They should hire this woman for security to keep the riffraff out.
Right away, this was a different experience than NYCC. Now, I don’t want to kid you, the place was crowded. I wouldn’t be doing any impromptu backspins or windmills that day. But in comparison to New York’s convention, it was navigable. I assume this is owed to the fact that the space is at least twice as large as the Javits Center, and perhaps the local people attending were about one degree more pleasant. I was able to immediately go through several long boxes from a bunch of vendors, which was nice. Most places had the usual 50% off all trades, and there were lots of good ones in there too…just not ones I didn’t already have, for the most part. Still, I made off with a couple of 1950s sci-fi comics reprints that retail for about fifty bucks a pop. This was a really pleasant experience, and despite having heard that SDCC is no longer even about comics anymore, I thought a good amount of space was given to these vendors, and the independent creators had some good visibility right next to them. In New York, these guys are relegated to a dark corner of the place, and are very easy to miss.
I don't know what these guys are cosplaying, but I like it.
Now, a word about cosplayers: this is, for some reason, a controversial topic among comics fans and even some convention retailers. Last year’s cry was “cosplay costumes don’t include wallets!” which is, primarily, complete bullshit because a lot of these costumes are extremely detailed and have pockets galore sewn on them, And plenty of people go in marine-inspired costumed from various first-person shooters, these costumes have room for wallets, gold bouillon, rare silks and spices from the Far East, and probably some hand grenades and pistols besides. The thing is, I think, that some cosplayers could care less about comics, which is true of any attendee at these conventions. Plenty of people were there for their thing—some just for their television show(s), others just there to get collectibles and convention exclusives. I would say I had no idea what 80% of the cosplayers were cosplaying…and that’s okay with me. I have never been one to dress in costume, but if that’s your thing, then comic conventions and Halloween are probably your best bets. I lean on the side of appreciating cosplaying, and there were some great ones. On Friday, there was a Joker/Trump Harley/Clinton pair that got a lot of attention. There were also two guys dressed up as Optimus Prime and…another Transformer, walking around on stilts looking gigantic. There were lots and lots of Pokemon-related cosplayers; probably a few thousand Ash Ketchums, easily, and that wouldn’t even count the people dressed in street clothes but wearing the trademark red and white Ash Ketchum cap. But far and away the most popular costume I saw at SDCC was Harley Quinn. Most of them were based on the character as played by Margot Robbie in the upcoming Suicide Squad film, but there were a lot of Bruce Timm-inspired jester Harleys wielding oversized mallets, as well as the red-and-black haired Harley from Palmiotti and Conner’s comic series (until very recently, that is.) There were even more interpretations of Harley Quinn—women wearing red and black clothing with hair inspired by one or more variations of the character, as well as Steampunk Harleys and manga-influenced “cute” Harley Quinns. There was even a big dude wearing a stretched out “Daddy’s Little Monster” shirt who did his hair up in red and black. It was Harley Quinn mania!
I should have mentioned that Dodongo dislikes smoke.
I don't like the Joker Fish Initiative, but man I am gonna save a bundle on those tax cuts.
I made my way over to some publishers’ booths, chatted it up with the creators of Boom! Studios’ Joyride and bought a BUNCH of stuff from there, including the new Lumberjanes one-off which is pretty great. I really like Boom!, they put out some high-quality products, and much of it isn’t stuff you would have to read hidden in the folds of a less conspicuous book, like the Illuminatus! Trilogy. Then I wandered over to IDW’s booth, in hopes of meeting the great Craig Yoe, who puts out Haunted Horror as well as many other vital collections from the seedy underbelly of comics history, but he was not there. Instead, there was a long line for a signing by comic strip Bloom County’s creator Berkeley Breathed. You probably don’t know this about me, but Bloom County was absolutely instrumental during my grade school years in cultivating my sense of humor, my perspective on the world, and my style of drawing. I would have loved to tell Breathed that, but I wasn’t going to wait on a fucking three-hundred person line to do so, and I didn’t have anything for him to sign, nor did I particularly want his signature. So I kept it moving.
Found some Eric Shea catnip over here.
Some more Eric Shea catnip.
I should also mention that Friday was blazing hot, around 90 degrees and, oddly for Southern California, slightly humid. It was the type of humidity that, in the Northeast, would not even be worth noting, but here in the converted desert of San Diego it caused minor discomfort. But the interior of the convention center holding SDCC was reasonably pleasant. There were less conditioned pockets of air here and there, but overall I didn’t feel like the sweaty, disheveled mess I usually am twenty minutes into NYCC. It was easy, therefore, to make it over to Marvel’s booth, which looked like a big black box with a television screen on it playing an episode from the most recent season of Netflix’s Daredevil. I supposed something might happen here later, so I walked across the aisle to the DC booth, which was like a plushly-carpeted funhouse, with different sections for MAD Magazine and Vertigo books, as well as some call outs to Gerard Way’s forthcoming Young Animal imprint and some Wonder Woman costumes from her upcoming movie. There were a couple of spaces for signings, and a stage from where a line of Harley Quinn and Joker-inspired clothes, that will be or are now available from Hot Topic, were being modeled. A large display case of collectibles lined one area, and there was an upstairs section that seemed to have a No Reggies Allowed policy (I saw Reggie Noble up there, so I was out.) Now, it’s no secret that I am a DC Comics Guy, so my impression should be taken with a grain of salt, but the differences between the Marvel and DC booth seemed striking: DC’s was like “Come on in! Have a free MAD Magazine pin!” while Marvel’s was like “Touch the obsidian monolith and gain a higher level of evolution, cretin.” It was odd. Other comic book publishers’ booths were essentially a contained storage space with tables ringing them, pedding wares and offering signings. But this makes sense, because, as stated, they were peddling wares. Marvel wasn’t selling anything that I could see, and yet their booth looked stark and bare. Some costumes from movies, a television screen, and that was essentially it. I thought it was weird.
Now you, too, can look like a murderous comic book sociopath.
Sized for ages 4 and up.
Uhh...yeah. Pretty bad ass.
Bruce Timm's Harley Quinn still gets plenty of love.

Probably the most boisterous comic book publisher’s booth was Image, who seemed to have more space than either Marvel or DC, and where there was always a million things going on. One side sold convention exclusive Walking Dead collectibles, including a replica of Negan’s weapon, Lucille: a detailed Wiffle Ball bat with plastic barbed wire around one end. Another spot in Image’s booth sold comics, and yet another spot…I’m not even sure what was happening there? Signings, I guess? It was like its own little city, and certainly made an impact on the convention. Next to DC’s booth was a little pop-up gallery of Alex Ross’ artwork, which was beautiful to behold as expected. Further on, I finally came to Artists’ Alley, and here is the one respect in which NYCC does have it over SDCC, because in New York Artists’ Alley is a separate room off of the main space, while in SDCC it sort of hugs two lanes at the far end of the convention center. It works great in New York, because once you’re sick of the dense crowds on the main floor, you can step into this other, less-trod area and actually speak to people and look at some artwork. In San Diego, the crowds are maybe a little less dense in that area, but it’s still part of the same flow so it’s no respite. It is worth saying, though, that in San Diego the respite is less necessary (and I’m sure the artists showing their work in New York don’t appreciate being relegated to this “other” area, anyway…but I digress.) In Artists’ Alley, I spoke for a little while with Brian Buccellato, who I learned grew up not far from where I live now in Queens, and also thanked Len Wein for this recent six-issue Swamp Thing series with Kelley Jones. I met Cliff Chiang briefly, and spoke for a while with Jonathan Case, who did an issue or two for Batman ’66 but I knew better from his book Dear Monster. I also talked with Chris Burnham, which is to say I sort of stared at him as he signed the interiors of a couple of books. And I bought stuff from all of these guys.
Somehow I never heard of this series. It's absolutely awesome.
Brian insisted on adding to heart to let Jim know he was impugning him with love.

This is one of those comic book covers that gives me chills.
I think Len Wein wanted to write more but he was pressed for time.

I wandered around a little bit more, peeking into the Dark Horse booth to see if they were selling any discounted EC Comics or Crime Does Not Pay collections (they weren’t) and poked around a few other tables before calling it a day. After four hours! I was stunned myself, I didn’t think I had the stamina. That evening, a friend came down from Los Angeles and we had dinner as the sun set on San Diego and emitted god rays that actually turned up in this picture.
Michael Bay, eat your heart out.
I had one more day left of SDCC, and to my surprise I wanted to get right back in there. I went back to the convention, bought a couple of silly DC Comics from Silver Age that might be making an appearance on this website, and walked back and forth along the entire convention center six times! I would never have expected to do this. At NYCC, I normally get through two-thirds of the place and then get sick of it and go home. But here I was flitting between independent artists and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (who I always support, and you should too), over to a table where Charles Band of Full Moon Features and Puppet Master fame was selling a ton of his movies—on Blu-Ray, no less!—as well as other odds and ends unique to his trade. One of his very zealous co-stars sold me more stuff than I should have bought, and I also got an issue of Puppet Master, the comic signed by Charles Band, with a special message to Eric Shea.
I think he meant it as a point of fact and not a derogatory statement.
An updated version of Castle Crashers?

At some point, the cast for the Suicide Squad movie showed up at the DC booth. At least, I assume that is what happened based on the massive crowd of people holding their cell phones aloft and shrieking Margot Robbie’s name. Next to DC’s booth was Neal Adams, who was sort of sitting there looking a little forlorn. I decided that after the wonderful rapport we’d had when I interviewed him, I would introduce myself and tell him what I fan I am of his work. Unfortunately, he didn’t remember me, nor the website, and did not acquiesce to my request to write something mean to Jim and Eric. Oh well. I like to think that, by signing right on Superman’s crotch on the cover to Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #1, he was subtly telling them to suck his cock.
The Cumming of the Supermen
If I'm reading this right, I think he wants extra attention at the tip.
There’s probably more I could say, but since I did a shit job of documenting it with pictures anyway, it wouldn’t clarify much. Point is, I had a blast—and didn’t even think of going to any panels where I might have actually learned some news or overheard scoops that could be relevant to this website. I was having too much fun in actual comic books, of which I got plenty. So many, in fact, that I needed to buy another bag to haul the stuff home in. I looked around for a long while, and finally settled on a bag patterned after the golden cartridge from NES’ Legend of Zelda, being that it was big enough for the mountain of trades and single issues I bought, and didn’t look like I’d stuck a child’s stuffed animal on my back. What can I say? It must be the magic of San Diego Comic Con: walk in a cranky old fart ready to complain about everything, walk out wearing a video game cartridge. The enthusiasm is infectious.
I keep blowing on it but it still won't work in my giant NES.

Reggie Camino is not a freelance reporter and does not style himself a journalist, so if you were expecting useful information from this recap, then you are surely very disappointed.

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