Maggie's World 043: Comic-Con Memos
Wow. Another year, another Comic-Con was coming, and I had a clever idea. What if I carried a mini notebook with me and jotted down information as the con progressed?
That way, when I arrived home, it’d be simple to craft a follow-up packed with information.
What a concept, right?
Yeah, that trick never works.
(I think I noted two items on Day One and wrote dates on the following pages so to be ready to provide information as it occurred to me. That was it. Apparently, that was “Job Done” to my brain.)
On the other hand, I did manage to use my camera eventually. So let’s look later at three of the photos I did remember to take and see what memories they bring to mind, OK? (Hah! There’s something I forget from time to time: I used to have to wait hours—sometimes, days—to get my photos developed. I am old. Today’s young whippersnappers have no idea of the way we used to live, right?)
But First …
This was an unusual year for me. I’ve dragged along members of my family now and then; in fact, daughter Valerie has been a regular at Comic-Con with me for several years. When her son, 13-year-old Devon, declared earlier this year that his goal was to attend with us, we made it happen.
If you know a kid on the autism spectrum, you know this can be a challenge—but Devon remained in control and focused on his goals. His clowning earned him a published photo from the Southern California News Group in its “Preview Night” coverage—and, again and again, we found fellow con-goers, as Valerie commented later, welcoming, accepting, and nice.
What I think I’m boiling this down to is that Comic-Con offers delights for anyone lucky enough to attend, if they seek the entertainments that most appeal to them. (A special delight for the three of us was the artistry of the folks providing voices for comics animation. We were all laughing simultaneously at the incredible skills of Mark Evanier’s Cartoon Voices II panel starring voice artists Dee Bradley Baker, Viki Lewis, Fred Tatasciore, Trevor Devall, and Debi Derryberry. The challenges of making comics characters speak are sometimes not properly appreciated, and the versatility of the cartoon characters have to be matched by the skills of often underappreciated voice performers.)
Yes, There Were Panels!
Pulling together my own panel this year, it occurred to me that I’d grown up in a Nerd Household. My mother was the one who started me collecting comic books (at age 4 and a half), and she and Dad initiated correspondence with our favorite comic-book creator, Walt Kelly. They read and wrote for pleasure, and I was surrounded by comics and pulps and the idea of thanking creators who entertained us.
That all started for me before 1950—and, considering my panel, I realized that things might have changed for Nerd Kids in the years that followed. So I consulted Nerd Kids in three generations after mine: Lora (daughter of pioneers John and Bjo Trimble, who were involved in saving Star Trek and early participants in science fiction-convention costuming and the cosplaying Society for Creative Anachronism); Sky (in the creative and active household that includes Understanding Comics, courtesy of Scott McCloud, and blogger Ivy Ratafia), and Caroline (whose dad, Peter David, writes comics and mom, Kathleen, is a blogging puppeteer). It was a panel of females, in part because I happened to be most familiar with these younger fans—but also because I was curious about what differences we’d experienced during what should have been very similar kidhoods.
Quick summary: Nerd Kid lives have evolved considerably since my day. Each of them is far better traveled than I was, and the evolution has involved, not only being active, but also communicating with a variety of people around the world. Nice!
The most comics-centric event at Comic-Con every year is Friday evening’s Eisner Awards ceremony: A vast variety of professionals and fans gather to mingle and celebrate what the industry has produced. And that’s followed by an opportunity to talk after the program.
An electrifying moment came when it was announced that the Best Reality-Based Work was March: Book Two from Top Shelf/IDW. Congressman John Lewis was on hand to accept the award—and he spent much of the socializing of the evening surrounded by admirers looking for photo opportunities.
On a more personal level, there was happiness for longtime buddies Craig Yoe (for Walt Kelly’s Fairy Tales) and Peter Kuper (for Ruins). I’ve known both since they were in high school.
On the other hand, as ever, there were scores of people with whom I’d hoped to hang out but with whom I never got more than a moment to chat, if that: Sergio Aragonés, Eric Shanower, Paul Levitz, Bob Chapman, Beau Smith, and more, more, more. At breakfast one day, I even glimpsed Stan Lee talking with Neal Adams—but, yeah, no chance to say hi. Next year, maybe?
Not everything that happens at Comic-Con stays at Comic-Con.
As Mark Evanier and Peter, Kathleen, and Caroline David and I were having dinner one evening, we noticed that Wendy and Richard Pini were seated at a nearby table.
Background: In 2004, I was hanging around the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund table, where a Peter David signing was part of the event. My memories dim, and I am willing to be corrected, but it went something like this: Richard Pini said that he wondered who it was who would be signing Peter David. Wendy was there, and Peter said that, if Wendy would draw her ElfQuest character Leetah on his arm and she and Richard would donate $1,000 to the CBLDF, he’d have the image tattooed.
And they did, and she did, and he did, and I took photos and printed them in Comics Buyer’s Guide.
And here we were more than a decade later.
And Kathleen told Wendy she wanted an ElfQuest Cutter to go with Peter’s Leetah so that she could get the image tattooed.
And Wendy did and Kathleen did.
And awwww …
All of Which Is to Say …
See you next year! I wonder what we’ll see, what we’ll learn, what we’ll do.
Maybe I’ll even remember to take notes.
Maggie’s World by Maggie Thompson appears the first Tuesday of every month here on Toucan!