Thursday, July 29, 2010

SDCC 2010 – The Good, the Bad and Man, the Very Ugly

The San Diego Comic-con is the only five day event I can think of that will both wear you out and energize you at the same time. There is something going on somewhere nearly every hour of every day of the show. The frenzy and excitement was palpable and spilled over out onto the streets surrounding the convention center and its cluster of hotels more than it ever had before. You can’t help but be charged up by the madness surrounding you.

We came, we saw and we spent lots of cash. The 2010 Comic-con was one of the best and most exhausting. We loved it. But it also has now marked a definitive change to the way the convention is run and what kind of fan attends. This is no longer your father's comic convention. It's a pop culture extravaganza!

So to sum up the hits and misses, here are my picks.

The winner of SDCC 2010:

Scott Pilgrim Vs Comic-con

Everybody wins. Based on the amount of money and time Universal, it’s marketing team and the film’s director and cast spent at comic-con hyping this film (based on the awesome graphic novel series), it better open big on August 13th. I have never seen any film marketed as hard as this one was anywhere at any time. The hardcore push included three surprise, free screenings, a standing room only panel event, cast hosting the Eisner Awards, director and cast making t-shirts and posing for photos with fans outside all afternoon for four straight days. Most film directors and their cast promoting any new film project at comic-con simply breeze in and out for a one hour panel and are likely back on a plane to LA before you make to the other end of the hall. You have to give it up for this group sticking it out and schlepping its pride and joy for the entire duration of the event!

Marvel Films

Despite one of the worst panel time slots of the weekend, late Saturday night, Marvel ended up crushing one out of the park with the presentation of the entire cast of ‘The Avengers’. A film not even written yet and due in summer of 2012. The mainstream media was all over this one. The news was the most published story of the convention. People I know who don't give a crap about comics or comic movies had heard of this event before I returned home.

Green Lantern’s Light

If it was not for Ryan Reynolds savvy quick thinking in recognizing a good marketing opportunity when he sees one by reciting Green Lantern’s geeky oath to a young lad in the audience, Warner Bros would have looked like empty handed fools compared to the Marvel Films blowout that followed. The WB didn’t have anything of significance to show or tell for their big 2011 Comic Book movie. Thanks to Reynolds saving that snooze of a panel, they now have their marketing launch.

Indie Comic Publishers

Thanks to the likes of Scott Pilgrim, Oni Press got the kind of fan attention at the show typically only relegated for the big two super-hero publishers with lines wrapping around their booth daily. Same can be said for the Walking Dead series from Image Comics but AMC had a much cooler WD booth (set up to showcase the upcoming TV series this fall) than Image could ever hope to afford. Viz Comics had Priest. Dark Horse Comics big draw are it's creators (Mignola, Ammano) and not always the material (Upteenth and meaningless Star Wars comic). This kind of attention is only as strong as the movie or Television tie-in was looking for these publishers. The lines are not going to continue year in and year out only for the quality of their funny books.

Which brings up to…

Losers of SDCC 2010:

Comic Books in general

There are those who will be in denial about this but 2010 will be the year everyone will mark for Comic-con as the game changer. The publishers are slowly dying while Hollywood entertainment only grows stronger at Comic-con. The publishers cannot compete for fans attention inside the convention center and the same can be said for the battle over their wallets the rest of the year. The buzz of the show consistently surrounded film or TV news. Both inside the center, out on the streets and during the parties. Even SDCC's grand Eisner Awards for the best of the best in comic publishing are attended less and less by both fans and creators who are actually nominated. Yes, popular film and TV panels are based on actual comic books but the modern fan is just not that interested in the pulp compared to the big screen. Or video game. Or television series. Or iphone app.

And in that vein…A Tie! DC & Marvel Comics

DC Comics absolutely wasted a golden opportunity with SDCC to launch bold new projects and list new, fresh talent months after their big corporate shake up that put Jim Lee and Geoff Johns in charge. Instead they simply continued to list projects currently in motion or that everyone has known about all year. And just when we thought the worst DC and Dan Didio had to offer was over comes the ego known as “JMS” and his not-very-original ideas for both Superman (Walking Cross country! Identifying with "the man"!)& Wonder Woman (New crappy costume! Tries to find out "who she really is"!). Apparently he didn’t read DC comics in the ‘70s. Or the '80s. Or the '90s. “Oh and hey, Bruce Wayne is (still) coming back! Uh, is the audience still here?” No they are over in Hall ‘H’ digging on 'Tron Legacy'. Coming soon to a theater near you!

Oh and how did you like the breaking news for DC's staff during the event? Your offices are moving from NYC to LA. And soon! I might feel sorry for them if they just didn't suck so bad.

The Marvel Comics booth on the floor of the convention sums up what’s going on at Marvel and it really has nothing to do with comics anymore. The space was filled with movie props, actors, licensing news and laptops manned by booth babes so fans could be lured in and coaxed into subscribing to Marvel Digital’s online service. The biggest COMIC announcements they had were both projects meant to fix failures. First up was the (sort of) confession that they wanted to correct and make the fans forget about the past couple of years of crappy Spider-Man stories post the “One More Day” event. Aren’t you suckers glad you bought those weekly Spider-Man books for the past year? The other ‘biggie’ announcement from Joey Q was that Disney has tasked Marvel’s creators to re-launch the catalog of Crossgen Comics. Riiiight. Because Super-hero comics are dying, fantasy concept comics that didn’t sell the first time around MUST be the answer! And for a second year in a row after promising…Marvel still didn’t have the rights secured yet for the long waited Alan Moore Miracle Man reprints. And hey guys DO know you still own the X-Men, right? When is the last time that series was interesting? Oh right, it was the second X-Men film!

Toy Vendors acting as retailers

Despite the predictable hype and long lines during the early days of the show, Both Hasbro and Mattel toys found themselves with excess toy exclusives by the weekend. While each company certainly did have popular items that completely sold out, by Saturday morning you could literally walk right up the store counter in each booth and order plenty of the rest of the junk. These companies over reached in an economy where every disposable dollar is precious to any collector. We were happy to see that there are indeed limits to the crap. One nameless insider confirmed you can bet on a scaled back selection at the con next year.

The ugly:

The easy story to post here is the one about the two nerds fighting over a seat in Hall ‘H’ Saturday night before the Marvel panel. One nerd stabbed at the other with his only weapon on hand…a pen. No doubt the assailant was imagining it was his lightsaber. But no, the REAL ugly was witnessing a horde of middle-aged, very overweight women descending upon HBO’s ‘True Blood’ cast on the floor of the show as they mistakenly thought they’d hit the booth and sign for fans. That idea didn’t last long as the crazed and delusional women crushed the booth and cut off floor traffic in all directions. Security shut that party down quickly. No doubt to each actor’s great relief.

But hey, you can always learn something at Comic-con. Like the fact that the ‘Twilight’ films are for crazed teen-age girls and ‘True Blood’ is for very crazed and lonely 30 or 40-something women. Yeah I'm a nerd and like me my toys and movies and stuff but at least I don't sit around daydreaming that these things will bite my neck and and make orgasmic faces while doing so. Top that for ugly at the show.

See you next year SDCC, when you will bring us new films like The Avengers, Dark Knight 3 and yes even more Twilight. And maybe some decent comics.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

SDCC 2010 – Post Event Bitching Getting Old

There is no arguing this year’s event was the most crowded and over the top. You don’t have to surf far into the blog-o-sphere to read complaint after complaint about crowds and lines or the predictable lamenting from aging comic fans that the show is less about comics and more about Hollywood marketing.

Boo Hoo. Tough shit.

The fact of Comic-con is this: There are those who can take the insanity and even enjoy themselves and then there are those who simply can’t hack it any longer. These are the nerds who go and then come back bitching like they were surprised they couldn’t get into a panel about TV’s ‘Chuck’ had to wait in long lines for that exclusive action figure.

It’s funny to read about how they all have the answer to the question of lines…such as clear Hall ‘H’ between panels, limit access, sell different tickets and even the ridiculous: “make the show days longer”.

Here’s the real answer for those folk: STAY HOME. Don’t go.

Why subject yourself to what you consider misery when there are thousands of eager attendees dying to go?

Comic-con is only going to get larger, no matter if they remain in San Diego and expand or move to another city. The problems will always be the same until people just decide they don’t want to go and attendance drops. But that’s never going to happen. Save the money on travel, food and hotel, buy your exclusive crap from the show on eBay. View live online reporting and feeds from any panel you could want to see from the comfort of your couch. Watch G4 TV coverage for the big creator interviews.

“But I’ve gone every year since the ‘70s!”

So what? That kind of statement entitles you to nothing. If you are one who comes back from Comic-con bitching every year then it’s proof are too old, comic publishing as you have known it is dying and it’s time to make room for the new fans of pop culture and the modern media you ‘don’t get’ yet. They WANT to stand in line in their costumes and make friends while they wait for the ‘Scott Pilgrim Experience’.

The old San Diego Comic-con is dead. All hail the new, crazier, monstrous, Comic-con!

Now whiners, move out of the way.