Darth Joker cosplay at Comic-Con 2011This year, we approached Comic-Con International a bit differently than usual. For the last seven years we’ve been staying in town for all four days. With the baby, we decided to do Comic-Con 2011 in just one day. So we left him with relatives and took the train down to San Diego for the day. We arrived in town about 9:00, walked down to the convention center, and had our badges just after the floor opened at 9:30.

(Full photo set on Flickr, Flash-related coverage on Speed Force.)

Jack Skellington Puppet/Costume at Comic-Con 2011Planning a trip to Comic-Con is always about trade-offs. It’s so big that you can’t see everything, and there are so many events going on that you can’t attend them all. With four days, there’s some wiggle room. With just one, it seemed like I was constantly thinking about those choices.

One of the first choices I made: No news panels. I could get that the next day online (and did). I wanted to focus only on what was unique to the con: exhibits, meeting people, the art show, etc. Basically, I wanted to experience as much of San Diego Comic Con as I could in one day.

Katie decided to pick two things and build her day around them: visiting The Field, an Irish pub our friend Sean introduced us to a few years ago, and seeing the new Thundercats screening. Continue reading

For the past decade, Phil & Kaja Foglio have been spinning the mad science/gaslamp fantasy adventures of Agatha Heterodyne in the award-winning comic book-turned-webcomic Girl Genius. Now they’ve stepped into a new medium, adapting the first story into a prose novel: Agatha H. and the Airship City.

The Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare. It has been sixteen years since the Heterodyne Boys, benevolent adventurers and inventors, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Today, Europe is ruled by the Sparks, dynasties of mad scientists ruling over – and terrorizing – the hapless population with their bizarre inventions and unchecked power, while the downtrodden dream of the Heterodynes’ return. At Transylvania Polygnostic University, a pretty, young student named Agatha Clay seems to have nothing but bad luck. Incapable of building anything that actually works, but dedicated to her studies, Agatha seems destined for a lackluster career as a minor lab assistant. But when the University is overthrown by the ruthless tyrant Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Agatha finds herself a prisoner aboard his massive airship Castle Wulfenbach – and it begins to look like she might carry a spark of Mad Science after all.

The comics are great fun, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they’ve filled in the details in the novel version!

Na'vi StatueWhenever I walked into the convention center at this year’s Comic-Con International, I felt completely overwhelmed for about fifteen minutes. After that, I relaxed and just sort of went with the flow. It never seemed to fail, even when I left to grab lunch, or to catch an event in a nearby hotel. The first fifteen minutes back? Crazy. After that? Normal. (Katie, on the other hand, felt completely at home with the crowds everywhere but the main floor and just outside the main lobby doors. Not sure whether the latter was more a reaction to the wait for the train, or the rampant smoking.)

RecognizerNeither of us had anything early or popular that we were trying to catch on Friday, so we slept in — which I’m sure really helped after the exhausting first day. Katie went for the design panels, with talks by TV costume designers and TV & movie production designers, while I roamed the middle of the floor where all the comics publishers had their booths.

Bryan Lee O'Malley Taking a PictureI stumbled onto the tail end of a Brian Lee O’Malley signing with only about five people in line, and still had Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour with me. Then I made it to the Studio Foglio booth just before Phil and Kaja Foglio left for an event, so I was able to get them to sign the new Girl Genius books that I picked up.

Exploring Downtown

On the shuttle ride to the convention center, I’d noticed a building with comic-book themed window art all over its first-floor windows. I wanted to get back to it for a closer look at some point during the con. I also wanted to drop off the new and newly-signed books so that I wouldn’t be carrying them around the rest of the day, so I figured I’d try to find the building while walking back to the hotel.

R2D2 Window Art Scott Pilgrim Window Art

Ghostbusters and EctomobileI also found some more window art at the Gaslamp Garage across the street from the Old Spaghetti Factory (one Flash and one Wolverine), a souvenir store flanked with Green Lantern and Sinestro, and, eventually, the building with all the drawings: Batman, R2D2, Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers, The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, etc.

Disney PrincessesStrangely enough, the con had even spilled into the historic Davis House: Alienware had set up a demonstration tent for their gaming systems on the lawn.

At some point during this trip, I stopped in at the Chuck Jones Gallery on 5th Street. In addition to Looney Tunes–inspired art, they also had quite a bit of superhero and Disney-inspired art on display, including several Alex Ross pieces. I’m not sure what their usual exhibits are, but it’s worth stopping by if you’re in the area.

Art Afternoon

Cortana and Soldier (Halo)Originally I’d planned to return for the Francis Manapul/Whilce Portacio art demonstration, but as I wandered downtown it became clear that I wasn’t going to make it back in time. So I stopped hurrying, grabbed lunch, and when I reached the convention, checked the schedule to see what I might do instead. I settled on the Comics Arts Conference panel on action heroines, specifically: where are they? It was an interesting lineup of female fans, scholars, actresses…and JMS, who was there because he’s just started writing Wonder Woman. (He and Cindy Morgan both left early for other commitments.)

Classic DC TV HeroesFrom there I visited the art show. The wide range of both skill and subject really struck me this time for some reason. Also, there were a few pieces I recognized from Westercon. From there, I decided at the last minute to catch the second day of DC Nation. I’m glad I did: Geoff Johns announced a second Flash series to launch next year (though considering I watched him announce both a Kid Flash series and a Wally West co-feature, neither of which actually went into production, I’m not letting myself get too excited).

DC Nation - JMS, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern

Meanwhile, Katie had spent the afternoon first watching an artist’s presentation on drawing animal anatomy, then waiting through Teen Wolf (yes, they’re remaking Teen Wolf…as a TV series) for Falling Skies with Moon Bloodgood and Noah Wyle.


Stuff!We left the convention center a bit earlier than the day before, hoping to avoid the closing crush, and met up with my parents (who were also attending the convention) for dinner at Sevilla, a tapas restaurant on 4th. Great food, but very dim and very noisy. It’s the one with the suit of plate armor in front of it. It was on the way to dinner that I lost my badge briefly; fortunately it hadn’t fallen too far back, and was still there when I looked.

Afterward, Katie and I returned to the convention center to make use of the wifi for some internet catch-up. We were aiming for the tables and chairs in Sails, but they had been put away for the night, so we settled in on a bench in the Ballroom 20 lobby. The Batman: Under the Red Hood premiere had already started, so the area was mostly empty.

It’s always strange to see the convention center when it isn’t crowded, especially after a full day of Comic-Con. It was quiet, the windows were dark, and most of all there was space. A few small groups were scattered around the lobby like we were. Stragglers wandered through, including three guys singing “Masquerade” from Phantom of the Opera. And over near the corner was a group of twenty or so people in costumes dancing the Macarena. Katie looked up from the computer and wondered if there was a world record for that.

If not, there should be!

This was Friday, July 23, 2010.
Next up: Saturday! Leverage, Harry Potter, No Ordinary Family and more.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.

Sergio Aragon├ęs signs SoloWednesday morning before we left for San Diego, I made a last-minute addition to my small stack of stuff to get signed: Sergio Aragon├ęs’ issue of Solo. During my first half-hour at Comic-Con on Thursday, I found myself at the Groo booth, face to face with the artist. When I asked him to sign it, he asked me whether I’d had a chance to read it yet. (I guess with the Groo 25th anniversary and drawing the cover of the con schedule, people were tracking down his stuff?) I told him I’d read it when it first came out. (I posted about the story “Heroes” on St. Patrick’s Day.)

Girl Genius Web ComicsI dropped by the Studio Foglio booth a couple of times, with the intent to get my latest Girl Genius trade signed. (It arrived in the mail earlier that week. How could I pass it up?) After collecting the individual issues to start with, I ended up buying the first two or three books direct from the source at Comic-Con a few years ago, and Phil Foglio was kind enough to sign the whole set as he sold them to me. So as the newer books have come out, I’ve brought them to cons to get them signed.

This year I managed to find Phil Foglio on Friday. He was talking with someone about site issues (which I assumed were about last month’s downtime), and apparently it’s banned in China as being “too racy.” His assistant encouraged me to just interrupt, and I got him to sign volume 6. I made sure I linked to them in that night’s con report, without realizing that the site had gone down that morning due to bandwidth issues. *sigh* Of course I took the book out of my backpack that night… but on Sunday, I wandered by the booth again, and this time Kaja Foglio was there. If I’d still had it, I could have had both of their signatures. Again, *sigh*. We talked for a bit about the switch from pamphlet-to-book to web-to-book, and about some of the T-shirt designs, and about how far ahead they had story material (years).

All-Flash #1 (2007) CoverI also kept looking for Joshua Middleton, since I wanted to get his All-Flash cover signed and show him the wallpaper I made for my cell phone, but I never saw him any of the times I went into Artists’ Alley. His table was there, but he wasn’t, and all I could think of was walking past his table at Wizard World LA back in March. Not that I had anything to get signed at the time, but still…

Of course there are always tons of booths run by small press trying to promote their works. The only one that stands out in my memory is Alcatraz High by Bobby Rubio. I talked with him, he showed me a preview issue which was funny, and I bought the first issue of the comic (figuring I’d get the next two if I liked that one), which he signed with a sketch. Unfortunately, this being several days into the con, my brain had turned to mush and I didn’t think to ask whether the story I had read was actually in #1.

It seems the webcomic Girl Genius has maxed out its bandwidth at their current host. They’re in the process of moving to a new provider, but for now they’re posting today’s 101 and Advanced Class comics at girlgeniuscomic on LiveJournal.

Just trying to help get the word out.

Update (June 30): They’re back online at a new host. And there was much rejoicing.

Girl Genius: Adventure.  Romance.  Mad Science!