Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SDCC 2011: Lines Suck, but Creators are Awesome!

I attended my first ever San Diego Comic Con this month and it was an experience unlike any other.

Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first. Lines suck! If you wanted to see any of the big panels such as Game of Thrones, Steven Spielberg's Tintin, The Amazing Spider-Man, or any of the other big-name presentations, you have to get in line the night before and camp out in a shanty town, or wait in line all day for hours and hours. I got in line 3 hours ahead of time to try and get into the Game of Thrones panel, but there were over 2000 people in front of me by the time it started. I also tried getting into the Grant Morrison panel by waiting in line 2 hours in advance, but they cut the line off when I was 5 people from the door. Lesson learned: if you're there for panels, you don't get to walk around and enjoy the convention, you get to sit in line for hours on end.

The Game of Thrones line for Ballroom 20A went down a long hallway, outside, down a flight of stairs, through a series of tents, down some more stairs, off the convention center grounds, and past a local marina (as you can see from the water on the left). 
The next day I learned my lesson and got there super early and was front and center for the Locke and Key pilot screening and creator panel. I will be doing an in-depth review of the pilot on Broken Frontier this week, but suffice to say it was amazing. It felt like watching Pan's Labyrinth for the first time again, and I consider that my second favorite movie of all time (just behind The Fifth Element).

Afterward I went to some interesting panels, and one of the highlights was listening to X-Men: First Class co-writer Zack Lentz talk about his experiences writing the movie. He was a riot (as were all of the others on the panel) and made some great points about how homo-driven Charles and Erik's relationship is.

I spent the rest of the day walking around the convention floor picking up various pieces of swag, talking to writers and artists, and paying nine dollars to eat a tiny pizza. One graphic novel I picked up of note was Bad Kids Go To Hell, which - you guessed it - will be getting a review from me on Broken Frontier. It's like The Breakfast Club except the kids start dying instead of learning life lessons.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: to get into this industry (or any industry, really) you have to be a nice person. The biggest thing that stands out among most of the writers and artists is that they are kind, have good memories, behave sociably, and have the ability to carry on a thoughtful conversation. I bumped into Geoff Johns on the way to a bar and he remembered me as "that guy who wrote that article and dressed up as Kyle Rayner" and we had a funny conversation about Lebanese food. See what I mean? You must have talent, of course, but on top of that you have to be someone who others want to work with, and making good first impressions on artists, writers, and editors at these types of conventions is the first step. Not everyone I met at SDCC was a shining example of this, in fact a few were quite rude, and I'd bet that their careers won't have as much longevity as those with good personalities. So be good, be engaging, and smile big!

The next day I attended the Green Lantern and DC: The New 52 panels. Johns was not on the list of panelists but he made a "surprise" appearance for both of them anyway. The most exciting news to come from the GL panel was that we would finally learn the mysteries of the Indigo Tribe in the first issues of the relaunched GL book. As for the New 52 panel, no real news was dropped. The various creators just talked about their new books and showed off some art. Still, it was amazing to sit for an hour and listen to Jim Lee, Johns, and Grant Morrison chat about comics.

At one point a feisty young woman dressed as Batgirl got up and pointedly asked the panel if they were committed to hiring more women. Looking at the panel consisting of 10 white straight males, the question was not undeserved, but her question could have been posed differently to better help her cause. In the end, Morrison ended the conversation by saying, "Are there women who want to work for this company? Then tell them to send their stuff in." While that is a fine statement - especially in his amazing Scottish accent - it doesn't address the discrimination against women in comics and how it appears to be harder for a woman to get the same writing job so many men have.

Overall, the con was amazing even with the awful first day I had due to my ignorance about line wait times. I'd definitely recommend it to any comic book fan - just be prepared to deal with suffocating masses of people, long lines, and angry Bat-women.

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