Originally published here:
The 5 Days of #SDCC.
[ Originally published on hijinksensue.com ]
I had a revelation about San Diego Comic-Con this year. In the years, months and weeks leading up to the show I posted some rather negative thoughts about the SDCC exhibitor experience. It’s too big, too poorly organized, too expensive, too not focused on comics… etc, etc. These things are all still true, but most of them are true (in some way) of most North American conventions. I finally realized that there are two contributing factors that make SDCC seem like such a monster by comparison. They are A) The 2 extra days and B) the 100,000 extra people.
Let me explain. Regarding A), most comic conventions are 3 days long, Friday through Sunday. Anime conventions are usually 4 days, but you can easily skip the first day as most anime kids are in school on Thursday. You can also skip the next day as well as the two following days, because most anime conventions are macabre pits of despair and torment. San Diego, on the other hand, is 5 days. 5 ACTUAL days. The show starts properly on Wednesday and there are 10′s of thousands of people there on Wednesday ready to go go go! That means you really need to be there on Tuesday to set up, if not first thing Wednesday morning. Even then, you still might be flying in on Tuesday and either way you’ve committed almost a solid week to this show. This is all compounded by the fact that due to its size and scope, one day at SDCC feels like 4 at any other show. By the time you crawl out of the airplane and back into your own bed, you’ve lost the mental, and emotional equivalent of at least a year. When you break it down, no 1 day of SDCC is that draining or even unpleasant at all. It’s the week that you lose that makes it feel that way.
Concerning B), there is no other comic type convention in the world where 100,000+ people attend the show (ie are walking around on the show floor), and an ADDITIONAL 100,000ish people are just IN SAN DIEGO for some reason. [Read the rest HERE]
The religious protesters outside of San Diego Comic-Con have been a constant fixture for the last few years. They stand between the Gaslamp area where all the restaurants and offsite locations are and the train tracks you have to cross to enter the con. They are supposedly there to shame the evil doers for “worshipping false idols” like Superman and Spider-Man and… I don’t know… Rainbow Dash I suppose. The reality of their motivations and those that organize their protests is far more sinister, but I won’t go into all of that now. They are just another annoyance in a sea of card flappers, promo sign holders, scantily clad ladies trying to divert your attention to their bar, their party or their event. They are barely a distraction to a focussed fan whose agenda likely includes waiting in a long line for a panel to catch a glimpse of next year’s summer blockbusters, chatting up and supporting a few of their favorite artists and picking up some exclusive SDCC merchandise that will either find its way to a place of distinction on their shelves or to eBay.
It’s easy enough to write the protesters off as silly purveyors of nonsense, but after reading a post by my friend Wil, I remembered something I witnessed this year and San Diego Comic-Con that just destroyed any and all cynicism I had been feeling about the show, and got me REALLY upset about the message of the protesters outside.
I had taken a brief break from my booth to stretch my legs and use the restroom. As I was washing my hands, I heard a man’s voice saying, “Dry ‘em real good. Use the towels.” His voice sounded stern. I looked over and saw that his son, a boy maybe in his mid to late teens, had a peculiar grimace on his face, like maybe he had been crying. The man kept giving his son clear, but authoritative instructions, more than a boy his age should need. I quickly realized my mistake, that the boy seemed to have Down’s Syndrome or some other mental challenge. The dad was just making sure he remembered all the steps he needed to go through in order to complete this task. They moved to exit the restroom with me right behind them, then the dad said, “I’ve already got it worked out. It’s taken care of. We’re going to be at Comic-Con all 5 days next year.”
"All five days?!" replied the son, the peculiar look on his face replaced with a smile so wide, my heart could hardly stand it.
"Yep. Just like the old days," the father reassured his son, his voice slightly cracking.
The son pounded his fist in the air and did a triumphant little jump. They walked side by side a few steps further when the son, much shorter than his father, thrust both of his arms around the man’s body and buried his face into his father’s chest. He hugged him so hard he nearly knocked him over. The dad put his arms around the young man and they kept on walking, holding each other like that until they were out of my sight.
I wiped a few tears onto the sleeve of my Superman hoodie and made my way back to my booth. My heart was completely broken, not because I was hurt, rather because it could not contain the love I had just witnessed between this father and son. The phrase, “just like the old days,” is what destroyed me. This was their tradition. This was their special time to share the things they loved with each other and with 100,000 other people who felt the same way. This was their homecoming and I’ll be damned if I stand by while anyone tries to convince the world it’s wrong, evil, false or anything but genuine and pure and wonderful.
Earlier in the week, I had been thinking of funny ways to lash out at or humiliate the religious protesters. “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we…” scenarios raced through my brain ever time I walked passed their dead-eyed faces reciting scripture in droll, lifeless monotone. But, as Wil mentioned, they were mostly kids. Someone influential introduced them to hatred and fire and brimstone and righteous judgement instead of introducing them to comic books and cartoons and costumes and fun. These kids are the only victims in this situation. Rather than shame them, I wish I could invite them in. I wish I could sit them down front row center for the Marvel panel, or take them on a tour of artist alley. I wish they could dig through longboxes with me until we found all 4 variant covers of X-Men #1 (the book that got me hooked when I was 10 years old, and changed my life forever). I wish I could show them how different the expressions on our faces looked from theirs, and welcome them into a world without fear, without damnation and without shame. I wish they could have seen that young man’s face and the way he hugged his father, and I hope someone, someday loves them that much.
Life is so fantastically short. The time you spend making yourself and others unhappy is wholly wasted, and you can never have it back. Put down the megaphone, drop the sign and come inside. We’re having so much fun, and everyone is invited.
I will be at San Diego Comic-Con for the 4th year this week! Come see me at the Blind Ferret Booth (#1231) in the Webcomics area. I will have books and shirts, sketches, Lil’ Wil plushies and ??????THE MYSTERY BOX??????!!!! Speaking of books, if you buy HijiNKS ENSUE Vol’s 1 or 2 you’ll get a free mini print featuring my Sharknado sequel posters! It looks like this: I will also have a very limited supply of two of my daughter’s prints. If you buy them, she gets the money. It’s a sort of double edged “TOO CUTE TO COMPREHEND/ Teaching my kid that art has value” sort of thing. You can see the designs and learn more here on my Tumblr. I will be posting my comings and goings from the booth via Twitter, so check there first before coming by to chat, get a thing, bring me delicious cookies, bring me delicious Starbucks Doubleshots, bring me delicious booze, bring me delicious Starbucks Iced Soy Lattes or BRING ME DELICIOUS BOOZE (which are all things I strongly encourage you to do… a lot). Other than the convention proper, I will also be at Stone Brewing Hop-Con on Wednesday night, w00tstock on Thursday night and possibly at No Laughs Allowed: Internet Comedy is Serious Sh*t (with Cyanide and Happiness, SMBC and 5 Second Films) on Saturday night. Catch me at any of these events, answer my three riddles correctly and I’ll have to give you me pot’o gold plus safe passage across the Enchanted Bridge.
I’m going to have just a few of my daughters Powerpuff Girls prints at SDCC (booth #1231). If you buy it, she gets all the money. I usually sell about 2 of her prints per show and bring her home about $20, which she thinks is ALL OF THE MONEY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
I will also have a couple of her Tiny Titans prints.
Despite this being the cutest thing ever, I’m trying to teach her the lesson that art has value. If you draw something good, people will (and should) pay you for it.
New comic! “Hall H-E-Double Hockey Sticks”
SDCC con-goers will be able to find my merch (t-shirts and books) with Blind Ferret at booth 1332 in the webcomics area. Due to our booth accidentally getting cut in half this year, I will not have table space to sit and draw, but I will be hanging out during the weekend.
CHECK MY TWITTER through out the weekend for scheduled booth/signing times. I will have sketch cards and prints with me when I’m at the booth.
Since the Grammar Dalek shirts couldn’t be ready in time for SDCC, I am bringing a limited number of Grammar Dalek prints. I don’t know if they’ll be on display so you may have to ask me for them if you want one.
San Diego is a special kind of chaos that both invigorates me and drains the life clean from every cell in my body. I am going to run 1, maybe 2 new comics during the week of SDCC, then I am going to run sketches from the Fancy Sketch Drive for the rest of the week. Possibly for the rest of my life. I usually don’t want to do much of anything but sleep for about 6 months to a year after SDCC. See you there!