Friday, July 28, 2006

San Diego--- Final Shots (Extended Version)

One last look at the San Diego Comic-Con 2006---these are my unvarnished thoughts about the craziness and coolness of the world's greatest pop culture convention.
One of our traditions during Comic-Con is a dinner at Rei Do Gado, the Brazilian barbecue. It started a few years ago with my late friend Bill Liebowitz of L.A.'s Golden Apple Comics, along with Bill's lovely wife Sharon and Joe & Dottie Ferrara from Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz.

Rei Do Gado is a meat lover's paradise (it means "King of the Herd", after all) ---and after days of working the convention, doing numerous hours of programming and countless miles of walking the caverns of the Comic-Con convention center, I think a protein over-dose is just what the doctor ordered. (Not my doctor---but you get the idea). Anyway, this is a shot of one of the many skewers of meat served at Rei Do Gado---where there is no menu. Just a huge salad bar and close to 15 different kinds of flame-broiled meats served hot on skewers. Nice.

Behind the big slab of meat is Dottie Ferrara and my wife Libby. Also joining us for this fun dinner were Bob Wayne from DC Comics, Dave Hawksworth from Diamond Comic Distributors, Sharon Liebowitz from Golden Apple, John Munn and his friends Sara, Grace and Chris from Comic Book Ink in Tacoma WA and cartoonist Tom Beland and his friend Tom from the Napa Valley Register newspaper.

Also at the same restaurant, Tom Beland of "True Story Swear to God" fame (and writer of two of the best Spider-Man stories of the past 20 years) and Joe Ferrara introduced me to a concoction made with passion fruit juice and something else with a big and tasty kick to it. Here's Tom's reaction to his evening of fun, food and friends at Rei Do Gado.

At the Eisner Comic Industry Awards Friday night, one of the presenters was Dean Haglund, stand-up comedian who many of you may recognize as one of the X-FILES' Lone Gunmen. Lib and I were big fans of the show, so of course we had to introduce ourselves to Dean. Nice guy! Hey, Dean, let me know when you're in the Bay Area, OK?

Here's a real live character for you. Sorry the photo is a blur. This is Jim Steranko getting his Kirby Hall-of-Fame Award. Richly deserved as Jim created some of the visual language of modern comics, and is one of my favorite artists of all time. No matter what he does, Jim has great style and presence. Ask me to show you some of Steranko's ground-breaking work sometime.

So, what are my last thoughts about the '06 Comic-Con?
On a personal level, next year I'll do things a bit differently. I really didn't allow myself enough time to be a fan. And even though I've been in the business of comics for 20 years, I am still a fan! The only panels I took in were the retailer-oriented ones I organized or MC'd. By all looks, it was an amazing show for fans of comics, TV, movies and all pop culture.

I'm sure the convention committee will be making some changes. Saturday's crowd totally maxed out the convention center (and if I recall correctly, that's something more than 500,000 square feet of space!) While there have been some rumors that Comic-Con would move from San Diego, I really don't think that'll happen. What's more likely will be a change in the programming---evening out the appearances by big Hollywood stars and the premier movie and TV events so that all the big program events don't happen just on Saturday. Maybe some programs will be moved to other San Diego locations, though that's not a very attractive option. My hope is that Comic-Con will be in San Diego for generations to come--- and that it will always be *Comic*-Con first, with Hollywood along for the ride.

Some complain that San Diego is less about comics than it ever has been. It is true that a smaller percentage of floor space is dedicated to *comic books*, and a larger amount is taken up by more Hollywood stuff, but I think that's a natural evolution of the event. It's really not about comics having "gone Hollywood", but rather a case of Hollywood *coming* to comics. To my mind, there's a remarkable difference, and it's one that has lasting and potentially positive ramifications for those of us who love the entertainment medium of comics. It means more talent is coming to comics, more energy and new ideas---and that means this wonderful ride we're on won't stop any time soon.

With that in mind, if you're a fan of comics, or new to reading comics and graphic novels, then let me urge you to buy what you like to read. If you find you're not totally enjoying one series, please ask us for a recommendation for something else to read and totally love.

Take a page from the Hollywood executives' playbook--- all the best ideas for movies, TV shows, video games--- are found in comics. The medium of comic books is at the creative genesis of all visual entertainment. So when you're reading comics, you are at the source, the font of visual creation.

And it's a cool place to be!



Friday, July 21, 2006

The Future of Comics---San Diego Day 3

Friday was another wonderful day at Comic-Con. For some reason unknown even to me, I was in charge of organizing the programming for retailers at this year's Comic-Con. Since I am nominally the president of ComicsPRO, the national retailer trade organization (, I want to do what I can to be of help to retailers, whether they are long-time industry veterans or not quite ready but dreaming of opening their first store.

This first shot gives you a small idea of the hugeness of Comic-Con. Many of the largest exhibitors spend as much on their "islands" as most comic book retailers sell in a year. I'd guess there are some displays that cost in the range of $500,000 or more! There's tons of eye candy for as far as anyone can see here.
OK, so back to retailer stuff...

After an 8am breakfast hosted by Diamond Comic Distributors, the retailer programming started at 10:30am with a session full of ideas on new products presented by Mimi Cruz of Night Flight Comics (Salt Lake City, UT) and Nancy McCann o Comics Unlimited (Westminster, CA). I really appreciate Nancy and Mimi being the lead-off hitters for retailer programming. There was a full slate of other panels throughout the day, culminating in the popular "So You Want To Be A Comics Retailer".

Here's a pic of future retailers raising their hands saying they want to get into this crazy and fun business of bringing great comics entertainment to more people in more places all over North America---and the world!!

Thanks to my panel mates--- Joe Ferrara (Atlantis Fantasyworld, Santa Cruz CA), Dave Hawksworth (Diamond Dist), John Munn (Comic Book Ink, Tacoma WA) and Matt Price (Speeding Bullet Comics, Norman OK) for all their good advice to those looking to open a comic book specialty store.

Now it's on to the Eisner Awards!
More soon!!


Thursday, July 20, 2006

It Takes Every Kind of People-- San Diego Day 2

Continuing my marathon through the San Diego Comic- Con, today was a day of meetings, working behind the scenes and seeing lots of friends in the business and art of comics.
This first photo is priceless, though. It's not every day you see members of the Justice League---Flash, Wonder Woman, that's Aquaman's arm, there's the Spectre (at first glance I thought it was the Confessor from Astro City, but it's really a headscratch-inducing version of the Huntress)--- waiting patiently for the directions of a crossing guard at a cross-walk. This sight is really not all that rare here---as so many fans become their favorite characters, escaping the "real world" and diving head-long into the fun found at Comic-Con.

This shot is the ever-lovely Libby finding something from our current favorite TV show, LOST! It's true that Hollywood has a huge presence here, some TV shows make their public debuts here. Movie people are all over the convention center offering deals to comic creators, some studios have massive set-ups that are mini-conventions in and of themselves.

But my revelation is not about how Comic-Con is no longer about comics and has sold out to Hollywood. Rather, it's about how Hollywood has come to the comics' world, mining the comics' medium for many of its most attractive ideas, talented creators and lasting images. Creatively, comics are at an all-time high, while Hollywood is more about borrowing some of the best ideas from the far more fertile imaginations found in the comics' biz.

Today was a day of meetings--and one of those I met for the first time was Free Comic Book Day's primary contact at Diamond Comic Distributors, Elissa Lynch. The whole Diamond team really goes to the max for FCBD (the industry's primary outreach promotion), so everyone there deserves kudos, and Elissa did some wonderful work to get tremendous publicity for FCBD in its 5th big year.

More to come! Oh, yeah--- LOTS more!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

San Diego--- Day One

Libby and I got into San Diego early this morning at 1am, a few hours later than scheduled, but Southwest Airlines (and I guess other airlines, too) had a huge glitch in the system that played havoc on timeliness. Libby and I passed the time in the airport bar, watching a tense Giants' victory over the Brewers. Had I been on the plane, I would have been wondering how the game was going anyway, so the delay worked pretty well for me.

Our room at the Hyatt is just amazing--- a corner almost-suite that has glorious views of San Diego Bay, Coronado Island and the harbor. Take a look.

Today, our first day here for the annual San Diego Comic-Con, was really a vacation day, as we took it very easy this morning (getting in after 1am will do that to you). We took in our first Padres' game at Petco Park, watching the Phillies come from behind against future Hall-of-Famer Trevor Hoffman with a 9th inning win. Coupled with the Giants 9th inning comeback win--- and all of a sudden this weekend's Giants vs Padres series at the Phone Booth in SF really means something. MAybe this is when Los Gigantes finally go on a five or six game win streak?

And the A's won, too! What a good day for this Bay Area baseball fan!

In comics' news, today was a day of cameo appearances. I saw Sergio Aragones from a short distance while I waited in the Professional Registration line (I need to thank him in person for the wonderful birthday Groo sketch he did for me). I saw Peter David waiting in the same line I was, but he was about a half-hour ahead of me. He probably dreamed up 20 new stories waiting in line while I just stood there. I talked for a brief while with Comic Relief's (and my friend) Rory Root and Image Comics Eric Stephenson. I saw lots of characters, but really only the tip of the iceberg. Come tomorrow, San Diego will be knee-deep in wonderful characters of all types. More than 100, 000 of them...

Tomorrow is a business day on the convention floor, dealing with vendors, picking up orders, finding new and cool things for Flying Colors' faithful.

More soon!

Peace 'n' Comics!


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

OPEN July 4th from 12-5

Just wanted to drop a quick message here to tell you FLYING COLORS will be OPEN on Tuesday July 4th from Noon-5PM.

Due to the 4th of July holiday, our New Releases' Day this week will be on Thursday, July 6.

Here are the hours Flying Colors will be OPEN during this holiday week:
Tuesday July 4: Noon-5PM
Wednesday July 5: 11AM-7PM

Thursday July 6 (New Releases' Day!): 11AM-8PM

Friday July 7 and Saturday July 8: 11AM-7PM
Sunday July 9: 12Noon-7PM

Hope to see you soon. Until then, enjoy this very odd panel from the silver age Justice League of America. What were they thinking?

On Independence Day July 4th, I also want to send a big "thank you!" to all those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces all around the world (and veterans, too!). And a special July 4th shout-out to my nephew Matt serving in the Air Force and currently deployed in Iraq.
Thank you all for your service!