Not really. I haven’t been for a few years, so I forgot how overwhelming it is. For all of its problems and things worthy of criticism though, there is still nothing like it: crazy, expensive, beautiful. Frustrating but liberating. Like France. I hope you can go sometime.
This time was different too because I was actually there for work. And that was really cool. When I used to go, I would give a paper or be on a panel, but as a fan, I was also overcome with this huge desire to be part of it in more significant ways. I think a lot of people who go feel exactly the same way.
So…Superman. The DC display was very nice — they displayed all of the costumes from the movies (including Superman Returns) in these giant tubes like the memorial ones in the Batcave (symbolism?). They even had the Clark Action Messianic Fishing Gear Outfit. I wish they would have had some Lois stuff there too, but oh well. Otherwise, the DC booth had lots of MAD branding which seemed sort of odd, but not really given the success of their kids show.
I did go to the official DC Superman at 75 panel. I’m always sort of confused by how unorganized these things are — no video package, no format, just (mostly) dudes on a stage.
But what an impressive collection of dudes:
From right: Paul Levitz, Jack Larson, Dan Jurgens, Molly Quinn (the lone woman), GRANT MORRISON, Dylan Sprayberry, Jim Lee, Tim Daly (?), David Goyer, and Henry Cavill.
That’s some Last Supper. They just kind of talked with no format. Molly Quinn talked about her relationship to Supergirl. Morrison, of course, called Kal-el the Sun God. Molly looked at him like he was radiating beta waves or something. I got a genuine thrill out of seeing him. Huge fan of The Invisibles. I actually wore a blank badge on my backpack for about two years.
About halfway in, Levitz said something about “thanks to Jerry and Joe” and it went unheeded. Later on, when the moderator (in a t-shirt) asked what everyone’s favorite piece of Superman memorabilia was, Levitz said it was one of the bricks from Jerry Seigel’s house — which the Siegel and Shuster Society (w/ Brad Meltzer) made happen as part of the restoration of the house. So that was nice. Overall, it was a good panel. Not the “celebration” I was expecting, but certainly lots of talent. Jack Larson got an Inkpot Award, and shared some stories. No Lois. And no offense DC, but you could have sprung for t-shirts.
The big Superman/Batman announcement had been made about an hour or so before, so everyone already knew. Goyer made clear that they weren’t sure if it would be called “Superman vs. Batman” or “Batman vs. Superman.” Versus.
I also signed over at Trickster. It was (thankfully) away from the madness at an awesome bar/bowling place (Market Tavern Bowl) where I could sit and drink beer(s). Luckily, I was saved by pal Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson (yes, that Wheeler-Nicholson; she blogs here) and Jeff Trexler who was the focus of the legal panel. We talked a long time about shadowy conspiracies. I spent all my money at Trickster (thanks Anita). Pope, Mahfood, and Michael Golden were there so I was kind of dazed.
On Sunday, I was part of a panel on the lawsuit, and it was one of the best Superman panels I’ve ever been a part of. From left: Jeff Trexler, moderator Heidi MacDonald, me, and Pete Coogan (our host).
Heidi is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. She used a chronological framework that worked really well for a relaxed, kind of Meet the Press (Russert era) conversational vibe. The room wasn’t completely packed, but it was attentive, as we reached a good mix of me spinnin’ yarns and Jeff offering absolutely aces legal explication. At one point, I told the crazy Howard Cosell story I tell in the book and Heidi actually impersonated the Humble One.
Like I said, the room was not full. Yet two major Time-Warner VIPs, one current, one former, were in the front row.
The stalwart Jamie Coville (with Catron, one of the medium’s major archival historians) taped the panel, so I’m sure he will have it soon (I’ll link to it here). UPDATE: Jamie has it posted (already!) at First Comic News. We all owe Jamie a big thanks — if you can’t go, he brings it to you. His work is of immense value to historians and fans alike.
Heidi’s last question on this, which she called comics’ “most important story” was simply “what-if?” My answer was that I wished the families could have shared in the celebration this year. Jeff’s wish was that Joanne Siegel could have enjoyed the fame and recognition she deserved in her last years. The night before, as we left the Con, we saw them setting up the Superman VIP party — complete with Fortress of Solitude structures and Superman lamps shining on the masses huddled in the Gaslamp below.
Overall, I had a great time and think DC did a nice job (at the Con, not the party). Not that my opinion matters. We knew they wouldn’t go out of their way, but the story was there, in the underneath. In the end, Superman was everywhere, which was really good to finally see.
But ha, nice location branding, Sony.
Thanks as well to Mysterious Galaxy who went out of their way to let me have a guerrilla signing there. If you want to buy cool signed books from the Con, head to their website. The response to my book from some unlikely people was really encouraging. Same with retailers. Otherwise, I got to hang out with my editor Michael Homler and talk Optimus Prime and other stuff. We walked around with Greg Weisman for about twenty minutes until I realized who he was (rookie mistake). He had some stories.
It was also great to see people like Craig Yoe, Bud Plant, Mike Catron, Matt Smith (the real one), and Bill Vuk, who I began my comic career with when we split up a collection of borrowed Invaders that we both devoured in two nights. And great to finally meet Heidi MacDonald. The big misses were not running into Sean Wicks (King of Blu-ray @WixPix) and Glen Weldon, author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography (his NPR diary for the Con also is a must-read). The place is just too nuts to see everyone. But thanks also to Caroline, Duke, and Chris for coming out as support — though they saw more panels than me. Caroline saw Harrison Ford. I said “No, you saw Han.” Her: “No, I saw Indy.”
But this did happen:
I was debating with someone if we trudge to Comic-Con to do this stuff to recapture our childhoods, but I don’t think it’s that. It’s more like retribution or vindication or just plain old exhibitionism. Or science-fiction made science-real at last. Either way, being on the stage standing next to a Nova Centurion within arm’s reach of the Star-Lord helmet was . . . pretty mind-boggling.
Speaking of the House of Ideas, congrats to Sean Howe for winning a well-deserved Eisner Award for his Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Easily the most entertaining book I’ve read all year. Go pick it up — it is an obvious passion project, which is the best kind of writing to read.
Sean wasn’t at the Con, but had Tom Spurgeon read a letter of acceptance for him:
Thank you for this tremendous honor.
I’d like to thank the dedicated scholars of the past and present, for ensuring that the historical details of the comic-book medium, and its attendant industry, are never forgotten. There’s still a wealth of information about our heritage that resides exclusively in dusty old files, curling mimeographed fanzines, and shoeboxes filled with photos, many of which are hopelessly neglected in garages or hoarded in basements. If you feel a shudder of recognition at that description, there are bright-eyed staffers at comic research libraries that would love to hear from you.
I’d also like to express my gratitude to those generous souls who shared their memories with me, who entrusted me with their stories and opened my eyes. It’s always been my hope that this book would serve as a reminder that credit should always rest with the men and women behind the comic books. No company has ever created a comic book, or a character, on its own — for that you need the creativity of individuals. I know you know this, but… sometimes we forget. Sometimes there are very enthusiastic consumers who will excitedly name the holder of a trademark but have no idea who sat behind a desk or a drawing table in 1966 and just let their imagination wander.
Maybe it’s not too late to change that. Thanks.
“Sometimes we forget,” but “not too late.”
And this last photo just because there is still some wonder to it all, when the imagination is left to wander: