AISLE SEAT 2.0.78: SDCC 2013

By Marc Mason

Comicon has come and gone. Long live Comicon.

This was an unusual San Diego for me. Many of the people I hang out with at the show didn’t go this year. I wasn’t entirely on my own – I had plenty of friends to hang out with, and I did – but it had a different flavor to it. I wound up changing my approach to almost everything I did, right down to how I set my social schedule. Yet the end result was fairly common: I was insanely busy, I got a wealth of material for CWR, and by the time it was over, I didn’t have a major body part that didn’t hurt like a bastard.

My busiest day, I wound up walking over six miles. Not bad for an old man, but that sort of thing takes its toll, you know?

One thing I did this year that I was really happy about was devoting extra attention to the comicbook aspect of the show. I didn’t stop at any of the big media booths (and I’m not sure I could have gotten close enough to them anyway, thanks to lines) during my time on the floor. I focused on the “comic” in comicon, and here is what I will take away most from this year’s show:

It is time to stop the bitching about how comics are being pushed out of SDCC. That is nonsense.

I can hear some of you screaming bloody murder in response to that, but a look at pure numbers says otherwise. To wit:

Starting with aisle 400 and stretching to aisle 2800, it was a mass of comics retailers and publishers. That also includes the Small Press Pavilion. Friends, that is a LOT of comicbooks. 25 aisles worth of them!

Honestly, if Comicon organizers would move Artists Alley to aisles 100-300, it would be just about perfect.

The shopping with the retailers was plentiful. The publishers had amazing books to offer. Twenty-five aisles of comics. That’s incredible! Thousands of square feet filled with our floppy friends and their cousins in book form. I spent untold hours going through it, and still I barely scratched the surface.

Now if you want to complain about Hollywood news and panels drowning out comics, I’ll grant you that. A new Walt Simonson Artist Edition from IDW isn’t as sexy a newsbyte as Tom Hiddleston showing up as Loki and performing for the crowd. But does it need to be? In this information age, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get any information you might have missed while walking the floor. The people who want to know? They’ll find out.

Instead, let’s think about what we really know: comics as an industry are as strong as they’ve ever been. Marvel and DC are doing their thing, as usual. But below them, everyone else is upping their game. Image is better now than it has ever been in its existence. Dark Horse is going strong. Boom’s merger with Archaia shores up its output. Dynamite’s addition of several A-list creators shows that it is right behind Image as the place to be right now with a creator-owned book. And Valiant appears to be quietly surging as well.

Comics are okay. Comics may be better than okay.

And that goes for their place at Comicon. More than ever, I was impressed with the variety of what was available and the quality involved. So when someone bitches about comics being pushed out of Comicon? It just rings hollow to me. Comics are there, and they are there in force. They’re even pretty easy to find.

So you won’t see any Hollywood interviews here at CWR over the next couple of weeks, but you will see interviews with some terrific folks who put their hearts and souls into making comics. And that is what Comicon is really all about.


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