San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - Day 1 Report

by Brock Beauchamp

Thursday morning was like almost any other in beautiful San Diego. The birds were chirping, the grey skies were comforting and certain to turn clear, hot, and sunny by 10am, and the Coaster was clanging by on its way to the terminal. I lived in this city for close to a decade, so I am familiar with the dew-filled air of this coastal downtown area. But there was something different about this particular Thursday morning:

It was 5am, my hangover was in full-effect, and I was sleepily staking out a slab of cold concrete in line with thousands of other geeks, waiting to get into the largest expo of its kind, the San Diego Comic Con.

Can anyone point me toward the slash fiction panel in room 6A?

My name is Brock and this is the first time I'm attending Comic Con in a professional capacity. My specialty is webcomics; well, at least I hope it is since I slave over a computer several hours a week creating one. But that's not why I'm here today. Today, I'm here to let you know that there are thousands of comics out there that you can read for free. Did you hear that? FREE. Why? Online comics, despite being free, have struggled to draw in the established comic book crowd but I never understood why that is the case. To enjoy this new medium, all you need is an internet connection and a little time, which I assume is already covered because you're reading this article.

Comic Con is great because there's a little bit of everything for everyone. No matter what kind of geekery you find entertaining, you can find it at Comic Con. The toy collectors have their space, the card players have theirs, Marvelites have, well, the Con itself, and Small Press has a considerable amount of space dedicated to the little guys (and gals) who make, print, and promote their own work.

Not really sure what these guys were shilling but a lot of people seemed into it.

Small Press is where I spent most of Thursday. I found two of my favorite creators and decided they would be a great introduction to the high-quality and under-rated world of webcomics. First,I found the creators of a great comic I started reading a little under a year ago, Carpe Chaos.

Two members of the quite extensive Carpe Chaos creative team.

Carpe Chaos is sci-fi. REAL sci-fi. Based entirely off-planet, it begins with the imprisonment of a Porg and Kaean, whose escape from prison creates a sort of bond between the two estranged races and takes off from there. The comic has only been published for a little over a year but, more than three years (!) of pre-production work preceded its launch. At this point, there's a healthy archive section and hours of free reading if you want to delve into one of the richest sci-fi environments I've seen in the webcomicking world.

Later, I found the creators of one of the most unique webcomics I've seen on the web. It's called Zombie Ranch and, at the outset, it may look like just another zombie book. I assure you, it's not. It's more like if you threw a spaghetti western, Night of the Living Dead, and Farmville into a blender for a few minutes and waited to see what emerged from it.

Artist Dawn and writer Clint, the duo behind the slightly bizarre Zombie Ranch.

As it approaches its second birthday, Zombie Ranch has released its second issue. There is currently about an hour worth of reading on the site. It's a weekly comic so the updates roll out a little on the slow side (not that this is a real complaint; that's the pace of my own webcomic - and it feels downright breakneck when you're trying to find the hours to draw every week). However, the content is entertaining, lively, and often unexpected. If you're into westerns or zombies or farming or just enjoy weird $%^&, you need to take a look at this comic.

At Con, the people-watching is endlessly entertaining. The cosplayers are doing their thing (Slave Leia count on day one was a healthy but slightly disappointing four), the biggest corporations built incredibly elaborate set pieces, and the environment is rich with geekery from all sides.

One bad-ass Judge Dredd, two slightly more bad-ass Blues Brothers, and one entirely awesome life-sized LEGO Batman.

It's easy to be overwhelmed by what seems to be a never-ending convention space: just when you think you're free of the expo floor, you stumble into the huge upstairs area full of panels, meeting spaces, ballrooms, autograph areas, and more. And that's not all... Comic Con has bled into the neighboring hotels for gaming, anime and movie viewing, and other satellite functions.

By mid-day, the entirety of downtown San Diego is engulfed with comic fans of all shapes and sizes.

That's about all I have for today but I'll try to write one of these every day through Saturday and then wrap it up on Sunday for a larger picture of what I saw at Comic Con. Be sure to check back as I find more delightful comics, weirdos, and free crap to shove in a bag.

Brock Beauchamp is a self-proclaimed master of nothing, writes and draws a comic called Variables over at, and likes to complain about comic books, video games, and whatever else crosses his delicate sensibilities.

Contributor Bio

Brock Beauchamp
Brock is an IT tech (ITT tech?)/web designer currently residing just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. Originally an illustration major, he still tries to draw occasionally and uses his blog in an attempt to guilt himself into drawing more often than his current schedule of busting out the ol' sketchbook once every four months. He als runs, which contains his webcomic, Variables.

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