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San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - Day 4 Report


by Brock Beauchamp

And that's all, folks. San Diego Comic-Con is over. No more swag, no more crowded panels and exhibition halls, no more cosplay, no more ungodly stench of 100,000 geeks cramming themselves into the same room in hope of glimpsing their favorite artist, writer, celebrity, or half-nude booth girl.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the first time I attended the convention in a professional capacity and while Comic-Con was a blast at times, at others it because a test of endurance. Walking the same aisles trying to spot the next great small press or webcomic exhibitor, endlessly talking to people about their creative processes and making connections, trying to make sure I found the time to attend all the panels I thought were relevant to my own comic.

And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Only four days? Why is Comic-Con so short?

One of the many panels I attended during my trip to SDCC.

As you walk around this extravaganza that consumes nearly all of San Diego's beautiful Gaslamp District, you see why this expo is the largest of its kind in the world. In one ten minute stretch, I spotted Conan O'Brien walk by a bar where I was taking a short break from the madness. Ten minutes later, there was an outburst of noise behind me as Chevy Chase and the cast of Community emerge from an elevator and were quickly engulfed by cameras and adoring fans. Having lived in Los Angeles for years, the allure of celebrity doesn't have a lot of impact on me but after awhile, it's impossible not to be drawn into the star-watching that now embodies the convention.

But first and foremost, this convention should be about comic books. While many purists complain about how Hollywood and peripheral geek culture has swallowed SDCC and taken it for their own, one walk through the exhibit hall reminds you why we're all here. It's the comic books, stupid. I was walking by the BOOM! booth and saw Mark Waid just hanging around minutes after he absolutely killed the crowd in a fantastic digital disruption panel. Jason Brubaker, Jules Rivera, Scott Kurtz, and other webcomickers are in attendance. Artist's Alley is chock-full of amazing artists whose work you read on a monthly basis. Some of the best writers in the industry are hosting panels every half hour to explain their process, give their thoughts on the industry, or just hang out and talk to fans.

Comic books? We got your comic books right here, bub.

Walking into Con for the first day, I knew much of what I wanted to do and see before the crowd became unmanageable. But where Comic-Con really started to shine was when I found the time to start talking to some of the creators whose work I had only seen briefly or whose work I had never seen at all. You never know what gem you'll stumble upon at Con and seemingly, every which way you turn, there are more brilliant creators quietly doing their thing far from the shimmering lights of the Ivory Towers in New York City. These aren't the Marvel and DC creators, these are people who work full-time jobs and use their precious vacation time to do something silly like go and work 14 hours days at a convention center in San Diego once a year.

Left, Paul Roman Martinez of The Adventures of 19XX and right, Dirk I Tiede, creator of Paradigm Shift.

Two of the creators I stumbled across were Paul Martinez of the beautifully rendered "The Adventures of 19XX" (link http://www.the19xx.com/ ) and Dirk Tiede of "Paradigm Shift" (link http://www.paradigmshiftmanga.com/ ). The Adventures of 19XX swallowed me in immediately with its finely crafted pages, fantastic environment design, and retro feel. It's not steampunk but more of a re-imagining of the early 20th century post-war environment. Paradigm Shift has been going forever but somehow, it had eluded my sight before I spotted its booth on Saturday. According to Mr. Diede, the comic started in the late 90s but only made the transition to webcomic form a few years ago when he realized that the medium gave fans a great new (free) way to find and get into his story. The comic is drawn in a somewhat traditional "Americanized Manga" (as I like to call it) style and follows the adventures of Kate McAllister, a Chicago detective who stumbles across some paranormal happenings while on the job. I suggest you check them both out because while I haven't had time to finish both stories myself, both are engaging and wonderfully rendered, leaving you wanting more. They quickly established themselves as bookmarks in my webcomics folder.

The next is a comic that I'm more familiar with, having found it nearly a year ago and immediately falling in love with every aspect of the book. Cleopatra in Spaaaace! (link http://www.cowshell.com/cleopatra/ ) by Mike Maihack is funny, cute, and all the things that drew me to webcomics several years ago. This book would never be published under a traditional American comic book label. The art style isn't what most comic fans find cool enough to snap off a shelf. But you know what? It's great. Read it. Now.

Cleopatra in SPAAAACE! creator, Mike Maihack.

In the two articles I've written for ComicRelated while at SDCC, I've given you several webcomics that I feel are worth checking out but I can't wrap this piece without giving mention to my favorite webcomic currently in production.

And that comic is called ReMIND (link http://www.remindblog.com/ ) by Jason Brubaker.

The stunning first chapter of ReMIND in book format.

Xeric Award winner ReMIND is drawn in a dream-like style that so perfectly complements the story that after a few pages, you couldn't imagine it done any other way. The first chapter has a brilliant girl, a talking cat, lizard men, and underwater cities in it. The art is perfect. The writing is top-notch.

I don't want to give anything more away so I will simply say "Go read this book."

It's hard to put all my thoughts about Comic-Con into one article. In some ways, I want to shout "Go witness it for yourself!" but then what's the point of writing this article? There's a little something for everyone here. If you want to learn about the industry, there are three or four panels starting every half hour. If you want free stuff, it's spilling out everywhere (thanks to Scott Kurtz for the hilarious accusation that HBO was handing out Dire Wolf pups). If you want Golden or Silver Age comics, there is an entire section of Con dedicated to those eras of comics. The same goes for original art where you can pick up an original Jack Kirby cover for the low, low price of $10,000.

Maybe you do have to experience it for yourself. If you can find a way to go to this convention in 2012, beg, borrow, or steal to do it. You won't be sorry.

And with that, I leave you with Captain America, a terrifying cosplayer, and my Sentinel action figure attacking mutant avocados. Cheers and I hope to see you all in San Diego next July.

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

Contributor Bio

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




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