Given that this was my 22nd time exhibiting (and my 32nd as an attendee since 1986), of course I have my Comic-Con routine down pat. As in past years, I left L.A. around 4:30 a.m. (with my teenage son in tow for the first time) and made the 130 mile drive in just over two hours. I like getting an early start on road trips, but aside from the lighter traffic, the early arrival also allows me to nab a perfect parking spot in the garage beneath the convention center close to the elevators where I need to enter the convention center with my two-wheel dolly and access my booth. (I also wake up early on Sunday morning, the last day of the show, to park my car at the same general spot so that I can quickly load up my car when the show ends, returning to my hotel room afterwards). My brother, who is a big help at the show, usually arrives by plane from Northern California around this time, and helps me set up.
Everything really seemed to click this year—the convention hall opened to exhibitors earlier than in past years, allowing me to immediately move in and set up when I arrived before 7 p.m. Following tradition, after I set up, my brother and I (along with my son of course) grabbed breakfast at a nearby downtown restaurant. Even better, when I went to retrieve my car afterwards and check in at the Marriott next door, our rooms were ready! Check in time at other hotels is normally in the afternoon, so this gave me time to relax quite a bit and grab food before having to return to the convention center that evening for Preview Night. And during mid-afternoon, when I decided to pop in to the convention center to check things out (while my son slept!), I was able to pick up my kids’ guest badges—again, earlier than in past years!
As I mentioned up front, since I feel obligated to be at my table during most of the show to sell comics, I actually don’t get out much, so I’m fortunate friends and fellow pros make a point of stopping by my table or happen to walk randomly by. (I’d love to see people over in Artist’s Alley but it’s at the far end of the hall!) Among fellow cartoonists who stopped by or I happened to catch at some point during the show (sometimes only briefly) were Bobby Breed, Tom Batiuk, Kurt Busiek, Jackie Estrada, Nat Gertler, Scott McCloud, Andrew Pepoy, Jimmie Robinson, Stan Sakai, Scott Shaw!, Mark Wheatley, and others, talking shop with a few of them. On Friday, I also grabbed lunch with Barry Gregory, my partner-in-crime/moderator at my spotlight panel last year! Like last year, I also got interviewed by a Filipino radio station (but a different one!).
This year, I took in more programming than usual. On Thursday evening, I was honored to be invited to a 50th anniversary reception, which seemed to be made up mostly of longtime Comic-Con attendees and officials. I arrived late due to dinner plans and apparently there were presentations at the beginning that included San Diego’s mayor saying a few words. By the time I arrived, mostly just mingling was going, where I had an opportunity to see and/or touch bases with many friends and colleagues I’ve known over the years through comics and Comic-Con.
|Cartoonist Sergio Aragones presenting at the Eisners|
As always, it was great meeting readers both longtime and new. My trade collections are starting to move more and being a bit more expensive than my single issues, they make a difference in the bottom line. One great trend I’ve also noticed is an increase in the number of women trying out the series (and sticking with it, picking up new issues every year!) At the end of the day, sales for me were not spectacular but okay—but there’s always next year! This year’s issue—Rob Hanes Adventures #20—wrapped up a story arc begun in issue 18 and received good feedback, with an ending that seemed to genuinely shock and surprise some readers (in a good way). Inspired by the current political landscape, it was something I needed to get out of my system and I look forward to a whole new adventure next issue! And, of course, it’s always great meeting some of the real uberfans of the series who stop by every year!
Thanks to all who stopped by the table to say hi and making this year’s show another memorable success!
See the full photogallery, click here.
|Just minutes after the end of the show, the carpet is already being rolled up!|
|Performing for their dinner in the Gaslamp after the end of the show|