Monday, July 29, 2019

SDCC 2019 Report Part II: Comic-Con at 50

Read Part I here. To go straight to the photogallery, click here.

The 50th gathering of the San Diego Comic-Con—SDCC 50—was another exhausting, fun, memorable success. While the importance of manning my table each year often prevents me from seeing everything and everyone I'd like, it's still a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues, connect with new and longtime readers, and be inspired by the creativity and talent all around me.

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.

Last year when I was an invited guest at the show, I was put up at the Marriott right next to the convention center. Its proximity to the venue and center of the action was, of course, incredibly convenient and significantly reduced my commute time in the morning to get to the convention center by opening—I traditionally have stayed at hotels anywhere from within a mile to several miles of the convention center and while the round-the-clock shuttles are a great convenience, I still need to allow about an extra hour or more for travel. In contrast, staying at the Marriott cut the commute time to merely a ride down the elevator. As I anticipated, the family asked that we stay at the Marriott again this year. While the rate is quite a bit more than hotels further out, in the end my wife and I decided the convenience was worth the extra cost.

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!

This is a good opportunity to acknowledge the fine work and professionalism of the Comic-Con staff. I found the staff, particularly at the service counters, genuinely upbeat and friendly (understandable, I guess, given that most are volunteers who want to be there!). When one considers the scope and scale of the show, you have to give credit to the organizers for such a relatively smooth and well run event. The Walt Disney theme parks are renowned for their attention to customer service, the customer experience and crowd management—I truly believe Comic-Con comes a close second! They never sit on their laurels and make adjustments every year. Given the number of attendees, it’s remarkable at how relatively smoothly the show goes.

Annual Hellos
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
On Friday night after dinner, I popped in for a bit to the Will Eisner Awards ceremony, often referred to as the comics’ academy awards, partly to give my wife an opportunity to see the event for herself. We arrived just at the right time to see the presentation of the Hall of Fame Awards. The event has become known for the participation of celebrities as presenters—this year included actor/screenwriter/comedian Thomas Lennon and his Reno 911 co-star Ben Garant, actor Ernie Hudson, actor Phil LaMarr, and cartoonists Sergio Aragones, Bill Morrison, and Raina Telgemeier. Though I had hoped to grab late night drinks with my wife, she turned in early so I ended up having a nightcap with a buddy.

Saturday I took the kids for their first time to a presentation of Scott Shaw!’s hilarious Oddball Comics presentation and on Sunday I attended the panel remembering fellow cartoonist Batton Lash who passed earlier in the year. The panel included his widow, Jackie Estrada, comics historian/journalist (and 2019 Inkpot Award winner) Jon Cooke, and Morrison.

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!

It was great having the great experience I usually have every year where someone who is a fan of classic adventure comics suddenly notices my book, sometimes like a lightning bolt! This year it included a random person in cosplay who I asked to take a picture—when he said he liked my Spirit and Steve Canyon buttons, I pointed out to him that my work was inspired by these classic comics and he ended up buying a collection. An editor from one of the top second-tier publishers also bought some comics and also met a comics scholar from Spain who turned out to be a big Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon) fan and ended up picking my book and returning the next day to pick up more!

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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

SDCC 2019 Report Part I: The More Things Change...

This year, the San Diego Comic-Con marked its 50th anniversary gathering, providing an opportunity for the show and attendees to reflect on the show's history and legacy. To mark the milestone, Comic-Con held a variety of events, including a 50th anniversary celebration and reception that I had the opportunity to attend, which featured remarks from San Diego’s mayor and other officials; invited special guests that included people who contributed to the success of the show over the years; and scheduled panels that looked back at the early days of the show.

2019 marked my 32nd Comic-Con since the mid-1980s (missing only 1987 and 2000) and my 22nd as an exhibitor. While I wasn’t there at the very beginning in 1970 when about 145 comics fans attended the first Comic-Con in the basement of a dingy hotel in downtown San Diego, I watched it transition from an event of several thousand fans in those early years at the rather drab San Diego Concourse facility to the then newly-opened and sleek San Diego Convention Center in 1990. Today, the show hosts over 135,000 attendees, encompassing thousands more who flock to the area to soak in the atmosphere and take advantage of ancillary events that don't require an attendee badge.

While Comic-Con was originally rooted in a love for comics (as well as science fiction and movies in those early days) and a bit of nostalgia, it’s always been forward-looking in finding ways to reflect and accommodate the interests of modern fandom, which of course now extends way beyond the comics fans who started the show, encompassing gaming, television, animation and anime, and cosplay. So looking back also offers the opportunity to reflect on how much the show has evolved.

As such, though there are some who decry what Comic-Con has become, often insisting that comics have been lost in the mix, I come down with those in the other camp who point out that if you’re only interested in comics, there’s actually plenty to keep you occupied and happy—all the major publishers hold panels to talk about their upcoming titles and plans, there are numerous panels focused on creators both past and present, you can still find plenty of comics and original art on the main exhibitor floor, and of course one of the show’s signature events is the Will Eisner Awards ceremony, often referred to as comics own “Academy Awards.” As I (and many others) have said in the past, Comic-Con is very broad and encompassing, so it’s easy for things to get lost amid all the hyperbole and sensory overload—Comic-Con is what you make of it. The show is many things to different people and it would be practically impossible to experience everything.

For me personally, this year underscored several transitions. I do miss the days when major comic-book retailers—particularly the late Rory Root’s Comic Relief and Bud Plant’s Art Books—anchored the exhibition hall. (Fortunately, Chuck Rozanski’s Mile High Comics continues to be a presence at the show.) This year also marked a move by DC Comics to the far end of the hall to share space with its parent company, Warner Bros., in the media section while Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics—publisher of the Simpsons comics and another mainstay in the center of the floor—transitioned to Bapper Books, publisher of comics related to Groening’s new Netflix series, Disenchantment.

But as I mentioned in a closing post on Facebook, change is inevitable and we can never go back to our youth. The Comic-Cons of today are much different than the ones I first attended starting in the mid-1980s. But still at the center of it all and in its DNA are the comics and creators who built this industry and entertained and thrilled readers and fans since childhood. Comic-Con deserves a lot of credit for continuing to honor and remember its comics roots, and becoming a big tent for multiple fandoms that allows people to follow their bliss!

Next: My Comic-Con Report

Monday, July 1, 2019

WCG Comics to Make 22nd Exhibitor’s Appearance at 50th San Diego Comic-Con

2018 Inkpot Award Recipient Randy Reynaldo Returns to Comic-Con with New Issue of his Long-Running indie series, Rob Hanes Adventures

For immediate release:

Following the surprise presentation of an Inkpot Award at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con for his work on the long-running indie comic-book series, Rob Hanes Adventures, cartoonist Randy Reynaldo will exhibit at the landmark 50th anniversary gathering of the show, scheduled July 18-21, 2019. Reynaldo will be at Booth K1 in the Small Press Area on the main floor of the convention center, under his WCG Comics publishing imprint. The show marks Reynaldo’s 22nd appearance at Comic-Con since 1993.

The milestone 20th issue of Rob Hanes Adventures, Reynaldo's long-running globetrotting soldier-of-fortune indie series, will be released at Comic-Con. As noted in an earlier announcement, the issue completes a story arc begun in issue 18— after a divisive and polarizing figure named Chester A. Humbert ascends to the nation's highest elected office, Rob is hired to track down Humbert's missing daughter, only to uncover evidence of deep corruption and moral decay in the nation's highest office and among its most senior advisors. (Any resemblance to actual persons, living or otherwise, is purely coincidental!)

Also available for sale at the WCG Comics booth will be all back issues of the series, as well as prints and original art, and free pin buttons and bookmarks (with purchase). Reynaldo's 2018 Inkpot Award will also be on display at his table.

“I’m excited to be at Comic-Con again, especially after being invited as a featured guest at last year’s show and being surprised and honored with an Inkpot Award,” said Reynaldo. “I’ve always been happy to quietly steadily plug away at my little series in my corner of the comics world, so to have been recognized for my work last year and receive the Inkpot is way beyond what I ever dreamed or imagined.”

Reynaldo also will report and post live on his Twitter (@randywcgcomics) and Instagram (randywcg) accounts throughout the show.

About the Series

Rob Hanes Adventures is a free-wheeling, light-hearted action-adventure series featuring the exploits of a globetrotting private eye and troubleshooter from Justice International who travels the world on assignment, facing adventure, intrigue and romance at every turn, with occasional dashes of good humor and forays into other genres. Every story is self-contained, making it easy for readers to jump in with any issue.

The title is one of the longest-running indie comics series running. Readers and fans have praised Rob Hanes Adventures for recapturing the spirit of the classic adventure strip and updating it for a modern-day audience. Series creator-writer-artist Randy Reynaldo was honored with an Inkpot Award for Achievement in Comic Arts at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, where he was also a featured guest at the show.

For more information about the series, previews and to purchase back issues, visit

Additional information about the series is available at the article, "Twenty Years (and more!) of Rob Hanes Adventures."

# # #

For additional information, contact Randy Reynaldo at WCG Comics. 

Additional images for media use are available at

Above: Cover to Rob Hanes Adventures #20
Above: Sample page from Rob Hanes Adventures #20

Above: Inkpot Award presented to Randy Reynaldo
at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con

Photos from 2018 San Diego Comic-Con: