Tom Brevoort Interview

Originally published in September 1999. Around this time I was on an Avengers mailing list with a bunch of other die hard Avenger fans (some of whom are still my friends today). Also on that list was Kurt Busiek (whom I already interviewed) and Tom Brevoort. It is interesting to see that he’s still at Marvel today and how he’s evolved along the way, particularly on the idea of diluting a concept title with multiple similar titles.

 

An Interview With Tom Brevoort

 
Tom Brevoort is one of Marvel’s most respected editors by online fandom. Fans that frequent the usenet rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe group will often see him answering questions by readers and correcting false information. Currently he is editing Avengers, Avengers Forever, Avengers #1 1/2, Avengers / FF Domination Factor, Avengers: United They Stand, Blaze of Glory, Captain Marvel, Heroes Reborn: Doomsday, Marvel Mystery Comics, Hulk, Timely Presents All-Winners, Thor, and Thunderbolts. As you can see he’s a busy guy! I’ve made it my goal to try and get through this interview without any “Wait and See” responses, as online fans know he does so often. Wish me luck!
 
Jamie: What did you do before becoming an editor at Marvel?

Tom Brevoort: I was a college student.

 

Jamie: How did you break into the editing biz?

Tom Brevoort: I started out as a college intern in the summer of 1989, and ended up hired as an assistant editor in December of the same year.

 

Jamie: Did you ever want to become a freelance writer or artist? If so will you ever try again?

Tom Brevoort: I’ve written a number of stories for Marvel, and have no doubt that I will eventually do more in the future. And my background is as an artist–I was an illustration major, though I’m not good enough to do monthly work for Marvel. But I like the structure of a regular 9 to 5 work-week, so I’m not really looking to go freelance.

 

Jamie: Unlike most editors, you hang out online answering readers comments and even debating with us once in a while. Why?

Tom Brevoort: When I was simply a fan, if access to the internet was as easy as it is now, I would have been on those boards constantly. That being the case, it seems like the right thing to do to make my self available, and try to eliminate some of the more egregious misinformation that gets disseminated through the electronic forums.

 

Jamie: Where do you get your assistant editors from?

Tom Brevoort: There’s a company in Iowa–three for a dollar.

 

Jamie: How do you decide on which freelancers will do fill ins or take over a title?

Tom Brevoort: There’s not a formula to it. I determine who’s around who can bring something to the series–either by being similar to the guys they’re subbing for, or by being radically different, or by having some sort of historic connection to the character, or by just being cool–and then I call them. It’s all gut-level instinct.

 

Jamie: Has there been any changes to the writing situation on Hulk and Iron Man?

Tom Brevoort: I don’t edit IRON MAN, but the plan is still for Joe Quesada to take over with #26 in January and do at least 4 issues–more, if things work out to everyone’s satisfaction. As of this writing, there is still no regular writer on HULK–Ron Garney and Jerry Ordway will be co-plotting #9-11, with Jerry scripting, however.

 

Jamie: It’s well known that Erik Larsen really wanted to be the Hulk’s regular writer. Why hasn’t he gotten the job?

Tom Brevoort: I try not to hand out assignments in an off-handed way. Erik has certainly made his desire known, and has sent me a treatment. Whether or not he gets the series depends on what he wants to do, what ideas get pitched by others, where I think the book should go, and how strongly the sales and marketing guys feel about the pluses and minuses of any given approach. But Erik is hardly out of the running, and he’s writing #8.

 

Jamie: I understand that Busiek and Perez were picked for the Avengers before you became the titles editor. If you were the editor first and had to pick a creative team for the Avengers, what freelancers would you have tried to get?

Tom Brevoort: Probably Kurt and George. I wasn’t the one who called George, but I was involved in the discussion before the call was made. And I became involved again when George asked about Kurt writing the series–since we were already working together, Kurt sent me his AVENGERS treatment to get some feedback before it went in.

 

Jamie: Practically all the books you edit have high or stables sales. To what do you owe to your success?

Tom Brevoort: Um…people reading the books, mostly. There are some really terrific people working on those titles, and I’m glad that the audience is enjoying their work. But I don’t think it’s any sort of “golden touch” or anything.

 

Jamie: There was a Great Lakes Avengers (or Lighting Bolts) mini series planned. Is it still coming out?

Tom Brevoort: Not to my knowledge. That was something that Matt Idelson wanted to do with Joe Kelly. Now that Matt is at DC, it seems unlikely that this project will happen.

 

Jamie: Hey, who keeps sticking in the Pro Wrestling references in Thunderbolts? Is it Kurt Busiek or Mark Bagley?

Tom Brevoort: Kurt if they’re in the script, Mark if they’re in the artwork.

 

Jamie: You mentioned that you were interested in bringing back the Official Marvel Universe Handbook in one form or another. Has there been any progress on that?

Tom Brevoort: None to speak of. We’ve got around two and a half issues finished at this point, but the market is simply too weak for us to proceed with it–I don’t want to bring the book out and have it get canceled with ‘L’. Until the market improves, the HANDBOOK is on hold.

 

Jamie: Between The Essential Volumes and various reprint TPB’s you’ve been in control of re-selling Marvel’s past. What other projects are coming up?

Tom Brevoort: I think this is a misreading of the situation, as I’ve never edited any of the ESSENTIALS books (though I do consult on things like mistakes that were made in the MASTERWORKS printings so they can be fixed for ESSENTIALS.) But in the immediate future–October–I’m doing both TIMELY PRESENTS ALL-WINNERS, which reprints the first appearance of the All-Winners Squad, Marvel’s first super-team, in a format like that of the recent HUMAN TORCH reprint, and MARVEL MYSTERY COMCIS, and 80-page comic-book collection of golden age stories. And there’s some initial talk about producing new MASTERWORKS volumes, although it remains to be seen if that’ll work out.

 

Jamie: With the popularity of Avengers, we’ve seen several spin off titles like Avengers Forever and the soon to be published Domination Factor. But we don’t see more ongoing Avengers title’s like Spider-Man or X-men have. Why?

Tom Brevoort: I think regular secondary titles tend to dilute the core concept of a series, so I’m adamantly opposed to there being another regular, ongoing AVENGERS title. We’ll do limited series and one-shots when we have interesting ideas for them, but I think the Avengers are better served by only headlining in one title. One team, one book.

 

Jamie: Why was Black Panther moved from the Marvel Knights group and brought into normal Marvel Publishing?

Tom Brevoort: Jimmy and Joe want to do other things, and there are only so many hours in the day. but PANTHER is still selling decently, so there’s no reason to just cancel it. So it’s moving over to mainstream editorial–which shouldn’t really impact on it too much, in that Priest will remain as writer.

 

Jamie: Who will be the editor for Black Panther when it comes to the normal Marvel publishing? Any idea on if it will keep it’s ‘almost vertigo’ style stories?

Tom Brevoort: Ruben Diaz is editing PANTHER. I don’t expect that it’ll change from what it’s been up till now.

 

Jamie: Avengers Forever #8 was loaded with retcons and changing Marvel History, what was your reaction when you saw the script? Was their any uneasiness? Did you have to request any changes?

Tom Brevoort: First off, I don’t think FOREVER #8 was “loaded” with retcons and changes to history–there’s only one major one that I can think of. And I was involved in the conception of that issue, so I didn’t have any problem with anything that was in it.

 

Jamie: With much of the comic industry news being so glum, how do you stay positive?

Tom Brevoort: There are more good comics available today, from a variety of publishers, than ever before. So yeah, there’s a lot of crap, and sales could certainly be better. But how bad can it be when I can get a hardcover volume of the earliest PLASIC MAN stories?

 

Jamie: Who came up with the idea for the Marvel Militia? How can you gauge if it’s working?

Tom Brevoort: The Marvel Militia was conceived and largely executed by my assistant, Gregg Schigiel. I don’t know that you can tell if it’s working–but doing something is better than doing nothing. And anything that helps bring readers into the hobby is something to be encouraged.

 

Jamie: Where do you see the comic industry 5 years from now?

Tom Brevoort: Hopefully still around, and expanding in new directions.

 

Erik Larsen 2nd Interview

Originally published in July 1999. If you’ve been reading my republished interviews you can probably tell I was big on asking about controversies and conflicts that were going on in comics at the time. One of the reasons being was that Wizard Magazine (the most popular comic magazine at the time) wouldn’t cover those topics, even when the creators wanted to address it. I guess that’s one of the drawbacks of being dependent on big publisher advertising. CollectorTimes was an all volunteer organization and I took advantage of not having those constraints. Erik was one of those creators who wasn’t dependent on the big publishers and was willing to talk.

 

An Interview With Erik Larsen (Again)

 
In April 1998, we kick started Collector Times Online with a short interview with Erik Larsen. It’s 15 months later and boy, have things changed! Erik has gone from just submitting two proposals to Marvel and DC to starting and leaving a couple of titles due to either editorial interference or low sales and he’s picked up Wolverine along the way. This time around we get Erik to discuss good and bad editors, Jim Lee and Image, Savage Dragon, Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Nova, Marvel Knights and more!

 

Erik Larsen at 2009 San Diego Comic Con

Jamie: Previously you said that DC editor Kevin Dooley asked you to rip off other peoples stories for Aquaman. Can you tell us what stories?

Erik Larsen: He asked me to do variations on a Batman story where a bunch of kids sitting around a campfire tell stories about what Batman looks like– I refused but he had somebody else write the story anyway for inclusion in Aquaman Secret Files. He also suggested that “we” rip off Frank Miller’s story where Stick gives Daredevil back his powers to give Aquaman back his powers– as luck would have it, he left before I actually had to write that story.

 

Jamie: Over the last 10 years you’ve gone through having normal editors, to having no editors, sometimes being an editor at Image, and then working under some free hand and heavy handed editors. In all what are your opinions on editors after all this?

Erik Larsen: It varies a great deal– I think those editors who actually trust the people they hired to do the job end up with better comics. Glenn Greenberg was great on Nova– he asked the right questions and his input made the story better, not worse. For the most part, however– I can’t say I’m too impressed.

 

Jamie: 6 years ago, in your famous “name withheld” letter you railed against mediocre writers. Now that your writing and dealing with editors and such, do you still feel the same way?

Erik Larsen: Sure. I think people misunderstood what that letter was about– it was in reaction to a writer bitching about artists! My basic point was– geez, guy– we don’t need you– we can do this fine without you. Now, people have taken it to mean NO artist needs to work with any writers but they’re missing the point– certainly there are artists who don’t write– who don’t want to write or am incapable of it– the point is some of us CAN do it and if it’s an option of mediocre stuff from established writers or something from a fresh perspective– I’d like to see that artist given a shot at it.

 

Jamie: What is your relationship like with Jim Lee? Has the Wildstorm split caused any friendship riffs between Jim and the other Image founders?

Erik Larsen: It’s no different than it was. People may get the impression that we always hang out together but in reality, all of the Image partners live nowhere near each other. I see these guys at shows and Image partner meetings– but it ends up just being a couple times a year.

 

Jamie: Some fans felt Wildstorm leaving Image would hurt the company. Economically speaking, what effect has the split had on Image Comics?

Erik Larsen: Each book Image publishes kicks in dough to run the office. Since Jim split, there haven’t been those books to help support the company. That’s about it– we did pick up some new books so it hasn’t affected us THAT much but initially it was a problem because the books were there one month and gone the next with no warning so that we could prepare for it.

 

Jamie: If returnables were a distributing option do you think Image Comics and other publishers would use it?

Erik Larsen: I can’t speak for the company but I’d use it.

 

Jamie: What’s the latest status of the Superman / Savage Dragon crossover?

Erik Larsen: Karl Kesel and Jon Bogdonove’s is nearing completion– mine has barely been started.

 

Jamie: What the status of the Mighty Man mini series? Have you given up on Gil Kane yet?

Erik Larsen: It’s stalled. The thing was written for Gil– if he’s not interested in doing it, I may just have it appear in Savage Dragon instead and do it myself– I’m not that pumped on just getting any guy off the street to do it.

 

Jamie: In both Savage Dragon and Aquaman, you’ve added pregnancies galore. Why do you keep using that as a surprise / story?

Erik Larsen: Planting seeds for the future. In a book like Dragon, which is set in real time, I need to prepare for the future. It may seem like overkill but if you’re that age, it’s not uncommon to have any number of your friends have kids. Since Savage Dragon started, I’ve gotten married, Reuben Rude (SD colorist) has gotten married and Chris Eliopoulos (SD letterer) has gotten married– My wife and I have had two kids, Reuben’s wife spit out one and as I write this, Chris’ wife is a few weeks from having twins– and that’s just people who work on Savage Dragon! I’ve got a number of friends who have popped out kids over the last few years. It’s far from unrealistic but it’s pretty rare in comics, I must admit.

 

Jamie: Many self publishers seem to be having trouble doing a monthly comic book. Yet you kept Savage Dragon monthly or almost monthly for 6 years now. How do you do it?

Erik Larsen: I’m on a roll. It can be mind-boggling at first to set things up but by now it comes pretty easily. You’ve just got to sit down and DO THE WORK. There’s no big secret here– you just have to work on your book rather than play video games, watch videos and screw off.

 

Jamie: With Savage Dragon, the types of stories have ranged from gritty cop stuff to Kirby style sci-fi stuff. What kind of stories will readers see in the future?

Erik Larsen: More of the same– I like getting in a lot of variety on this book– I don’t feel the need to restrict myself in any way.

 

Jamie: Would you do Savage Dragon in black & white if the sales dropped too low?

Erik Larsen: I’d certainly rather not. The next step would be to raise the cover price. Right now, I’m hoping to hang in there for a while longer.

 

Jamie: Do you think Marvel should consider doing ongoing titles in black and white?

Erik Larsen: It’s not my call.

 

Jamie: Spider-Man fans want to know when is the next time you are going to work on him?

Erik Larsen: In Nova #5– I wouldn’t work on one of the regular books unless it was “my” book– I like to do long runs on titles– I’m not interested in doing a story arc.

 

Jamie: In Wolverine #140 we saw ‘you’ as the big thug getting clobbered by Logan. Who were the other people in the scene?

Erik Larsen: That wasn’t supposed to be me as far as I know. The character designs are Leinil’s department.

 

Jamie: What does the future hold for Wolverine?

Erik Larsen: I have no clue– I’m just trying to keep the editors happy– my agenda keeps getting pushed back– I’m not sure when I’ll ever get to do stuff that I want to do.

 

Jamie: How much input do you have on the Wolverine getting his adamantium bones back story?

Erik Larsen: Zero. I told them that it was my priority but the actual story will be done in another book by somebody other than me.

 

Jamie: Nova has made some dumb mistakes in his first couple issues. Will he always make dumb mistakes are will he learn over the issues?

Erik Larsen: He’ll learn– but the book is just going to #7 so there won’t get to be THAT much learning! Obviously, had it continued I’d have the character grow and change but it was taken away from me.

 

Jamie: Who came up with the “Blast it to Buckethead” letter column name?

Erik Larsen: Me. I’ve wanted to use that for years.

 

Jamie: You’ve said Nova might not make it past issue 7. What would readers be seeing if Nova does make it past issue 7?

Erik Larsen: No point in going over it. I’ll try to work some of my plans into other books. We’ll see.

 

Jamie: You mentioned that if Nova does get cancelled, you would probably look for another book to write. If you were asked to do a Marvel Knights title in a super serious fashion, would you accept?

Erik Larsen: No.

 

Jamie: Anything else you want the world to know about?

Erik Larsen: I think Nova’s New Warriors costume is really awful just like the rest of you.

 

Erik Larsen Interview

This is my very first comic creator interview. I used to hang out on an IRC chat channel called #ComicBooks and one of the other participants was Sheryl Roberts. She said she wanted to put together an online fanzine and was looking for contributions. At the time I was part of a Fin Addicts Online mailing list devoted to Savage Dragon and also on there was Erik Larsen. Through the mailing list we’ve responded back and forth to each other’s messages and thought since we “knew” each other I could do an interview with him. I asked Erik ad he agreed. This interview was published in the very first CollectTimes issue, in April of 1998.

Erik Larsen 2008 San Diego Comic Con

Erik Larsen 2008 San Diego Comic Con

An Interview with Erik Larsen

Erik Larsen once wrote and penciled Spider-man stories for Marvel Comics. In 1992 he left Marvel to help form Image Comics and produced his own comic called the Savage Dragon. While continuing Savage Dragon, he has recently sent proposals to write Marvel and DC titles. Erik will be writing Aquaman starting with issue #50. With this interview, we ask him about his Incredible Hulk proposal, The Savage Dragon, Aquaman and writing in general.

 

Jamie: Erik, Sorry to hear you didn’t get the Incredible Hulk job. How were you told that you didn’t get the job, and how do you feel about it?

Erik Larsen: I got a phone call from Bobbie Chase and she gave me the news. I don’t feel too good about it, as you might expect.

 

Jamie: Can you tell us any details about your Hulk proposal?

Erik Larsen: Yes, but I’m not going to. It was pretty involved–eight pages, single spaced. There’s no point going into it.

 

Jamie: Some people are still suspicious about you proposing for two books that Peter David just left. Why did you propose for these books?

Erik Larsen: Well– I just thought I needed to get out and do something else for SOMEBODY. It’s been six years since I’ve done any work for anybody but myself and I wanted to get my name out there. I was talking to Chris Eliopoulos and frankly, I don’t know anybody up at Marvel or DC anymore. I asked him to let people know I was looking for a book to write and Kevin Dooley at DC called me about Aquaman. Now, I’ve never read the book so I had nothing to go by. Kevin sent me a few issues and I visited an Aquaman website to get up to speed on the basics. I thought about it and put together a proposal.

Later, Peter left the Hulk and since that was the book I always wanted to do–I HAD to do a proposal for that even knowing that it was a long shot since most hiring at Marvel goes to their lunch buddies.

It wasn’t so much of a “Peter David thing” as it was “these are the books that are open.” Had Kevin offered me Green Lantern, I’d be doing a Green Lantern proposal and trying to get caught up on that title.

 

Jamie: Will you be sending proposals for other Marvel and DC comics?

Erik Larsen: Not to Marvel– I’ve had my fill. At this point I’m a little burned out of the whole proposal process. At some point I’ve got to think that perhaps my body of work can speak for me. I really hate to piss away days out of my schedule to have the job be given to whoever shows up at the door. It’s quite frustrating.

 

Jamie: Are you trying for any writing job or are there characters in particular that you want to work with?

Erik Larsen: The Hulk was a character that I was very familiar with and I wanted to write–Aquaman was just the book that was available. I’ll make something out of it and I’m sure I’ll think he’s cool as all hell in a few months but I never thought of it as a book that I desperately wanted to do.

 

Jamie: What Marvel or DC character currently without a title would you like to do a new series with?

Erik Larsen: I’m not so ambitious that I want to do that at this point in my life. I liked Nova at Marvel and some of the Kirby characters that have been folded into Jack Kirby’s Fourth World at DC such as the New Gods and Mister Miracle but those are hard to sell without a strong artist attached to the project. It’s much easier to keep a boat floating than to build or repair a boat. You just look out for rocks and icebergs.

 

Jamie: Writing wise, how many other books can you take on?

Erik Larsen: If I wasn’t drawing–a lot. As it is–maybe four.

 

Jamie: Over the last 5 years with Savage Dragon, you have chosen not to use gimmicks like special covers or major crossovers. Why?

Erik Larsen: I’m more interested in doing cool comics. I’ve tried a few things to get some attention but I keep falling back on doing what I think are cool comics.

 

Jamie: What can you tell us about Savage Dragon #50?

Erik Larsen: It’s the conclusion of the Unfinished Business story where Dragon goes back to Chicago.The Dragon takes on the Vicious Circle in a final desperate battle. Carnage is the order of the day as the S.O.S. comes in to help Dragon against the most vile group of bad guys imaginable. An extra-length dose of Savage Dragon for those diehard Dragon fans! Dragon faces Horde at long last and damn near everybody gets into the action.

It’s a 100 page spectacular! Featuring pinups by the best guys in comics– Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo and more than a few surprise artists (superstars >all)! Wizard Comics’ much sought after Savage Dragon 1/2 is reprinted for the first time along with Mighty Man stories that detail the past of Dragon’s most despicable bad guy–Horde!

Plus, a never-before seen Freak Force yarn by Larsen, Vic Bridges and Al Gordon tells the story of how that team came together band more Desperate Times from Chris Eliopoulos! Savage Dragon #50 wraps everything up in a nice neat bundle and paves the way for a brand new story in a completely new direction. It’s great jumping on point for new readers! Comes with our Highest Possible Recommendation!! You’ll blow a fat $5.95 on this thing.

 

Jamie: You have created a lot of weird villains in Savage Dragon. Who are your favorites and why?

Erik Larsen: Whoever I’m doing at the time. BrainiApe is a lot of fun to draw as is Octopus and OpenFace.

 

Jamie: Will Savage Dragon ever become a cop again?

Erik Larsen: That would be telling. I don’t like to give away much of anything.

 

Jamie: Are you involved with the Savage Dragon appearance in Big Bang Comics? If so, are you a fan of the Silver Age?

Erik Larsen: I’m involved as a reader. I enjoy the book a lot. I’m a big fan of comics from all ages.

 

Jamie: You have taken books like A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran “under your wing” into Image. Are there any new books coming in under you that we should watch for?

Erik Larsen: Desperate Times by Chris Eliopoulos.

 

Jamie: Will you be giving Aquaman any new powers?

Erik Larsen: No.

 

Jamie: What makes Aquaman an interesting character?

Erik Larsen: He’s underwater–his world is a different world than the one we live in. The fact that he’s a king. There’s a lot of cool stuff and potential.

 

Jamie: Do you plan on creating any new villains or supporting characters for Aquaman? If so can you tell us about them?

Erik Larsen: There will be a LOT of new stuff.

First there’s Noble-who comes from the hidden city that is deep below where Atlantis now sits. It was his understanding that HE ruled the sea and since he’s never run into Aquaman and since his race predated the sinking of Atlantis–se seems to be in the right on this one. Noble is young and handsome–He’s clean shaven, dark haired and has a cleft in his chin–very dashing. Think Lancelot. He sweeps Mera off her feet and forces poor Arthur to fight for her affection.

Lurkers– are Noble’s people. They’ve dug a maze of tunnels through the earth that are like subway tunnels to other oceans. This is all in the darkest depths of the ocean and very appealing to the Atlantians and Aquaman in particular. These tunnels will lead to the discovery of many undersea races and cities all over the globe.

Rock Creatures– are the race of lava men whose path the Lurkers crossed to build theit underground tunnels. They’re stupid and deadly.

Land Lovers. Blubber, Sheeva and Lagoon Boy are three characters who fall in love with and want to explore the surface world. Blubber is an intelligent whale (son of Pakkul: Aquaman’s whale friend while growing up) who’s an inventor. He’s fashioned mechanical legs and arms for himself and a wheel chair for the mermaid Sheeva. Lagoon Boy is a kid version of a Creature from the Black Lagoon type who can puff himself up like a blowfish to frighten off prey. This intrepid trio is earthbound for adventure.

Plus a lot more–especially villains.

 

Jamie: Do you have plans for other DC heroes appearing in Aquaman?

Erik Larsen: Not right away. Okay–some right away but none are there to hang out for long. My first issue Aquaman #50 has his birthday and folks drop by to pay their respects.

Although Aquaman is in the Justice League– I’m not going to dwell on this. In terms of the character and the book–Aquaman should never seek their help. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t ever show up but that he’d feel that asking for their help was a sign of weakness–to Aquaman, they need HIM–not the other way around.

I want to make this a great comic that stands up on its own–not one dependant of guest stars to keep it going. That means I’m going to have to make Atlantis and Aquaman the focus– not dwell on other characters from comics outside of my influence. I can’t plan anything long term with a guest star so why go there when I can do something better that’s internal and can have lasting effects on the book?

 

Jamie: Thanks again for the interview. Any other comments you want to add?

Erik Larsen: Buy lots of my funnybooks so my kids can eat.

 

San Diego Comic Con 2016

Joker Trump

I went to San Diego Comic Con again and this year things went a little differently for me.

First, I got a direct non-stop flight from Toronto to San Diego, which was nice because normally I have at least 1 layover ever when I fly there. On the flight back I saw quite a few comic peeps I recognized. The flight was also significantly cheaper than what I normally pay.

I landed in San Diego on Tuesday and got around to do some things in San Diego before the con, like go to the Coronado Beach. The sand looked like gold and I saw small crabs in the barnacles. I also saw the hotel that was in the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like it Hot. I’m told it’s been used in a lot of TV shows and movies.

Normally I land in San Diego on Wednesday afternoon, go straight to my hotel, check and get lunch, unpack, relax for a bit, then head down to the convention to get my badge. All of this makes for a really long day, so coming in Tuesday made it much easier on me. The only problem is needing to find a Hotel for Tuesday only and having to pack up and leave on Wednesday to your comic con hotel. As I’ve learned a couple of years ago, even if you get the same hotel the staff will have a different room for you for the convention days and you’ll have to move to that room.

For the con itself what was different was that I didn’t spend that much time on the exhibit floor. There were days where I didn’t hit the exhibit floor at all. I didn’t go there on Thursday or Saturday. I was only on there for a bit on Friday and Sunday towards the very end. Normally I make it a point to walk every isle and see everything. This year I felt fine skipping about a 3rd of the exhibit floor.

In previous years in the non comic area’s you’d sometimes find booths with a couple long boxes of comics or trades. Often it would be a mix of odd stuff that they’re just trying to get rid of and you’d get a decent deal. The last couple of years I haven’t seen any comics at all in that area, so I skipped it. The publishers (big and small) and back issue dealers are primarily in Hall B & C then you find artists alley, some artists collective booths and original art dealers in Hall’s F.

I discovered some booths I normally shop at either had smaller spaces or reduced/changed what they had brought. Bud Plants booth was half of what it normally is. There were a couple of underground dealers that didn’t have much in the way of old underground collections like they normally did. I also noticed Mile High didn’t bring any GNs and was only selling back issues, which was a switch. As a result I bought less than I normally do there.

I don’t know how the publishers are doing when it comes to selling their books but I haven’t heard any complaints. When I typically walk by their booths I see lots of people in them. I did find it a little odd that the Image Comics booth didn’t have any Savage Dragon trades there. Considering Erik Larsen was an Image founder you’d think they’d bring something. It’s pretty sad when the publisher you help create decides to abandon you at the biggest show of the year.

The moment the con announced the show was closing in a half hour all the dealers started taking down their “wall” comics and packing up. I didn’t talk to many dealers about how the show went, but when dealers start packing up early (or at least as early as they’re allowed), that’s almost always a sign it was a bad show and they just want to cut their losses and get out of there ASAP.

I know dealers are increasingly unhappy with the con because they feel back issue buyers can’t get into the con because tickets sell out so quickly. I have no doubt that’s true, but I think there’s more to it. I think there are less people buying back issues than before. Those that do want a good deal (EG: below guide) and normally dealers that exhibit at San Diego can’t give them that deal due to the high costs of being there. Discounts don’t always pay for themselves with volume sadly.

I also suspect a lot back issue buyers are older and they don’t like the difficulty of getting tickets, a hotel room and the large crowds. Plus all that is really expensive. It’s much cheaper and more convenient for them to buy online and/or go to a closer, quieter convention. I’m wondering what a traditional comic convention might look like without any back issue dealers and I might actually see that within my lifetime.

The slower sales may also have something to do with the smaller crowds this year. It’s been said that San Diego’s switch to using badges with RFID chips made it harder for people to pass (or counterfeit) badges and get in. The less crowded exhibit floor was nicer for the attendee’s that were there. I suspect another reason the floor was less crowded was due to people playing Pokemon Go around the con. Even on Wednesday night I saw numerous people walking around in circles looking at their phones. One professional I talked during the day to told me his daughter was out playing Pokemon Go at that moment.

During my TCAF post I mentioned I was unhappy with my camera and was getting a new one. I got a Canon Powershot SX710 HS and am quite happy with it. There camera does not get the best rating on the various review websites, but it worked well for my purposes. I’m learning to not just blindly follow reviews & ratings and instead focus on what the pro’s and cons of the camera and applying that to what I’m using it for. I don’t think those reviewers have taking pictures at comic conventions and darkly lit award ceremonies in mind when doing their reviews.

I am especially happy with how using the sport scene worked on the Eisner Award pictures. I took a whole bunch of pictures in that mode (over 2,000 of them) but that allowed me to get better pics than usual. I’m typically in the pro seats behind the tables, which is quite a ways away from the stage. My camera ‘s 30X zoom was used to the fullest to get pics of people on stage and less than that was used on the big screens showing what’s happening on the stage.

Surprisingly I did not see any celebrities outside of the Eisner Awards. Normally San Diego is crawling with so many celebrities I end up seeing somebody somewhere even though I only focus on comics programming. For example, one year during a Ted Naifeh panel the back door opens up and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy, etc..) walks out. He apparently just wanted to go outside for a smoke. He came back in after the panel was done and was giving an interview to a camera crew as the audience was leaving the room. Of course it’s entirely possible I did see one, but didn’t know it was a celebrity.

I was quite happy to be able to audio record some panels with creators whom I’ve never met in real life before like Christopher J Priest, Howard Chaykin and Mike Baron. I was only turned down by one creator but I knew in advance that was a strong possibility. I’m not bothered by it as I was able to record him at at another convention recently. The only disappointing situation I had was a creator who wouldn’t let you take a picture of him unless you bought a $15 print/sketch.

The panels I recorded can be found on the audio page of my other website. Also at that link is the Will Eisner Awards recording and pictures to both the convention and Eisner Awards. I should warn you that there is a bit of swearing of almost every panel. Off the top of my head the YA? Why Not? panel does not have swearing, but the rest I can’t vouch for. The saddest panel was the Darywn Cooke tribute, while you won’t hear this on audio I can tell you from being there that several panelists were in tears at the end. What’s also sad was that there was no tribute panel for Paul Ryan, who worked in the comics industry since the 1980s. I’m hoping a convention that’s local to where he used to live puts something on for him.

As always with San Diego there usually multiple panels I wanted to be at and record happening at the same time. I shockingly did not record a single panel that Mark Evanier was on.  The same goes for Paul Levitz except for a surprise appearance at the Fan vs Pro Comic Trivia challenge. I sometimes question the choices that I’ve made when it comes to which panels to cover, but in the end I’m very happy with all the panels I got. I just wish I had a 2nd person who could go to the panels I can’t be at and record them, despite the extra work that would bring.

The only panel I did not like that much was one about goal setting for creative people. I only came in part way through but it was clear to me that this was a rewording of a standard SMART goals course/lecture that almost everybody in business has to take at least once. The main difference was the presenter telling people to draw their goals instead of writing them down and an artist was demonstrating how to do so with large paper flip chart and markers.

There are official video recording of panels going on now. It’s something called Comic Con HQ but they are understandably only recording the panels with the widest commercial appeal thus far. Outside of the Will Eisner Awards which was live streamed online there is no overlapping between us that I know of. If they do decide to record everything I’ll have to decide if I want to keep recording or even if I can. Chances are they’ll want exclusive rights to the panels.

I also got to see and hang out with some friends which is always great, but there were many people whom I usually see that I missed this year or only saw very briefly / in passing. While that happens every year, it seemed more pronounced this year. I think I’ll have to make a more concerted effort to find and say Hi to people next year.

Of those that I did talk to Donald Trump’s name came up a lot when the conversion drifted outside of comics. Everybody was speaking about him in an “OMG how can anybody vote for this freaking lunatic?!?” type way. He was also the butt of many jokes when people were in front of a microphone.

I am very much looking forward to going back next year, where it’s the 100 year anniversary of Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. I learned that there are supposed to be extra panels on the two creators next year and that sounds great.