50 great things I love about the San Diego Comic-Con!

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I love that San Diego Comic-Convention.

Sometimes, I don’t shut up about it. I plan accessively over it. I have dreams about it sometimes. This leads to my attending this show again for 2019, carrying on my annual tradition for this sold-out, world famous, perhaps the grandest pop-culture show in the world. I can’t freakin wait for its 50th show (and my 25th in attending) since it started as a humble local comics convention in 1970 (held twice in that year).

So, in leading to another grand show for us nerds, here are 50 things (in no order) I personally love about this fandom converging, sequential arts celebrating, history-making, crowd-drawing, amazing thing that I shall forever be a part of…

1.  Arrival and spending time on the Exhibit Floor! It’s huge (615,000 square feet) and takes at least a full open con day to completely explore and observe.

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2. The welcoming show attendants, volunteers, dealers,  presenters, booth staff and all involved, who love the show as much as the attendees…and help make it all worthwhile.

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3. Comic Books! The SDCC is still focused on comic books, graphic novels, manga, cartoons, etc.. There are lots of other distractions, but its CCI is still focused on the sequential arts. I welcome any debate on this in the comments below.

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4. The many happy returns of my favorite companies, usually consistent but slightly updated in appearance. Image Comics puts the biggest smile on face with their own little world run by creator-owned titles.

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5. Ridiculous displays outside usually put forth by big media companies promoting whatever, but I welcome each balloon, animatronic, recreation, light show, large prop, and whatever else awaits visitors and the curious open public.

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6. Watching an admired creative person at work, especially at the DC booth. Here. famed artist Liam Sharp draws Ares (of DCU lore). I answered his trivia question and won the finished result!

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7. Outrageous and totally awesome booth displays. Nickelodeon, Lego, Cartoon Network, DC usually excels with a different theme every year, in awesomely brilliant style!

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8. You may have the chance to chat with a living legend, who could just be hanging out at a booth or signing at a table. Back in 2017, I had a great talk with artist Mike Grell as he worked on a commission piece. We talked a lot about living in Seattle (where much of his acclaimed Green Arrow comics run took place).

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9. Discovering something new, with many indie press creators looking to personally pitch your next great read. Writer Erika Lewis (at the Heavy Metal booth) sold me on this graphic novel blending modern fantasy and otherworldly magic. Loved it!

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10. Meeting an admired creator, having that person sign something unexpected. In this case, it was Yoshitaka Amano (best known for the Final Fantasy games, Vampire Hunter D original artist), who I snatched his placard during his feature panel, and got him to sign it as he was initially confused, then amused.

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11. Every fandom is welcome, and those communities often welcome you back!

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12. Cosplayers, of all crafts and everywhere! No matter how crazy crowded this show gets, there’s always room for cosplay!

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13. Looking through piles of stuff that are kind of organized in the dealer area, all for a set price. Develop fun conversations with others picking through, sharing fun finds and cracking little jokes.

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14.  Enjoying a show panel where the complete cast is present and interacting, like this one for the TV series, Community.

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15. Seeing for yourself how a well-known creator known for controversy or the subject of heavy conversation deals with the public, perhaps giving the chance to share some thoughts and ideas on controversies and how that affects creativity (in this case, Frank Miller). The SDCC recognizes such contribution very well.

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16.  Getting a huge boost of inspiration from someone that already inspires you (Ray Bradbury (on the left, Ray Harryhausen off-screen to the right) to love what you do, do what you love.

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17.  Unusual crossovers, such as this annual TV Guide panel, where a mix of talent just get together and answer questions from the audience. Let’s see what happens!

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18. Finding out there are many around who like the things you do, but sometimes in their special way (Doctor Who).

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19. The souvenir guides attendees receive each year. Each one full of fan art, writings, insights, and the usual focus on the comics!

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20. Autograph hunting!! Plenty here to fill up, and some sketches if lucky. One fan here shares his collection of Batman related artists, writers, related talent.

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21. Lots of original comic book cover and pages. Each unique and usually expensive, but much fun to look at.

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22. The love of newspaper funnies cartoonists. Jim Davis (Garfield) gives some very deep insights into this famed cat and supporting cast.

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23. Familiar faces, coming back for many repeat years. This Obi-Wan cosplayer I noticed for many of my early years, often showing up to the late-night Masquerade party.  I may not know them, but many among them have an unforgettable coolness and style.

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24. Meeting someone at the con, and becoming a good friend (met Mark cosplaying Captain Kirk many years ago, here he is Ric Flair), then blend in for further randomness!

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25. Enjoying the show with a friend or group of (Helen, you’re awesome!), as we go to a panel or just walk around and meet a Klingon.

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26. Free Swag! If persistent enough, there’s plenty to take home!

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27. Many collectibles on display, especially at the toy companies. Many of them are previews for products yet to be released!

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28. No matter how busy the show gets, many will have a second to sign a badge. If you have nothing to sign for an unexpected meeting with a person of fame and inspiration, find a marker and hand them your badge!

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29.  Stan Lee for many years and still there in spirit… Nuff Said!

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30. You can be yourself, let loose and have fun, like Burt Ward, Adam West, Julie Newmar at this small and cozy press conference as they share some hilarious moments together and with the crowd.

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31. Getting the inside scoop on your favorite series, with more insight from the creators themselves (Saga panel, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples)

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32. Buying some really awesome collectible exclusives, that are high quality and worth every minute of the long line and the high price paid…Cowabunga!

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33. The city of San Diego, really adds to the grandness of this Comic-Con. There’s a lot to see and do here, with some epic beaches and awesome nightlife. If visiting here, take extra time to enjoy the city outside the show.

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34. Very large building displays. Not sure how effective the advertising and wish it was more focused on comic books. Yet, still glorious!

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35.  The Comics Creator Connection (artist/writer speed pitching), portfolio reviews, pitch panels, workshops…many opportunities for new talent to show their stuff and become the potential top SDCC stars of tomorrow!

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36.  Artist Alley, an awesome mix of business professionals and indie folk, taking down commissions, selling original art, awesome prints, and so much more. There’s a lot of heart and soul in this area, and the SDCC has kept it going!

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37.  Small press section, another great area of home-grown, indie-power delights. Here, you can find as much personality in the creator as the creations themselves!

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38. Becoming a Blood Donor for the longtime annual show Blood Drive.

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39. Really weird, sometimes mashed-up collectibles, custom made by special artists sold the designer area of the convention center. Lots here for the weirdo in all of us.

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40.  Exclusives are nice, but the dealer stands have a magnificent variety of lost, very rare treasures..sometimes at a real steal of a deal.

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41.  There’s usually one unexpected panel end up going to every year, totally different and of nowhere. Bloom County’s Berkely Breathed’s hilarious panel comes to mind (2014), …showing brilliant misdirection that he may or may not be Bill Watterson.

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42.  Great finds you did not know existed. You just have to look!

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43.  Back issue bins are plenty, where all your super friends are waiting!

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44. Star Wars is everywhere, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

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45.  The annual Comic-Con Masquerade show, showcasing a mix of great and sometimes very surprising cosplay.

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46.  Finding an awesome outside event, very increased over the years. There’s plenty out there, with much not needing a badge to participate!

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37.  Venturing out into the night, checking out the side events and stumbling across some different things going on, like this live sketching event.

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48. Crashing of many parties after the con. The After Masquerade Party at the Convention Center is often fun and worthwhile.

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49. It’s never really goodbye when you hang with great friends at Comic-Con. You share memories that will last lifetimes and beyond. Here, is the flashiest back to circa 2000, with me, my dear friend Heather (who I shared many SDCC years with ever since), Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, and Sargeant Kabukiman NYPD.

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50. The show as it is, for keeping all that is wonderful about it real and forever a part of my life.  Thank you Comic-Con (and all my friends, who I have shared this show with over the years)!

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Not the end, as I have much more to add, I will save that perhaps for the 75th, maybe the 100th anniversary.

 

Surrealist popstar, Poppy reveals her Genesis in an upcoming graphic novel

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YouTube’s hit pop star artist, Poppy, is set to take on her unique style into the sequential arts with her graphic novel, Genesis One: A Poppy Graphic Novel. The book will be co-written by collaborator Titanic Sinclair along with Ryan Cady and will feature art by Masa Minoura and Ian McGinty.

Published under Z2 Comics, the 24-year old artist known for surrealist overtones and her unique self-presentations, sets a story that will delve into her mysterious origins with this graphic novel 168-page story…

Is she a girl? Is she a machine? Is she humanity’s redemption, or its damnation? Don’t be scared — either way, she is Poppy…and you love Poppy….. I am Poppy. I am Poppy. I am Poppy. I am Poppy. I am Poppy. I am Poppy.

Genesis 1 is set to arrive in comic stores on July 10, 2019. A special deluxe edition (oversized 9×15 hardcover slipcased edition with album, signed, and limited to 500 copies) is available for preorder now, at www.z2comics.com. 

San Diego Comic Con 2018: Looking forward

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In just a few weeks, the annual San Diego Comic Con will happen again for the 51st time, since 1970.

The large event for geekish fandom is not the largest of its kind for population attendance, but I think the most well-known gathering of pop-culture fandoms, studio and publisher promotions, celebrities, creatives, and show exclusives. I think this, from the worldwide reactions people give and get from it, the frenzy for tickets and overall planning that goes into it. The spot where the big announcements are made, and smaller companies have a chance to grow. And the lines, bring them on.

I will be ready.

For me, it’s still an important mecca for my creative soul. I have spent over two decades, never missing a show as I filled in for press, volunteer work, exhibitor help, and as an attendant. No two years are the same, as I have crazy plans that may or may not work.

Of this year, I am a little extra excited..as a collector, a press person, a writer, observer, and more. I have some goals and plans, of which I would like to share here in my list of ten.

  1. Attend the Comic Creator Connection, a sub-event where writers and artist briefly talk to each in short sessions. I will pitch some scripts I have in mind.
  2. Avoid Hall H over-hype, and attend many small panels involving creator driven content across printed and digital platforms. Get inspired!
  3. Ask for critique from some writers on short scripts, and learn to pitch my work.
  4. Get some collectible show exclusives on my list. Dark Horse, Funko, DKE Toys, NECA, Super7 are tops on my list so far.
  5. Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D, Sandman: Dream Hunters artist) will be a guest of honor for this year. I hope to meet him again (last time was in 2008) and hopefully get something signed, sketched if possible.
  6. Break into a couple good parties with friends attending the SDCC. Talk, drink and geek out. Maybe, make new friends too.
  7. Treasure hunt for deals on some out print trade paperbacks/graphic novels, and strange oddities for cheap. I am a sucker for loose, weird toys too.
  8. Give blood for the  Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive, of which I get some cool stuff for doing, and meet some people every time.
  9. Purchase some original comic page art. Something cool and frameable, yet not too pricy. Or, pay for a really good commission sketch.
  10. Seek out new reads, and converse with creative talent.

That’s all my planning for now with more goals to add soon, including interviews and ideas on growing this Stranger Worlds site.  With that, the possibilities are endless for the San Diego Comic Con.

So, forward on!

SW Graphic Novel Reading Review: Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

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  • Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson
  • Published by: DC Comics
  • Publication Date: September 28, 2016
  • Pages: 128
  • ISBN: 9781401249014, Price: $22.99

Synopsis: 

” WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON is Jill Thompson’s original graphic novel re-imagining of the early years of the Amazon Princess Diana, who would grow up to become Wonder Woman. This fully painted graphic novel is unlike any Wonder Woman tale you have ever read, told as only Eisner Award- winning writer/artist Thompson could. When young Diana has the fawning attention of a nation, she grows spoiled. But a series of tragic events take their toll, and Diana must learn to grow up, take responsibility, and seize her destiny.

Steeped in the mythology of this iconic character’s original conception, WONDER WOMAN: THE TRUE AMAZON is designed to appeal to a wide range of readers. It’s a fresh, stand-alone interpretation of the most famous and iconic female superhero of all time and the fulfillment of a dream project by one of contemporary comics’ most acclaimed creators.”

A Look Over (spoilers):

Jill Thompson’s spin on the Wonder Woman origin was a pleasant, more in-depth take; surrounded by original imagery and unforgettable plot devices. Through out the 128-page graphic novel, the reader follows the journey of how Princess Diana of Themyscira became the heroine we know and love today.

Reading much like an ancient text describing the mythology of a culture, Thompson begins the tale from the very beginning, describing the Amazonians, their war efforts and arrival on the island of Themyscira. Found to be rather fitting regarding the subject matter, the execution of artistic and writing style combine beautifully to create a fitting epic in time for Wonder Woman’s current 75th Anniversary.

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Throughout the in-depth description of the young heroine and her coming of age, I felt put off by some of the details of focus in her life. Much like all other children never being told ‘no’ through out their aging, Diana exhibits all negative traits that go along with it, creating a very conceited and boastful younger woman determined to torment those who cared for her. While it is a very realistic and human take on the heroine, adding such faults for the given amount of time that it was focused on gave a new feeling to her, one that was enjoyable at first.

As the story progresses, the author’s intention through this aspect is made clear, the negative traits regarding Diana becoming an obstacle when it comes to winning over the only Amazonian not automatically giving her the same unconditional love the others do. This quest for love becomes her main motive in life, all in attempt to win over her with the respect that goes along with it; ultimately driving her to become the Wonder Woman we know.

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Personal Thoughts: 

Despite the small criticism, I have little complaints regarding Thompson’s take on the origin story. Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is a refreshing, colourful look at a daunting and well-known character.

The art style is pleasing to the eye, the colours and overall drawing style were used in providing a well fitting universe surrounding the narrative. Such textures aided the fantasy of the land, giving depth and emotion to the setting alone. I feel that watercolour in comics is a highly underappreciated form. when used correctly, the imagery is stunning, the contrasts and motions holding their own when coupled with the natural textures and compositions of the medium. Since it is not used too commonly in comics, I welcome every instance of it; finding myself drawn to its beauty.

I easily recommend this novel, the beauty of it almost too much to describe. Upon flipping through the pages, I felt myself unable to let go, sucked into the origin in a way that I had not felt before. Thompson broke down Wonder Woman’s character in a way, easier to digest than the previously wide open gaps in her storyline while leaving mystery to her as a whole. The interaction between characters, the subtle drives and motives coupled with a powerful and life changing turn around provides the reader with a coming of age telling that is not easy to forget. Coupled with the beautiful artwork and stunning use of watercolour, Wonder Woman: The True Amazonian is unforgettable.

From the Page to Real Life: 

In recent news, Wonder Woman has given the temporary title as honorary ambassador to the UN in a rather controversial move. In the 75 years of her creation, this heroine has stood for strength, power, liberty, and freedom; all idealistic traits for any leader. From the beginning, Wonder Woman stood for an archetype of females not too heavily seen in media, especially in comics and cinema where the Hero’s Journey trope is regularly used. Since her first appearance in All Star Comics #8 in 1941, Diana has exemplified a different type of woman, providing a sense of strength and ability.

Described in the 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston illustrates his intent through this choice…

“Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” 

By placing Wonder Woman as temporary ambassador, the idealistic qualities that surround her are exemplified through the position, providing insight on the grounds of a capable, strategic, and powerful woman. This choice became rather controversial once members of the UN staff began to protest, requesting reconsideration on the grounds of the cultural insensitivity and sexual objectivity surrounding her. Instead, they suggested the placement of a real woman in that position, still holding all of the idealistic traits Wonder Woman stands for. Personally, I see no harm in the current choice as long as it is temporary. After 75 years, recognition of impact this heroine has had on the world is a nice way to end 2016 with the milestone of her creation.

-Katherine A

As a young girl, I grew up with little to no connection to the universe of comics. Raised by two parents who despised fiction, fantasy, and any world that was not the one we lived in, my sights were very narrow regarding what I was allowed to take in. I had known of the superheros and epic tales through the childhood games of the peers that surrounded me, my interests always being there in a way that could no easily connect. Growing up and gaining my own independence, I have been allowed to find my own interests, doing now what my parents had never allowed me to do. Through this, I was able to explore forms of media such as cartoons, comics, and the genre of sci-fi as a whole. In a way, I am trying to take back my childhood and remake it in a way that was never allowed.