Tuesday, July 29, 2008

2008 San Diego Comic Con International Report

I went to Comic Con International for the third and possibly final time with Lee Hester of Lee's Comics. We left on Tuesday, July 22, when Lee informed me on the ride down in his large white van that this would be his last show after 22 appearances at the show. His reasons were numerous but mainly due to three things, little return on investment (although Lee's has shown a growing profit each year at the show, this profit is always paid back to the Con to reserve space for the following year), Hollywood's continued takeover of the Con (effectively pushing out the little guy, like comic book dealers), and the Convention Hall making much tighter restrictions on how and when people can bring in and remove their wares.

As we left at 6am, the drive was without incident and after a couple of stops, we arrived at the Con about 2pm, making very good time. At the convention, we met up with the incomparable Ron Murry, the nomadic comic book dealer that has been sharing Lee's booth with us for the past few years.

After three or four trips, we moved all of the stuff inside the Convention Hall and started to shape the booth. We left around 7pm and I was already exhausted, but had a great meal at Filippi's Pizza Grotto ( www.realcheesepizza.com), a great Italian restaurant that has meatballs the size of your fist, and family style meals that you can buy with $15 per person or less. Usually less.

We also checked into our hotel at Little Italy, La Pensione ( www.lapensionehotel.com), the last San Diego hotel bargain during the Convention at a little over $100 a night.

Filippi's was so good that we also ate there on Wed. and Thurs. nights. It's also a hit with other Con goers as we saw Marv Wolfman and Jim Valentino there, among others. Jerry Boyd joined us on the Thurs. night meal.

After a good night's sleep, we went back to the Con (usually walking or via Taxi) and shaped up Lee's booth. This literally took all day, but we were ready in time for the "Early Bird" show that last from approximately 6-9pm on Wed. evening.

Lee brought a lot of cool stuff. He brought his stock of Pure Hero shirts ( http://www.purehero.com/) that has been the hit of the show for the last couple of years. He also brought Duck & Cover buttons and stickers (also very successful) and a goodly amount of 50% off comics (comics Lee has had since 2006 that haven't been selling) and his $2.00 comic selection from the "Hey Kids Comics" spinner rack that features choice stuff in great condition from the 50s to the 80s (a REALLY good deal). He also had a brand new stock of recent acquisitions for sale at full price, but always at a fair price and fairly graded. (Lee's is one of the best in the business in this regard. He also does mail order.) Check out www.lcomics.com for more details or visit his shop on Ebay.

Jerry Boyd, Jerry Beck, Maggie Thompson, Grant Geissman, John Lustig, and Amy Lumet among others, all visited the booth.

Thursday morning was the BIG DAY. Long day, too. I met up with Dark Horse Comics, Scott Shaw!, Dan Parent, when I had the chance to sneak away from the booth, but it was a busy, busy day.

Friday was more of the same, but I found out this day that the Charles M. Schulz Museum was giving away buttons with rare "Peanuts" characters. A customer (I forgot her name) who told me about them, was nice enough to go there and try to get me a "Charlotte Braun" button, but they were out. She did get me a "Jose Peterson" on Saturday, and I got my own "Shermy" on Sunday. Incidentally, the Wed. button was "Violet & Patty" and the Thursday button was "3 & 4", but those were LOOONNNNG gone as they only pressed 1000 of each button. They will probably auction off a complete set on Ebay if anyone is interested.

I finally got the Cartoon Art Museum postcards for my Harvey show and began distributing them. EVERYONE who saw one was impressed.

That evening Lee and I dressed up for the Eisner Awards. The presenters included Sergio Aragones, Al Jaffee, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Estrada, Joe Ferrara, Joe Field, Paul Dini and his lovely wife Misty, and the festivities were MC'd by Bill Morrison and his lovely wife Kayre.

Saturday I finally made it across the room to the Artist's Alley. I ALWAYS complain that the Artist's Alley is completely at the opposite end of the room from the comic books that they work on with the impassable Hollywood section in the middle. Anyway, I did get across and met up with Pat and Shelly Block, Jorge Pacheco, Jerry Robinson, and others.

Meanwhile, while I was away, Lee gave space to R.S. Rhine of "Girls and Corpses" magazine ( www.girlsandcorpses.com) for a signing, but this really cut into our sales that day, much to Lee's chagrin. Meanwhile, Richard Dreyfus and Peter David were doing a signing one row over from us and I snapped a couple of pictures.

Later, Ron, his friend and helper Ken, Lee, Tom Orzechowski and I went to a different Italian restaurant (forgot the name) and had a nice meal.

Sunday I went over to John Morrow of Two Morrow's Publication to say hi. I am currently writing for Michael Eury's "Back Issue" magazine, that John publishes.

The show was over at 7, but then the real work began of the deconstruction of the booth, but we made it out of there in record time, less than two hours, with Ron and Ken's help. We then ate at yet another Italian restaurant and called it a night.

Lee and I got up relatively early on Monday morning, and headed home. Though Lee was kind of tired, we did make it with a few stops in about the same amount of time that it took to get there, about seven hours, arriving home about 3pm.

I will have to restructure the way I do San Diego should I continue to go as Lee will not be having a table. An early idea is to work for Ron (who is continuing to do the show) and Graham Crackers Comics (who is assuming the rest of Lee's old space), but I have about 355 days to think about it. Lee and I did reserve the hotel for next July at La Pensione and I will either stay with him or other friends, depending on what Lee wants to do, or if he even goes as a spectator. He will not have a booth.

Overall, I had a great time, but as always because of working at the booth, didn't see nearly as much as I could have, had I not been "chained" to a booth. This was a minor issue, as I did get around as much as I could, and made good contacts.

You can see all of the images that I took at the Con (save for a couple of bad takes) on my Photobucket account at http://s218.photobucket.com/albums/cc49/thft_2007/San%20Diego%202008/ . Permission is given for anyone to use these images, just please give me credit on any photo used.

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