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Maggie’s World 063: Plans

Here’s a Thing About Life ...

The Internet says that comic-strip writer Allen Saunders (1899-1986) wrote in 1957, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” As far as I know, the Internet has so far failed to identify whether he wrote it for Steve Roper, Mary Worth, or Kerry Drake. But I digress.

Preparing for Comic-Con, you can plan and plan and plan (and note booth numbers and event schedules), but what often blows you away is what you don’t plan.

Nevertheless, when it comes to Comic-Con, you should begin by building that framework.

Emil Ferris at the 2018 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

Among magic moments at the Eisner Awards ceremony: First-time graphic-novel creator Emil Ferris won in several categories. Have you read her work? Photo © 2018 Maggie Thompson. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters © 2018 Emil Ferris.


In fact, what I found myself referring to at multiple points every day this year at Comic-Con was a one-page print-out I’d made in advance. It included addresses (specific hotels and restaurants), confirmation numbers, reservation times, and more.

For example:

  • Saturday, July 21, 79/71 clouds 5:55/7:54
  • 9:30 am-7 pm Exhibit Hall open
  • 11:45-2:30 pm Mark Evanier’s Quick Draw and Voice Artist panels in 6BCF
  • 4:30-5:30 pm Evanier with Wonder Woman’s Joye Murchison Kelly in 5AB
  • 8:30 pm Joye and Jack Kelly [4 person reservation] to 1500 Ocean, Hotel del Coronado

(I identified the date, the predicted high and low temperature and weather, sunrise and sunset, hall hours, an address for the taxi I’d be taking, and specific “Don’t Miss” events.)

Later, I scrawled in amendments to the schedule with such notes as the name under which the dinner reservation had been made, the number of the Kellys’ hotel room at the Hilton, and a cellphone number at which they could be reached.

It was then a framework into which “whatever happens” could fit. Because sometimes the most touching moments occur almost without warning. (The panel celebrating the life of Harlan Ellison wasn’t on the original schedule, for example, but its sharing of memories stays with me.)

Whatever ...

Given that on-paper framework, daughter Valerie, grandson Devon, and I were able to relax and enjoy all the unplanned moments that also occurred.

Oh, by the way: Whereas I carried my schedule in my pocket for ready reference at all times, I also carried a folder that included a couple of pages of plastic pockets for business cards, a plastic protective envelope for Stuff that might get lost, etc.

And—not so by the way—I kept a rough record of some of the fun by having my camera always at hand to remind myself of a few of the unexpected unplanned moments that I’d enjoyed. (I hadn’t realized until just now that Valerie had also taken photos with my phone—bringing to my attention that photo diaries can now be A Thing.)

Unplanned Magic Moments ...

Emil Ferris: Not to be missed at Comic-Con are the annual comics Eisner Awards, announced in ceremonies Friday night. On Free Comic Book Day this year, I’d looked for copies of “Best Graphic Album—New” nominees, so I’d bought (but not yet read) Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. Its win in that category and “Best Coloring” and for her as “Best Writer/Artist” made me look forward to pulling it out for further examination. It was stunning (and inspiring) that this first graphic-novel project was so swiftly recognized. What awaits us in the future from people who aren’t even known as professionals yet?

Joye Murchison Kelly at Comic-Con International 2018

The Golden Age Wonder Woman writer remained uncredited for decades. At the con, she received in-person admiration from her fans. [Left to right: Joye Murchison Kelly, Jack Kelly, Anina Bennett, Liz Schiller]. Photo © 2018 Maggie Thompson. Comic-Con brings pros together with those who adore them. [Left to right: Valerie Thompson, Maggie Thompson, Fred Tatasciore, Devon Jaruk]. Photo © 2018 Bruce Guthrie.


Joye Murchison Kelly: Speaking of people who aren’t known as professionals, she was another notable honoree this year. The Bill Finger Award is given to creators whose works have contributed to the medium but whose names have not been widely credited. Joye Kelly wrote the adventures of Wonder Woman in the 1940s but wasn’t acknowledged until recently. At the age of 94, she received standing ovations in each of her convention appearances, and it was my honor to treat her and her husband, Jack, to dinner their last night of the show. (Tip of the Thompson Topper to Steve Leialoha, who made the event a foursome and brought his knowledge to the memorable experience.)

Fred Tatasciore: Three years ago, Valerie, Devon, and I were first introduced to the magnificent Fred Tatasciore, who has voiced many of the most menacing characters in today’s animation: The Hulk, 8, Volstagg, Megatron … How anyone so amiable can be so convincing as a terror … Well, as he points out in appearances on the Internet’s “Talking Voices,” it’s acting. Every year, I’m staggered by his caring and skill, and his kindness to fans continues to be an inspiration.

Those were only three of this year’s many magic moments for me. Day after day brought delight after delight.

Paul Levitz at Comic-Con International 2018

The show is simultaneously exhausting and exciting—with a variety of rewards for all. At left, Paul Levitz explained the need for Hero Initiative, one of comics’ charities. (It provides support for creators in need.) Photo © 2018 Maggie Thompson. Grandson Devon experimented in a software demo booth aimed at creators. Photo © 2018 Maggie Thompson

Despite Plans

As is the case every year, some hoped-for meet-ups just didn’t happen. I never got to spend more than a passing moment (if that) this year with such favorites as Scott Shaw!, Jeff Vaughn, Gary Sassaman, Neil Gaiman, Brian Hibbs, Sergio Aragonés, Larry Marder, Lea Hernandez, Beau Smith, Max Allan Collins, and more, more, more …

As also seems to be the case every year, I came across ideas I’ll pursue in the months to come. (For example, a couple of software developers were exhibiting tools that could open the door for the next generation of animation and online creators. Could one writer-artist someday produce what it used to take a full studio to accomplish? What if all the workers in such studios each developed new projects that way? We’ll see.)

You may hear the occasional complaint, “They’re calling it a pop culture event, but what about comics?” Then, you’ll recall that the convention has been about pop culture since its very beginning, fewer than five years after the “pop culture” term itself was popularized. (Among the original official guests were Forry Ackerman, Ray Bradbury, and A.E. van Vogt.) We did wait in line for one non-comics event at which we were turned away, because the room was full. But, as Valerie commented, as we strolled away, “Hey, everyone is still smiling!”

And, yes, it was true.

Because, as seems to be the case every year, the over-all mood of Comic-Con is excited all-ages elation. When I went to that first multi-day comics convention in New York City in July 1966, only four women attended: Pat Lupoff, Lee Hoffman, Flo Steinberg, and me. And there were no little kids.

Now? All ages, all genders, all smiling.

See you next year!

Maggie’s World by Maggie Thompson appears the first Tuesday of every month here on Toucan!