Maggie Thompson’s Comic-Con 2013 Diary, Day Two!

HD Toucan reading a comic

My convention day (first full day! woot!) began with a concerted effort to fight off a sore throat no doubt brought on by my inadvertent lack of obsessive hand sanitizing during my travel. I do not blame the con. This is “travel crud.” So, if you travel by escalator or down stairs and hold the railing, wash your hands. You have been warned.

The panel discussing the history of the Eisner Awards was fun. Asked by Jackie Estrada how it had changed over the years, I blanked a bit, feeling that it is now precisely what it was created to be: a celebration of the best in the field. Then, of course, it occurred to me to pay tribute to the concerted efforts of the Comic-Con team to make it progressively more entertaining and to take advantage of current media tools to make it run both smoothly and excitingly. (As ever, the morning following the awards will see attendees trying to track down copies of the winners. That’s what I’ll be doing.)

(A later conversation with Jackie’s husband, Batton Lash, took me behind the scenes, when he commented that she wasn’t at the Exhibit A Press booth at that point, because she was sitting in the room where she was working out the program for Friday night.)

Noted for future reference: There really are a few quiet, carpeted halls in the convention center. There, you can sit on the floor to work on projects, check your phone messages, or do whatever else requires quiet sitting. But (and I use the term advisedly), while sitting down on the floor is comfortable, getting up can be quite another matter. (Yes, it’s yet another Toucan Tip.)

The annoyance of “travel crud” persisted through the afternoon, as my first cold in many months took increasing hold. That didn’t keep me from my second panel of the day, this one featuring Gary Sassaman, who took us behind the scenes of the Toucan blog. I grabbed the opportunity to tell Toucan cartoonist Rick Geary again how much I love his work, and he grabbed the opportunity to tell the audience that the Toucan really wasn’t designed as a Toucan but, rather, simply a bird with a big beak who wore human clothing. Who knew? The panel also featured Toucan blogger Marc Bernardin, whom I hadn’t met till then—which is another of the many benefits of Comic-Con. Bonding as writers, we agreed that the Oxford comma is a must (except when following AP style). Just saying.

I have no idea how (except for a possible obsession on my part) I ended up bonding with two different new acquaintances over our shared admiration of the not-quite-fantasy film The Fall (2006). Both Marc today and Karen Green yesterday confirmed our agreement—and verified, not only our impeccable taste, but also that Comic-Con is a paradise for the nerdly, whose appreciation of dynamic, imaginative storytelling lies at the root of many of our obsessions—obviously, including comics.

Though, by the end of the day, I still hadn’t made it to dozens of booths I plan to visit, there still seems to be enough time left not to panic about Exhibit Hall opportunities missed. Not. Quite. Yet. In the meantime, I’m still grabbing random opportunities at conversations. I think some sort of atomic theory might apply to the coalescence of acquaintances. One stops to chat with Jim Sokolowski, who’s worked behind the scenes in comics forever—and discover that the guy he’s talking with is former WonderCon program director Bryan Uhlenbrock. There ensues not only a discussion of how things have changed, but also different ways that comics can be marketed today.

Among people I yearn to sit down with sooner, rather than later, is Mark Evanier, whom I passed in the convention center lobby, as he steered his motorized wheelchair back to that area. He’d had knee surgery a bit ago—but said he’d decided he’d rather walk. He explains at greater length on his blog; he was concerned that he would, sooner or later, hit someone with his peppy vehicle. I’ll try to stop griping about my cold.

Though, before I do, let me toss in one more Toucan Tip: If you feel lousy at the show, consider recharging your batteries by taking a nap, if your hotel room is close enough. And, speaking of recharging batteries, consider using a back-up portable that will add juice to phone, computer, or whatever. At last night’s dinner, a table companion complained that her phone had little power left, and I was able to hand her my recharger, which brought things back to a satisfactory level.

The evening wrapped up for me at the dinner, chatting with (as we now call him) “Wolverine creator Len Wein” and his wife, Christine Valada, as the evening’s host, Michael Davis, acknowledged that Len had created more African American comics characters than had Michael. The dinner brought together an incredible variety of comics industry pros and fans, and table conversation included background information on what it’s like to be a devoted cosplayer. (It involves meticulous obsession, in case you wondered. Which is, come to think of it, pretty much true of the rest of us at Comic-Con.)

It was a grand way to end the day, still devoted to obsessions.

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