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Maggie Thompson's Comic-Con Diary: The Final Day

Maggie Thompson

I hope you've noticed how articulate and reportorial these entries have been. That's about to change. With Comic-Con technically over, we happy attendees are, yes, trying to note events so as not to forget them in the overwhelming overload of con-going. But we're also at the stage at which our brains have turned to pudding. So. Not so articulate and reportorial.

The last day of the show, and I was finally (though sleep-deprived) enough recovered from my cold that I pretty well charged through the day, starting with a breakfast with J.C. Vaughn, for whose Scoop I've been producing a weekly Turning Points feature. He hired me when he was associate publisher and executive editor of Gemstone; since then, he's been named vice president of publishing there. And our conversation included—but was not limited to—the changes we've seen in The Business of Comics in the last few decades. (Have you noticed that we're in The Golden Age of Comics Reprints and Research, for example?)

Then, I finished packing and shipping an enormous carton of clothing, heavy books, other purchases, etc. The goals: to lighten luggage for the trip back and to leave room I could fill with more comics purchase before show's end. Done! (Note to self: The deletion of stuff was extreme enough that the soft-sided luggage seemed insufficiently full at the airport. Good job—but weird.)

Then, it was a dash to Mark Evanier's Cartoon Voices panel—which meant waiting in a line to get into the jam-packed event. Which was OK, because I was finally able to get together with buddy Kathy Li, whom I'd first hung out with on the long-ago Comic Book Legal Defense Fund cruise. (She was about five from the end of the line when I joined it and selflessly gave up that spot to drop back to be with me. Because part of the fun of Comic-Con is hanging with friends and another part is not line-jumping.) Once we got in, we ended up sitting (among roughly 2,000 others) behind voice artist Fred Tatasciore (a voice of The Hulk, among many other characters)—because, yes, even con audiences are packed with fun people.

The fun of watching a panel of skilled voice actors performing (and ad-libbing to) a "Snow White" script was followed by Kathy and me trying to handle our Comic-Con Bucket List before the end of the show. Some of which was as follows:

A quick chat with Anthony Tollin confirmed that he has turned up even more examples (as shown in his The Shadow #74) of Shadow influences on Batman imagery. Roy Thomas and I bantered at the TwoMorrows booth over the impending deadline for the upcoming CBG Tribute issue of Alter Ego. Kathy delivered a San Diego chocolate bar to Dave McKean in her annual ritual. A conversation with Craig Yoe at Bud Plant's booth revealed that it would be a simple matter to get together in New York, next time I'm thataway. (Yet another benefit of Comic-Con is the chance to prepare for events yet to come. I lost track of how many people I talked with who were people I'd been meaning to contact but hadn't yet gotten around to. Till now.)

Then came a fantastic dinner with Mark Evanier, Rachel and Charlie Kochman, and Alice and Leonard Maltin—joined in the course of things by Fred Tatasciore. I'd been hoping to run into Leonard to tell him of my admiration for a recent essay he'd written about the idea of movie buffs returning to the source of films. Have you read the Oz books? How many Men in Black fans have read those films' comics source? Have you? For that matter, while we know about "Rube Goldberg machines," how many of Goldberg's machine cartoons have you actually seen? Leonard cited the influence of Stephen Becker's Comic Art in America, which brought such later readers as him—and me—our first glimpses of comics classics.) Leonard also said that he'd heard that, at one point, John Landis had been considering a Lone Ranger script written by Flashman writer George MacDonald Fraser—a script now perhaps lost forever.

Exhausted and happy but unable to leave the delights of one of many wrap-up events in the city, I found the day delightfully concluded by: Reciting Canterbury Tales to scholar Karen Green; hearing Graffiti's Bob Chapman refer to T-shirts as "a gateway drug" ("They already buy T-shirts, and some get into comics initially just from the images on what they're wearing"); confirming that Bob (whose early T-shirt stock had come to Comic-Con in his van) had had to use four 25-foot trucks to get this year's stock to the show); photographing another photographer; meeting John Cassaday and so many others for the first time; hearing from Eric Shanower that he's working on writing a four-issue version of a modern Little Nemo; pitching an Ed Wheelan Minute Movies collection to editor Scott Dunbier ...

Pause for breath. OK, you comics geeks? Ever heard of Ed Wheelan's Minute Movies? Just saying. There's such a wealth of great comics entertainment, you can't possibly know it all.

Regrets? I missed Carolyn Kelly, who was feeling too ill to make it this year. I missed spending more time at the show, thanks to my own (far less nasty) illness. I eventually missed sleep (got three hours' worth last night). Oh, so much more to say. But filing this story from the airport and ... Getting ... So ... Sleepy ...

I forgot my wireless keypad for the iPad; won't make that mistake next year ...

Next year ... Must start planning for next year. I think the lines may already be forming for Mark's 2014 Quick Draw ...