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  • SDCC 08: Done and Done

    I meant to blog a little more about those last two days, but didn’t get back around wifi the rest of the time. Yes, I know there was wifi in the Convention Center, but I couldn’t risk taking in my laptop, loaded as it is with secret plans for the Marvel Universe in 2009, you see.

    So we got crushed by MOUSE GUARD at the Eisners! But it was a pleasant crush, and I can never feel bad about more kudos being heaped upon David Petersen. I was surprised by Samuel Jackson as an awards presenter, and as you might expect, he was perfect as a host. The biggest laugh of the night though was Tom Kinney (Mr. Show, SpongeBob’s voice, etc.) introducing the nominees for Best Kids Publication, beginning with “Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbe!”

    Just when I thought I was done with signings and meetings, Saturday I was roped by Jim McCann into a gameshow at the Marvel Booth, with the supertalented colorist Christina Strain. It was a “Pyramid” style game, where we looked at answers on the screen and tried to help players from the crowd guess them. The first guy we got, I’m not sure has ever read a comic much less a Marvel one, so that was frustrating. But the others were great and I think they were awarded mad heaps of swag for playing.

    Somehow, even though the experience of being at the show every day is exactly like being a mouse trapped in a pinball machine that won’t stop giving out extra games, I managed to catch up with some people I wanted to, like J.G. Jones, John Van Fleet and Mark Schultz. Mark signed a poster for my son, the proceeds of which fund a specific paleontology project to research a newly discovered Ceratopsid. As if I didn’t want an iPhone already, Cameron Stewart pointed out that his gives him alerts fifteen minutes before appearances, which would have been very, very useful this weekend. I found a Lucy Van Pelt figure someone dropped, and realizing that there was no chance of that person tracing their steps to find the missing bendy, I held onto it to give to my daughter. I did stand there holding it over my head for a few minutes like a dork in hopes that the person would somehow see me. No matter where I went, I saw Grant Morrison, or a life model decoy of him wearing an equally snazzy suit. Or I would see Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue, and The Littlest Fraction-Sue. In fact, it’s really strange how often people can recur among mobs of 100,000… is this true for individual sardines or bees?

    RANTASTIC: I’m not going to rail yet again on how marginalized comics are at the show began for them, that is “played” as Chris Sims would say. But I will make a plea for altering the landscape of the show so that cartoonists, illustrators, writers and so on are positioned by the booksellers. Just have a loud half of the building, and a quiet half. There’s no reason the two should be mixed, and I don’t think it helps creators trying to show off their wares or make themselves available for being met. It just puts them in the zone where casual convention goers will blast through them only interested in promotional freebies. And it makes book-readin’ types especially knackered unnecessarily. It’s not like the FOX booth isn’t going to get any foot traffic because you moved Bernie Wrightson or Mike Mignola over by Bud Plant Comics and Comic Relief, and I’m fairly certain Gary Gianni doesn’t sell more Prince Valiant pages because he’s across from some gardamned video karaoke booth. So please, Comicon Dungeonmasters, consider it.

    Rant Part Two: As you might expect, there were a fair amount of secret meetings going on with comics creators all weekend. Executives from other media got their best salt-n-pepper suits on, a little witch hazel dabbed behind the ears, carrying a bodacious bouquet of daffodils, all set for a-courtin’ us to the moving picture shows. They bring everything but… Ownership. And I’m guessing that the reason is they now know what our typical page rates are, and how miniscule that is compared to scripting rates in other media. So now we’re being invited to come up with original, franchise-able ideas in exchange for the possibility of being allowed to work on said properties in other media, which pay better. I think I preferred things a few years ago when everyone at least tried to trick me out of rights, rather than being told I’m a lucky devil for never having any to begin with. Here, in the summer of Iron Man and Dark Knight when there’s more money than ever for comics-based concepts, those Courters are getting even tighter with their sweet promises. Really? Not even partial ownership? Daaamn.

    Before anyone points out to me that I already write a ton of work-for-hire, yes, that fact has not escaped me. But it’s mostly on characters that I didn’t create nor make popular. I haven’t had any publishers approach me for wholly original material with only the offer of a page rate or “opportunity.” Those people would certainly be wearing a pointy hat of upturned ice cream cone, the universal gesture of do not insult me. And in my punchy haze after being in that pinball machine for a few days, I did consider the fact (as I bet did my counterparts) that I had a couple of concepts I’ve developed that I have no current plans for that would fit the bills of these various invitations. But after getting home and sleeping for a day straight, I have my faculties about me again, and my reply is: Engage in Corprophagy, my new friends! (See how I try to avoid having filters ban my website?) There’s no way to know if these things would help me or not, but they clearly do establish a precedent in dealing with comics creators. So I put this out to all my fellow laptoppers in the mythical terms we understand life best through: we’re Penelope, with all these bums in our palace eating our food, telling us Odysseus is dead and we need to settle for one of them. But he’s not, and if we’re patient, the lot of them are going to catch an ass-full of arrows very soon. And, it will be funny.

    Now back to planning how the Agents of Atlas will meet Galactus. As you were.

    Note: I also met some very cool and reasonable Hollywood people with no such magic beans, but that doesn’t make for a good post-convention rant. Please excuse any generalization.

    Comments

    Comment from jackmarlowe
    Time: July 28, 2008, 2:37 pm

    Welcome Jeff!!.

    Had been amazing visit a Comicon, with artist and publishers, expositions…

    For RAnt one: I understand that artists (writers, pencillers, inkers…) don´t have a big stand for assemble and talk of the industry, his work and another things; and only talk of projects that publish in different editorials.
    Is exactly or your refer to fact that comic is less space than others like movie stands, videogames and others?

    For RAnt two: The media only search comic-book creators for make ideas and sell for producers and pay creators a minimum royalty or you talk that creators had the rights but no creative propierty and studios had big power to change all?

    Agents of Atlas= Galactus. SILVER GORILLA :)

    Comment from Parker
    Time: July 28, 2008, 3:00 pm

    Felipe, it’s not more space I’m asking for- though that would be nice since people are becoming bloodthirsty over Artist Alley space- but to keep all the quiet tables together. The place is EXTREMELY loud and chaotic with all the booth displays that have music, lights, screens and so on.

    I can’t quite follow your English in part two (it would be worse if I tried to write Spanish though, you’re way ahead of me!), but what I’m saying is that producers are trying to get creative work from writers and artists now with no ownership at all. I’m not sure how to word that better for translation, I apologize.

    Comment from jackmarlowe
    Time: July 28, 2008, 3:25 pm

    The strategy of producers recalls sadly the times of National (DC Comics) and Timely (Marvel): Kirby, Gerber, Siegel, Shuster…
    Then Ben 10 of Man of Action Studio don´t be paid for all merchandising and don´t have power to change serie?

    The situation is red alert: Is fast food today but hunger for tomorrow. The artists and creators had a Foundation or another thing for keep and save his rights in the media world?

    Comment from Parker
    Time: July 28, 2008, 3:37 pm

    Exactly right- and good metaphor!

    Comment from Michael May
    Time: July 28, 2008, 5:05 pm

    Speaking of metaphors, that Penelope one is the best thing I’ve read all day.

    And Agents of Atlas vs. Galactus! I’m getting weepy just thinking about it.

    Comment from neil kleid
    Time: July 28, 2008, 8:16 pm

    Good to see you. Next time, let’s make out in the DC booth a little.

    Comment from Parker
    Time: July 28, 2008, 10:53 pm

    Aw, I was just funnin’ about Galactus. But the Avengers face him in my latest Marvel Adventures story. Thanks Michael!

    Neil, that would be HOT.

    Comment from Matt Wieringo
    Time: July 29, 2008, 7:38 am

    “Engage in Corprophagy, my new friends!” is going to be my new catchphrase. Thanks! (Though you retain full rights.)

    Comment from Matt M.
    Time: July 29, 2008, 9:05 am

    Hydra buys up the public shares of all Atlas-related companies. Mayhem ensues.

    On the con tip, was nice to see you for a (relatively) quiet moment there. But man, you miss Saturday and it seems like you miss frickin’ EVERYTHING.

    Comment from Keith
    Time: July 29, 2008, 12:01 pm

    Hey, thx for signing my AoA #6. I talked with Colleen Coover and she asked me if you drew a monkey and I was like “What!?!” =p. I completely agree with your rant 1. Crowd control was horrible. Putting all videogame companies in one area just caused giant congestion. The Star Wars/Fox nexus was just nuts. Oh well, keep on rocking.

    Comment from Suzanne
    Time: July 30, 2008, 4:34 pm

    Jeff-

    Hi! I checked out the Eisner Awards results on Variety.com and was sad to see that your name was not among the winners. You know you’re always a winner with Matt and I! (was that corny enough?) I have not gotten a chance to read Agents of Atlas but Matt truly digs it and my man knows his comic books.

    Regarding Rant 2- Hell yes. All you creative guys who come up with these great characters- fight for ownership. Fight for ownership or a slice of EVERYTHING they use your characters for. You guys have got to band together and fight for that right. Keep fighting the good fight and I’m going to go look up all your metaphors…….

    Comment from LurkerWithout
    Time: August 3, 2008, 1:49 am

    Agents of Atlas What If? Galactus shows up in 50s/60s, only AoA can try and stop him. They fail, Galactus eats Earth, takes on GorillaMan curse. Giant Purple Space Gorilla!

    Comment from Parker
    Time: August 3, 2008, 7:09 am

    Elegant- I like it!

    Comment from ivan brandon
    Time: August 4, 2008, 3:21 pm

    hooboy, that meeting sure was… something.

    Comment from Parker
    Time: August 4, 2008, 3:52 pm

    Wasn’t it though?

    Comment from B. Clay Moore
    Time: August 5, 2008, 9:39 am

    The more comic creators begin to understand the power they have with regard to how their creator-owned concepts are handled in other media, the better things will be for everyone.

    The pursuit of fresh ideas in comics by Hollywood is allowing many creators to better control their careers.