Jul 23, 2006

San Diego Comic-Con '06

a handful of the 80 billion people attending the San Diego Comicon on Saturday

I didn't think I would be there, but at the 11th hour I went, by car. My mission: look for hard-to-find, self-published artist's sketchbooks, out of print art books, maybe acquire some original art. I hadn't been to this event in almost a decade, and while I expected it to have changed, nothing prepared me for the insanity of tens of thousands of frantic, hot and bulky attendees (nearly everyone had multiple luggage attached) at this year's Con. I had a prepaid admission, but the unprepared(which I nearly was myself) waited for hours in the hot, hot sun. This after a commute that took 4.5 hours from Los Angeles(usually about half that). In any case, I was ready and eager to hit the floor of the massive convention hall, packed as it was with thousands of sweaty bodies.

The most obvious difference is just how consumed by all pop culture the Con has become, and how few of the booths had a direct association with what we generally think of as "comics". Not that that's necessarily bad--it's a treat to see so many artists(many from animation) selling their own sketchbooks, art, and crafty goods.
I was there from 3:30 til they kicked everyone out at 7, yet barely scratched the surface. I never met Floyd Norman(who I was told asked after me--where were you, Floyd? I'm sorry I missed you!), never found the Chronicle Books booth OR the booth of my online buddy Jenny("sewdarncute"), and missed countless other goodies, I'm sure. But thanks to the homing device attached to Dave Pimentel, I did locate the Stuart Ng booth, where I pretty much spent my allowance:

Modest in number, but choice! Among the titles here shown are:
Animation Blast issue 9
Chris Sanders Sketchbook 1b
Mucci Time/David 'Mucci' Fassett
Frogg's Lament, a Paper Biscuit book by Ronnie del Carmen
Enrico Casarosa's Sketchcrawling
Paul Brigg's PBCB Studios Sketchbook, vol. 3
Pierre Alary, Carnet de Croquis Sketchbook
Entre Chats, a compendium bandes dessines by 22 different french artists all riffing on cats; I was wowed in particular by Severin and Franquin
a great book reproducing some Joseph Clement Coll drawings
...and some wonderful stuff from Conduct Happiness: tshirt, buttons and a flipbook animated by James Baxter

Dave Pimentel listens to Pierre Alary, a superb artist who had several wonderful bandes dessines and a sketchbook available at Stuart Ng's booth
Dave and his longtime pal Clay Kaytis--in addition to browsing, buying and chatting up dozens of friends--were producing a microphone from time to time and doing Animation Podcast interviews on the spot--a great idea that also seemed insane, given the decibel level in the hall and the general ambience of a Tokyo subway car at 5 o'clock, but if anyone can make a good show out of that cacophany, it'd be Clay. Yours truly was cruelly ambushed by Pimentel and offered the most stilted remarks imaginable--one can only pray that judicious editing reduces any Blackwing Diaries presence to a "Hi!". here's hoping.

More fighting(I'm not kidding--at various points I was holding my arms elbows out just to make it, inch by inch, cross the aisles), and an hour later I found the booth for Conduct Happiness, a fun and charmingly designed line of kidswear(and adults, too)run by Disney and James Baxter animator/designers Joe Moshier and Chris Sonnenburg; I've long admired their work and was glad to have a brief chance to chat with Chris, a huge Fred Moore fan(aren't we all!), who told me a bit about a touching visit to Ollie Johnston's home he'd made recently, accompanied by a small group of dedicated animation artists...he said some mighty nice things about this blog, an all I can say is to repeat my debt to James Walker, who's provided virtually 100% of the Moore artwork and much of the facts I've been able to post here. It's an honor to be associated in any way at all with such names as Moore's. if only to pass along the work, which was James' intent--what generosity. I find all afficonados of such great animation and drawing are also swell people...must be a connection there somewhere. Wouldn't Fred be surprised, though?
While at Conduct Happiness a general hoohah greeted the arrival of a guy someone called "my old director!": John Sandford. One of my favorite artists by virtue of his Chippy & Loopus comics, and all his drawings in general. However, as I was fast sweating into a puddle, and he was surrounded by hailing pals, I didn't get the nerve to introduce myself...by then it was almost 7pm, closing time for the hall. I saw the Mach 5, a gaggle of Predators, the usual storm troopers and snow troopers, one Jack Sparrow and a few other types...I probably missed ten thousand other cool exhibits and people and books. Even with the crush of bodies, the waiting everywhere and the unbearable heat I had a swell time, and the hours flew by. But next year, I think I'm going on a Thursday. Whaddya say, fellas?

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Anonymous said...

I went to ComicCon, too! I'm in the middle of posting my pictures to Flickr, and I noticed yours. So much fun. This is my third year going, but my first year not working the event.

Marlo said...

SHIT! i wish we met! dont worry we will soon. why didnt you have your own booth?! sold some sketches!

I didnt get a chance to buy anything! i justgot a lot of presents from people, drawings and their sketchbooks. figured i'd eye-shop through everyone's stuff, then order what i want later.

I met the sew darn cute girl before at a comic book store!

would you come to a sketch night if i had one?


Jenny Lerew said...

Ha! My own booth?! I didn't think I'd make it to the Con at all--truly a last minute trip...but my buddies and I have big plans, and next year we'll take the place over. If I start planning now, that is.

Seriously, I'm positive I missed tons of good books in addition to what I did manage to grab up--you'd damn sure better have one of yours to sell this time next year, missy! Wasn't thatjust an insane madhouse? But then, you're more accustomed than most to drawing in crowds...I'll bet that was still something of a shock, wasn't it? You certainly looked relaxed--laughing your head off!

Sketch night sounds swell. But I'm not like you guys--no way could I pull off doing super-sketches one after the other...you girls scare and amaze me. But hell, I need the practice!

John S. said...

What??? You were there? When? Which one were you? Shit!!! Introduce yourself next time!!! I would have liked to meet you!!!
I envy your haul!!! I was only there for an hour!! (Check in to C&L tommorow for the full story on that!)
All I got was the Sanders book, the flip book, and Bobby Rubio's book. I have to figure out a way to pick up all the stuff I missed!

pbcbstudios said...

Jenny! - Sorry I missed you! I actually bailed out of there saturday morning. I can't handle the crowds on that day. I watched Allary drawing on friday, it was amazing! Thanks for buying my book! We'll have to meet sometime-


Bobby Pontillas said...

Chris Sanders had sketchbooks for sale? ARGH!

Ward Jenkins said...


Some day I'll get a chance and go, and if I do, I'll be sure and go on a Thursday to dodge the crowds. Ha! If that's possible—looks like a madhouse!

J said...

SDCC= craziest thing ever. I have to get there next year.
Great haul Jenny!

Anonymous said...

Do I spy a copy of the Blast in your con loot? Thanks for picking up a copy, Jenny. I hope it's to your liking.

Jenny Lerew said...

Hey Amid! yes, that is indeed a brand-spanking-new copy of Blast #9! Mind you, I pre-ordered one a while ago--which I'm sure is on its way later this month...but two is better than one, and I couldn't wait.
It looks great! I can't believe you managed to squeeze in the Shank/Mate/etc, additions--those must have been really last minute, and what a keen idea. You've been touting that issue for a long time, and it lives up to the hype. I haven't finished reading it yet-I'm drawing it out. All great stuff!

btw, I was so frustrated that by the "2 minute warning" I still hadn't found the bloody Chronicle Books booth. Not surprising as I covered about 1/50th of the hall in the time allowed me, darn it. I've heard that the CCon may be in Anaheim next year; if true-thank god! I love San Diego as a venue, but the commute is a killer. What a madhouse! I hope you post some sort of recap of your experiences on the Brew soon.

Dan Goodsell said...

I bought my space for next year and it is still the San Diego Comic Con. Sorry you never made it to my side of the building but I never had a chance to get to the Stuart Ng booth and I was there 5 days. I did pick up my copy of Cartoon Modern from Chronicle - too good to be believed.

Amelia Lorenz said...

I recognise some of those books- :)
But there's a CHRIS SANDERS BOOK???


Starline said...

Do you know if the Chris Sanders Sketchbook is available anywhere else to buy?

John S. said...

I've been encouraging Chris to get a blog. I'll try to convince him to start a blog or some kind of site so that he can make his books, stickers and t-shirts available online!

antikewl said...

A Chris Sanders Sketcbook? I'm jealous! :)

Anonymous said...

Well, Jenny never found me at the Con, but we did finally hook up at, of all places -- DreamWorks! And, what energy this young woman has. We could have used you on "The Jungle Book." Of course, you hadn't been born yet. Oh well.

It's been a while since I've visited Katzenbergland. It was great to see a lot of old friends again, and look at the cool artwork everywhere. I'm impressed. You guys rock!

Emma said...

It was crazy! Packed! But I'm glad you got some good stuff. Our bus driver said that she'd heard they would be holding it in SD for another two years and then they'd be looking for somewhere bigger. I think the problem with space could be solved if Nintendo and like Sideshow Collectibles had smaller booths, but whatever.

You still interested in one of my sketchbooks? My estimate of having none left over turned out to be a little optimistic!

Kevin Koch said...

Ward, someone said that this year Thursday was as crowded as Saturday was last year! I got there at 10 AM on Saturday and figure I covered maybe 10% of the convention hall before I ran out of gas from all the shoving.

But the highlight is definitely all the animators with their own cool stuff for sale. Crazy as it is, I'll be back next year.

Anonymous said...

I ran into Chris Sanders at the very end on Sunday night... the rest of his sketchbooks (which are AMAZING, by the way!) went to Stuart Ng and Bud Plant... you should be able to get them online v. soon.

Jenny Lerew said...

Emma, I definitely want one of your books! Email me with details--or I'll go over to your blog.

Kevin--oy! I have a strong feeling that next year will be even bigger, if that's possible--and the exploding artists' sketchbook/other items scene is, well--just going to keep exploding. Exponentially!

Floyd--if I can call you Floyd?--what an absolute treat to finally meet you! I hope I didn't freak out too much...alright, I did, I admit it. Couldn't help it! You loom large against the animation landscape, sir! As for using me on "Jungle Book"--as a King Louie model, maybe? I certainly jump around enough! ; D
I hope we can meet up soon for a good chat amd lunch.

Jenny Lerew said...

"anonymous"--thanks! I'm going to re-post your info so all the people who've asked can know where to go.

Cookedart said...

The Joseph Clement Coll book is pretty fantastic, eh?

I totally want that Pierre Alary and Chris Sanders book...

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenny! I went down on Thursday, thinking it would be less crowded. Silly me. It was packed! I picked up a few sketchbooks from some Pixar folk, but a few of the books I wanted didn't go on sale until Friday. It was great running into friends I hadn't seen in a while, but at the same time it was utterly exhausting. As much as I love San Diego, I wouldn't mind seeing the Con move a little further north towards LA. Despite the crowds, I'm still looking forward to next year. Don Shank and some of his Pixar buds are gonna put a book together. Can't wait! And next time I'm bringin' cash with me, cuz no one takes freakin' credit cards at the Con!!!