Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SDCC 2014: The Presence of Comics

As I look back at San Diego Comic Con and remember struggling to keep up with all the news that poured out over the four plus days, I was left with a revelation: comic publishers REALLY showed out. I don’t know how true that is compared to last year because I simply don’t remember last year’s show or when I went in 2011. My point isn’t to judge the past but to reflect on how we as comic fans, or perhaps just myself, look at Comic Con.

There’s no denying that Hall H, which I’ve never seen, is the big attraction. It’s all about the movie companies pulling their casts together to represent whatever big blockbuster is coming and the hottest movie trailers. The best news to come out of there this year was that image of Gal Gadot dressed as Wonder Woman for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

While all of this was happening, comic publishers and creators were representing their brands to the fullest. Tons of new comics were announced for this year and next. This included books from mainstream and independent publishers. Some of the news flew under the radar. This gave me pause to wonder: has it always been this way or is the show returning to its former glory?

I’ll admit I’m one of the people who think Comic Con isn’t as much of a “comic” convention as it once was. That’s debatable. The amount of publicity comic books receive, however, might not. Despite this, as a comic fan, I was excited. Leading up to the show, publishers rolled out numerous announcements such as BOOM! Studios dropping a new story on us every day for 15 consecutive days up to Comic Con. Marvel Comics of course went to other outlets to reveal Falcon will take over as Captain America in All-New Captain America and that a woman would become the new Thor.

Dark Horse Comics held nothing back either when they revealed the titles and creative teams for 12 new series to be released later this year and throughout 2015. One of those, by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra, will be Colder: The Bad Seed. It's a sequel to their hit mini-series Colder which I highly recommend. Dynamite Entertainment surely excited fans with the news of a crossover written by Gail Simone which will focus on the women characters in their library. Keep in mind all of this was occurred BEFORE the convention. Comic fans had plenty of reasons to geek out before stepping foot on the show floor.

Once the doors opened, the industry didn’t lose a step. Image Comics kicked off the show with the stunning news of 13 new titles. One of those I’m anticipating is Dustin Nguyen and Jeff Lemire’s Descender. Another big news item from the indie publisher, especially interesting as a long-time Spawn fan, was Todd McFarlane revealing that with December’s Spawn #250, fans will see the return of the original Spawn, Al Simmons. Besides that and being the monumental 250th issue, it’s also notable because the creative reins will change hands to an as yet to be announced team.

Action Lab Entertainment, publishing home of Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger graphic novel, joined in the fun during their panel when they revealed they’d be publishing a comic based on the classic film series Puppet Master. This is a franchise I mentioned on Twitter some time ago as being more than capable of holding its own in comic form. The series will be written by Shawn Gabborin. The names of the artists have yet to be revealed.

I’ve used more examples here than intended due to the excitement of all the awesome prospects. Yet I’m okay with that as it actually serves my point about the perception of comics at Comic Con. Though the comics and their creators might not receive as much attention as they did several years ago, they’re still around. The difference now is people may have to seek it out or pay extra attention to the publishers and creators. Comparisons are often made between mainstream and indie comics, but during the convention, publishers of various sizes made their presence known. Some may have made a bigger splash than others. In the end though, we all win. Publishers and creators get to keep publishing comics and of course making money, while fans can continue to read good comics.

Comic conventions can be what you make of them. The schedule was filled with panels and events held for publishers and creators to discuss current comics and announce new projects. Comic Con’s programming schedule allows you to separate items by filter and I found all the panels referencing comics. You can find the list here. Expand your boundaries when a convention approaches. Dig through the programming to find the appealing panels. Don’t let the lack of publicity deter you from soaking up all the comic book fun.