The Comic-Con 2002 Report

Last updated May 7, 2008

Browse the Comic-Con 2002 Slide Show!!!

After the huge amount of fun and excitement we had at Comic-Con International 2001, you better believe we planned early to return to Comic-Con in 2002. For those not "in the know," Comic-Con International is by far the biggest, baddest, and most influential comics and popular arts convention of its kind in America. Held annually at the San Diego Convention Center in sunny San Diego, CA, USA, it attracts professionals and fans from all over the world, merging the worlds of comics and cartoons, science fiction, fantasy, and so much more into one massive explosion of action. The con for 2002 was held August 1-4, and it certainly lived up to its reputation.

Thursday, August 1, 2002:

I'll say it before and I'll say it again: I have uncanny luck with air travel. We drove to Raleigh, NC, to catch our flight out and almost missed it waiting on the huge backlog of post-September-11 security. We arrived at the gate just as they were about to make the final boarding call. Fortunately, the rest of our traveling was very smooth and enjoyable, and I finally got a chance to get some much needed reading on The Two Towers. We arrived in San Diego around noon local time, hopped on the shuttle to pick up our rental car, and checked into our hotel. A quick bus ride through town and we were at the con shortly thereafter.

Our first stop after picking up our badges was to swing down the stairs and hit the Keenspot booth. Keenspot had some prime real estate this year, with an end-cap booth with four tables almost directly across from the stairs up to the meeting rooms where panels were being held. The Keen booth was divided into three sections, where Steve Troop had one table just for his Melonpool crew, the Keenspacers had a table all to themselves, and the remaining two tables were for Keenspotters and their wares. It was here I got to meet Maritza Campos of College Roomies from Hell!!! and Josh Lesnick of Wendy/Cute Wendy for the first time, as well as reacquaint myself with familiar faces from last year and meet a whole new gaggle of Keenspacers. Autographs and sketches always abound at the Keen booth, and I had the honor of meeting numerous fans, both old and new, as they came by.

By contrast, the Plan Nine booth wasn't faring as well. There were considerable problems with their booth (see their own con report for full details) that resulted in them moving to a totally different location. Of course, the con book still said they were at the old location, which meant the big question of the con was, "Where's the Plan Nine booth?" They also had problems with a long line waiting to get to the next booth, which was giving away raffle tickets and other gimmicks. The line became long frequently and obscured the Plan Nine booth many times. As frustrating as this was, many folks were able to find us and Plan Nine did reasonably well at the con.

We managed to catch the Modern Tales panel that afternoon. For those unfamiliar with Modern Tales, it is a company dedicated (like Keenspot) to bringing online comics to the masses, but they take a different approach by charging subscriptions for access to the comics' archives. The panel was enlightening, as I've been curious about the company, its artists, and its creator for some time. The group was highly professional and answered many questions I had floating in the back of my mind.

We wrapped up Thursday with an interesting dinner with David Allen (head-honcho of Plan Nine), Linda Cody (Chief Plan Nine Lackey), and Brad Guigar (Greystone Inn). The restaurant was called Fat City Steakhouse, but it shared the same building with two other restaurants, one called China Camp and (of all things) a Denny's. The food was quite good, although making the arrangements and waiting for the meal made us eating and getting back to the hotel quite late. (I'm one of those annoying morning persons.)

Although we didn't have a chance to attend, Thursday also marked the Friends of Lulu Awards banquet, where Keenspotter Gisèle Lagacé (Cool Cat Studio) won the award for Best New Talent. Although Gisèle didn't have a chance to come to the con, Keenspot co-founder Darren Bleuel (Nukees) accepted the award on her behalf. Congrats, Gisèle!

Friday, August 2, 2002:

Friday saw most of my day the the Plan Nine booth, where I got to meet veteran actor William Windom, who was a guest of Plan Nine. Mr. Windom has had an expansive, impressive career, including parts in such films as To Kill a Mockingbird and notable television series such as Murder, She Wrote and My World and Welcome to It. However, he is probably best known to our readers as the frantic Commodore Matt Decker from the Star Trek episode, "The Doomsday Machine." Mr. Windom spent most of his time selling autographed pictures, talking with fans, and promoting Michael Vance's Light's End audio cassette series, which Mr. Windom reads on tape.

The day saw more new faces as I finally got to meet the infamous Tatsuya Ishida, creator of Sinfest, as well as Corey Marie Kitley of Life's So Rad. While I spent most of my time trapped behind a booth, my wife managed to snap lots of photographs of bizarre costumes, curious booths, and a few famous faces. She happened upon Tech TV's Adam Sessler of Extended Play, taping segments for the next week's show. (It was almost eerie watching the show the next week, seeing booths and faces we recognized from the con floor.)

But the real highlight was, of course, the Keenspot panel. Organized and moderated by Schlock Mercenary's Howard Tayler, it featured myself, Darren "Gav" Bleuel (Nukees), Greg Dean (Real Life), Maritza Campos (College Roomies From Hell!!!),David Willis (It's Walky!), and Josh Lesnick (Wendy/Cute Wendy). Keenspot co-founder Chris Crosby (Superosity) was slated to appear as well but mysteriously never arrived, leading some to speculate whether or not he really exists. (There was some excuse made about puppies living inside his body, or something like that.) The room was jam-packed and the panel went over very well. There were some very thought-provoking questions, interesting discussions, and (of course) lots of laughs. I think it went over much better than last year's panel.

(Special thanks should go to all the Keenspacers there, who made our audience appear bigger than it probably really was. ;)

Friday also saw the arrival of the infamous Pete Abrams, creator of Sluggy Freelance. I didn't get a chance to see Pete until later, but he did spend a little time at the Plan Nine booth. After the con, my wife and I retreated to the historic Gaslamp District to have a delicious (and quite pricey) meal at the Aqua Al 2 restaurant, followed by collapsing from exhaustion once we reached the hotel.

Saturday, August 3, 2002:

Saturday is always the biggest day of the con, as that is the day most folks who come for only one day show up. I started the day at the Keenspot booth, meeting and greeting with fans and cartooning colleagues. Some of the fun of conventions is finally meeting the faces behind the e-mails and message board posts we've all come to know.

At the Plan Nine booth it was the day for Sluggites. Mr. Windom, I think, was quite surprised at the passion and loyalty of Sluggy fans. He and Pete tried to play a game of chess using a small magnetic chessboard, but their game was repeatedly interrupted by excited Sluggites anxious to meet Pete. Eventually, even Mr. Windom got into the act, promoting the strip with his side-show barker impersonation: "Have you heard of this 'Sluggy Freelance' thing? It's some sort of comic strip with a rabbit... and a knife....'"

Oh, yeah... and I got to sign a book or two, too....

It's extremely rare for me to actually get to go to a panel at cons like this, because I'm usually trapped behind the booth (usually voluntarily, so I know I'm accessible to my fans). But I made sure to make an exception to attend the Lord of the Rings panel in the grand ballroom, and I'm certainly glad I did. It started out with some video presentations by the WETA Workshop folks (who did most of the special effects and props from the film), followed by some questions and answers by WETA technicians. Then they surprised everyone by bringing in some unexpected guests: Elijah Wood (Frodo), Billy Boyd (Pippin), and Dominic Monaghan (Merry)! The entire presentation was exciting and informative. (You can thank my wife for the great picture, since she's the one who dived head-long into the crowd to take the great picture above.)

Saturday went by dizzyingly fast, and before I knew it, it was time to leave. I said my goodbyes to as many folks as I could find (my apologies to those that I couldn't). At the last minute, several of us threw together an impromptu dinner at a little Greek restaurant in downtown. It was an eclectic group if you'd ever saw one, but it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire weekend. It's rare for many us to get together, and rarer still for us to do so in an informal, relaxed setting. With full stomachs, we said goodbyes and parted ways, hoping to see each other again in the near future (although many of us would scrapping online by the next week).

Sunday, August 4, 2002:

Sunday was unfortunately pretty boring. Our flight out was pretty early, so by the time the con floor opened, we were passing through security on our way to our gate. Our flight back was uneventful (although it marked the first time I've ever used an airplane lavatory), we landed safely, and hopped in the car to drive home. Monday was more interesting, since crossing time zones meant we effectively lost three hours of our day.

Well, that's about it, gang. Sorry it took so long to get the report up. I did try desperately to get the pictures up each night of the con like I did last year, but my ISP just wouldn't cooperate. To make it up to you, here's some links to other con reports from my cohorts in cartooning crime:

Plan Nine Publishing's Comic-Con 2002 Report

Schlock Mercenary Open Letter for August 5, 2002

"We're Back" News Post at Goats

CRFH!!! Comic-Con 2002 Report

Nukees Link Back to this Site

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