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Going Indy At San Diego

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I know it’s a bit late for a San Diego Comic-Con wrap up, but since I have no idea what any of the headlines or big announcements from the show were anyway, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. 

This year I was probably the least excited that I’d ever been for a San Diego show or, to look at it another way, maybe I was most the excited I’d ever been because I had the fewest expectations for it. 

I’m sure I don’t need to point out again that the show has become less and less about comics with each passing year. This has been well documented, as exemplified by an excellent article on the topic in The Frontiersman #8. And yet I keep coming back to the show year after year. I wish I knew how to quit you, San Diego Comic-Con! The main reasons being that the small press table is such a great value and it’s tough competition to get approved through their jury process. Once you give up a table, it’s nearly impossible to get back in. The other thing is that my wife and I have made a number of friends over the years that we don’t get to see anywhere else but the show. 

So my approach for this year was not to concern myself with the parts of the show I don’t care about (which really constitutes most of it), and focus solely on what I was interested in, which meant that I stayed almost exclusively in the areas of Small Press and Artist’s Alley. And though I did have my own table, I didn’t want to have to commit myself to too much time trying to sell to an audience with only a passing interest, (at best) in comics.

I set out from my table early in search of bargains and new comic material. One thing about SDCC is that it’s an odd combination of overpriced and underpriced items. Some booths give away things or offer them at great value for the purpose of promotion, while others jack up their prices because people are known to spend a lot at the show. Part of the secret of having a good show is to identify the difference. I’d say that I did pretty well this show.

The first stop for me was Artist’s Alley. Here, my main objective was to see Ryan Kelley, artist of Local and New York Four, to get on his commission list early. He’s a great artist who still has some surprisingly reasonable prices. Two great examples of this: while many other artists are charging $20 or more for their sketchbooks, Ryan’s was only $3, which is cheaper than most regular comics these days. And it was filled with 36 pages of artwork consisting mostly of commissions he’d done over the years. And speaking of commissions, I got this full-sized (11x17) commission of Punk Storm for only $60. That’s probably as good a deal as you’re going to find in Artist’s Alley.

Next stop was to see one of my favorite up and coming talents, a Brazilian artist named Rafael Albulqurque who is just killing it on Vertigo’s American Vampires. He had a new, independently created graphic novel out, published through Oni called Mondo Urbano. He worked with 2 other artists on it, but they’re all great. It was a really fun story and if you want to see another side to Rafael’s artwork, I highly recommend it. 

Then it was over to Jeremy Bastion, artist of Cursed Pirate Girl at the Olympian booth. You may remember that I wrote a column on CPG a few months back. Well, apparently the publisher was very pleased with it and he gave me a bunch of free stuff. I didn’t even have to introduce myself; he saw my name on my badge and jumped up to collect a bunch of stuff for me. I got a cool CPG canvas bag (which my wife is keeping since she says it’s too feminine for me) and all the different covers for the issues they had, including an exclusive SD Comic-Con edition of #1 limited to just 80 copies. This comic was so cool that the Cursed Pirate Girl wasn’t even printed on it; it was stamped on in gold foil. You know what that means? It means there’s a gold Cursed Pirate Girl stamp out there somewhere. I’d love to get my hands on that. Honestly, what wouldn’t look better with a gold Cursed Pirate Girl stamp?

Okay, one last stop before I’m done. I went to see artist Kody Chamberlain. He has a new comic out through Image called Sweets. He actually did a Kickstarter campaign, which I supported. I went over and told him that and he gave me a free copy of Sweets #1 for me to read now because I won’t get the 3 copies due to me as a reward until after it’s done. I enjoyed the issue a lot and I definitely think it’s something more people should take a look at.

So, those were the highlights of the show for me. I didn’t sell a lot, but I wasn’t trapped behind my table a lot either. SDCC still makes for a unique experience and even though it isn’t very much about comics anymore, it’s the biggest show there is and enough artists from around the world come to it that I still think it’s worthwhile to go, if not every year, then at least every once in a while.

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Tyler Chin-Tanner started his own publishing company, A Wave Blue World, where he wrote and drew layouts for Adrenaline, its flagship series, Adrenaline and wrote its latest graphic novel, American Terrorist.

© 2010 Tyler Chin-Tanner.  All rights reserved.
Email: tyler@awaveblueworld.com

www.awaveblueworld.com

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