The Juggernaut that is Comic-Con


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As soon as I decided to talk about the imminence of the great San Diego Comic-Con the term ‘Juggernaut’ entered my head. Sounds about right, but just to be safe I’ve Googled it and the first definition I’ve found is: “a massive inexorable force that seems to crush everything in its way.” Not bad. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary yields up: “A title of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu; specifically the image of this deity at Puri in Orissa, annually dragged in procession on an enormous car, under the wheels of which devotees are said to have thrown themselves to be crushed.”

Right, it’s official then. The Juggernaut that is the San Diego Comic-Con is almost upon us.

It’s impossible to estimate how much extra pressure this puts on the comics community. Even those who don’t actually go there tend to get attacks of Con anxiety, convinced that they’re going to miss the opportunity to make the once-in-a-lifetime deal that would have sent their careers into orbit.

Personally I prefer not to take the risk, so next week I’m heading out for my fifth SDCC in a row.

This year looks like being a busy one. Lots of meetings, signings and a panel or two are lined up, not to mention the parties. It’s gonna be fun! The drawback is – knowing me, there has to be a drawback, right? – the Con takes about a week-and-a-half out of my life. That’s a day to fly out, four days of convention, two days to fly home (twice as long, due to Einstein’s theory of relativity, or is it the rotation of the planet? Prevailing headwinds? Whatever…) and at least four days to get over the jet-lag and adrenaline overdose. So that means I have to get ahead on all my projects.

Last Thursday I packed my partner and son off to France to stay with the in-laws for three weeks. This is the only way to ensure getting all the pre-Con work down. Believe me, no one should have to share space with me when I’m working on six deadlines at once. Here’s how the week has gone, using my e-mails to track the days:

Thursday: There are a lot of messages headed RE: San Diego. Todd McFarlane Publications, Marvel, Image and Tokyopop are all working out their schedules for signings and there are inevitably a couple of clashes. I almost don’t get to go on the Comics v. Manga panel at Tokyopop because I’m committed elsewhere at the same time, but they manage to re-schedule it. I’ve listed all my appearances below in case you’re in San Diego and want to get something signed or yell things at me.

Next message: Brian Haberlin needs an idea for a cover for Spawn 176. Actually he scares the crap out of me by heading the e-mail “Got Time to do a cover?” but it’s actually Greg Capullo who will be painting it.

A request for the final script for Spawn 170. The art is nearly done and needs to go to letters, so that’s a priority. My plots are actually very detailed and have most of the dialogue in there but there are always a few tweaks to make, clunky dialogue to re-write and I also format the script at this stage for the letterer, in this case Tom Orzechowski. I get the script finished and sent by end of day. As Brian is on holiday for a week he’s asked me to do this month’s letters page. I’ve posted on the Spawn message board, inviting questions and promising to include the names of everyone who responds in the Spawn letters column.

A cover sketch arrives from Marvel for comments.

Last message of the day is from Luis Reyes, my editor at Tokopop. Poison Candy is released in September and we were hoping to have a chapter printed up to give away at the Con. That hasn’t happened unfortunately, but we will be giving away postcards and featuring pages on the screen at the Tokyopop stand.

Unlettered pages from Poison Candy by Hans Steinbach

Friday: First mail is from my agent at Circle of Confusion with an invitation to their party – a combined event with Heavy Metal and IDW. Yay! Party! It’s actually very important to get lots of party invitations at San Diego, even if you don’t go to them. Not getting invites is like when editors stop taking your calls. 

Next e-mail is from an editor at Marvel who… ah, right… he doesn’t have time to speak to me today. O…Kay…

Rian Hughes wants to know the best way to get to San Diego and makes disparaging remarks about the American transport system.

Frederik Hautain at Broken Frontier has gotten my Waiting for Trade Column – just under the wire. This week it will be on time, Frederik. Promise.

A solicitation for a Marvel book comes through for me to look over. The editor wants to check we aren’t giving away too much. It’s going to be solicited for November, which means I should be able to talk about it right after San Diego. It’s going to be a fun one and for once I’ll be writing lots of action scenes and big splash pages.

Two requests for interviews come through, one for Spawn, one for Strange Embrace. Yes to both. I never, ever, turn down requests for interviews or any other form of free publicity.

Saturday: I hear from my old mate Dave Elliott. Dave was the guy who first brought Strange Embrace to Tundra Publishing back in 1992. He has set up a new company called Radical Publishing and will have a booth at San Diego. Their line-up looks impressive – including Jim Steranko!! I promise to drop by.

Flier for the Radical Publishing Booth

Another request for a Spawn interview.

Meanwhile I’m finishing up the second part of the Gunslinger Spawn story. I’m working a few months ahead on this one because we have a guest artist and he’s already working on it. I was on a roll from just finishing part one, so I went right into Part Two. Don’t tell Brian. I should be working on the script for issue 171. Brian needs it as soon as he gets back from holiday on Wednesday. The pressure is on.

Sunday: Spawn 171 is my priority for the day. It’s already broken down so it may just be do-able for Wednesday.

Less e-mails today. I guess some people take Sunday off. John Freeman wonders if I’d like to enter a competition to produce a humour comic strip (John is an editor, writer and the man who runs the Down the Tubes web site: http://www.downthetubes.net/)

I write the letters page for Spawn. I regret that promise I made on the Spawn message board. Somehow I have to respond to fifty posts in two pages!

Monday: My diary says I’m supposed to send Luis Reyes the chapter breakdowns for Poison Candy Volume 2, um…yesterday. I send my apologies. It’s going to be end of the week.

Lovefilm are sending me my next batch of rental movies. With the family away I’m indulging myself with all the movies Vikki refuses to watch, so The Eye, Saw 3 and Dog Soldiers are on the way.

Tuesday: Brian reminds me that he’s back Wednesday, and he needs that script. Yes Brian, I’m working on it.

JG Roshell, designer at Active Images, reminds me that the cover for Strange Embrace issue 7 is due on Friday. Yes, John, I’m working on it.

Shaky Kane sends me the URL for his new web site. Here it is: www.shakykanezone.co.uk You should check this page above all: http://www.shakykanezone.co.uk/wishbone/monstertruck.htm - totally amazing!

A Shaky Kane illustration from Monster Truck

Damn! I forgot I have to send page breakdowns for that Marvel book today. Damn!

2am – the breakdowns are sent and the Spawn script is almost done. I keep falling asleep watching Saw 3. It may be the fatigue but I find the whole thing hilariously funny. 4am – bed. I dream of manacling editors in huge metal vats and spraying them with rotting pig-mush (you have to have seen Saw 3).

Wednesday: Spawn 171 is finished. And sent!

Rich Starkings sends some material for approval for Strange Embrace issue 3. I start working on the cover for issue 7.

Thursday: New Comics day. I pop into town to pick up the latest goodies. Strange Embrace 2 is out. If you read last week’s column you’ll remember I was moaning about Strange Embrace being stacked in Forbidden Planet’s indie-ghetto land. Issue 2 has crossed back over to the ‘books we actually think we can sell’ section. And here’s the cover:

Buy this book!

Back home I write up notes for the Poison Candy breakdowns. I’ll finish typing it tomorrow and get it over to Tokyopop. I also need to send scans for the visuals for the Comic-Con panel. Waiting for Trade is due today. I have absolutely no idea for a theme for this week so I just start typing…

Dear god, I’ve caught up with myself! We’re in real time here. As I type, Brian Haberlin is telling me that the schedule for our signing is changed. My editor on my Other Top Secret Marvel Project wants to know if I have time to chat later. Rob Steen has sent me his colour version of a sketch to go in Strange Embrace 3. Here it is. I drew this in 1990 for a convention book, back when all I had was a character and a title.

Early Strange Embrace drawing,
colored in 2007 by Rob Steen

This column has to go…

This week I’ll be at the Con. Next week I’ll be reporting on the Juggernaut itself.

If I don’t get crushed under the wheels…

My schedule for San Diego Comic-Con:

Thursday 26th July:
4.30 – 5.30 Signing at the Image Booth 2729

Friday 27th:
3.30 – 4.30 Comics v. Manga panel at the Tokypop Booth 3529
5.00-6.00 Signing with Brian Haberlin at McFarlane Toys Booth 2601

Saturday 28th:
11 - 12 Signing with Brian Haberlin at McFarlane Toys Booth 2601
3 – 4 Signing at Marvel Booth 2429

10.30 – 11.30 Tokyopop Creators Panel (Room 2)

I’ll also be signing Strange Embrace at Active Images at various times. Drop by Booth 2106 on the red carpet near DC to check for times.


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