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…and how I ended up getting a Green Arrow sketch from him at WonderCon 2019.

I was not planning to get a sketch from Neal this past weekend, though I have admired his art since I was a teenager, but here is the story of how I ended up with one.

Sunday at WonderCon, late in the day, I headed down to the show floor with my friend Trevor.  He had seen a booth with a really good price on the slipcased Green Lantern/Green Arrow run by Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams:

It was $60, which is a great deal, less than it cost when it was originally published (which was when I bought my copy of this collection of what are probably my favorite GL/GA stories ever).  We found the booth, he bought the book, and we headed over to Neal Adams’ booth:

Score!  Nobody in line!  Up he walked to Neal and asked about getting the book signed.
“That’ll be $50 for the signature.” Neal informed him.
“You want $50 for an autograph?” Trevor asked.
“No,” Neal replied, “I NEED $50 for an autograph!”… at least he had a sense of humor about it.

Neal explained that he was far cheaper than Stan Lee used to be… Stan had been charging upwards of $100-$130 in the last few years, and that maybe it was time to consider raising the price of his own autographs up beyond $50.  I pointed out that Stan had a lot of “handlers” and hangers-on who were likely inflating the cost of the autographs because there were a LOT of people getting paid and a lot of overhead as his celebrity grew.  Neal admitted that this was true and pointed out that he didn’t need a lot of people doing the heavy lifting for him. “I can bench 300 lbs” he declared.  “Go ahead…feel these biceps.” he added, making a muscle.  Trevor reached out and felt his arm declaring it to be quite impressive.  “You too”, said Neal, motioning to me.  I felt his bicep and it was both massive and steel hard.  Certainly not a guy to mess with, I’m sure he could wipe the floor with me if he was of a mind to.

In any event, Trevor politely declined the $50 autograph, Neal understood, and as we turned to leave there was a guy behind us waiting to have books signed.  It turned out he had 4 to be signed and a CGC witness with him as well.  He was more than happy to plop down $200 for the signatures, so clearly the $50 price tag was not a deterrent to everyone.

As we were leaving, there was an open portfolio of very nice inked original sketches by Neal.  “Hey, these are $200… and they’re signed. That’s like $150 for the sketch and $50 for the signature.” I quipped.  Trevor & I looked through the portfolio and given what we had seen sketches from other artists selling for, plus his ‘just an autograph’, prices, these seemed like a pretty good deal.  Trevor settled on a nice Hal Jordan GL, while I chose the Green Arrow shown at the top of this blog.  This is my absolute favorite Green Arrow costume/look, and it was designed by Neal, so I thought this was a great choice for a sketch.

We brought the sketches back over, paid for them, and chatted a while longer.  I must say that Neal was in a great mood, very chatty, and gave us a superb fan-pro interaction memory.  Ultimately no $50 autographs, but we both walked away with a sketch and a great story to tell.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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Blowing up on the internet today…
Turns out that Publisher La Prensa in Mexico published 45 unique/new Spider-Man comics in the 1970s that ignored Gwen Stacy’s death and documented a parallel Spider-Verse where Gwen not only lived, but she & Peter got married!

There is a good Reddit thread that talks about this, and I’ll summarize the info I found with the relevant links.

La Prensa published 185 issues of El Sorprendente Hombre Araña plus 6 annuals and 3 specials.  A full list noting what US issues were reprinted and which were new “made in Mexico” (Cómic hecho en Mexico) can be found on the Kingdom Comics website. The key bits of info are that the following issues were totally new and according to various accounts NOT authorized by Marvel Comics, and have never been reprinted:

That’s 46 (or maybe 45) unauthorized stories that are new to most fans outside of Latin America (and those who do not read Spanish).  I will note that the Kingdom Comics site says that issue #144 of El Sorprendente Hombre Araña reprints Amazing Spider-Man #114 and sports the cover to #114.  Kingdom Comics then notes that issue #145 of El Sorprendente Hombre Araña is “Made in Mexico”, but it features the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #115.  Since it’s a continuation of the story in ASM #114, it may be the case that El Sorprendente Hombre Araña #145 is a reprint.

The wonderful site “The Amazing Spider-Mex” has covers of all the La Prensa issues. In particular, though, I was keen to see the covers of these new issue, that started with #123.  Some appear to be homages of existing covers with some new imagery added, others look entirely new.

There are also some pretty interesting covers that are clearly targeting the “likes sexy women” demographic.

In any event, this is a fascinating topic and given the interest, I suspect that the value of these Mexican issues are SKYROCKETING.  They are apparently very difficult to find and the increased awareness and interest with the US audience as of today should equate to some hefty price tags on any issues that surface.

I’d love to see Marvel Comics get ahold of these and issue an “official” reprint to satisfy the curiosity of Spider-Man fans everywhere.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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ComicSpectrum by Comicspectrum - 7M ago

Stan Lee, the man I credit with inspiring my 48 years (and counting) love of comic books, passed away on November 12, 2018 at the age of 95.  Today, December 28, 2018, would have been his 96th birthday.

I wanted to write a proper article about Stan and what he meant to me, but I also wanted to take some time to let his passing sink in.  The past 6 weeks or so these thoughts have been percolating in my conscious and subconscious.

My whole life, there had always been a Stan Lee.  In a way, he was like an alternate version of my own Dad (who is still going strong at 96 years of age).  While my Father has always been around for me in my “real world” life, he is not big on the unreal worlds of sci-fi, fantasy, and heroic adventure.  For those fantastic worlds Stan was there, in the foreground when my nascent love of comics was setting in, and in the background as I grew older.  Stan was my surrogate Father figure in that world of imagination. The fact that he was pretty much the same age as my own Dad, coupled with being the opposite half that made a combined real world/world of imagination role model was the thing that linked the two very different men closely in my mind.

Armie Hammer originally criticized people for commemorating Stan’s life by posting pictures of themselves with Stan.  He later apologized for his statements, after getting roundly chastised by people pointing out that posting photos of themselves with Stan was a tribute and their way of processing their loss and acknowledging the connection they had with Stan and how much he meant to them.  I’ll be doing the same throughout this Blog… showing various interactions I had personally with Stan, not as a way of aggrandizing myself, but as a way of showing the connections that existed, however slight, and why Stan meant so much to me.

I’ve told the story before of how I got into reading comics.  I had certainly read comics before I started “collecting”.  My older brothers often had comics around the house and I remember as a child reading Uncle Scrooge, Richie Rich, and Hot Stuff comics.  But when I was 8, my older brother Russ gave me a computer keypunch card that was redeemable for 10 comic books.  I could buy whatever comics I wanted, show them to Russ along with the card, and he would reimburse me the cover price, marking off one of the numbers 0-9.  Famously, the first comic I bought myself was Amazing Spider-Man #88 by Stan Lee and John Romita.  The 2nd comic, bought the same month (both issues are cover-dated August 1970) was Detective Comics #402 by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams.

My 1st comics were arguably the 2 most successful super-heroes ever created, one from Marvel, one from DC.  Both illustrated by artists at the top of their game.  Why did I come back for Spider-Man issue #89 (and every issue after that), but did not buy another issue of Batman for at least 5 years?  I believe it was Stan Lee.

In Amazing Spider-Man #88 Spidey fights the disembodied arms of Doc Ock, saves a crowd of people from being crushed by rubble, and has a climactic fight with Doc Ock onboard a plane.  Alongside this, Peter Parker is having trouble keeping his grades up at school (because of being absent when he was needed as Spider-Man), we see Gwen Stacy, the blustery J. Jonah Jameson, check in with Joe Robertson and Betty Brant at the Daily Bugle, and get a cliffhanger ending where Doc Ock appears to be blown up, but Spidey wonders “Can I be sure Doc Ock is dead?” right before the title of the next issue “To Live Again!”.  Given the next issue’s title, I assumed Ock was going to be still alive and kicking to cause more trouble (…and I had to come back to see what happened next!)  All tolled, there are just about as many pages devoted to Peter and his supporting cast as there are to Spider-Man and Doc Ock.  Maybe I was a weird 8-year-old, but this mixture of the super-hero and his alter ego was VERY appealing to me.

I might also point out that this issue also features students protesting against a foreign general who is a “war monger”. Stan also famously published the “Stan’s Soapbox” reproduced above spotlighting that bigotry and racism are wrong.  Some people today say “keep politics out of my comics”, but current events and recognition of politics/injustice have been in Stan’s comics since the very first issue I read 48 years ago (and before that as well)!  Stan never shied away from adding this kind of thing into Marvel Comics, which was another element that made them seem more real to me as a kid, as well as helping set my moral compass about right and wrong. Stan brought that mixture of superheroics, the tribulations of the heroes when they were out of costume,  and real world issues into comics.  It was the hallmark of Marvel comics to spotlight the human elements of the superheroes and give the reader insight into their lives both in and out of costume and also reference issues from the news of the day (sometimes allegorically).   This is Stan Lee’s legacy.

Before Stan’s Marvel Comics, the general wisdom of comic book publishers was that they were writing stories primarily for 8-12 year olds.  Stan wrote comics that could be enjoyed by an 8-year-old (my age when I started reading his comics), but the underlying themes that he was working into the stories were capturing the imaginations of college kids too.  Stan did a lot of speaking engagements at Universities in the 1960 and 1970s, and his work had a depth and significance to it that readers appreciated even while many who did not read comics do not understand.  Those who were only observing the bright colors and bombastic super-hero battles from a distance, but not experiencing the storytelling first hand, were understandably ignorant of the nuances picked up on by the dedicated readers.

This plays into how many people say Stan was a “carnival barker”.  I don’t see that as a negative.  At the time he was EXACTLY what the comics industry needed.  Stan’s bombastic outgoing personality is what made Marvel Comics.  It helped grow Marvel and helped the entire industry.  I know that as a kid I felt I was PART of something reading Marvel comics.  The nicknames Stan gave everyone; Jazzy John Romita, Gene “The Dean” Colan, Jack “King” Kirby, made everyone seem fun and friendly.  The style of the letters pages and Stan’s Soapbox column made us feel like he was talking directly to us and we were on the inside of a club.  His catchphrases, from “Make Mine Marvel!” and “Face Front, True Believers!” to the simple “Nuff Said!” and “Excelsior!” were immediately recognizable and created the cult of Marvel.  What Marvel fan can hear any of these and not think of Stan and Marvel Comics?

Stan was a showman as much as a writer in the early days.  The classic Marvel characters we co-creations working with some of the best artists in the business, but what put Marvel on the road to becoming an entertainment juggernaut was Stan’s flash.  He made Marvel “Marvel”.  The feel, the attitude, the connected universe, making the fans feel included.  This is all a part of Stan’s Legacy.

Most people know the rest of Stan’s story… moving to Hollywood and moving away from regularly writing Marvel comics in the early 1980s.  Ultimately moving away from most  responsibilities at Marvel, aside from forever being linked with them as a cultural ambassador, Stan was involved in a string of new companies (most of which were not terribly successful), and ultimately a resurgence in popularity after his long string of cameo appearances that made him a worldwide cultural icon.  I won’t go into all of this, I’m not writing a biography.  What I will concentrate on are his interactions with fans, because this was a key element of his larger than life status with many fans, myself included.

He did a LOT of public appearances at conventions, stores, and more.  He seemed to thrive on the adulation of the fans, and why not?  Every time I met him, he was “on”.  He was very pleasant and giving, fans went away with a smile on their face.  However brief the interaction, he made us feel good having met him.

As I was doing the research for this Blog, I realized I had fogged my first meeting with Stan out of my memory and had been thinking of my second meeting with him as my first.  Let’s look at why:

Meeting #1: San Diego, CA; 1999

At the 1999 San Diego Convention I realized Stan was doing a signing at the Marvel booth.  I had not planned out meeting him in advance, so hadn’t brought anything in particular along to the con to have signed.  I bought Amazing Spider-Man #50 at the con, waited in line with the other fans, snapped a picture of Stan with an actor in a Spider-Man suit, and he signed my ASM #50, probably the 5th or 6th he had signed that day.  I was getting a book signed that LOTS of people got signed.  It was a really popular issue, a classic story, a very cool cover, and while I’m sure I gushed about how I loved his writing, I don’t think I did or said anything that made me any different from the 1000s of other people who had him sign ASM #50 over the years.  It was cool to meet him, but really, this meeting was SO overshadowed by the SECOND time I met Stan, that I had forgotten about it until I found the picture I had taken in a photo album (yes, this was before the days of ubiquitous digital photography, we used film….barbaric!)

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ComicSpectrum by Comicspectrum - 7M ago

One of my favorite views at Comic Con!

Last day of Comic Con is typically an easy-going day for me.  There aren’t as many panels to choose from and there are “last day deals” down on the convention floor.  But, even “less panels” for Comic Con entails far more panels than are available at most other conventions….. and I LOVE interacting with comics creators at panels!

(Left to Right) Andrew Farago (moderator), Jason Lutes, Terry Moore, Scott McCloud, Lynn Johnstone

Panel #18: Life’s Work: Long Term Comics Projects
Jason Lutes (Jar of Fools, Berlin), Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo, Rachel Rising), Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, Zot!, The Sculptor), Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse)
Another group of creators I admire. It’s so wonderful that a con that “isn’t about comics any more” has such a VAST amount of programming about comics and their creators.

Site where the Comic Con Museum will be built

Panel #19: Inside Comic Con Museum
The room was packed for this panel, and by the end of it I was very excited about the museum. I’m now a “Founding Member”, and I look forward to what the team will build. They have LOTS of museum experience and will learn the rest as they go along. People will crow about it “not being about comics”, much as they do about Comic Con itself, but guess what? They want it to be successful. I want it to be successful. You do that by pulling people in with the general pop culture they love and then expose them to the comics stuff along the way. I talked to Executive Director Adam Smith and Director of Public Programs Keegan Chetwynd after the panel and I have every confidence they will do a great job.
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-comic-con-museum-20180718-story.html

Favorite cover shown by William Stout

Panel #20: Cover Story: The Art of the Cover
This is a panel I try to attend every year. There are 4 or 5 artists, Mark Evanier shows each 4 covers they drew, selected randomly. Then they talk about what they do or do not like about the covers and also share a bit about some of their process in creating them. A consistently great panel year after year.  This Year: William Stout, Veronica Fish, Matt Taylor, Joelle Jones, and Joe Jusko.

Favorite cover shown by Veronica Fish

Favorite cover shown by Matt Taylor

Favorite cover shown by Joelle Jones

Favorite cover shown by Joe Jusko

Panel #21: Len Wein Memorial Pro/Fan Trivia Panel
In 1994, Len Wein, captain of the Purple Pros, challenged Tom Galloway, captain of the Black Ink Irregulars, to a comics pros vs. comics fans trivia match. It happened almost every year since. With Len’s passing last year, it’s a final match with all questions on Len’s least favorite topic: the work of Len Wein. Len rarely managed to correctly answer questions about his work; when he did, he got a standing ovation.
Len’s wife Christine read the questions (and did a GREAT job…she was quite salty and took no prisoners), Len managed to score 40 point from “beyond the veil”, and Paul Levitz led the pros to victory!

And that brought the con to a conclusion, followed by our end of con tradition…. by the few of us who made it to the end of the day (several people leave early to beat the traffic back up to the LA area)… a trip to the downtown Hodad’s for a great hamburger!

I’m looking forward to the 50th Anniversary of Comic Con!!  Cross your fingers for me… I hope my Press qualifications are in order to get me in again!

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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ComicSpectrum by Comicspectrum - 7M ago

Traditionally the busiest day of the convention, I generally try to stay up at panels as much as possible and avoid the super-crowded convention floor.  Above is a view of downtown San Diego across from the convention center (taken from the panels level of the convention center).  You can see the masses of people in the street.  LOTS of people have fun experiencing SDCC, and you can even do that without a badge just seeing what is offered in downtown San Diego!

Panel #13: Jack Kirby Artwork Extravaganza
IDW publisher Greg Goldstein and Joe Jusko talk about Kirby’s influence on comics, with Jusko focusing on how Kirby influenced his art and design, and how much fun he has when doing “homage” pieces to Kirby art (as seen below).

A key factor of the magic was what Jusko called the “motion inherent in Kirby’s work”. That dynamism is what he tries to capture so his work doesn’t look static (when he does it right).

(Left to right) Charles Brownstein, Robert Williams, Joyce Farmer, Ron Turner

Panel #14: Outlaw Art: Trials of Underground Comix
Early underground creators Robert Williams artist, founding creator on Zap Comix), Joyce Farmer (artist, co-founder of Tits & Clits), and Ron Turner (Underground Comix publisher)
Hearing these octogenarians talking about run-ins with police & the FBI, censorship, and repression strikes home one point:
young people, you will get old (if you’re lucky). Don’t forget that older people were your age once. People have been fighting the good fight a long time. You are picking up the torch and are the newest in a long line of people who fight for intellectual freedom.

Panel #15: Ray Bradbury and the World of Comics
Bradbury was a big fan of comics and loved interaction with fans. He was at the very 1st SDCC and attended for more than 15 years until his health no longer allowed it.
In comics, his stories we first swiped by EC comics, then after a tactfully worded letter to Bill Gaines paid for, credited and adapted.
Later he would have other associations with comics from DC to Topps comics.

(from left to right): Dave Gibbons, Raphael Albuquerque, Wendy Pini, Joelle Jones, Frank Miller

Panel #16: Artists Who Write
This room was half full. I think a lot of people didn’t bother to read the panel description to see the lineup of talent on the dias. All the creators were very forthcoming in talking about their work, and their interactions with one another brought out lots of fascinating insights on their process of both working solo and with other creators.

Frank Miller, in particular, was very animated, recounting his work in comics and the pros and cons he had encountered in the adaption of his work to the screen.

Panel #17: Oddball Comics
An annual tradition, lots of laughs as Scott Shaw! shows crazy comic covers and adds humorous commentary. Lots of laughs.
He announced that by next year TwoMorrows will have published his book on this topic. It will be an automatic buy for me!

And, of course, there are the covers…. It’s always fun to see some favorites hit the screen accompanied by Shaw’s commentary.

Saturday dinner is traditionally spent with my “Comic Con friends” who I see at least every year at con (if not a few times in between).  There were a few who dropped off this year, declaring SDCC “too big”, preferring to concentrate on other cons.  Always sad to see people go.  Of course, it’s VERY challenging to get tickets, so I can understand letting attendance go.

I’m going to attend myself until I am unable to get tickets, SDCC is pretty much the highlight of my year.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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ComicSpectrum by Comicspectrum - 7M ago

This Blog is LONG overdue.  The last few months have been a real “overcome by events of life” and my attention to ComicSpectrum have not been at the top of the stack.  I’ve been posting to the Facebook page and putting up the monthly sales Blog, but other blogs and reviews have not been kept up with.  Hopefully I’ll be getting that back on track…starting with the rest of the trip reports from this year’s Comic Con International: San Diego (lovingly still called SDCC by long-time con-goers).

Friday was a great day capped off by one of the better after-hours events I have ever attended at con.  Here is an account of the day:

(left to right) Mark Evanier (moderator), Richard Pini, Wendy Pini, Marv Wolfman, Rick Hoburg, Steve Leialoha, Elliot S! Maggin

Panel #7: That 70s Panel
Always one of my favorites every con (and its predecessors the Silver Age and Golden Age panels). I love hearing creators dish lots of behind the scenes comic stuff.
This year Mark Evanier said: “Tell people about this panel when they say there’s nothing about comics at Comic Con”

Joe Quesada & Jimmy Palmiotti

Panel #8: Cup of Joe: 20th Anniversary of Marvel Knights
After a few random questions from the fans Joe Quesada & Jimmy Palmiotti got to some really great stories about the creation of the Marvel Knights books.


IMO this was the turning point when Marvel got back on track after quite a long period of mediocrity. MK laid the groundwork for more creator driven books that put Marvel squarely back in my wheelhouse after I almost completely stopped reading Marvel in the 90s.

Panel #9: Spotlight on Mike Mignola
Nice to see Mignola graciously fielding questions from fans and turning answers into interesting anecdotes like this one:
When asked about Hellboy liking cats, Mignola said “That’s all del Toro. Hellboy in the comics is a dog person.” He added that on the set of the movie in Prague the 30 cats produced a terrific stench, and a veterinarian surmised they must have been sick because “Cats are not supposed to smell like this.”

Panel #10: 2000ad Spotlight on Simon Bisley
Mike Molcher of 2000AD sat down for a conversation with Biz and we got to listen in and learn about his creative process, Lobo, and how to pick up a bass guitar and start playing with no training….
Bisley is quite entertaining.

Panel #11: IDW Publishing Artist’s Edition panel
Very short this year, only talked about a 2nd print of last year’s Bernie Wrightson AE that sold out quickly plus announcing a new Bernie Wrightson Frankenstein AE.

(Left to right): Scott Dunbier, Steve Leialoha, Paul Levitz, Nick Lowe, David Schwartz

Panel #12: Remembering Steve Ditko
An influential artist/creator but a very private person. Very few, if any, people felt like they really knew him. Paul Levitz worked with Ditko on 13 stories. A fan who had corresponded with him for 40 years and met him once at his apartment for 3 hours. Scott Dunbier had talked to him on the phone. Steve Leialoha had inked a few of his projects and said “Hi” once in the Marvel offices. He never liked to talk about his superhero work, but was making new comics that we self-published continuously from about 1968 until his passing.


No one knows if more will come to light when relatives claim his belongings and perhaps attempt to monetize them.
Many wish they knew more about the man, but Ditko himself did not seem to want to be known personally. He let his work speak for him.

Dinner w/Joe Jusko
Hosted by IDW Publishing was an awesome event. In addition to Joe’s company for about 3 hours (and some other great fans/collectors) we got a copy of Joe’s new IDW book: Marvel Masterpieces (highly recommended), a Daredevil print, and the crown jewel: an 11×17 full figure inked commission.

Joe was extremely engaging with everyone in attendance.  He & his wife moved around and had in-depth conversations with every part of the table over the course of the 3-4 hours we were there!  Of course, the highlight was the amazing 11×17 commission he did for each attendee (we had indicated the character we would like about a month before the con).  I asked for Doctor Strange and he went out of his way to emulate very
Ditko-esque elements in the background!

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The line before Preview Night

For a lot of people, Comic Con International: San Diego (know by many as San Diego Comic-Con, or simply SDCC) is all about getting stuff.  Free stuff. Exclusive stuff. Or just cool stuff that catches your eye.  The show floor is HUGE, several city blocks long.

CREDIT: Comic-Con.org

This was my 29th year at the convention, I started going in 1990, the year before they moved to the current convention center.  I’ve watched the show grow until it has become the gigantic 20-conventions-in-one that it is today, consuming not only the convention center, but most nearby hotels and downtown San Diego as well.

I’ve said before that no two people have the exact same convention experience at SDCC, it can be customized in so many ways to focus exclusively in a number of areas (comics, films, TV, animation, video games, the creative process, cosplay, sci-fi, among others) or a mixture of any of the offerings.  For me, I like to spend most of the show up in the panel rooms watching things that are primarily comic book and creator based (more on that in future Blog entries).  I consciously avoid “walking the floor” during the convention… EXCEPT on Wedsnesay’s “Preview Night”, when I try to squeeze in the majority of the purchases that I have my eye on from doing a bit of pre-convention research on the comic con website.

This Blog is all about showing off “stuff I got” at the convention, a lot of it on Preview night.

The first thing that caught my eye was a DVD about Jack Kirby.  A fan production, filmed by a guy who was invited to visit Jack (who was famous for opening up his home and hospitality to his fans) back in 1983.  The DVD came with a set of postcards and was my 1st score of the evening.

CREDIT: Glenn B Fleming

On the way from the booth with the  Kirby videos to my next stop, a metal lunchbox sporting one of my favorite comic book covers of all time caught my eye, and only $10!  A refugee from a convention across the country, but I wasn’t fussy… and into my bag it went!

Next stop was the TwoMorrows booth.  They are purveyors of many fine publications about comics history, the comic books themselves, the industry, and the creators.  I had read they were having a big sale, and picked up 2 hardcover tomes about Will Eisner and Dick Ayers for $10 each, 75% off normal price

Onwards to Bill Sienkiewicz’s booth.  I love his art and try to check out his sketchbook each year.  Last year he did a New Mutants sketchbook, BUT the hardcover edition I prefer was not shipped to them in time for the show so I skipped it.  But they had them in stock for this year’s show and one became mine.

Next I stopped in to see Batton Lash, writer/artist of the wonderful Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, a series about lawyers who specialize in supernatural law taking on clients from werewolves to vampires and many more.  Batton generally does tiny little monster paintings on canvas to sell at the con.  In past years I had gotten Frankenstein & his bride, as well as Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet.  This year I added the Creature from the Black Lagoon and his sweetheart to the collection.

CREDIT: Batton Lash

As I headed southward across the show floor, my next purchase was at the Black Mask Studio booth.  They had a special limited edition issue of a comic series I enjoy, CalExit.  This is a series about California attempting to secede from the United States, only to have the full weight of the US Military descend on it, as an occupying force.  The SDCC exclusive issue has a new story about a woman running a pirate radio station in San Diego with a pretty cool article at the back talking about real pirate radio with an interview with someone who has run these kinds of broadcasts.

CREDIT: Black Mask

It was at this point that I braved “the Vortex”… my group of friends has started using this nickname of the super-crowed part of the show floor from Dark Horse Comics over to where the Original art dealers hang out.  This is the part of the floor that has the Movie/TV studios and the big toy companies, and we generally try to avoid it when possible.  I hit the Hasbro booth just to see what the line was like…  They sold several convention exclusives online before the show, but NOT to pick up at the show.  You had to stop by their booth at the show and have them scan the bar code confirming your purchase, thus ensuring the exclusives were going to someone who was actually attending the show, but the toys themselves were shipped out after the con.  There was a HUGE line at the booth for people trying to buy things they had for sale on-site.  There was 1 person in front of me in the line to get our bar code scanned, and it took about 1 minute for me to be finished with the process.  This worked very nicely.

I got 2 items, the SDCC exclusive Aquaman figure set modeled after the cover of first series issue #35 looks pretty darn good… better than the original cover, which is not one of my favorite examples of Nick Cardy’s work.

The second item was the Thanos copter based on a scene from Spidey Super Stories #39 & packed in a Cosmic Cube!!  I would have liked the Hot Wheels of Superman lifting a car based on the cover of Action Comics #1, but that one sold out before I got to it online.

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CREDIT: Mashable.com

At San Diego Comic Con, the Hall H and Marvel/DC super-hero news and events are undeniably cool for fans of pop culture.  I love this stuff and as a fan of pop culture I am very interested in it, but it is also where 98% of the massive lines are at Con.   But the news shared with the fans at the convention is splashed all over social media often before the panels are even complete!  Braving the lines and crowds would buy me an “I got to see it first” factor ranging from a few minutes to a few hours.

I’m not knocking people who love these panels, I’m a huge advocate of “do what makes you happy”.  I am talking about my rationale for NOT going to these panels, and offering up a possible alternative for people who feel frustrated by the crowds associated with these parts of the SDCC experience.

Personally, I make a choice: Do I wait in huge lines to sit in a massively crowded room and watch this material on a screen at con when it is the same thing I can watch on my computer when I get home? I would get to see actors, but chances are I would be so far away from them I’d also be watching them on the projected screen in Hall H.  The big panels are also frequently streamed on the internet, so I can watch them at my leisure after the con is over.

For “Big Super” (sorry folks, I’m trying to get a nickname for Marvel/DC Super-hero comics started that is a play on “Big Pharma”) it’s the same thing at a slightly smaller scale.  Big lines and big rooms crowded with people (though not quite as big as Hall H).  Every comic book news site has representatives in these panels and any juicy tidbits are all over their sites, on Twitter, and shared by fans in real time as the panels occur, if Marvel/DC do no leak the news to major “legit” media outlets before the panels even start.

So I spend my time at SDCC going to the smaller comic book panels that are usually focused on the creators and topics that are not of enough interest to the general public to be splashed all over social media in a big way.  I post about it, as do a few others, but generally not even remotely live because mobile phone reception SUCKS in the San Diego Convention center….   There are 20,000 people posting/tweeting about the Aquaman movie trailer (or whatever) all at the same time, so connectivity this year was pretty terrible.   An added benefit in the smaller panels is the ability to have direct interaction with the panelists that I’m a fan of, both in the form of asking questions during the panel or maybe even chatting with them in the hall after the panel or visiting them at their booth down on the show floor later on.

I’m sure people who choose the Hall H and big Marvel/DC route have fun… well MOSTLY have fun, I do hear a LOT of complaints about crowds/lines/etc. from people who attend SDCC and this is the stuff they are complaining about, because I’m not waiting in big lines for the stuff I do.   These people have a very different con experience from the one I have.  I’ve talked about this before, SDCC is so large and so diverse in what it covers there is something for everyone.  It’s like 10 or 20 conventions all in one.  People can focus on any one of those single elements (like I do with comic books) or mix and match the elements in whatever way they want.  Pretty much every other comic fan I know that attends SDCC mixes comic books in with Hollywood/sci-fi/etc.

One thing I enjoy most about my chosen “track” through SDCC is that, for the most part, crowds are what I have to navigate around on my way to the things I want to see, but I’m not living inside those crowds for very long.

I’ll be posting Blog summaries of the 21 panels I attended later on/in the coming days, as well as a “Top 10 wrap-up” for San Diego Comic Con 2018.  Watch this Blog for more!

In the meantime, I’m checking the news on all the cool stuff I didn’t attend at SDCC and will share a lot of what I think looks cool on the ComicSpectrum Facebook page where people can comment/discuss.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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