Sunday Morning at Comic-Con


The Cartoon Voice Panel, photo by Bruce Guthrie: Jim Cummings, Sherry Lynn, Arif S. Kinchen, David Sobolov, Colleen O'Shaugnessy, Josh Keaton, me in the back.

Quick Draw! seemed to go well yesterday. Sergio Aragonés, Scott Shaw! and Floyd Norman drew rapidly and humorously. They were joined for one game by three more cartoonists — Bill Morrison, Carol Lay and Tom Yeates. To play our "Secret Words" game, I brought up two funny friends of mine — actor-writer Jim Staahl and Simpsons scribe Tom Gammill. Tom more or less took over the proceedings, which is kinda what I expected.

The Cartoon Voices panel went well, too. We had Jim Cummings, David Sobolov, Sherry Lynn, Arif S. Kinchen, Colleen O'Shaugnessy and Josh Keaton, all of whom have some wonderful credits and of course the talent to destroy (in a good sense) the script I handed them to read. Today at the second Cartoon Voices panel, the cast will be reading the same script — "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" — and then I plan to retire it…to the probable cheers of those who attend these panels.

I spoke briefly on a panel for Abrams ComicArts about The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio, a forthcoming book of art from back when Joe Simon and Jack Kirby not only wrote and drew great comics together but hired others to work with them doing this. I'll tell you more about it one of these days.

Due to overlapping panels, I left that one, which was deliberately placed as far as possible from my next one, and hustled over to moderate "That 70's Panel" all about comics from that decade. We had on the dais Elliott S! Maggin, Steve Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Louise Simonson, Anthony Tollin and Len Wein. It seemed like a pretty interesting panel but I can't think of anything to quote here other than this: When all of us got into comics, it was widely predicted that the industry didn't have long to live; that plunging sales would soon doom the form. At a time before anyone invented Direct Sales Distribution, that was a pretty sound prediction and we all to some extent believed that. All but Len Wein. Len said — and this is an approximate quote — "I was always certain comics would survive because I wanted them to survive." Happily for us all, he was right.


The 70's Panel: Front row is Steve Leialoha, then Walt and Louise Simonson. Back row is me, Elliott S! Maggin, Tony Tollin and Len Wein. Photo by Bruce Guthrie.

In the evening, I went to parties and such. Downtown San Diego was so busy that Uber declared one of its "surges" where their rates go up due to a shortage of drivers on the road. Last time I looked, they were charging 2.75 times their usual fares, making them actually more expensive than cabs.

On the way back to my hotel after my last panel of the day &;mdash; this was before the parties and such — I witnessed something disturbing. A gent dressed as a "serious" barbarian — but who seemed to have the I.Q. and concern for humanity of Groo — was wielding a realistic plastic sword, swinging it about, apparently under the impression that since it was plastic, he could not possibly hurt anyone. I saw him come darn close (too close) to unknowingly sticking it in the eye of a small child in a passing stroller. Another two inches to the left would have done it and it was just chance that no injury occurred. Just chance.

I really like the cosplayers. Most of them show ingenuity and talent and passion. I do sometimes tire of hearing people who only know Comic-Con from news segments on TV assume that everyone at the con must be costumed because that's all the news camera usually show. Still, I think the con would be greatly diminished without those who dress up as characters. (Though I will admit: I've never quite understood the urge, either at cons or at Halloween, to make oneself up as a zombie or walking dead. In my entire life, I've never thought, "Gee, I'd enjoy looking as repulsive and sickening as possible.")

The best one I saw today — and if anyone got a photo of him I can post, please send it to me — was a gent in a Star Wars storm trooper suit, only just from the neck down. His head was covered by a Cookie Monster mask. Very funny. About 95% of the cosplayers are terrific.

All that said, I think it's time someone also said this: About 5% are spectacularly inconsiderate of others. Swinging around a plastic sword in a crowd is bad enough but to do it around kids in strollers? I think some of that body makeup has closed off the pores that feed oxygen to the brain.

Can someone please tell these people that a guy with a Smartphone who says, "Hey, can I get a picture of you?" does not give you the right to suddenly stop in the middle of an aisle and block traffic for your photo-op? I've been seeing a lot of near pile-ups at the con because these folks don't even look around to see what hazards or congestion they're creating. Twice yesterday, I had to play Unappointed Traffic Cop and suggest someone take two steps to the side to pose so that wheelchairs and scooters for the disabled could get through.

But of course, the guy with the plastic sword bothered me more. When I pointed out to him what he'd almost done, he just shrugged and said, "Hey, it's plastic, man," with an unspoken subtext of "Hey, don't bother me! I'm Conan!"

A dealer at the Phoenix Comic Convention told me he hated the cosplayers and wished conventions would oust them. He said, approximately, "They clog the aisles in front of my booth and make it difficult for customers to see my wares, and none of them ever buy anything. They're just here to get attention. Hell, most of them don't even have pockets and wallets!" I don't side with that guy. I think they're great and so what if they don't buy anything? And like I said, 95% of them do it right. I just think 5% of them need to learn some consideration for others, including the fact that even plastic weapons can jab passers-by and even injure someone.

Off to the final day of the Con where it's a four-panel day for me.