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1. Baseball, Comic-Cons, and Paying Volunteers

Minimum WageYesterday The Mary Sue published an article noting that for-profit comic-cons might be violating federal labor law by not paying minimum wage to workers improperly classified as volunteers. However, a recent case involving Major League Baseball shows how commercial comic-cons could beat the tag.

The use of free labor by for-profit companies has become a hot issue in recent years. Internships have become a particularly touchy topic – class action lawsuits by former interns have prompted some companies to end their unpaid internship programs, although there are at least a couple high-profile cases on appeal in which companies are challenging the Department of Labor’s standards for determining whether an intern is actually an employee.

Given how costly it can be for a company to fall afoul of federal law on this issue, it is indeed prudent for the companies that run comic conventions to assess whether it is legal for them to use unpaid volunteers. This is especially conventions run by for-profit companies, since charitable nonprofits enjoy a special exemption from minimum wage and overtime requirements in regard to volunteers. The Mary Sue has once again performed a service to the community in calling attention to this important issue.

With that in mind, in making this analysis it’s important to be aware of both the law’s requirements, the specific practices of each company, and the exemptions that are available outside the one given to charities.

First, since conventions produced by ReedPop — NYCC, ECCC, C2E2 — were mentioned in the post, it’s worth noting, as several “volunteers” have stated in the original comments thread and a related Reddit thread, that ReedPop pays volunteers minimum wage as official crew. Calling people volunteers in this context is a great way to foster a sense of community and community — one of things for which Lance Fensterman and company are to be commended is the way that they have fostered this communal sensibility while maximizing return on investment.

But not every for-profit comic-con that brings on volunteers gives these workers compensation – in fact, depending on the convention, you might actually be required to pay a fee for the privilege of helping the company out! Although this may seem on its face like a violation of federal law, there’s a legal loophole that has enabled countless commercial businesses to use volunteers in the standard sense of term.

Over the years the federal Fair Labor Standards Act has accumulated dozens of exemptions for a wide range of ventures, from homemakers making wreaths to C-level executives. For a company that operates a program taking place within a limited period of time during the year, there is one exemption in particular that catches the corporate attorney’s eye: minimum wage and overtime requirements do not apply to “any employee employed by an establishment which is an amusement or recreational establishment…” that operates no more than seven months a year or meets a financial test as to revenue generated at different times of the year. (29 USC 213(a)(3))

There are several cases that show how a commercial comic-con can take advantage of this provision, but the ruling perhaps most on-point was issued just a year ago in the Southern District of New York – coincidentally, the same federal district in which the New York Comic-Con takes place. Chen v. Major League Baseball Properties was brought by a former volunteer for the 2013 All-Star Week FanFest at the Javits Center (!), and the volunteer made arguments similar to those made in the intern lawsuits: volunteers at the event met the criteria for employee status, and thus Major League Baseball should have paid them at least minimum wage.

Major League Baseball — and the court — disagreed. As the court observed, although Major League Baseball operates all year long, Department of Labor regulations distinguish an entire enterprise from an “establishment,” which specifically refers to “a distinct place of business.” The exemption was put in place to accommodate seasonal ventures employing people for discrete periods of time in activities that might offer “non-monetary rewards.” The court concluded Major League Baseball’s FanFest was analogous to the amusement and recreational activities in view when legislators originally enacted the exemption, and the plaintiff’s federal as well as state law claims were summarily dismissed.

The plaintiff has appealed the district court’s ruling – in fact, it was argued in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today, March 30 – but as noted above, there are a number of cases in other circuits that have reached similar conclusions. What’s more, even if the appeal succeeds, the main case being cited in opposition focuses on aspects of one baseball team’s operations that are distinguishable from a comic-con. For instance, while the team in question utilized its stadium for events throughout much of the year, comic-cons typically take place in rented facilities for discrete periods of time.

The analysis gets somewhat trickier for an entity operating multiple conventions. For instance, let’s assume that Wizard World doesn’t pay its volunteers — there’s nothing about compensation in the volunteer information packet, at least; Wizard World volunteers don’t even get munchies or parking reimbursements. The fact that Wizard World operates year-round could be grounds for arguing that the seasonal establishment exemption doesn’t apply, but there are also clever counter-arguments and organizational strategies that could persuade a court to disagree. Others have tried and succeeded with even more daunting facts – which, on a related front, is why the NCAA doesn’t have to pay taxes on ads sold for March Madness.

The seasonal exemption has long been a lifeline for companies offering an opportunity to volunteer for ventures that operate on a limited-term basis, such as amusement parks, outdoor swimming pools, Oprah’s Life You Want Tour, and New York Fashion Week. If you are an unpaid commercial comic-con volunteer who believes a lawsuit for back wages would be a clear home run, expect Major League Baseball Properties and cases like it to be deployed to strike you out.

1 Comments on Baseball, Comic-Cons, and Paying Volunteers, last added: 3/31/2015
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2. The Beat Podcasts! – SDCC ’14 Day 5: Chuck Palahnuik

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngLive from San Diego Comic Con, it’s More To Come! Publishers Weekly’s podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In part five of More To Come’s San Diego Comic-Con special podcast, Calvin Reid interviews award-winning author Chuck Palahnuik about his decision to write the sequel to his hit ‘Fight Club’ in comic book form, and the comics professionals who helped it happen. This has been San Diego Comic-Con 2014 from Publishers Weekly’s More To Come!

Download this episode direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the Publishers Weekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

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3. SDCC ’14: Beyond the Convention Center


by Hannah Lodge

For some, the real glamour of San Diego Comic Con lies beyond the confines of the convention center. For four days, the Gaslamp quarter is transformed into an outdoor festival, with parties, guest appearances, live music, free food, and entertainment happening in parallel of the announcements and panels held behind closed doors. Here’s a sampling of unofficial events happening outside of the convention center halls.

Thursday (or ongoing)

Gotham Zip lining: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday until Sunday, fans will have the opportunity to channel their inner batman and zip line (130 feet long, 30 feet h
igh) through Gotham-esque landscape. Souvenir photos will also be available, and the event will take place between the convention center and the Hilton Bayfront. If the experience leaves you too exhausted to walk home, Uber will also be featuring Gotham-themed cars to pick passengers up for free rides. To hitch a ride, select the Gotham PD under the Uber slider in the app or follow uber_sd on twitter.

Nintendo Gaming Lounge: From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, the Marriott Marquis and Marina Ballroom will feature the Nintendo Gaming Lounge. Featured games include 3DS features like Super Smash Bros, Sonic Book and Siesta Fiesta and Wii U titles like Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad, Sonic Book and Skylanders Trap Team. Admission is free and no badge is required.

BioWare Development Team & Dragon Age Inquisition: From 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Thursday, Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry Lounge at 379 4th Ave (Jolt N’ Joes) will host coffee & donuts with the BioWare Development team and will demo the newest installment in the Dragon Age Series, Inquisition, which releases this fall. Demos will continue throughout the weekend. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Borderlands Laser Tag: From 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nerdist and 2K Games team up to bring Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel laser tag to Petco Park. The event will also feature an oxygen bar and live events. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Adult Swim Fun House & Dome Experience: Starting 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Adult Swim will feature interactive experiences at Petco Park parking lot. The Fun House is a giant castle that will force guests to crawl, side, and sing their way through. The Meatwad Dome Experience features a two-story, 40-foot Meatwad planetarium with animated content that requires a “this event has loud music, flashing lights, and  images that could trigger seizures” caution on the label. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Jay & Silent Bob Podcast: At 5 p.m. Thursday, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes will perform a live podcast to celebrate the release of their new book. The event takes place at the American Comedy Co. at 818 B 6th Ave. Tickets are $35 and include a signed copy of the book.

MTV Fan Fest & Fandom Awards: At 5 p.m. Thursday, Linkin Park will perform at Petco Park for MTV’s Fandom Awards. Entrance is free but requires a Comic Con badge.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Welcome Party: From 8 -11 p.m. Thursday, the CBLDF party will feature exclusive comics and a chance to mingle with creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Scott Snyder, Chris Burnham, Nick Dragotta, Nick Pitarra. The party will also feature original artwork and an alchemy/fragrance lab from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Suggested donations of $10-$20 at the door.

NerdHQ Fan Party: Starting at 9 p.m., the annual Nerd HQ will kick off with a fan party at Petco Park. Admission is free and no badge is required.


Cape/Cowl/Create: From 12 -7 p.m. Friday, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment will celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary with an art exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel. The exhibit will include the unveiling of life-size recreations of The Dark Knight’s cowl headpiece and cape from the upcoming video game as well as talent appearances, including Zack Snyder, Will Arnett, Mister Cartoon, and Buff Monster.  Some of the art pieces will be auctioned for charity. Admission is free and no badge is required.

Boxtrolls Food Truck: Though the truck will be available throughout the Con, at 1 p.m. the truck will be at the Petco Park Interactive Zone to feature Bug Chef David George Gordon, who will demonstrate his edible insect creations. Event is free and no badge is required.

Appleseed Alpha Screening: At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sony will screen the animated movie Appleseed Alpha, from the author Masamune Shirow (creator of Ghost in the Shell). The event is free but first-come-first-serve (RSVP on EventBrite recommended) and will take place at Reading Cinemas.

Danny Elfman Concert: At 8 p.m. Friday, composer Danny Elfman will perform in a concert featuring the scores from Tim Burton movies. Highlights include Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Big Fish, and The Corpse Bride. Tickets are between $28 – $90 and the event takes place at the Embarcadero Marina, directly behind the convention center.

Adam Savage Incognito: At 9 p.m. Friday, Tested.com is throwing a celebration for cosplayers, featuring Mythbusters star Adam Savage. Savage will demonstrate some of his most memorable cosplay and will reveal a meticulous replica of one of his favorite movie props of all time.  The event is 21+ and will be held at Side Bar, 536 Market St.

Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Jammy Party: Adult Swim’s Tim & Eric will feature a first look at their new series, Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories, from 11 pm – midnight on Friday. The screening will take place at Petco Park’s parking lot (at the bottom of the pedestrian bridge) and requires pajamas and a free RSVP (RSVP on Adult Swim’s Comic Con page).


Enhance Cosplay with Greg Nicotero: From 12 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Walking Dead special FX designer Greg Nicotero will demonstrate custom make-up designs for fans at the Super Hero HQ cosplay lab, located at the Courtyard by Marriott (100 Park Blvd). Free make-up touch-ups will also be available through the convention at the lab.  The event is free and open to the public.

George R.R. Martin Q&A: From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, George R.R. Martin will conduct a public Q&A at the Super Hero HQ at the Courtyard by Marriott. The event is free and open to the public.

Heroes Brew Craft Beer Festival: From 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, beer aficionados will gather at the Embarcadero Marina Park North to sample from more than 40 breweries. The event will also feature food trucks, a costume contest and live music. Tickets are $45 ($20 for designated drivers).

ZombieWalk: Returning for its 8th year at Comic Con, the Zombiewalk will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday and starts at Children’s Park (corner of Island & 1st Ave). The event is free and open to the public.

Norma Reedus Q&A: From 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Norma Reedus (a.k.a. Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead) will do a live Q&A at Super Hero HQ in the Courtyard by Marriott. Reedus will also judge cosplay costumes and select and crown the King and Queen of Cosplay.  The event is free and open to the public.

The Walking Dead Escape: From 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Walking Dead fans can purchase tickets for the survival-driven event, which forces Survivors and Walkers to climb, crawl, slide and hide through brutal scenarios, to either live or become infected.  Tickets are $95 or walkers and $50 for survivors and the event takes place at Petco Park.

Doctor Who Comic Creators Signing: From 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, writer Nick Abadzis, artist Elena Casagrande, cover artist Alice X Zhang and editor Andrew James will be on-hand at the Comickaze store, 5517 AB Clairemont Mesa Blvd. In addition to signings, the event will feature quizzes and a Doctor Who costume contest.

Thrilling Adventure Hour & Welcome to Night Vale Cross-Over Show: TAH & Welcome to Night Vale will be teaming up at 8 p.m. Saturday at Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway. The event will feature Marc Evan Jackson, Craig Cackowski, Hal Lublin, Mark Gagliardi, and show creators Ben Blacker & Ben Acker. Tickets range from $24 – $122.

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4. SDCC: Dynamite Nabs Will Eisner’s The Spirit

Spirit_Archives_Vol_1_1.jpgby Brandon Schatz

One day before the madness of this year’s San Diego Comic Con officially begins, Dynamite has announced their future intentions for Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

Most recently, the character has been a tangental part of the DC Comics line, starting with a ongoing originally helmed by Darwyn Cooke in 2006, before moving the character over to their ill-fated First Wave line alongside pulp heroes such as Doc Savage. He also briefly appeared in a Rocketeer crossover at IDW through an agreement with DC, who still held the rights for publication at the time.

This addition to Dynamite’s line makes perfect sense, as they seem to be building quite a library of pulp heroes. The company’s predication for those heroes to interact in various mini-series should make for some interesting content down the line. As it stands, we are still waiting on news as to who will be the creative team on any new book, as well as what form such a series would take.

More on this as it develops.

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5. The Beat Podcasts! – SDCC ’14 Day 2: Don Rosa, Eleanor Davis, Lucy Knisley & Archie Comics

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngLive from San Diego Comic Con, it’s More To Come! Publishers Weekly’s podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In part two of More To Come’s San Diego Comic-Con special, Calvin Reid talks to Don Rosa about Scrooge McDuck, European fans and Carl Barks; Eleanor Davis on her new book How to Be Happy; and Lucy Knisley about her new book An Age of License. Meanwhile, Heidi MacDonald interviews Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito and sr. v-p Alex Segura about Life With Archie, dead Archie and zombie Archie. All this and more from Publishers Weekly’s More To Come!

Listen to this episode in streaming here, download it direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the PublishersWeekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes


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6. The SDCC Talk Back: Return to Onsite Sales, and More Disability Resources

President of the Comic-Con board of directors, John Rogers, returns for the Talk Back.

President of the Comic-Con board of directors, John Rogers, returns for the Talk Back.

By: Nick Eskey

Signifying the end of the four day odyssey that is SDCC is the Comic-Con Talk Back with John Rogers (president of the Comic-Con board of directors). As it normally does, the room has a line that runs the length of the room all the way to the back, and then some. The pressure is thick in the room. A mini argument even breaks out in the middle of the line before the Talk Back begins. Last year, the main points of discussion were the crass behavior of security, and Hall H issues in general.

Some of the more minor things that were mentioned maybe once or twice were; the ridiculousness of how Ace Parking decided to sell parking spots during the duration of comic-con instead of on a day-to-day basis, trying to add real-time line numbers to the online ticket queues, and how ill-informed the security can be. “If you have a solution for well informed security guards, I’d love to hear it,” said John looking over his glasses. Another thing was the bathroom passes given to those in Hall H. “How can you keep track if the same person is returning with the pass?” Rogers agreed to it, but reminded “We tried scanning people’s passes one year to keep track, but the process took too much time. I wish there was a simple way.”

A great number of discussion was over the frustrations regarding the online registration, and that people wanted a return to the onsite badge sales. John responded by saying, “Unfortunately because of the growing popularity of the convention, onsite sales would only increase wait times for everyone.” Despite this fact however, those who proposed the return stayed resolute to their request. One woman went so far as to ask, “well how about next year can you get me extra passes? I’ve been trying to get other family members some tickets, but I don’t understand the website. What can you do for me?” Rogers looked surprised, and went to say, “There’s a large demand and not enough to meet it. I don’t know what I can do.” “What about the press and the professional people? They get passes? What can you do for me?”

For those that can’t get into Hall H, or rather not brave the lines, there is a room designated for a Hall H play back. One of the downsides to it however is the lack of exclusives. Studios ask for certain things to be only viewable in the hall, so as to lessen the risk of recording. One man proposed that John give the studios an ultimatum. That they allow exclusives in the play back room, “or else. Comic-con  doesn’t need them. They need comic-con.” “We are about being fair and equal to everyone,” said Rogers. “How fair would it be if we don’t let 6’000 people get to see it because 900 people can’t?”

For serious issues, there certainly were some big ones this year. An observation of mine was that there were quite a bit of handicapped individuals lined up this year compared to las. And for good reason, for all of them had something to say. A couple points were that the comic-con website was not as insightful as some of them would have liked to, sometimes even confusing to the point of frustration. A large issue was especially the handicapped line for Hall H. As one gentlemen put it, “we didn’t have provisions such as the able bodied people did, and we weren’t given wristbands.” At the part about the wristbands, Rogers looked surprised. “They didn’t give you wristbands?” he asked. About two other people in the crowd also seconded it. “It wasn’t supposed to be that way,” answered Rogers. Apparently a line moderator deemed it “useless” for those in the line to have wristbands.

For Hall H, any handicapped person is allowed an attendee to help them traverse the lines and crowds. But one oddity that one woman brought to light was how the disabled individuals were then being separated from their attendees when led in the hall, and those left behind had to wait. “By the time I was allowed in, it was an hour and a half later,” said the woman. She also observed most of the attendees weren’t even allowed to sit next to those they came with. Rogers apologized and full heartedly agreed that in no world should something like that happen, and also would find out what was going on.

Though not everything was complaints. There was quite a bit of praise over the issuance of wristbands for the Hall H line. “It made it so much easier to counter people cutting when others have been waiting all day.” One man commented on how he wished he could grab multiples for those that couldn’t be with him at the time, but John pointed out that if they allowed this, “there’d be the risk of people selling them to others.”

It was good to see that one of the main points from last year was surely worked on. I maybe heard of one guard issue this year. I personally could see that they were more professional in their manor. But the Hall H issue is still on the table. In fact, it might be getting worse. And with all the issues that arose this year with disabled services to compound it, there was definitely a disconnect somewhere.

3 Comments on The SDCC Talk Back: Return to Onsite Sales, and More Disability Resources, last added: 7/28/2014
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7. SDCC Comics in the Library Panel

One of the best panels I attended at SDCC was Comics in the Library, moderated by Gina Gagliano of First Second Books, featuring four librarians from different parts of the country:

• Candice Mack, LA Public Library
• Mike Pawuk, Cuyahoga County Public Library (Ohio)
• Eva Volin, Alameda Library (CA) [Twitter]
• Gene Anbaum, Unshelved [Twitter]

This is a writeup of my panel notes. I was writing quickly, so it’s possible I’ve made mistakes below—my apologies if so!

From left: Candice Mack, Mike Pawuk, Eva Volin, Gina Gagliano. Sorry I didn’t get Gene Anbaum in the photo!

What is your collection like?

Gina opened the discussion by asking the panelists to tell us about the comics and graphic novel collections in their library systems.

Candice is at a different branch now, but in the branch where she built a graphic novel collection, she began by moving comics out of Dewey Decimal order to designated shelves in the teen section, with signs to point readers toward them. This had a big impact on circulation. Later in the panel, she described creating a reading lounge with sofas in the teen section near the comics/GN shelves. This became quite popular with kids.

Mike works in a system that has 27 branches containing about 4000 graphic novels & manga for teens. There are also GN sections in children’s & adult.

Eva‘s system (three branches) has GNs in all departments.

Gene‘s branch has an extensive teen collection. The adult collection has a few titles, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis. Some kids’ GNs are hidden with rest of kids’ books—except Babymouse which has its own shelf.

Eva mentioned one series that didn’t move at all in teens. She moved to the children’s section; now it’s never on the shelf—it is constantly checked out.

Gene talked about deciding where to shelve things, especially manga with mature content.

Eva (addressing the issue of whether some comics may be too mature for children) said it’s not a librarian’s job to tell your child what he can read—that is the parents’ job. She thinks the comics rating system isn’t useful: you have to read the books or look at reviews to get a feel for actual content.

Gene mentioned that in his branch, sometimes they wind up with books in all three sections.

Mike started the job in 1996. At that time, all his branch had was a few volumes of Sandman and Bone. He wanted to build a collection. He likes it best when staff can order titles for their own branches—they know their communities.

How to start a collection

Mike talked about what percent of the collection is GN. In his system, the 4000 GNs are about 12% of total circulation. Teen (prose) fiction is about 10%, also roughly 4000 titles.

Gene said that in 2000, his branch had one shelf of comics/GNs. He was given $6000 to build a GN collection with but had to use the money in one month. He was forced to choose quickly, went with a lot of things he liked personally but tried also to choose broadly, outside his tastes. The manga he ordered flew off the shelves.

Someone (whoops, no attribution in my notes) said that in hi

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8. SDCC 2011 Roundup (final)

Day 1: Quick Peek

My favorite costume: Neo-Victorian biologist (at GeekMom)

Day 2: Again with the Quick Peeks

Things My Kids Can’t Wait to See at SDCC (at GeekMom)

The Streets of San Diego (at GeekMom)

SDCC Day of Recovery

SDCC Diary: Thursday

SDCC Teen Comics Workshop (at GeekMom)—emphasis on art

SDCC Comics for Teens Recap (at GeekMom)—emphasis on writing

SDCC Diary: Friday & Saturday

Comics in the Library panel

SDCC Diary: Sunday

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9. San Diego Teasers: Marvel Promise War

With HerosCon now settling into the dusty annals of past history, the time has come for companies to start promoting what will happen at the almost-here-taste-it San Diego Comic-Con. For Marvel, that means some new teasers for whatever will follow their Avengers Vs X-Men event. Two have been released so far, promising lucky readers that the much-hated characters Thor and Wolverine will finally have their uppance come, during a story simply known as ‘War’.

1340637350 San Diego Teasers: Marvel Promise War1340637352 San Diego Teasers: Marvel Promise War

This is likely to be a requiem-style miniseries following on from whatever the aftermath of AvX is, as you can see from the images of Thor’s broken hammer and Wolverine’s hand being…. well, who knows what’s happening in there. Expect a broken Captain America shield within a week, and probably some shredded Spider-Man clothes or something too.

Oh! Maybe this is something to do with that randomly-scheduled Brian Michael Bendis-written finale to the Avengers, Ultron War? That story has been slated to happen for over a year now, and there’s still no sign of it. In that case, expect a teaser image of Luke Cage’s beanie, which was accidentally put in the wash with some colours, and has now stained pink. What horrors. Marvel say that this story, whatever it is, will be announced at the Spider-Man panel during SDCC, on July 15th.

17 Comments on San Diego Teasers: Marvel Promise War, last added: 6/25/2012
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10. SDCC 12: The Girl with the Donut Tattoo gives food recommendations

201207091107 SDCC 12: The Girl with the Donut Tattoo gives food recommendations
A local SD foodie has provided what we all needed — a guide to good food around the con area. Topping the list: Ralphs, which also tops the list of fun places at 3 am. Seriously. You haven’t done con until you’ve gone to Ralphs at 3 am to see cartoonists, cosplayers and nerdlebrities wandering around buying carrot sticks, tequila and pie.

The post also reveals the earth-shattering, to us, news that a cheese shop has been opened at our hotel. While we mourn for our breakfast burrito, a new romance with a three cheese toasted sandwich may be beginning.

Author Darlene Horn is also debuting a new comic called The Girl With the Donut Tattoo, a collection of food-themed strips drawn by her husband, Paul Horn, who draws the webcomic Cool Jerk. They had us at the title alone. It’s available at Small Press table K10.

201207091115 SDCC 12: The Girl with the Donut Tattoo gives food recommendations

3 Comments on SDCC 12: The Girl with the Donut Tattoo gives food recommendations, last added: 7/9/2012
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11. SDCC: Bleeding Alliance of Beat Reporters

By Alexander Ané

For those who don’t know, the Bleeding Alliance of Beat Reporters is four of the biggest names in comic book journalism in one panel held during Thursday evening of San Diego Comic-Con and moderated by another big name in comics journalism, Douglas Wolk. Andy Khouri of Comics Alliance, Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool, Heidi MacDonald of The Beat, and Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter filed into the panel for an evening of talking about their publications and beliefs about other side of the comics industry most people don’t consider often: reporting about it.

Most of the time, if you look behind the curtain, you might hear about those individuals pecking at each other over various stories and events, but the level of professionalism shown among those panelists was something to be admired. Their job that evening was to inform us about comics journalism and the what life becomes when you follow that profession.

There was a great discussion about readership and how each publication handles their own followers. It clearly reflected each of their aims toward journalism and writing in general. In the end while all the panelists agreed that journalists write for themselves and writing news for the sake of numbers was a secondary priority there is a fine line where good quality reporting does become news or ratings worthy.

When asked about how each of them would make a living on journalism alone, it was mentioned that there has to be a sort of diversifaction in writing professions to be able to stay afloat. The fact that they emphasized being able to maintain a varied skill set was interesting because that seems to be a common topic in the comics industry when acquiring work.

3 Comments on SDCC: Bleeding Alliance of Beat Reporters, last added: 7/16/2012
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12. The Day after SDCC

…is always something of a blur. We’re wiped out. But the weekend was lovely. Exhausting, noisy, hectic, but lovely. A recap to come. Presumably. For now, a long happy sigh, a thwarted nap, and a very tall photo. Oh, and we posted a new comic at Thicklebit today. :)

steampunk stilts dude at San Diego Comic-Con

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13. SDCC 12: Making a Living in Manga

By Alexander Añé
The Making a Living in Manga panel featured Adam Warren, Becky Cloonan, Fred Gallagher, Audra Furuichi, Christopher Butcher, JuYoun Lee, Erik Ko, and moderator Deb Aoki. This was a very diverse panel, hosting a good lineup of professionals and publishers including a journalist devoted to writing about the manga industry. From there they began to discuss their experiences in the industry, where it’s going and what they look for when training and hiring new talent.

The focus of the panel was to help shed some light on how to be successful in the manga industry, hence the name, as a professional and as a student. Aoki introduced the audience to a diagram following the conventional life cycle of a manga professional, from early inspiration to publishing. It was interesting to note that the cycle included bypassing mainstream publishers all together and publish independently or even bypassing the conventional portfolio review process that takes place at conventions.

Panelists also confirmed that region has a huge factor in determining the success of a manga artist. Some regions, such as Japan, even have schools devoted to learning how to draw manga. A few of the panelists, admitted that they went to more conventional art schools and drew manga in secret. Later this turned out to be a more helpful situation because they were given a good background to build a stronger career. Another important notion was that success in the manga industry was far from immediate and that it took several years of work in other trades related to being an artist or writer to be able to have manga work fund itself.

The piece of advice that was repeated among the panelists most often was that artists needed to have a deep understanding of the fundamentals; not just in manga but in any sort of art. It might have seemed harsh when Erik Ko mentioned that publishers, “aren’t there to babysit,” artists on their projects but it reflects an even harsher truth in that when artists fall behind from lack of skill set, the rest of the production line suffers for it. The key is to be able to develop versatility that can strengthen your prospects of being hired or noticed.

1 Comments on SDCC 12: Making a Living in Manga, last added: 7/28/2012
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14. SDCC Hijinks

photo lifted from Lalitha's FB

Fun times at Thursday night’s Scholastic party at SDCC with my pals Allison Tran, Jenni Holm, and Lalitha Nataraj. I lifted this photo from Lali’s FB page—thanks!

Jenni and Matt Holm won an Eisner last night for Babymouse for President! Wild huzzahs from here.


What’s Comic-Con without a full-size pirate ship in the harbor?


This book caught my eye—the fictional adventures of pulp-novel hero Frank Reade in history. Gorgeous illustrations, intriguing premise. It’s on my take-a-closer-look list.


Always fun to spot friends’ books at a show!

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15. SDCC 2010: The Epic Fantasy Panel

It’s a week after Comic-Con and I’m still working through my notes! Two more panels and another booklist to post, and then it’s likely to get quiet around here for a spell.

I scrawled a crazy amount of notes at the Once Upon a Time panel—six authors of epic fantasy discussing their craft—but the odds of my being able to translate the scrawl to English are slimmish, so never fear. This was a fascinating panel. (Hence the 12 pages of notes.) Have I mentioned I love hearing other writers talk about their work? Yeah.

The panelists, in order of seating: Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Lynn Flewelling, Megan Whalen Turner, Christopher Paolini, Patrick Rothfuss. The moderator: Maryelizabeth Hart of the awesome Mysterious Galaxy bookstore. She was great. They were all great.

Hart’s first question was about the everyman character vs. the larger-than-life superheroic character. In epic fantasy, with these sweeping adventures and grand-scale worldbuilding, does the main character also need to be larger than life?

SANDERSON: talked about Bilbo and Frodo, everymen, little guys, ordinary, small. “If Tolkien did it, it must be okay.” (Gave context of Tolkien as originator of high fantasy.) Made interesting point about Sam having superheroic loyalty—i.e. Sam is not a typical everyman. But came back to “at core of every everyman there is something exceptional.”

WEEKS: If we can follow them [everyman characters] through that journey, we are great too. We know there is something great within us, potential; as the everyman becomes great, we become great with him.

FLEWELLING: likes to see the process (of becoming great), doesn’t like to see heroes from the start. Wants backstory. If protag is superstrong, etc, can be boring.

WHALEN TURNER: Likes themes of “extraordinary performances of ordinary people.” Talked in terms of flavors—her favorite flavor is a book about an extraordinary person, but it requires careful handling to maintain dramatic tension. Spoke about the Mary Sue character, two different definitions of that; one is “squicky,” where the character represents the author; but in another sense a Mary Sue character is an everyman who can represent the reader. She likes that, thinks it makes for satisfying story.

PAOLINI: Basically it comes down to: “Batman is better than Superman.” (Gets huge laugh.) Talked about the difference between the extraordinary SETTING and the extraordinary CHARACTER. You can put an extraordinary character in an ordinary setting (like Superman in Kansas corn field) or vice versa, ordinary guy in extraordinary setting (Frodo in Mordor). Over time, the ordinary character becomes larger-than-life—best example, he says, is Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “a larger-than-life doofus” with flaws and weaknesses.

ROTHFUSS: 1) Paolini beat him to the Batman thing. 2) He’s a contrarian so has to reflexively disagree with what everyone else said. (Big laugh.) For him, a really big story (and epic fantasy is always a really big story) needs an everyman for people to relate to. He also spoke about the Mary Sue—my notes say “Your main char is one”—was he talking to Paolini? I think so, think it got a laugh, Paolini nodding in agreement. Rothfuss likes characters like Cyrano, Odysseus—unusually cool and clever.

PAOLINI: discussed “hereditary vs earned skills” (again Superman—hereditary—and Batman—earned/learned). “Escalating powers” can make problems for a writer—if the guy can simply “snuff the sun,” no story left. He too likes CLEVERNESS in a character.

SANDERSON: talked about origin of epic fantasy, founded by Tolkien, before that there were heroic tales (Conan, Tarzan, the guy starts off as hero). Tolk

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16. Books That Caught My Eye at SDCC, Part 2

Again, these are books I haven’t read yet (except one)—I saw them at the con and they piqued my interest. The TBR pile moans.

Series by James Owen: The Chronicles of Imaginarium Geographica (I saw these last year too. Gorgeously designed fantasy series with an appealing premise, something about a map of all the imaginary worlds ever written about…

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (they had a very cool one-of-a-kind handbound metal edition at the publisher’s table)

Hungry Tiger Press. This is the publisher of Eric Shanower’s beautifully illustrated new editions of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Eric won two Eisners this year for his edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (a Marvel Comics project). Hungry Tiger publishes reprints of old Oz stories and other Baum work, including two books about The Flying Girl, “intrepid girl aviator Orissa Kane.” Baum was one of my favorite authors as a child—we still have my collection of Oz books—and I couldn’t resist bringing The Flying Girl home with me for a test flight.

Tigerbuttah by Becky and Frank of Tiny Kitten Teeth fame. My friend Sarah showed me a copy, and the art and title made me swoon. I hunted for the booth but this was late in the day on Sunday and we had a curry date with our pal Jock, so I gave up the search. The book was adorable—it’s made after the fashion of a Golden Book with many cunning details.

Buzzboy by John Gallagher. Had the pleasure of meeting John at the kidlit gathering and am looking forward to reading his comic about “what happens when the sidekicks take over.”

Nerds: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Ethan Beavers. Wonderful art & a fun premise—the nerds are kids who use technology to “upgrade” their weaknesses into superpowers. More about this (and all of the above) after I’ve had a chance to read.

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17. Vukojevich repanels Bell Comicumentary

Repaneled is a newish blog that recreates classic comics panels in new art styles. Up today:
Anthony Vukojevich’s reimagination of a key panel from Gabrielle Bell’s San Diego ComicCon Comicumentary

BTW, 2010 was my first time experiencing the unfettered party insanity that is the Indie Comix Embassy Suites Happy Hour. Long will it haunt my dreams.

BTW part 2: this blog post title was my official entry into the all time hardest to spell blog post title darby.

5 Comments on Vukojevich repanels Bell Comicumentary, last added: 10/29/2010
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18. It’s that time of year again…

When San Diego Comic-Con swallows up my life.

I’ll be posting about it as usual, both here and at GeekMom. And tweeting from the middle of the madness, no doubt.

I’m pleased that my cellphone photos will automatically upload to Google+.

As usual, I’m poring over the schedule, trying to figure out what panels to attend…got requests?

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19. SDCC Day 2: Again With the Quick Peeks

I’m running out the door this morning, so no time to write. Lots to tell when life slows down next week, though!

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20. SDCC: Day of Recovery

Well. The Monday after Comic-Con always feels like it should be a Saturday. And my legs always feel like noodles. It’s like a month’s worth of walking crammed into four intense days.

Worth the fatigue, though absolutely.

As always, it’ll take me the better part of a week to sift through my notes and photos. I’m working on panel recaps, but my scrawled notes take a while to decipher. Sheesh, do I loathe writing things by hand. I thought about bringing my laptop this year but my shoulder bag already weighed a thousand pounds even before I started adding books and swag to it.

(I know, it’s unfathomable that a gadget-geek like me doesn’t have an iPad yet. What can I say? All my money’s in children.)

ANYHOO. I’m pretty sure it’s against Comic-Con Recap Law to start a post with this many words AND NO PICTURES. I’m a rebel like that.

But now, after this long drumroll, I notice that Huck’s naptime is nearing the wake-up point, so guess what? Out of time, no more words, just pictures. I’m a rebel even against MY OWN PLANS, I guess.

Is this Blue Meanie costume awesome or what?

Look! It's Becky & Frank! We love their Tigerbuttah.

You haven't lived until you've gotten a steampunk fist-bump.

Lego Batman = So Very Cool

Might as well start my SDCC post roundup now:

Day 1: Quick Peek

My favorite costume: Neo-Victorian biologist (at GeekMom)

Day 2: Again with the Quick Peeks

Things My Kids Can’t Wait to See at SDCC (at GeekMom)

The Streets of San Diego (at GeekMom)

21. SDCC Diary: Thursday

There’s just always SO MUCH TO TELL, you know? Argh.

Okay, first: I went to five panels. I would like to recap each one. I’ve already written a post about the Teen Comics Workshop (SO COOL); it will probably appear on GeekMom tomorrow. That leaves:

• Books vs. Graphic Novels and Comics—authors who write both talked about the differences.

• Comics in the Library—fantastic panel of librarians speaking about how they built comics/graphic novel collections in their branches.

• Comics for Teens—(not to be confused with the aforementioned Teen Comics Workshop). This one was all authors. Moderated by Scott Westerfeld. Excellent.

• Disney/Marvel panel.

I don’t know which I’ll recap here, and which at GeekMom, but I’ll add the links to this post either way.

Now for my con diary. I went in alone on Thursday morning—Scott had a book deadline, and he was also celebrating not having to WORK at the con for the first time in five years. I had a full slate of panels I wanted to hit; of course I only caught two of them. You never get to do as much as you think you will. So much of the day is spent walking from one end of the enormous building to the other.

I started off with a tour of the floor. The crowds weren’t too heavy yet, and I half wished I’d brought some kids with me instead of saving their visits for the weekend, which were sure to be packed. (Indeed they were.) But I kept bumping into friends at their various booths, so it’s probably just as well my girls didn’t have to stand around and wait while I gabbed. Catching up with chums I pretty much only see once a year is one of the best things about SDCC, for me.

I ran into our pals Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and snagged a copy of their kids’ comic, Jake the Dreaming, which I’m eager to read as soon as I catch my breath.

And right around the corner from them was my local author/illustrator friend Eric Shanower, whose graphic novel adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz (with gorgeous art by Scottie Young) would win an Eisner the next day.

I explored the booths for cool stuff and found a lot to fall in love with: the little marshmallow doll I mentioned at GeekMom, and some Gama-Go shirts, and about seventy-eleven books.

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22. SDCC Diary: Friday & Saturday

Friday, July 22nd. Scott was still chugging toward his deadline and I spent the morning with the kids. I think it was close to 2pm when we headed downtown and found decent parking on 8th Avenue, several blocks from the convention center.

The street crowds were considerably thicker that day.

(Actually, in this pic it doesn’t look so bad. Don’t be fooled by that open space in the foreground. That’s where the cars would have been, if anyone were foolhardy enough to drive that close to the convention center. OH WAIT THAT RIGHT, Scott had to do it about five times.)

I didn’t take many pictures on Friday. This must be because I was with Scott, and therefore too busy talking to point and shoot. And really, Friday was more of a meetings-and-meals day than a seeing-the-sights day.

Of course, you can’t help seeing some sights. That guy’s big human head on a little Grinch body really wigs me out.

On Friday afternoon I went to the Comics in the Library panel, about which (I keep saying) MORE LATER. Then the evening was dinner with friends, drinks with friends, a party with friends. And home to bed, exhausted. Saturday morning had been supposed to be an early one, but…it wasn’t.

Saturday, July 23rd. A big day for Rose and Beanie: THEIR FIRST TRIP TO COMIC-CON.

They each had a wish list. Beanie wanted to see as much Pokemon stuff as possible, and Rose was hoping to get her precious copy of Smile signed by Raina Telgemeier.



Speaking of check…check out that big ole Eisner Award, which Raina received for Best Teen Publication the night before!

(You all know Smile, right? Such a great book. Rose rereads it every six weeks at a minimum—after each orthodontist appointment. “It’s what gets me through,” she says.)

Missions accomplished, we explored the hall from top to bottom, finding plenty to gawk at along the way.

The Bone display was a hit, as I’d suspected.

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23. SDCC Roundup

Hokey smokes, it cannot be Thursday already! A week since SDCC began! I have got to wrap up this wrap-up!

Well, first things first. The Comics for Teens panel recap I promised is up at GeekMom today. Excellent lineup of writers—Cecil Castellucci, Hope Larson, Gene Yang, and Nate Powell, with moderator Scott Westerfeld—talking about their work. This kind of discussion is exactly why I brave the crowds each year.

Next: some important shoe business. I had a few inquiries about those zombie ballerina flats I posted the other day. Here’s a link to the Iron Fist website, but be warned: not safe for kids. Because I mean come on, how you can model shoes without an unlaced black leather bustier? Ahem.


My SDCC roundup so far:

Day 1: Quick Peek

My favorite costume: Neo-Victorian biologist (at GeekMom)

Day 2: Again with the Quick Peeks

Things My Kids Can’t Wait to See at SDCC (at GeekMom)

The Streets of San Diego (at GeekMom)

SDCC Day of Recovery

SDCC Diary: Thursday

SDCC Teen Comics Workshop (at GeekMom)—emphasis on art

SDCC Comics for Teens Recap (at GeekMom)—emphasis on writing

SDCC Diary: Friday & Saturday

I’m in the middle of my Comics in the Library recap now. And I should do a Sunday diary post before a whole new Sunday rolls around…

But I get kinda busy with other stuff, you know? Like watching someone read herself to sleep…again.

24. SDCC Diary: Sunday

Sunday was Jane’s turn. There was a manga-drawing workshop at 11 a.m. she was keen to attend, and I was hoping to get into the 10 a.m. Jim Henson panel. We arrived at the latter about two seconds after the room reached capacity, so we trekked to the other end of the convention center to see what was going on in the manga-panel room during the 10:00 time slot.

This turned out to be one of the most serendipitous events of the week, because what was going on in that room was the fantastic Teen Comics Workshop I blogged about at GeekMom.

After the workshop, I left Jane to enjoy her manga panel and I scurried off for a brief meetup with my pal Kristen and our fellow GeekMom Nicole Wakelin.

Me, Nicole, Kristen

Then I ran back upstairs to get Jane, who had enjoyed the manga workshop but said it wasn’t as cool as the other one. And then back downstairs to con floor—Jane’s turn to explore it from top to bottom. The whole time we were there, we were texting Kristen, who was also braving the crowds. Jane wanted her turn to see Vivi. We’re all a little Vivi-mad in this house. Alas, we never spotted each other, despite series of texts like: “We’re at the G4 booth RIGHT NOW.” “Great! We’re at Dance Party, be right there!” (These two booths were next door.) “Augh, we’re at G4, did we miss you???” (Later we discovered that we were at the G4 booth at the exact same time—but Kristen & Co. were right above us on the upper level.)

But Jane did get to meet up with someone very special. I took her to the booth of Daxiong, an artist Scott discovered in portfolio review two years ago. Daxiong was a highly acclaimed comics artist in China when, in 2008, he was imprisoned and tortured for illustrating a book called Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. After two months he was rescued by friends and came to the States.

As a WildStorm editor, one of Scott’s Comic-Con duties was to meet with artists who submitted portfolios, offering them advice and critiques of their work. When he looked at Daxiong’s work, he had only one thing to say: “When can you start?” Daxiong is now drawing comics for DC, Marvel, and other publishers. He and his translator, Mike Chen, are two of the nicest, most generous people I’ve ever met, and it was an honor to introduce my girl to them.

::kicks self for not getting a picture::

After that came my Biggest Doofus Moment of the year (so far; still time to beat it): we were wandering the floor and I found myself practically on top of the entire cast of The Guild. I’m a huge fan. They were sitting at a table, and what I realized later is that there must have been a line snaking away on the other end of the table. At my end, t

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25. Comic-Con Recap

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program with a recap of Comic-Con 2011. Warning that this post is a bit long.

For those of you who don't know, Comic-Con is a massive event for lovers of all things comics, books, video games, art, pop culture and other geeky goodness. It is made of awesome and is one of the highlights of my year. There weren't too many big studio panels I was interested in this year, which left me with room to scout out some of the smaller panels as well as wander the exhibit floor more.

Books publisher were there in full force, with a lot of focus on YA and fantasy. On Thursday I went to the No Damsels in Distress Here panel. The panelists were sci-fi and fantasy authors and the discussion was strong female characters -- what it takes to write them and the challenges of doing it. Not necessarily YA but a couple of the authors do have YA books. Panelists included Sherrilyn Kenyon, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Jeanne Stein , Chloe Neill, Merrie deStefano and Marie Lu. I was very impressed by all of them. They all had strong opinions and were very articulate in voicing them. It's clear that, while writing kick ass women still has its challenges, these authors are helping to break down those barriers by continuing to write strong characters.

  no damsels in distress here panel 
no damsels in distress here - from left to right: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, 
Jeanne Stein, Chloe Neill, Merrie deStefano and Marie Lu 

 I also went to two publisher panels, The Scoop at Simon & Schuster and What's Up Penguin. Both panels were packed and it is clear that the enthusiasm for YA is still going strong. It looks like a lot of exciting releases are coming down the pipeline and my to-read list has grown exponentially. There were also some really great raffle prizes during the panels. Unfortunately I did not win (boo!).

Here is a shot of the Penguin Teen booth. I am actually on the wrong side here 
so you can see some of the Star Wars booth next door, but you get the idea.

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