Comic-Con Wrap Up

July 27th, 2009 | Posted in General

San Diego Comic Con

After five full days here in San Diego, I am now fully reminded of what I love and hate about Comic-Con.

Definitely the coolest costume I saw at the con

I love the chance to meet artists and writers from basically every genre, see new and exciting projects and work, visit with old friends, meet new ones, attend panels and seminars that are informative and enjoyable, and most of all oogle and a mind-numbing amount of really cool toys and stuff.

I hate the crowds, the lines and especially… strollers.

Ghost Mario!

I split my time this year between the booths of the National Cartoonists Society, the ToonSeum of Pittsburgh, DC Comics and a last minute “Super Capers” booth. It was great and I really appreciated those folks allowing me to set up and sign stuff, do some drawing, and even sell an occasional page of original MAD art. If I come next year, however, I will have to try and get a booth of my own if I can… it’s just too chaotic to drag my stuff hither and thither through that tumult. Besides, I plan on having my long delayed book on drawing caricatures done in time for the Comic-Con, so that gives me a good reason to have plenty of space. Note the underlined emphasis… I just gave myself a deadline.

The highlight for me was getting to walk around with my son Tom, introduce him to everybody and share in a little of the “COOL!” moments when we’d turn and corner and see some life-size prop of Iron Man or something equally awesome.

Ultimate Alliance 2 Video Game Preview
Tom at the Ultimate Alliance 2 Video Game Preview

Tom spent a lot more time in panels and such while I was busy signing MADs or whatever. His favorite panel was the Iron Man 2 sneak preview, for which he waited in line for two hours. His favorite thing about the new trailer? “War Machine… he was bad-ass!”

Tom with the Fandago puppet
Not exactly War Machine, but cool…

It was also great to see so many artists I know from either the NCS, the International Society of Caricature Artists (ISCA) or just from “the business”.

Cartoonists at dinner...
Big group of cartoonists out for dinner. From bottom left clockwise:’s
Daryl Cagle, Jenny Robb from the Ohio State Cartoon Library, Omaha Herald
editorial cartoonist Jeff Koterba, “Bonanas” and MAD strip cartoonist John Kovaleski,
“The Flying McCoys” cartoonist Glenn McCoy, Illustrator/cartoonist Sean Parkes,
caricaturist and voice actor Piotr Walczuk, animator/cartoonist Rich Moyer, “The Family Circus” cartoonist Jeff Keane, Number One Son Tom, Me, cartoonist Susie Cagle.

As for the bad… let’s just say the SDCC would be the greatest event ever if it was exactly as it is but with half the people there. It really is sometimes impossible to simply walk twenty yards down the floor hall. The only crowds I’ve ever seen to compare to it was at the 1996 Olympics in downtown Atlanta. You need to mentally prepare yourself to accept the reality of 126,000 people crammed into one building and exercise the patience required to handle this. Sometimes that isn’t easy.

Finally, here’s my rant on strollers: We all know wheelchairs are a necessity for people who cannot move about on their own, and every possible accommodation must be made for attendees who are in wheelchairs. Strollers, however, are a convenience and should not be allowed in the convention center. Seriously. If you have a kid who is so young he or she requires a stroller in order to get through the day DON’T BRING THEM TO COMIC-CON!! Those things are a major hazard to life and limb in that crush of people. This coming from a man with four children who has pushed strollers an estimated 450 million miles… but never at Comic-Con. Wouldn’t dream of it.

Otherwise SDCC is something every comic book fan needs to experience once in their lives.


  1. Meredith says:

    I was lucky enough to attend ComcCon in 2000, when the crowds weren’t so bad and you could still turn a corner and run into a random celebrity. Seems like they’re going to have to do something about the crowds, how many more people can they possibly take?

  2. Robert G. says:

    The year I went to Comic-Con (also 2002, but I don’t remember seeing Meredith…), I was there helping out Michael Jantze and Keith Knight. They both had booths in the Artist’s Alley, which is cheaper than the other areas.

    The downside is that you need to be in your booth pretty much all the time. While I could cover for Michael and Keith when they went out to a panel, or to grab a bite, or take a quick walk on the floor, it wasn’t the same for the fans who came to see them. (For some reason, nobody believed I was Keith…)

    My tip would be: bring somebody who can work the booth for you while you’re gone, but plan on being in the booth most of the time.

  3. Jerry Miller says:

    Great post!
    Solution: Move Comic Con to Las Vegas.
    The Las Vegas Convention Center is accustomed to conventions of 200,000+ people. Comdex was around 300,000! (I know everyone loves San Diego, but for many, the Con isn’t a vacation! Imagine not having to fret a year in advance about getting a room or finding some decent food!)
    The San Diego Convention Center knew almost six months in advance how many were coming and when—yet I stood in line for three hours on Thursday morning waiting to get my entry badge!)
    In my opinion the Con is too big for San Diego‚Äö√Ѭ∂ Sady? Perhaps, Truth? Just go to next year’s Comic Con‚Äö√Ñ√Æbetter start looking for a room right now!

    • Robert G. says:

      “Just go to next year‚Äö√Ñ√¥s Comic Con‚Äö√Ñ√Æbetter start looking for a room right now!”

      According to Keith Knight (, you’re already too late to book a room(!). The other advantage to Vegas would be cheap(er) flights.

      Still, it’s one of those “but it’s ALWAYS been this way” things, so it’s not likely to change.

      • Tom says:

        Actually I got a room as late as March by booking a airfare plus room package from Orbitz. I got a room for 5 nights and two round trip, non-stop tickets for $1,700 after taxes and fees. That’s not too bad considering many rooms went for $300 or more per night. True, we were 1.4 miles from the convention center but my legs work fine.

  4. Mark Engblom says:

    Having experienced it THREE times (in pre-100,000 crowds), I could probably go to my grave not going back again. It’s a great experience, but the grind of 120-150,000 people is a massive turn-off. Your comparison to the Olympics is an apt one, in that I believe they will eventually have to separate the event into various venues around San Diego, much like the Olympic Games are distributed around the hosting city (and surrounding countryside).

    It would be ironic if the comic book component of the Con was jettisoned to some other location in San Diego while the red-carpet Hollywood hype-machine stayed in the convention center hawking its wares.

    But something’s gotta be done.

  5. Michael Garisek says:

    Are you and your son wearing bibs?
    You must have had the ribs
    Thanks for sharing
    Maybe this poor slub will get there next year

  6. Tom says:

    After every SDCC the controversy rages about moving it to Vegas. I think the city of San Diego and the Convention Center must be doing everything in their power to prevent the organizers from moving it, because there is absolutely no reason not to do so. So what if it’s been in San Diego for 40 years? The Gaslamp district is charming and everything but the city and venue is simply too small to accommodate the convention… waits of 3 plus hours just to pick up a badge and get in is ridiculous.Having a convention floor you literally cannot walk in is ridiculous. It would probably get over 200,000 attendees if not for the limitations San Diego places on it, and in Vegas that would be no hardship. Why it’s still in San Diego is a mystery to me.

  7. Brrr says:

    The fact that it’s morphed into Movie Con doesn’t help. Maybe they need to split the convention into two separate shows?

  8. Piotr says:

    It was a crazy con, my first ever! So amazing that I got to meet you in person, and I didn’t notice how deformed your left arm was from your right! Hope that heals soon buddy!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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