Notes from the Road: Comic-Con 2009

When 125,000 people converged last weekend for the 40th San Diego Comic-Con to meet those who shared an interest comics and comics related media, I expected chaos. I was warned about how crowded this year would be, and that traffic would be backed up for hours on I-5 South. Another friend warned me about a man who would be dressed as the Hulk and randomly tackle attendees, but not be reprimanded because he was just being his character. On top of these random assaults, there would be so many people that we could hardly move. It was nothing like that.

After a quick two hour drive, Brea Grant and I went to the IDW Publishing booth to do a signing for our forthcoming series. Everyone there was extraordinarily nice, especially given that most were working all day at the convention, starting at 5:00am. Since our 1920’s zombie comic doesn’t come out until early next year, we made limited edition CDs, with lo-fi songs we wrote that retell the stories of seven horror movies from the narrative perspective of characters in the films, to sign and trade. People were really friendly and traded everything from dances to push-ups to a drawing of Brea fighting zombies with a speech bubble that said, “Zane I know you are my brother, but when the zombies attack, I will trip you.”

As we looked around for old friends and comics stars, continuing our trading and shopping spree, the rest of the weekend became dizzying. I traded Jason Shawn Alexander (Abe Sapien, Empty Zone) for a shirt with a zombie eating a dog and picked up a signed copy of Dark Horse Comics re-invention of the Creepy series. He took the time to say we were weird for making such a CD. Becky Cloonan (Demo, American Virgin) traded us some beautiful limited prints and books. Jimmy Aquino (Comic News Insider) traded a copy of Fat Chunk Vol. 2, an edited collection of zombie comic short stories, a few of which he penned. Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) traded us a copy of Lowbright, and the list goes on and on.

The buzzing of so many creative people in one room drove the often exhausted crowd to keep high spirits. On Sunday, I saw a man dragging a giant box across the floor, stopping every few feet because of its weight. When I asked what it was, he looked at me a bit askew. “It’s toys and books.” I asked if he planned on dragging it around all day. He said, “No, I just have to make it to the mailing store in the convention center.” When I asked if I could help, with a Scandinavian accent, he said, “No, there are some things we must do alone.”

The nights were filled with drunken debauchery. The film industry has increased their presence at Comi-Con over the years, and Hollywood-style parties quickly followed, filled with open bars and spectacle. Unknowingly, I punched a young actor from the upcoming film Kick-ass in the arm, and yelled, “Hey, we were on the elevator together earlier. Who are you?” He looked appalled.

Most comics fans and industry people avoid those parties, however, many crowd to a well-known hotel bar. Sitting at the edge of the hotel parking lot with Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Wormwood Gentleman Corpse), who I still get star-struck around, we watched as a man urinated on a parking garage in front of three-hundred people. He had his back to us, but everyone knew him from his movies. Someone then went over to take a picture of the famous person’s waste matter. It was a bit sad but everyone was having such a good time, it didn’t seem to matter. If nothing else, I would like to think Comic-Con is about not judging people.

After hearing comics editors complain about being pitched to at parties, I met an editor from Marvel Comics. “I’ve got a pitch for you,” I said. “Okay, let’s hear it,” he replied. I said, “Oh, I was just kidding, I would never do that to you while you are trying to have a good time at a party.” He said, “Go ahead, I probably won’t remember tomorrow anyway.” “Okay then, three words,” I said, “Marvel… the Musical.”