Comic-Con International 2016 part 1

Less than one month away and closing in fast is the mother of all Comic book conventions Comic-Con International.  It is an event that one plans the year around.  Five days, 160,000 or so people, 600 plus tables of competition (many of whom have budgets that dwarf small counties).   Product, assistants, display, flights, hotel,  shipping, promotion…all has to somehow jive in five days, two time zones away from where I live.  The expenses are staggering…to say that anything going wrong could ruin me is an understatement.

How do I feel this year.  I’m always honest with you guys.  This year…I kinda don’t give a sh*t.  Not a disgusted “don’t give a sh*t”, more of a zen “I don’t give a sh*t”.  Maybe it’s old age and I just can’t work myself up into a nervous breakdown anymore, or I have no synapses left in the part of my brain that can be overloaded, or maybe it’s just a rodeo I’ve been on so many times the threat of being thrown off the horse and trampled seems abstract.

I just am in a place of “eh, it’ll be fine, I’ll go there, I’ll move some books, have some laughs, whatever.”   I look at everything I’ve accomplished and if it all fell apart next month, what would I have to be ashamed of?  If something goes wrong or something doesn’t get done, or doesn’t get there…eh, who gives a f*ck?

So, that where I am at.  That’s where I am at right NOW.  Ask me in a week and it might be a different story, but It’s well past the time of the year where I am usually a basket case about all this.  Here’s an example.  The past two or three years I’ve been fighting with CCI about being able to use their logo on our “exclusives”.  ONE year, four or five years ago, they allowed us to use it.  See when you see the declaration of “Comic-Con Exclusive”.  There are a couple tiers of that.  There is the exhibitor making product for the show that is made just for the show.  Then there is the same thing, but done far enough in advance and approved by CCI so as to be listed on the CCI website as an “Exclusive”.  THEN…there is the same but with the actual CCI logo gracing the product.  There is a whole contract that goes with it and regulations and standards.  It’s all kind of a grey area as far as I can tell.  Kinda like the famous quote about what is and isn’t pornography ” I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.”  CCI knows full well their logo has value and full well that their logo being on something…associates them with that product in a way in the minds of the masses.

Arsenic Lullaby always falls into the grey area of grey areas.  It has no nudity, not much on camera violence, no cursing, not much in the way of Innuendo.  If you went by the books, the letter of the law, it could probably be on prime time network t.v. Technically there’s nothing in it that you wouldn’t see on the Simpsons….and yet…it’s not really pg is it?  The charm of the book is that it doesn’t use the usual tactics to be jarring.  It uses everything else.  Kind of like a serial killer that has no ability to acquire a gun, knife, dynamite, or any object that by itself is remotely dangerous….that person is still dangerous ain’t he?  You still wouldn’t want him sitting next to your kids on a bus, because somehow, someway his brain has formulated a way to kill a whole lot of people with just the contents of the purse the woman sitting in front of him has.  “Dangerous” is probably a good word for the book if you are someone in charge of assigning yes or no to it using you logo.

Like I said, the past couple years I went up and back with CCI stating the case that the book violates none of the restrictions laid out.  If you follow me on social media or have read my blogs for awhile, you know I am a man who can make a point in a blistering stoic, logical, inescapable manner.  I can shred counter arguments in ways that would leave a class action trial attorney envious.  I sent point by point emails eviscerating any reason whatsoever that Arsenic Lullaby should not be allowed to use the logo.  From the content technically being within the parameters, to our long standing at the show, to our award nominations, you name it.  I even pointed out value…that when we use the logo it is on something that is great with or without it.  We don’t just slap the logo on some half assed thing that’s only value is the logo.  nefarious content aside, we would put it on a product that is world class. I fired every gun and hit dead center on everything.  They basically said…”yeah…but no.”  Frustrating, but I can’t honestly say I blame them or would do any different.


tdof beheadTechnically those jokes are PG.  But I can’t say I blame them for erring on the side of caution and not wanting to be so closely associate with it. 

In previous years I’d be ferociously typing away at an email laying out the case for use of their logo that would be no less compelling and persuasive than the closing arguments of a supreme court case.  Then get a “no because” then fire off another…repeat…repeat.  Determined to not have Arsenic Lullaby be left out, until it had gone back and forth so long that the deadline had passed.

This year…I didn’t even bother asking.  Why bother?  It’s a waste of time.  They have 600 plus exhibitors to worry about and I have a god awful list of things to get done, and quite frankly…having the logo on one of our things or not hasn’t made a substantial difference.   People hunting for exclusives fall into two categories. First, people who just want something with the logo on it for collector purposes (to resell or show off). Second, people who are fans of the brand and want whatever thing is at the show so they have something special from a brand they like.  The first type doesn’t give a crap about Arsenic Lullaby in general and probably ain’t gonna like it. The second type  is going to get the exclusive whether it has the official CCI logo or not because they want what’s inside the book.  So, it’s all an affectation at some point and I just didn’t give enough of a crap to argue about an affectation.

It would be nice to be able to use the logo, but not if I have to brow beat them into letting me.

We’ll have some exclusives, I’ll let you know about them shortly.  For now…I’ll show you this.

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This is a giant pile of sketches and page layouts.  Every page I do usually has about four pages of sketches/attempts/planning that goes into the finished work.  If you follow me on instagram, you see how much planning and sketching goes into what eventually becomes a finished page.  My thumbnail sketches are about as refined as most guys final penciled pages, because I don’t want to second guess anything once I’m working on the actual page.  At that point I want to turn off my brain and mindlessly pencil and ink.

So eventually I end up with a big pile of sketches I don’t know what to do with.  I don’t know what other guys do with theirs.  I do know this, If one of my favorite illustrators had a pile of concept sketches from one of my favorite books and he made them available, I’d jump on it.

So, this year, I am bringing the pile.  For as long as they last, everyone who picks up something at out booth gets one…free.  Maybe you get one with a bunch of Voodoo Joe sketches, maybe you get one with six drawings of a vampire and one sketch of an airplane for a different page.  Maybe we run out before you get there and you get the finger.

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More info on the rest of the stuff soon.  Keep checking this blog or the homepage

CCILogo2 booth notmep

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