All Roads Lead To San Diego This Week

Comic-Con International begins in San Diego, stirring a tornado of publicity.

(1) But we interrupt that tornado for a nostalgic look back at the first convention in the series, published in the LA Times, with an inspirational quote from Ray Bradbury’s speech:

The year was 1970, at the San Diego Golden State Comics Convention — the gathering that would become Comic-Con International — when science fiction author Ray Bradbury took the stage at the U.S. Grant Hotel. He had a message for the fewer than 300 attendees: Do not let others label your passion for comics or science fiction as mere escapism.

“[All] these things that are looked on as escapes, it’s not so,” Bradbury said. “Don’t let anyone hand you that nonsense. That’s one of those trick words that we’ve had applied to various fields like science fiction, detective writing and comic strips. It’s simply not true. It’s a way of dreaming yourself to a reality later in your life.”

Forty-five years later, as Comic-Con prepares to welcome more than 130,000 to the San Diego Convention Center starting with Wednesday’s preview night and ending Sunday, it’s hard to imagine the pop-culture gathering taking root anyplace else.

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(2) While a lot about Comic-Con has changed over the years, one of the important changes is very recent.

Michael Cavna, the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs columnist, says this will be the first time as many women will be attending Comic-Con as men.  Cavna interviews Scott McCloud, who says that women are becoming more interested in comics and in particular are more interested in superheroes than they used to be.

The most recent research landed just days ago as released by the online ticketing platform Eventbrite, after more than 2,100 respondents in 48 U.S. states and territories were surveyed. Rob Salkowitz, who worked with Eventbrite to develop and analyze the data, says that fans have driven the push for geek-culture parity.

“Last year, the numbers showed we were trending in that direction. This year, it’s clear that we are there,” says Salkowitz, citing his Eventbrite data and social-media surveys by Brett Schenker of Graphics Policy, among other sources and events. “As a result, we’ve seen more sincere efforts from publishers to broaden the audience, and much stronger responses to concerns raised by fans over inclusiveness.”

(3) Nowadays Comic-Con is a vast marketing machine. One attempt to tap into the event’s commercial potential left the writer of the San Diego Comic-Con Blog undecided if it is the greatest or the worst Comic-Con marketing ever.

When we mentioned yesterday that Turner Broadcasting and KFC were bringing attendees wifi enabled Colonel Sanders statues to downtown San Diego this week, we didn’t realize just how genius this was. Or insane. Or both.

But oh, do we realize now.

See, these statues feature the good Colonel in several different cosplay outfits for Comic-Con. He’s all ready to wow attendees with his costume abilities as he dresses up as a vampire, a unicorn, a Martian, a werewolf, an anime character, and a furry.

Here’s a look at the different Cosplaying Colonels:

KFC Cosplaying Colonels


Once you spot one of the Colonels and connect to the wifi, you’ll be directed to a co-branded KFC and Robot Chicken digital hub at to check out KFC and Robot Chicken custom content. If you take a photo with the statue(s) and send it out onto social media withh the hashtag #colonelsanders, you could win a free Robot Chicken t-shirt.

(4) The Los Angeles and Anaheim convention centers and surrounding hotels would love to hijack the Comic-Con, however, The Hollywood Reporter says the con is staying put through 2018:

Comic-Con will officially be sticking around in San Diego — for the next three years, at least. Confirming longstanding rumors, San Diego officials announced a two-year extension to the existing deal between the city and Comic-Con International, ensuring that the annual pop culture show will remain in the city through 2018.

Of course this is a big deal – the Mayor of San Diego himself doled out the story to reporters at a press conference shortly before this year’s Comic-Con began. Deadline covered the press event:

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer this morning is making official what had been expected for some time — that his city is keeping the annual Comic-Con convention through 2018 in a new deal just finalized. The previous contract with Comic-Con International was due to expire after this current year’s confab, which kicks off next week.

The two-year extention, being unveiled now at a press conference, comes after months of negotiations to keep the lucrative and ever-expanding fanboy confab at the San Diego Convention Center, and even more months of not-so-behind-the-scenes lobbying by Los Angeles and Anaheim to move the convention up north. The event already has grown well beyond the confines of the convention center, which has been offering CCI a flat discounted rate to keep it around. Planned expansion of the facility has faced several delays.

Faulconer said in his giddy announcement surrounded by Comic-Con and convention center brass that the confab brings in $135 million-plus annually to the city. “If you still don’t understand how much Comic-Con means to San Diego,” he said, “more Superman means more super-streets, more light sabers means more library hours, and more Comic-Con means more neighborhood services for San Diegans.”

(5) And the Guide to San Diego Comic-Con helps stay-at-homes visualize what they’re missing.


[Thanks for these stories goes out to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster and John King Tarpinian.]

30 thoughts on “All Roads Lead To San Diego This Week

  1. How interesting to see story #2 in the same post as this bit from story #4 (emphasis mine):

    […]comes after months of negotiations to keep the lucrative and ever-expanding fanboy confab at the San Diego Convention Center[…]

    The Cosplaying Colonels are certainly a unique-looking advertising gambit.

  2. @Meredith – Ha! I went straight to comments to post what you already had posted. Time to give up the facetious use of “fanboy”, whoopie!

  3. @Pacific Standard Simon

    Great minds think alike. 😉 Its nice we’re finally getting parity. Maybe someday I won’t have to deal with any silly tests to prove my geekiness.

  4. You don’t need to be tested. You just know. But the degree of classification varies from one geek to another. As in: are you also a nerd? An introvert? Etc.

    What form of bell curve graphics would be used to chart this?

  5. @Robert Whitaker Sirignano

    Me knowing isn’t the problem – some men assuming I’m not until I’ve answered twenty obscure questions about meaningless trivia is the problem. I understand its also a problem for fans who aren’t white.

    I think someone came up with a geek hierarchy flow chart at some point… Ah, here it is. Not quite the same thing, though!

  6. Nick Mamatas is my go to guy when it comes to skewering geek idiocy; he always cheers me up…

  7. Ah, often it isn’t the questions–its the element of fitting in. Being able to contribute to conversations about topics you don’t know first hand is one way of know you have arrived.
    Not being white doesn’t bother me. My first conventions were in New York City.

  8. Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a trip to the con?
    I want the exclusives before they are gone.
    I want to go filking with my costume on.
    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a trip to the con?

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a new Sci-Fi show?
    I really miss Firefly, I think you should know.
    I bet if you’re helping they’ll give it a go.
    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a new Sci-Fi show?

    Oh Lord won’t you buy me an anthology?
    With my favorite writers, writing for me.
    I love all the stories, they fill me with glee
    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me an anthology?

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a trip to the con?
    I want the exclusives before they are gone.
    I want to go filking with my costume on.
    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a trip to the con?

  9. I don’t think the LA Convention Center has much chance of getting ComicCon. They don’t have the hotel space (yet). The other thing is that most of the existing hotel space is several blocks from the convention center. (I used to work in downtown LA.)

  10. I went to SDCC in 2005. To illustrate how different it was, I bought my weekend pass the day before the con started. It’s quite an experience but it is also an exhausting crush of people. I’ve also been told that a number of the book vendor spaces have been reduced, so the comic part of it in the dealers section is relatively small these days.

    For me, the best part of the con are the panels. I ignored all the celebrity ones (which were packed) and ended up in some really interesting ones, like the Vertigo editorial panel led by Karen Berger and Shelly Bond or the fantasy writing discussion with Naomi Novik and GRRM. There were a lot of industry focused releases for video games going through new tech for rendering and simulation engines, if you like that sort of thing.

    While I doubt I’d go again as a fan, if I did, I think I’d put a half day into the main floor and then spend the rest of the time bouncing between lesser attended panels and the theater.

  11. “…this will be the first time as many women will be attending Comic-Con as men.”

    Oh noes! SJWs have ruined Comic Con, too!

  12. I interrupt my reading to applaud the shade of Janis Joplin, as interpreted by our very own Laura, and to enquire whether I have got the wrong ‘Goblin Emperor’.

    I’m a couple of hundred pages in, and I don’t seem to reading the book that many have reviewed; I’m enjoying it but I’m wondering whether I’m seeing things others haven’t or the others have seen things that I haven’t.

    I shall, of course, keep reading, as befits the proud tradition of these revered, refurbished, columns, but I must warn people that Sheila Gilbert’s Hugo package may do serious damage to their bank balances. She has included a sample chapter of each of the books she edited last year, plus one she co-edited with Betsy Wollheim, making 17 in all.

    Of course, after 45 years in the business she’s got rather good at knowing what draws the reader in, hence the warning about bank balances…

  13. Interesting article on gender parity at ComicCon, with two MEN (a major comics artist and an academic) explaining happily away how fandom is more than just men. That, as well as the “fanboys” remark grates just a little.

    Not surprising, typical because journalists have short list of people to call for quote, and those are much more likely to be straight white men “big name” types than anybody else.

    But typical.

  14. rrede

    There are times when it feels as if we are rolling the wretched rock to the top of the hill, only to have it roll all the way down again. I prescribe a medicinal glass of whatever cheers you up…

  15. @Stevie

    What about TGE is missing for you? Use Rot13 if anything is too spoilery for innocent eyes.

    I’m not sure my bank balance will survive judging DAW. Its looking rather anaemic as it is.


    Indeed. I am tired of having to prove myself or deal with someone’s excess of admiration for simple geekiness, and I think I have had the fortune to benefit from your and others paving the way.

  16. @Stevie and Meredith:

    *virtual feminist hugs all around*

    It is getting better. In some ways. And I keep telling myself some of the violent vicious backlash is because of the successes.


  17. @rrede&Stevie
    *basks in virtual hugs*
    One you hit certain plateaus of success, it does seem to get certain types of people particularly upset, doesn’t it?

    Jo Walton is New To Me in general, so I’m quite excited. If I enjoy the first one I get to play with a whole back catalogue! Nothing better than a new back catalogue to dive into.

  18. Stevie: I adored the book, and probably would not have signed up for supporting membership except i knew I wanted to vote for TGE! (Well, all the “icky sjf cooties in our manly peanut butter” helped).

    What I loved about it: competence porn.

    The deconstruction/subversion of the “nobody from the back of nowhere who has no training or education suddenly becomes KING”

    Showing what happens when you go from medieval/feudal lords over small group of warrior/nobility to EMPIRE.

    The magic system.

    The incredible worldbuilding.

    Deconstruction/subversion of goblins=evil/dark/BAD (I just bought an academic study arguing about how medieval constructions of “race” were foundational for modern foundations–it’s a topic that fascinates me, and of course Tolkien’s orcs were one key moment) and elves=good/light/GOOD. (I also like Mary Gentle’s Grunts, and Jacqueline Carey’s Dark Lord duology both of which subvert that trope in various ways).

    Addison (Monette’s) dealing with the topic of protagonists who were abused as children and grow up to have power and how they deal with it.

    The way that Maia’s characterization/history makes it perfectly sensible for him to sympathize with the female characters.

    The magic/religious system and how it was handled.

    Yes, I know, committee meetings, but really–fascinatingly handled.

    Um, I could go on but perhaps I should stop here!

  19. @Meredith:


    Me too–Jo Walton. For some reason, I never picked up her stuff (never really distinguished her from Jo Clayton whose work I adore–but mostly I think because some of her earlier stuff, Walton that is, looked Arthurian and with the exception of Mary Stewart’s MERLIN, I’m not a big Arthurian based fantasy fan–I now have some of the earlier Walton). But I saw a fantastic review (cannot remember who, alas) of THE JUST CITY, and ZAP bought it, and went OMG, OMG OMG OMG throughout, and well. One reason I think I can resist reading TPK right away is that I want to re-read the JUST CITY!

  20. @rrede

    Deconstruction/subversion of goblins=evil/dark/BAD (I just bought an academic study arguing about how medieval constructions of “race” were foundational for modern foundations–it’s a topic that fascinates me, and of course Tolkien’s orcs were one key moment) and elves=good/light/GOOD.

    Its subtle and never pointed to directly, but I noticed that while Maia thinks of uvf bja naq bgure fxva gbarf erthyneyl ng gur ortvaavat bs gur obbx (naq uvf bja va irel artngvir grezf), nf gur obbx tbrf ba gur zragvbaf gncre bss naq V qba’g guvax gurer ner nal artngvir pbzzragf ol gur raq bs ur obbx. V gubhtug vg jnf n ybiryl rkcerffvba bs uvf vapernfvat pbzsbeg va uvzfrys. Its one of my favourite bits of craftsmanship in the book.

  21. Laura – I’d say Farthing (start of an alternative history detective series with a appeasement based peace between a successful Nazi Germany and the UK) but The Just City was so good I think it could work too (it’s slightly less representative of her work over all, but it’s so good!)

  22. @ Stevie
    I read TGE rather fast and thought, oh, very nice. Then I went back to reread one scene and ended up rereading the whole thing, slowly, and was thrilled. There’s so much to enjoy, but I especially liked Maia’s understanding that, despite the wealth and grandeur of his position, which he finds boring, his job is a life-or-death proposition not only for his subjects but for himself. (A nice change from stories in which kingship seems to merely provide a platform for personal drama in really nice clothes and jewelry.) but that’s just what I liked best; I liked lots of other things, too, including the subtle presentation.

    Rrede and others
    I’m behind on Jo Walton, as I ordered The Just City on Torsday, but I’m excited to read it. My entry book was The King’s Peace. I still adore the duo because I like Sulien so much, but mainly because, behind the Arthur riff, there are two really interesting stories about the actual work of peacemaking, and the gains and losses involved in a widespread change of religious systems.

  23. Jo Walton books? My entry was the Hugo winning “Among Others”. If there was ever a book that was Hugo-bait, this was it. Highly recommended.

    Her non-fiction writing is equally superb & insightful. I’ve already mentioned her Revisiting the Hugos series, but she’s also written articles about why she likes particular books at that was recently collected as “What Makes This Book So Great”. If it turns out that the Puppy slates pushed it off this year’s Best Related in favour of something like “Wisdom from My Internet”, it will add to my anger.

  24. @rrede I know for at least one person (writer Arkady Martine), the committee meetings and bureaucratic shenangians are feature, not bug, in GOBLIN EMPEROR. I wasn’t bored reading them, anyway, and it is a nice counterpoint to the autocratic monarchies you see in nearly all of fantasy.

    In fantasy, monarchy is more often and implausibly depicted and acts in the manner of single actor autarchy. The Goblin Emperor avoids that.

  25. I finally worked out why I had some difficulties with TGE; it’s quite simply because of the name of our protagonist is the same as that of a character in CJ Cherryh’s ‘The Paladin’ who is a) female and b) dead.

    I reread ‘The Paladin’ every year because I love it; it’s set in somewhere similar to China, where a weak Emperor is controlled by his Regent and other powerful nobles, and has no magic whatsoever. Baen published it, and I forgive them a great deal for that.

    Once I worked out what the problem was I started again on ‘The Goblin Emperor’, and greatly enjoyed it; I’m still slightly leaning towards ‘Ancilliary Sword’, but I’m letting it settle whilst I read ‘The Three Body Problem.’

    I’m also trying to not buy all of the books edited by Sheila Gilbert last year, but it’s hard…

  26. Well, my excellent willpower came to my assistance; I stoutly resisted the siren calls of the books edited by Sheila Gilbert last year, up until the Tanya Huff story which kicks off with a grandmother lying on a beach in the Carribbean, admiring the views of athletic young men playing beach volleyball, whilst downing cocktails.

    Ok, I’m not a grandmother, and Gozo is not in the Carribbean, but the general theme seems appropriate, and whilst she has to go and save the world, I can carry on enjoying the views and the cocktails. This is number three in ‘The Enchantment Emporium’ series so I had to buy the first books, but the ebooks are very reasonably priced, and damn it, I earned it, if not with blood then certainly sweat, and the odd tear, as I marched grimly onwards through the festering piles of garbage otherwise known as Hugo contenders.

    I’m tentatively entitling my review: ‘Yes, Stevie; there is a Sheila Gilbert!’

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