Back home and recovering from another week at San Diego Comic Con. My tenth year as an exhibiting cartoonist was very successful, and I had a great time hanging out with my friends, meeting new fans of my work, making use of the networking possibilities, and seeing all the ridiculous spectacles.
I went into this year's SDCC already thinking that it would be my last, but I was on the fence throughout the show. I love Comicon and usually do well at this show, but the increasing cost and stress of going to the festival makes it very difficult to continue.
Before the show opened on Saturday morning, I walked the entire length of the convention floor while my headphones played Pajo's album of Misfits cover songs. The quiet mornings before the attendees start spilling in are usually the only time I can get away from my booth. While I enjoy seeing the spectacle of rampant commercialism and pop-culture excess on display, and I revel a bit of an "us vs. them" rebellious feeling of being a self-publishing artist in that environment, this show now feels alien to my personal feelings about making art and comics.
I had this sinking feeling that they won. But I don't want to give them that much credit. Maybe I've just evolved in a different direction, and I no longer want to try to fit in there. Like when I realized that the popular kids in junior high were assholes who treated me badly and I should no longer try to be friends with them. It's a little sad, but also liberating. I spoke to several other cartoonists and artists throughout the weekend, and it seems I'm not the only one that feels that way. SDCC continues to raise the prices for exhibitors every year. I don't know what the reasons for doing this are, but from my perspective it's just another factor that contributes to my feeling that this Con no longer wants independent artists like me anymore. I can't afford the Hollywood prices and it makes more sense to spend that money elsewhere. There are more small and independent comic festivals popping up all over the country every year. And for the cost of a booth at SDCC, I could attend four or more of these smaller shows. These festivals feel more like a celebration of comics, filled with people who love the medium as an art form, whereas SDCC feels like I'm at war with a system that wants to crush me.
But I really do love the clusterfuck that is Comicon. So, I'll probably come back next year without a booth. I look forward to seeing the show from the other side of the table.
Special thanks to Shawn Cheng for coming all the way from New York to share the booth with me. He's the best booth-mate I've had in recent years. Thanks also to Levon Jihanian for hanging out and helping with our booth, and bringing his great new mini-comic Danger Country. And thanks to everyone at Sparkplug Comic Books and Teenage Dinosaur for doing these shows with me. You are all the best. Sharing an apartment with some of my best comics friends all week makes it feel like some kind of bizarro Cartoonist Summer Camp. Which makes me sad that this was the last one...
One of my friends said "if you sell something to someone in a costume, you win!" A girl in a Robin costume buying a black metal poster is a rare thing. She said she was a big fan of my art and this was one of my favorite moments of the week: