A Bit of Renewal

I’m feeling good about conventions!

You might be saying, “You go to a lot of conventions Josh, so what has this got to do with me?”

Well, random internet person, I’m glad you asked.

For professionals, conventions are a place to network, get work, meet fans, promote your stuff, and generally advance your career.

For fans, it’s a place where you go to meet your favorite creators, get some stuff signed, see something before others get to see it, and maybe buy some stuff.

For me, it’s yet a third option. I’m there for both reasons, but over the past few years, it’s really become more work, and slowly, the Cons lost all of what was initially appealing about them in the first place.

I first ended up at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2000, almost by accident. I was blown away by how amazing it was, and how accessibly everyone was, and how much cool stuff was around. It’s that experience that really helped cement my love of comics, and eventually helping to form iFanboy.

Then, each year, we went to more and more cons and started to cover them with a video camera. The first couple were fun, and then it was a new experience, and a challenge.

Then the pressure started. We’ve got to go, and we’ve got to shoot interviews, and get enough material to put together a show, and make sure we don’t drop the ball. It got to the point where people were asking about panels, and our response was, “oh, we don’t really have time to go to panels anymore.”

Wait a minute. That’s not cool.

I mean, why did I start doing this anyway? I wanted to get a new angle on my comics, and the people who make them, and maybe, at some point, learn how to make some of my own. Many of my favorite experiences at conventions in the past was at panels.

I went to a great Bendis Spotlight panel a few years ago, where I got a sneak peak of what we would later see on the Bendis Tapes at Word Balloon. I saw Peter David moderate a Todd McFarlane panel. I saw Geoff Johns propose to his wife. I saw Kevin Smith moderate a Battlestar Galactica panel with James Callis and Tricia Helfer. But I haven’t been to a panel since New York last year. It’s not just because we’re always shooting, or looking for things to shoot, but rather, the crowds were getting so big that you’d have to waste the two hours prior to a given panel in order to get into it.

First resolution? Fix that, and go to some panels I’m interested in, preferably avoiding the giant mobs.

At some point on Saturday, the second day of New York Comic Con, I looked at Ron and I said I’d like to stop and enjoy a convention without shooting it just once. Perhaps, I’ll take a day off, just not shoot anything. But then, the other part of me absolutely loves doing this. Imagine leaving the camera home for the day, and then happening upon Frank Miller quietly browsing back issues. I’d never forgive myself.

But there is another way. If I do say so myself, we owned New York Comic Con. We pulled our stuff together, and delivered a lot of great content, and by the end of Saturday, we were pretty much done. It was awesome. After we got there on Sunday, we found ourselves with free time, and I just shut the camera off, and wandered, and picked up some comics. Of course, before long, I actually got a bit bored, realizing how much smaller this convention was compared to San Diego. Perhaps if I’d had a bit more cash on hand, I could have really had some fun (and a set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures based on the original comics!). But it was totally good. We left the convention with everything we needed, as well as some time and energy to spare.

So, unlike last year, where the NYCC was too much in too little a space, and freezing cold outside, this year, it was a fantastic experience, and sort of just the right size. There was tons of talent all over the place, and I would certainly recommend it if you were looking for a medium sized Con packed with people to meet.

Next stop is Seattle, next month, which is a pretty small convention. We’ll see how much of my own advice I take, but I’m going to force myself to try to remember to stop, take a breath, and enjoy myself.

Maybe I need a back issue hunting goal?


  1. I only go to Wizards World Chicago for the most part each year due to financial concerns and whatnot but I generally have a really great time, and the first time I went was just purely as a fan, the second time I went I started to have the feeling that I was doing it a bit for myself and a bit for work (as I, at the time worked at a comic book store). The third year (last year) I felt like I was there more for work than for my own enjoyment as by that time I was now managing a store. This year when I head up to WW:Chicago it will be for myself, for my store, for my company, for my podcast ( http://comicdorkscast.blogspot.com ) and it will be for myself. Oddly the more reasons I had to go the more fun I had as each year went along. Part of it involved the growing group of people i had to go with me, and part of it was having a better idea of what i was looking for each time I went. I hope everyone has a good time at the conventions they head off to this year and that if you haven’t gone to a convention before that you should make the plans to go out to one of the many conventions that are going on all around our great old world!

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I’m looking forward to Wizard World Philadelphia coming up.  Not sure how many days I’ll go, but I might devote one day to sketches and another to panels and wandering around.  Interestingly enough, I think WWPhilly had more sellers than NYCC.  Or at least that’s how I remember it.  Hoping for a nice, mellow con experience.  

  3. I was beginning to wonder if any of the guys here had time to hit up panels, and shop at these conventions in between catching all that footage. It’s good to here you found some time to just enjoy the show yourself, and I’m glad the cameras came out because it’s been a great week of shows. I wanted that TMNT boxed set too, but it would have been the only thing to have fit in my bag for the train ride home, good news is they’ll be out soon individually, and probably for a little less.

  4. The thing I love most about cons is Fat Guys in costumes. The only thing better than getting a sweet deal on some trades is getting a sweet deal on trades around a 3 biller dressed as Cyclops.

  5. This year at the NYCC i went in with an agenda myself, it was to things signed. However on the fri, right before i headed off, i decided to do that all on fri. After fri was over i got 15 books signed and on sat i went to a few panels and did all the other "con things". all in all i enjoyed myself. Best part was a sat i met ron and conor. They gave me stickers……sweeeeet!

  6. Last week’s NYCC was my first con so I went in without an agenda; in retrospect I wish I’d at least grabbed a few issues from my longboxes, since it seems like there was someone there who worked on almost everything I own — But I still saw a lot of cool things, and people, and my friend who was better prepared got some things signed.  Then we wandered into a random panel that didn’t have any names listed on the program and it turned out to include J.M. DeMatteis (who wrote one of my friend’s favorite Captain America runs) and Denny O’Neil (who I pretty much worship).  DeMatteis got in a friendly (?) shouting match with Colleen Doran about the metaphysics of writing, and as a group they had some of the best comments about the craft, and the profession, of writing, that I’ve heard in years of attending writers’ conferences and book festivals and all that sort of thing.  And later, on Artists’ Alley, Jeremy Haun — who drew that fabulous Civil War ‘Captain America/Iron Man’ issue —  gave us a little lecture about the true meaning of friendship.  Which was kind of weird, but also, awesome.

    The point of this ramble is that the best experiences at these events are sometimes the ones you don’t, and can’t, plan out.  It’s a good idea to leave some room for serendipity — and also, of course, funnel cake. 

  7. Crap, I was gonna go to Emerald City, now I’m probably not, crap, I wanted to see you guys there.




  8. For what it’s worth…Geoff Johns’ wife proposed to him at that panel, during the Q&A session.

  9. I have to say, even though I enjoy the hell out of your con shows, and really respect you guys for bringing the experience to those of us that couldn’t be there, I feel really bad that you have to document everything.

    Having said that, this con show was easily your best yet, and if you actually found time to relax and have at the same time then good on ya!

    Easy time-saving idea: More Gordon! 

  10. Seriously, feel no guilt.  I love what I do.  I hope I didn’t give the impression that I don’t.

    And Ron, my memory is, once again, shit.  You’re correct.

  11. I find that you need either a) lots of money to spend or b) an agenda of some sort to enjoy a large con.  San Diego is usually the only con I go to unless I have an animation project that’s being hyped and having some sort of goal really changes the experience.  Here are some I’ve had: original art,  walking through the indy island talking to almost every creator, at least an hour looking through half priced trade bins to gather iFanboy recommends, meeting a specific creator, getting something for a friend, attending creator panels.

    Without a goal, no matter how minor, you can glaze over and lose the fun.   Sounds like you guys hit a good balance.


  12. Great post, glad you found the balance. This was an incredibly strong show, but "I can feel my socks" remains my personal fav. CGC destruction came damn close though. Random tangrntail question that I’ve been wondering of late: Is there such a thing a "season" for IPTV or are you guys on a 52 a week model?

  13. Crap. I meant to say 52 week a year model. OOPS

  14. 52 weeks a year, baby!

  15. "I can feel my socks" is my favorite too.

    I’m also partial (maybe because I was there) to the completely out of place eating of BBQ in North Carolina.  That had no place in a comic book show.  But there it was.

  16. "For what it’s worth…Geoff Johns’ wife proposed to him at that panel, during the Q&A session."

    ron, you totally beat me to it. damn.

    my back issue hunting goal at last years baltimore con was to complete my adjectiveless x-men run, including annuals and variant covers and i did it.  it felt great, so now im looking for issues to fill the gaps of my uncanny run, and crossover tie ins from the eighties and nineties (just completed fatal attractions and this past year’s wizard world philly)