Yeah, I should have written this last night, but I didn’t get home until after midnight and was exhausted.
Saturday was a struggle to wake up, but we managed it, had another nice breakfast, and checked out. We made it to the convention center just in time for the Women in Manga panel, the only manga panel I was able to make it to all con. That’s just the way it goes. I’m not lamenting. Lots of other people were there to cover the manga panels, and if I’ve got anything to add, I’ll do it in my weekly news post.
Anyway, one of the reasons I wanted to see this panel was to finally get to meet some of the people I blog and tweet with everyday. And I did too. I met Snow Wildsmith, Robin Brenner, and Eva Volin, fellow bloggers at Good Comics for Kids. I also finally got to meet Lissa Pattillo of Kuriosity (who also reviewed for me at Comics Village) and Ed Chavez, marketing manager at Vertical now, and familiar voice from many hours of Mangacast podcasts. I only got to meet them, and didn’t get to speak at length (I’m sorry I missed you completely Deb! I really wanted to meet you too!), but it was nice to finally have a face to the names. For so long I could only imagine the avatars.
The Women in Manga panel was interesting, especially JuYoun Lee’s comments about not just women in Korean manhwa, but Korean comics in general. She made some great observations that US manga/comic publishers should listen too. 1) It doesn’t matter what the books are called, (manga, manhwa, comics) just make them good. 2) Make the original titles relevent to the domestic market. Don’t make the books read right to left just to capture the “manga” audience. Korean manhwa/comics took off after the creators started writing stories that spoke to the native audience and reflected their sensibilities. American OEL should do the same. Another interesting comment that came up was that many of the titles for women that have come out have fallen more on the “trashy”, Harlequin romance side, that a lot of women (me included) aren’t interested in. Women are more diverse readers, and want good, strong stories. We can read all the titles written for males while the reverse doesn’t cut it. Leyla Aker from Viz mentioned the Shonen Jump/Shojo Beat demographics, and it was 40% girls read Shonen Jump while less then 5% of guys read Shojo Beat. With those numbers, it’s easy to see which would survive. Another issue that came up was that manga is still considered a genre by readers and retailers, and that is keeping it out of women’s hands. If manga could read out beyond the sci-fi/fantasy/comics section and into more appropriate sections of the bookstore it might do better with a more general audience. From the way Leyla and Lillian Diaz-Przybyl spoke, it seems it’s something that both Viz and Tokyopop have been struggling with on the retail level with little success. Questions for the panel brought up Shojo Beat‘s cancellation (see above), and how to make comics more women would be interested in. The panel’s consensus: right good stories.
After the panel broke, we tried to get in contact with a friend we planned to meet at the con. We finished some shopping in the Exhibit Hall while waiting for him. I picked up a few more Doctor Who toys and got a picture of Colin Baker, who was signing autographs at the booth, as well as another Fullmetal Alchemist gashapon. The kids got Pokemon kits to build wind up toys, and DH found another Stargate figure he needed as well as a box of Rocketmen CCG packs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t give exact change for the Exact Change Dance. That’s one of the reasons to stop by the Adventure Retail booth at SDCC. It’s a tradition!
A call from our friend forced out of the Exhibit Hall since we couldn’t hear a thing while in there. We exited through the doors near Aisle 100 to speak to him, only to see some guys with big Mythbusters bags filled with CDs. They turned out to be DVDs of the movie The Room, and we were handed a copy by Tommy Weiseman himself, the writer, director, producer, executive producer and star. My husband almost burst out laughing when he realized it. If you got a copy of this movie, go to rifftrax.com and get the rifftrax for The Room. It’s only 3 bucks. Trust me, you will not regret it, but you will if you try to watch this movie without it. Want more information? Google The Room and/or Tommy Weiseman. This movie is becoming the new Rocky Horror.
We met our friend after lunch (and getting the Mythbusters bag we’d seen all over the con and asking like 5 people where to find it), and decided not to take any chances with possibly missing the Mythbusters panel at 7pm, so we got in line for the panel that started at 5 in that room. Human Target is a new midseason series from Fox, and is based on a DC comic created back in 1973. We were pleasantly surprised by the show, and was shown the whole pilot episode. It’s about an agent who takes on different identities, literally becoming a human target for his clients. Mark Valley from Fringe stars, and it also features Chi McBride (Emerson from Pushing Daisies). He was very funny during the Q & A. It looks to be a very good show. We will be watching it in January.
Then we suffered through the next panel, The Vampire Diaries, with was also a pilot and Q & A. It’s very formulaic. I was calling the scenes as they came up, and found it less like Twilight (as most people will claim it’s a rip off of) and more like Dark Shadows. Vampire returns to hometown to see girl who is the spitting image of his long lost love. It’s based on a series of YA novels from the 90’s, but is only seeing production because of the popularity of Twilight. It’s a very angsty/melodramatic teen show. My oldest daughter spent most of the panel on the DS in the pictochat room, riffing it with other non-fans. She’s not a Twilight/vampire fan at all. She spent the previous panel reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. She’s becoming more of a Sci-fi than fantasy fan.
Finally, we got to the panel we were all waiting for. My oldest daughter even said she would suffer through vampires just to get to this panel; Mythbusters. Jamie and Adam were joined by Tory and Grant with Phil Plait moderating. They got a standing ovation as they came out to the stage. It was the most enthusiastic greeting they’d ever gotten at a con, Adam said. We were treated to a clip reel of what was coming up for the rest of the season and teased with some of the themes for future shows including Duct tape myths, return of the rocket car, and the testing of the Star Trek “Arena” episode of Capt. Kirk’s cannon. Grant has been pushing for this one since season 1. Questions from the audience included Favorite Explosions; Adam loved the water heater, Tory loved the Cement truck (my favorite as well), Jamie agreed with Adam, though he made a comparison of explosions to wine; each are different, and have different qualities that make them good. Why they won’t do myths like Bigfoot; they won’t prove a negative. They want things that are tangible and can be tested on the show. The insurance company for the show has also lightened up some, as Adam and Jamie were allowed to learn how to fall into an airbag (with real hat/berett action!) for a myth they wouldn’t tell us about. It was really fun seeing them live and really made my kid’s weekend, which made all the waiting worth it.
What was a real let down, after this great panel was, while walking out, two people dressed up in some costume (didn’t recognize them) were holding up a piece of cardboard with the words “Scream if You Think Twilight ruined Comic Con” scribbled on it. It was a guy holding the sign up high. While no one in my family cares for Twilight, this kind of thing was totally uncalled for. It’s the equivolent of a Trekkie holding a sign that said “Scream if You Think Star Wars ruined Comic Con”, or a Trekkie and Stormtrooper holding up a sign saying “Scream if you think Bablyon 5 ruined comic con”. No one cares if you like the fandom or not. Let the fans who enjoy the books/movie/whatever be. They aren’t bothering you, and you’re just making an ass of yourself by doing it. Most of the Twilight fans were gone by Saturday (most were rumored to have Thursday only badges), so doing something like that is just proving what a total jerk you are. Grow up.
And so ends SDCC for another year. I have serious doubts we will go to another one for a while. The crowds are outweighing the fun. Two panels a day is just sad for a con that used to be, just walk in and have a seat at most panels. It’s ceased to be a comic/sci-fi genre con and has become a media con. The Dog & Pony shows have taken over in importance, which has taken out a lot of the fun of going to the con; to relax and talk with other fans.