For the decade that I have been publishing Comic Book Galaxy, it’s been a yearly tradition that comics industry folks that I know and like ask me if they’ll be seeing me in San Diego. The answer has always been “no,” and I always claim (truthfully) that finances and scheduling keep me from attending the week-long event. But there’s more to it than that.
I think, after ten years, that if I really wanted to be there, I would, by now, have found some way to make it happen. But the fact of the matter is that my perception of the show over the last decade has been that it’s been steadily moving away from comics as comics, and toward a multi-media extravaganza that is pretty much the opposite of what I would want to spend my time and money on.
In a super-long post of thoughts on this year’s comicon, Tom Spurgeon talks about the vibe he experienced, and it’s everything I don’t want to go anywhere near:
"For the first time at Comic-Con in 16 years, I felt surrounded by the film and television industries. I felt like I was attending the comics portion of their show. When I left for the day I felt like the film and television tracks had set the agenda. If I were to casually communicate to anyone who might ask via e-mail how I spent my day, I explained it to them in terms of pushing away from the other end of the exhibition hall rather than embracing the one I love. There are a lot of reasons that film and TV has become so dominant there. It’s not just proportion. So many comics companies are movie companies now, first and foremost; others act that way for a long weekend; articles speak solely in cinematic terms. The shift might be best seen in the comics coverage in mainstream sources, both in the pity fuck nature of a lot of it and the fact that most of the comics stories end up being movie and television stories, too. Chew isn’t a surprise publishing hit, it’s a surprise publishing hit with a fast-track option. The Walking Dead isn’t the series that’s kept a lot of serial comics buying alive in comics shops and has made a superstar comics writer of Robert Kirkman, it’s AMC’s The Walking Dead.”
I call such a long comment out because I think it’s too important to be lumped in with all the other comments that precede and follow it. I admit that a decade ago I thought the Spider-Man movie was somehow comics news; ten years on, I know that such tie-ins are nothing more than a distraction, and that while they may (or may not) be good for the bottom line of the companies and creators involved, they are definitely bad for comics as an artform, and as a community. Which is why I don’t care one bit that I have missed a decade of San Diego Comicons, but that it is almost physically painful to me every time I can’t afford to go to the Toronto Comic Art Festival.
— Alan David Doane