2019 San Diego Con: FRIDAY

Friday morning I was feeling much more myself after a good night’s sleep. Looking down at the Convention Center from my hotel, I could see people beginning to arrive, and the white tents for those waiting in line for the Hall H events. Those are the big media shows that I’ve never even tried to get into. Some people wait many hours for that, or even overnight. My morning route would take me across the road to that pink walkway, then around the corner into the east end of the Con Center.

Here I’m in front of the Con Center heading toward the doors, along with many other people.

Getting in at the show opening is a bit of a mob scene, but it all moves along pretty well.

Once inside you have to tap your badge, which has an RFID transmitter, on one of those posts. This is supposed to allow the authorities (perhaps the fire department?) to keep track of how many people are inside. I don’t know how accurate that is, I’m sure some people don’t do it. I’ve yet to see anything here closed because it was filled to capacity, other than some of the meeting rooms.

I went to several panels this day, beginning with “That 70’s Panel” hosted by Mark Evanier, seen here at left with Tony Isabella.

Next to Isabella was Trina Robbins…

…and then Lee Marrs, Mike Friedrich, and Louise and Walter Simonson.

Artist Arvell Jones came in a bit later. The idea of this panel was to talk about the comics business in the 1970s, when all of these people were in it. (Some began in the 1960s.) As Mark Evanier explained, he used to run Golden Age and Silver Age panels, but now there are not enough people left who were in comics in the 1930s to 1960s to fill them.

Each person talked about how they got into comics, and told a few stories about their early days there. I enjoyed hearing them. Perhaps the most surprising story was from Lee Marrs, who got her start as a background artist in comic strips.

After that I met up with Danish superfan Henrik Andreasen, who has been coming to this Con just as long as I have, we both started in 1993. Henrik always has a few things he wants signed, and I’m happy to do that.

Then I walked through Artists Alley talking to friends. Here’s Scott Hampton with his colorist and girlfriend Jennifer Lange. Scott just finished up a two-year project with P. Craig Russell doing painted art over Russell’s adaptation and layouts for a graphic version of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.” He has several other projects in the works, too.

Gene Ha was a special guest of the Con this year, here he is with his wife Lisa. It’s hard to imagine a more cheerful, upbeat creator than Gene, and he was delighted with the treatment and reception he was getting at the con, including an Inkpot Award, given by the Con to guests. He’s continuing to work on his book MAE, now published by Lion Forge.

Artist Eric Shanower has lately been doing some charming stories featuring Harvey Comics characters like Casper the Friendly Ghost, while continuing to work on his epic project depicting the Trojan War in comics form, AGE OF BRONZE. He and his partner, David Maxine, at right, also run Hungry Tiger Press, which publishes books and art about all things Oz.

I haven’t seen inker Matt Banning in a while, it was good to catch up with him.

Writer/artist Zander Cannon is still doing KAIJUMAX comics, depicting prison life for giant Japanese monsters in a manga style. It’s always good to talk to him.

I spoke to Elliott S! Maggin, writer of comics and novels since the 1970s, who was selling several he has self-published recently.

This Judge Dredd costume was the best one I saw Friday.

In the Exhibit Hall, I enjoyed looking through some original art from the 1960s, featuring lettering by two of my favorites, Ira Schnapp here…

…and Gaspar Saladine in this story. All this old art was at the larger art size used at the time, and it was fascinating to see.

Taking a break outside at the back of the Con Center, I noted the yachts lined up in the harbor there. The largest one has a helicopter on it!

Next I attended an animation panel that included Disney master Floyd Norman and Saturday cartoon veteran Willie Ito, as well as younger talents like Bill Morrison.

Then I listened to Jim Steranko tell stories about his early career as an escape artist in a spotlight panel hosted by Ming Chen. I knew that Steranko had worked as an escape artist, but not heard any of these amazing stories about his shows, some of which involved close calls with disaster. Steranko was the inspiration for Jack Kirby’s MISTER MIRACLE.

Looking outside the Con Center, I could see some of the show outside the show over in the Gaslamp District. I did walk through there Friday, but did not stay long. If you can’t get tickets for the Con, it’s possible to still enjoy these events and activities, often put on by and promoting TV shows and movies.

In the late afternoon I tried to get into one more panel put on by NASA about their search for extraterrestrial life, but I didn’t make it in.

As a consolation prize, those turned away were given these cool stickers.

Leaving the show for the day, I stopped at Sweet Things in the base of the Bayfront Hilton for my favorite treat in the area, frozen yogurt with fresh fruit and chocolate syrup.

I had a brief nap, then it was time to get ready for the Eisner Awards, held at the Bayfront Hilton. As always, the ceremony was very long, but I enjoyed it.

The very first category was Best Lettering, and I’m delighted and surprised to say that I won again! This is my eighteenth Eisner, and I’m not sure why people keep voting for me, but it’s nice to be appreciated.

Other winners can be found easily online, but I’ll just say that some of the most entertaining speakers were Tom King and Mitch Gerads, who won multiple awards.

I was too far from the podium to get good photos, but I did take a few of the Hall of Fame winners on the big screen. Here’s Jenette Kahn, my publisher when I was on staff at DC, and a champion of creators’ rights.

Also winning was her “partner in crime,” Paul Levitz, another of the people running DC for many years, and also a champion of creators’ rights. Both gave wonderful acceptance speeches.

Another pair of Hall of Fame winners were Richard and Wendy Pini, of ELFQUEST fame.

And the amazing artist Bill Sienkiewicz, who as one person commented, seems to have aged little in the past few decades. Perhaps he as a magical portrait somewhere like Dorian Gray.

After the ceremony and some chatting in the lobby, I was exhausted and ended my long day. There would be more to do on Saturday.

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