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Sob, Sob, Another Comic-Con Come And Gone

After four days of pop culture celebration, it’s time to return to the real world

A cosplayer mashes up Donald Trump and the Joker, July 23. 2016.

Photo by Beth Accomando

Above: A cosplayer mashes up Donald Trump and the Joker, July 23. 2016.

Sob, Sob, Another Comic-Con Come And Gone


Beth Accomando, blogger and podcaster, KPBS Cinema Junkie

Comic-Con 2016 wrapped Sunday night. During the four-day celebration of all things pop culture there were hundreds of hours of programming, a film festival and the handing out of the Eisner Awards. Now it's back to the daily grind.

Comic-Con 2016 wrapped Sunday night. During the four-day celebration of all things pop culture, there were hundreds of hours of programming, a film festival and the handing out of the Eisner Awards.

Now it's back to the daily grind.

Sunday at Comic-Con always makes me sad and a little teary eyed. It's like saying goodbye to the best summer camp ever and to a like-minded community of geeks.

This year that was even more true since I worked as a field producer for the new Comic-Con HQ, an on-demand video provider. KPBS-TV broadcast Comic-Con HQ highlights every night of the convention and I was out in the field every day along with a half dozen other crew members gathering material.

But working every day with the same crew and the adorably geeky and pop culture savvy Comic-Con HQ "What's News" co-host Trisha Hershberger really made Sunday feel like I was bidding goodbye to friends.

For more than three decades, Comic-Con has been my home away from home and the place where I can feel normal in my geeky obsessions. In addition to working with Comic-Con HQ, I also help run a booth to raise money for a student scholarship, so I got to be in the exhibit hall as things were being set up and heard a fire alarm go off on preview night. An announcer instructed everyone to remain calm, but exhibitors were already in a frenzy to get their booths set up — some of them, like AMC's "The Walking Dead" and Starz' "American God," were extremely elaborate. So the alarm barely registered with those on the floor.

Preview night and opening day Thursday felt incredibly comfortable in terms of crowds.

Being at Comic-Con means you are in a kind of bubble and almost completely unaware of what's going on outside in the real world. As with the fire alarm, the apocalypse could be happening across the street and Con-goers might be oblivious. So it wasn't until the Con filled up on Friday that I discovered Southwest Airlines had grounded all its planes on Wednesday because it had suffered a "systems outage" and many attendees were delayed. Thursday felt like a flashback to a time when you could navigate the floor with far more ease.

As I mentioned in my Comic-Con preview, new this year were the RFID badges. Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said that they did not catch any counterfeiting of badges and that was one of the things the new badges were designed to do, so he was happy about that.

Glanzer also said the badges did help manage crowds. Based on my experience on the exhibit floor, it did seem like although the convention became packed, the flow of bodies into the San Diego Convention Center did feel spread out — kind of like a ramp meter on the freeway at rush hour. It was a steady stream of people coming in but never that stampede onslaught.

Eisner Awards

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Top Shelf Productions

"March, Book Two," about the civil rights movement in the 1960s, won the Eisner Award for Best Reality Based Work.

Although media attention tends to focus on the Hollywood celebrities passing through Hall H for Marvel, DC and the 30th anniversary of "Aliens," there was another focus of attention for comics lovers on Friday night: the Eisner Awards. The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are named after pioneering comics creator and graphic novelist Will Eisner. The awards are given out in more than two dozen categories in a ceremony at Comic-Con each year.

"It really is the Oscars of the comic book world," Glanzer said. "It is a long ceremony at times and people have asked us to trim it down and not give so many awards, but it’s for them, it really is for the creators. So to do that would be really unfair to them. There are a lot of comics at Comic-Con and I think one of the things people use as a barometer of what they might purchase if they don’t know much about comics or are undecided, is the Eisners. If it’s nominated or it has won one thing, you know that it is critically successful."

The awards were hosted by John Barrowman (best known for "Arrow" and "Torchwood") in a series of cosplay outfits that included Marvel Entertainment's Squirrel Girl. Image Comics came away a big winner. Among its awards were Best New Series, Best Continuing Series, and Best Writer while indie publishers Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly also won multiple awards. The San Diego-based publisher IDW took home Best Archival Collection and partnered with Top Shelf on the Best Reality Based Work, "March Book Two," which is about the civil rights movement.

75th anniversary of Wonder Woman

Photo caption:

Photo credit: DC

The Wonder Woman "Sensation #13" that sold for $6,500 at the Worldwide Comics booth at Comic-Con International 2016, along with examples of the dinosaur and gorilla covers that appealed to the young Scott Shaw.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of DC Comics' character Wonder Woman, so there was a panel marking the anniversary. Plus, DC revealed the new "Wonder Woman" movie trailer.

Sharon Ritter of Worldwide Comics sold some vintage comics with the Amazonian superhero.

"We have actually sold several 'Wonder Womans' and one of them was 'Sensations #13.' It is a World War II cover. It had Tojo, Hitler and Mussolini and it sold for $6,500,” Ritter said.

Cartoonist Scott Shaw used to buy "Wonder Woman" comics when he was a kid.

"By the time 'Wonder Woman' came around and I dug it, it had lots of dinosaurs on the cover. What dinosaurs had to do with Wonder Woman was strictly a case of how do we sell this thing?" Shaw said. "When I was a kid if there was a dinosaur or a gorilla on the cover [then] I gotta have it. So a couple of 'Wonder Womans' had dinosaurs or gorillas on the cover, and it was essentially a sales tool. So I think I prove they worked on me."

Ironically, while DC's "Wonder Woman" trailer was generating positive buzz from female fans for its empowered title character who can tell Steve Trevor, "What I do is not up to you," another DC property was taking flack for its depiction of another one of its female heroines, Batgirl (a.k.a. Barbara Gordon). Friday night DC held a panel for the world premiere of "The Killing Joke" featuring a very dark Batman narrative involving Batgirl/Barbara Gordon. Since the film screens in theaters July 25 and 26, I won't reveal anything specific about the plot except to say that Barbara Gordon acts the way male writers tend to show strong woman, which means still defined more by a male character rather than on her own terms. While there was much applause for Mark Hamill's Joker in the film and even for Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, the post film Q&A did get a little heated with a writer from Bleeding Cool admitting to his part in intensifying the discussion.

Comic-Con moments

Photo caption:

Photo by Beth Accomando

Weta make up artist Warren Dion Smith dazzled Comic-Con attendees with his transformation of a volunteer into an Orc from "The Lord of the Rings." Normally, the process can take up to eight hours, he did it in less than one. July 22, 2016.

Every Con has special moments that I will long remember. This year one standout was seeing Weta make up artist Warren Dion Smith transform a man from the crowd into an orc in less than an hour. That was impressive.

Photo credit: Starz

Can you spot the real Ash? That would be actor Bruce Campbell in white in the middle of the 17 "Ashes" working crowd control at Starz' "Ash Vs. Evil Dead" outdoor activation at Comic-Con. July 23, 2016.

So too were 17 actor-security guards dressed up as Bruce Campbell’s character Ash from Starz’ "Ash vs. Evil Dead" and doing crowd control for the autograph signing by the cast. Most people don’t like to be told where to stand or not walk, but when an Ash says, "Listen up, you primitive screwheads stay in line," people tend to ask for a picture rather than get angry.

One final Comic-Con moment to note: while at a vintage toy booth I saw a dad looking for a figure for his young son and as he reached out for a one of the superheroes, the man running the booth looked at the dad's tattoo and asked, "Is that Kirby Krackle ?" (Defined by the Kirby Museum as, "clusters of round black dots to depict enormous but not necessarily directed energy, often of a cosmic nature.") The dad said yes, and the dealer said, "You get an extra 10% off." Yep, that's Comic-Con.

2016 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Winners

Best Short Story: “Killing and Dying,” by Adrian Tomine in "Optic Nerve #14" (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot: Silver Surfer #11: “Never After,” by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)

Best Continuing Series: "Southern Bastards," by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image)

Best Limited Series: "The Fade Out," by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)

Best New Series: "Paper Girls," by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8): "Little Robot," by Ben Hatke (First Second)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12): "Over the Garden Wall," by Pat McHale, Amalia Levari, and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17): "SuperMutant Magic Academy," by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Humor Publication: "Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection," by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Digital/Webcomic: "Bandette," by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain/comiXology)

Best Anthology:"Drawn & Quarterly, Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary, Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels," edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Reality-Based Work: "March: Book Two," by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)

Best Graphic Album — New: "Ruins," by Peter Kuper (SelfMadeHero)

Best Graphic Album — Reprint: "Nimona," by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium: "Two Brothers," by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material: "The Realist," by Asaf Hanuka (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material — Asia: "Showa, 1953–1989: A History of Japan," by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Archival Collection/Project — Strips: "The Eternaut," by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez, edited by Gary Groth and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project — Comic Books: "Walt Kelly’s Fairy Tales," edited by Craig Yoe (IDW)

Best Writer: Jason Aaron, "Southern Bastards" (Image), "Men of Wrath" (Marvel Icon), "Doctor Strange," "Star Wars," "Thor" (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist: Bill Griffith, "Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist" (Fantagraphics)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team: Cliff Chiang, "Paper Girls" (Image)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist: Dustin Nguyen, "Descender" (Image)

Best Cover Artist: David Aja, "Hawkeye," "Karnak," "Scarlet Witch" (Marvel)

Best Coloring: Jordie Bellaire, "The Autumnlands," "Injection," "Plutona," "Pretty Deadly," "The Surface," "They’re Not Like Us, Zero" (Image); "The X-Files" (IDW); "The Massive" (Dark Horse); "Magneto, Vision" (Marvel)

Best Lettering: Derf Backderf, "Trashed" (Abrams)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism: "Hogan’s Alley," edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan’s Alley)

Best Comics-Related Book: Harvey Kurtzman: "The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America," by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)

Best Academic/Scholarly Work: "The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art," edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (Rutgers)

Best Publication Design: "The Sandman Gallery Edition," designed by Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti Designs/DC)

Hall of Fame: Judges’ Choices: Carl Burgos, Tove Jansson • Voters’ Choices: Lynda Barry, Rube Goldberg, Matt Groening, Jacques Tardi

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Dan Mora

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Matthew Inman

Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing: Richard E. Hughes, Elliot S! Maggin

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Orbital Comics and Games, London, UK

Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival Awards

Best Action/Adventure Film: "Underground"

Best Animated Film: :Accidents, Blunders and Calamities"

Best Comics-Oriented Film: "Arty"

Best Documentary: "Floyd Norman: An Animated Life"

Best Horror/Suspense Film: "Monsters"

Best Humor Film "The Hold Up"

Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Film: "Helio"

Judges’ Choice Award:Nick Murphy, Eric Jacobus, and Matt Atchity


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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