San Diego Comic Fest Returns For 8th Year
Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego comic Fest bills itself as the friendly intimate comic convention experience. The convention kicks off its eighth year tonight at the four points by Sheraton on arrow drive. KPBS arts reporter Beth Armando speaks with comic Fest chairman Matt Dunford about what to expect from this year's event. Speaker 2: 00:20 Matt, you are coming up on the eighth year of San Diego comic Fest, so how does it feel? It feels pretty incredible. I'm so happy to see the convention come so far from its humble origins because it was a lot smaller back when when it started and like I said it was very humble. It was very friendly, it was very just kind of you know the quiet intimate show. It is still a very intimate show but we've attracted a lot of big names and a lot of attention and it's flourishing and I'm really happy to see it come this far and this year you are celebrating a couple of centennials that are really important to those of us who like science fiction and movie monsters. That is correct. We are celebrating the Centennial of Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen. So we get the double rays on there and talk a little bit about what drives the festival in terms of its mission statement. Speaker 2: 01:09 We have San Diego comic con here in San Diego, which is huge that you guys really want to keep this a more kind of intimate and personal convention. Yes we do try to keep this as the keyword here is intimate, it's friendly, it's intimate, it's small and San Diego Comicon is always going to be the you know behemoth. It's going to be the giant in the room. It's got tracks, 200,000 people every year and it's a big event and I think it's run beautifully for everything that goes on. But understand that's not the ideal experience for everyone. Sometimes they can be flustered by big crowds or too much going on or they may not have like, you know, the right approach to going and may not have the best time of the world. I mean always have the best time when I go there cause I've been going for 25 years now. Speaker 2: 01:49 But the thing that comic Fest can offer is it's just a smaller presence where it doesn't feel so rushed, where you can take your time with creators and just have a blast with them. And you know, something I often said about comic Fest is you go in on day one and there's all these great comic book creators around you. It's like you look up to them as gods, but by the end of the weekend you just call them friend. And it's a really remarkable experience to, to enjoy. And you are back at the four points, Sheridan, and what's the venue going to be like in terms of what can people expect to find there or what can people expect to find there? Um, we've actually expanded out now. We have full premises over the entire resort this time. So that's really cool. So you'll walk into the nice atrium area, you'll have, uh, some, a nice decor that you'll find. Speaker 2: 02:37 Uh, it may be, uh, it may be a Harryhausen themes. So you can, uh, expect a little of that. If you a veer to your right, you'll see a wonderful flourishing, uh, artist alley area with all a bunch of local creators that have come forward where you can get artwork and commission work from these creators and just mingle among artists and see their creative work. We've also expanded into another atrium which will encompass the small press area, which is now supervised by our small press director, Travis Riva. So that's going to be the areas where writers and self published authors go for their works. And so you'll have that, you know, so to speak authors alley on it. Another atrium will have a gaming area, so those who want to, you know, enjoy some board gaming in between panels are seeing creators. It's something to bide your time with and really have a good experience with. And that's under the operation of the great Jeff Burns of super geeked up. He's been doing a wonderful job with that. Speaker 1: 03:27 Meeting creators and going through outer Sally is a key part of this, but another key part is panels. Are there any panels that you are particularly excited about? Speaker 2: 03:36 There are a few panels that I'm up quite ecstatic about. Uh, I have a grief, I've ranged a whole bunch of writers from different areas of spider mans cause I'm a big spidey fan boy. So they get to come in and talk about their different approaches and the impact that they had on the character. Other ones I'm looking forward to. I always enjoy the [inaudible] panel with Beth Armando. That one's always a, that one's always a blast. And uh, certain guests, I think one of the ones I'm looking forward to the most is one called into the Ditco verse because last year at San Diego comic fests, I had the pleasure of meeting a guy who just randomly came to San Diego comic Fest by the name of Mark Ditco. And I kind of freaked out for a second. I said any relations, Steve Ditco was my uncle. And so I invited Mark as a special guest this year to talk about his experience with his late great uncle. And he's the, he's the historical archivist of the Steve Ditco collection now, but meeting Mark and seeing the side of Ditco that we've never seen before, that he was a friendly family man and that he did have this wonderful flourishing life. It's just wonderful to see. It's a side of history. I, I've always wanted to know and now we get to see it and we get to experience that firsthand at San Diego comic Fest. It's absolutely wonderful. Speaker 1: 04:46 And how do you feel that the convention has been evolving? What kind of changes are you seeing that you're happy about? Speaker 2: 04:53 Fortunately, word of mouth gets around and people always talk about their wonderful experiences with the event. And because of that, it allows us to take steps up. You're learning to crawl, you're taking your baby steps, you're learning to walk, you're up and running, you're jogging. And now it's at the point where we're running a marathon and finishing first place. When I look at the guest list that we have this year, our guest of honor this year is Bilson cabbage, you know, from electro Sasson, straight toasters, big numbers. This guy is an art God and he agreed to be our guest of honor. And then our science fiction guest of honor, who was my favorite writer, J Michael Stravinsky, who you might know from Babylon five and from sensate and the eighties revival, the Twilight zone. If you were a kid growing up in the early eighties, you would have known him from building half the universe of He-Man. She raw the real Ghostbusters. Jason the wield warriors. I like the comics of Jay Michaels [inaudible]. So his run on amazing Spiderman, which is my all time favorite Spiderman run is one on Thor that came out in 2007. He actually ended up writing the four movie as well, being one of the screenwriters on it. Speaker 1: 05:55 And there's always talk diversity in comics. And what is comic Fest doing to kind of highlight readers of color or women or um, people who may not, who may be Speaker 2: 06:06 underrepresented elsewhere? Well, you know, we always try to take these aspects to show diversity. We try to show, you know, women in comics, we showcase international creators. We have a host of people coming out from Mexico. Just to show the international scene and how comics are a flourishing industry in Mexico as well and show their creative talent. And so a comic historian Louis ganas is coming up to showcase things. He runs are called K one of the biggest conventions out in Mexico. So he gets to do that and then he's pretty ecstatic because, uh, we have him on a panel with his, uh, cartooning hero, Sergio, Aaron goannas who actually Sergio. I actually invited Sergio as a special guest because he was our guest of honor last year. And he says, no, I changed my mind. I want to come back, I want to come back. And so Sergio Aragon is once again ecstatic about joining us. Speaker 1: 06:53 And is there anything else about the show that you want to share with people? Speaker 2: 06:56 I love the wonderful guest list that we have, creators like Wendy and Richard, Piney of elf quest, Marv Wolfman, who you might know of as the creator of blade, the vampire Hunter and teen Titans onward. To see all of these wonderful creators come out and want to celebrate the legacy of Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen and mingle with the fans and just have a great time with them. It's something that's just enjoyable for everyone. I invite everyone to go online right now to our website, ww.sd comic fest.org check out the programming. Check out the special guests list. We have legends of animation who used to work with Walt Disney back in the day. We have giants of science fiction that are coming in to talk about their inspiration from Bradbury and guests that you can just geek out with your comic stuff. There is something there for everyone in the programming and it's just a wonderful, wonderful time for everyone. All right, well, I want to thank you very much for talking about comic Fest and thank you so much for having me on the show. It's always a pleasure to be here. Speaker 1: 07:50 That was Beth Armando speaking with Matt Dunford. San Diego comic Fest runs tonight through Sunday at four points by Sheraton in Kearny Mesa.