After giving myself a week to recover, I’m finally ready to blog about my experience at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con. I couldn’t do any live blogging while I was there, but I did take copious notes and photos during all four days and five nights of the event. However, this is NOT the blog to find out about any of the hot movie previews or latest gaming software showcased at the Con, or if Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola were fascinating in their panels. This is Comixjoint and we are more fascinated by underground, alternative and small press comic books. Plus, I did have to spend quite a bit of time in the booth during the show, so I could not be a full-time roving reporter exploring every aspect of the convention.

That said, there were many memorable moments at the Con for me, including meeting Frank Stack, Denis Kitchen, Ron Turner, Johnny Chambers and several other luminaries from both underground and mainstream comics. Hanging out at the Fly Dragon / Hippy Comix / Carnal Comics booth (hereafter the “FDHCCC booth”) was a lot of fun and led to some interesting interactions with fellow booth members, guests, customers and media. I also enjoyed some awesome dinners, groovin’ parties, shopping bargains and noteworthy presentations over the long weekend. I’ll begin at the beginning and try to keep it concise, though brevity has never been my strong suit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011: Preview Night Whets the Appetite

The first night of the SDCC used to be set aside for dealers only and a lot of veteran cronies wish it was still that way. Some dealers used to make the bulk of their revenue on Preview Night just selling their product to other exhibitors, but those days are over. Preview Night is now a public event, though the showrunners do limit attendance to prevent the overcrowding seen on every other day at the Con. Exhibitors spend the entire day setting up their displays before the Con opens its doors at 5:30 p.m. for three and a half hours.

While Dan Fogel and his various business partners were setting up the FDHCCC booth on Wednesday morning, I was still driving down from Los Angeles to join the party. I’d spent the past couple weeks visiting my family in L.A. (I currently live in Memphis), and drove my mother’s fancy RV van down to San Diego for the Con. The van would become my hotel room and refuge for the next five days.

I arrived at the Con around 1:00 in the afternoon and met Fogel for the first time in person outside the convention center. He gave me my all-event pass for the Con and I followed him to the FDHCCC booth, where I met my fellow conventioneers. This included the Fly Dragon team of John Quinn, Carmelo “Snow” Signona, and Nick Russomano, Angelo (Hippy’s money man) and his son Steven, and Steve Crompton of Carnal Comics.

The FDHCCC booth is manned and ready for Preview Night

I arrived at the booth about three hours before the show opened for Preview Night, so after snapping a few pics of our own booth I went around the center and took photos of other company displays. I also bought a few comics from Dan before anyone else had a chance to look at what he had for sale at the convention. Then Preview Night began and the crowd rushed in, many of them walking very fast (running is not allowed!) to their pre-planned destinations to grab whatever freebies or product they were keen on.

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Futurama's popularity has led to extensive merchandising

Monsterpocalypse is a collectible figurines game published by Privateer Press

After Preview Night ended, I had dinner with Dan in the hotel restaurant and then got my van set up in the hotel parking lot, where I will spend the next four nights. It wasn’t easy getting to sleep with all the street noise outside and feeling kind of isolated on the second floor of the parking garage, but it did get easier after the first night.

Next up: Day One with Frank Stack and Wonder Woman!