Monday, July 25, 2011

More Tales from the Road: Comic-Con

All I knew about Comic-con before attending this year came from G4's Attack of the Show. Which gave me some idea but really, no idea at all. Comic-con was a visit to a parallel universe of pop culture, where 130,000 people roamed cheek-by-jowl over two floors of a huge convention center, most of them wearing a ski hat made to look like an adorable cartoon animal. See that photo above? Under those white tents are serpentined lines of people queued up to get into the big exhibit room, Hall H, where the big panels are held. It holds 6,000 people. At Comic-con, people queue up better than in the former Soviet Union, where queueing was a way of life.

For me, Comic-con was another opportunity to realize how incredibly lucky I am as a debut author. Did I meet other debut authors there? No. I met some very talented and hardworking authors who earned their way by producing several great books for their publishers. It is really humbling. And my publisher, Gallery Books, and in particularly editor Ed Schlesinger, gave me another wonderful day, getting me on a panel and hosting an in-booth signing.

I mean, look at this panel. The moderator, on the left, is Maryelizabeth Hart, co-owner of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego and a fixture in the sci-fi/fantasy firmament. The first panelist, l-r, is Michael Cassutt. He co-wrote a novel, Heaven's Shadow, with Daivd Goyer, the screenwriter of a little movie called The Dark Knight, oh and another one called Ghostrider. Michael is not only a long-time science fiction writer, he's also a TV producer who has done a few little shows like Twilight Zone and Beverly Hills 90210.  Next was Michael Carroll, who in addition to his latest book writes Judge Dredd comics; then there's Jason Starr, whose written many crime novels and comics; then there's my head. Next is Rachel Caine, author of the Morganville Vampires and several other series; then Drew Magary, who for a satirical writer proved to be extremely insightful (no surprise, probably); and lastly, Heather Brewer, who writes the Vlad Tod series and has another series coming out. Each and every one of them was witty and smart and so generous to the newbie author. As someone who doesn't get to interact with kids much, it was a delight, too, watching Heather Brewer with her young fans, seeing their faces light up to meet her. Authors like her are raising the next generation of readers.

So it was a great opportunity to learn the business by watching the pros, including Scott Westerfeld, a featured guest at Comic-con, whom I got to see when he dropped by the booth. He has this complete ease about him that most of us can only hope to achieve some day.

My only regret is that I was sick going in: I had a bout of vertigo which is disconcerting, especially in crowds or where there's lots of movement. Which Comic-con has in spades, along with food & drink that was as pricey as it is in Europe ($4 bottle of water! $3 cookies!) But I wouldn't have missed this for anything.

Next stop: Squaw Valley Conference of Writers in August.

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