My pal Victor Rocha and I spent a few hours on the Comic-Con floor Thursday. Here's what we observed:
The major comic-book companies have had a smaller presence in recent years. This year they seemed smaller than ever.
As usual, movie studios and TV networks advertised their wares. The latest Hollywood juggernauts got their due, with displays for Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Dark Knight along with the upcoming Watchmen and Star Wars: Clone Wars.
Toy companies were a major force this year, with large displays by Mattel, Hasbro, Lego, and a company called Sideshow Collectibles. A lot of the smaller booths were selling statuettes, dolls, stuffed toys, clothing...anything but comics.
Making up for the lack of major comics companies was the incredible diversity of independent comics and artists. The talent and creativity on display in booth after booth was nothing short of amazing.
For some reason, zombies were big this year. You could find a zombie version of almost anything--for instance, Hot Zombie Chicks and Zombie Jesus.
Once again, there were almost no minority-related projects. (That's not counting Japanese anime, which isn't minority-related in Japan.) A few black-owned comic books and that was about it.
The Indian presence at Comic-Con was almost nil. Victor bought an oversized book of Edward S. Curtis photographs and a copy of Native Americans in Comic Books by Michael Sheyahshe, which is finally out. He also bought a print of worried-looking cowboys facing--wait for it--zombie Indians. We saw a toy diorama of savage Indians chasing Indiana Jones and a splash page from an old Tonto comic. Other than that, Indians were basically invisible.
The show seemed a little less crowded than previous years--perhaps because they didn't sell daily passes at the door. Attendees had to be pre-registered. But a few times we hit crowd conditions approximating a can of sardines--especially when someone foolishly designated an aisle "one way."
Celebrity sightings: Avery Brooks of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd of Torchwood, boxer Randy Couture, and the inevitable Lou ("Hulk") Ferrigno.