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copyright 2002
by Randy Reynaldo
Report on the 2002 Comic-Con International

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Since I did not have new material, I did not exhibit at the 2002 Comicon International: San Diego, held this year from August 1 through 4, 2002. While I always enjoy working at the show and promoting Rob Hanes Adventures, it was nevertheless a pleasure to this year have an opportunity to participate as an attending pro and visit booths and attend panels at my leisure. I attended with my wife and under-one-year-old daughter (her first comic-book convention!) The show is also somewhat of a reunion opportunity for friends, so my brother and several friends also attended the show.

The Comicon appeared to be, by many accounts, a great success. Early reports pegged attendance at about 70,000 -- a record number for the show that, if true, represents a remarkable 20 percent increase over the year before. As any regular attendee of the Comicon can tell you, over the past several years, the convention center has been under renovation, nearly doubling the size of the facility. Yet even with approximately 400,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, the show seemed just as crowded as ever. On the Saturday of the show, fire marshals reportedly temporarily stopped people from entering the convention center because the facility reached full capacity allowed by fire regulations.

Of course, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to a show this large. On the plus side, the more the merrier. I have been attending this show now for nearly 20 years and I have often characterized it as a "circus." Excitement and energy levels are high, and even friends of mine who are not comics fans enjoy the show. This is also partly due, of course, to the show's broader focus on not just comics but popular culture. I always leave the show re-energized and looking forward to doing my own comics work.

On the negative side, let's face it, the show is just so damned huge! Parking was a serious problem this year. And someone attending all four days of the show would have problems being able to thoroughly explore the entire floor and all the booths, let alone also attend all the panels that interested them. The organizers partly mitigate this problem by generally grouping similar booths together -- if you're interested in indie publishers, small press folks, or back issues, you generally knew where to go to find most of them. But it must be sensory overload for newbies.

There were also complaints that some exhibitors -- most notably the back issues dealers and small press area -- had been further "ghetto-ized" by the show and placed away from the main center of action. I must admit the location and arrangement of the small press area -- where I am traditionally placed when I exhibit -- was not very appealing to me. Still, San Diego is the largest comic-book convention in the country so it is an important venue to participate in.

Though the show was gargantuan, it was still an enjoyable experience. I look forward to attending again next year, hopefully as an exhibitor with new material!

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