July 18, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 1988

This week is the annual San Diego Comic-Con International, the largest fandom convention in the United States. If you’re heading to San Diego, there’s a very slim chance that you will pass through a time warp along the way and find yourself at the 1988 San Diego Comic Con instead of the 2011 event. But to better prepare you for that remote possibility, I am providing a few things that you may wish to review in advance.

[Note: you should know that the convention in 1988 wasn’t as big as it is today, when 125,000 people are expected to show up. In 1988, attendance was around 8,000 people. So don’t be shocked if the place feels deserted.]

First, here is a Progress Report newsletter [download the PDF]. These were sent out in advance of the convention to get you excited about who would be there, and let you know how to get around the brand new Omni Hotel.

Inside you’ll find that some topics being considered for panel programming include “Alternative Animation Techniques,” “Are Comics Too Realistic?,” “The Film Noir Approach in Comics,” “Japanimation’s Appeal in the United States,” “Martial Arts in Comics,” “New Directions in Comic Strips,” “The Physics of Super-heroes,” “Presenting Taboo Material in Comics” and “Why Aren’t Comics Fun Anymore?”

You’ll also find out where the masquerade is going to be held for the first time (spoiler: the Civic Theatre) and how to register for the masquerade. Please note that if you plan any acrobatics, swordplay, or special effects on stage, it must be cleared with masquerade coordinators in advance.

Here’s a sneak peak at who else is lined up to be there:

Once you’ve gone through the Progress Report, arm yourself with the actual Events Guide [download the PDF]

On page 16 you’ll find a complete listing of all the movie screenings happening during the convention. Don’t miss Condorman in the Silver Room on Thursday, or the rare 3-D screening of It Came From Outer Space on Saturday.

Here’s what else is happening:

If you can, go to the 4:00 screening of the new X-Men cartoon pilot on Thursday. It never got picked up as a series, but there’s a certain excitement in the air at the possibility that it just might. And you can participate in the discussion over whether Wolverine’s Australian accent ruins the whole thing.

In case you don’t make it to 1988, here’s the pilot courtesy of YouTube:

One more thing: Be sure to visit as many booths as you can, and meet as many people as you can. Instead of asking for individual autographs, it might be fun to get as many people as possible from, say, Marvel Comics to sign one piece of acid-free board. If they’re willing to draw a picture on it, even better. And if Todd McFarlane says, “I did draw a picture. I drew a spider,” when you really wanted him to draw Spider-Man, just thank him graciously and try not to be disappointed.

See if you can find all these people:

[Ron Lim, Archie Goodwin, Ralph Macchio, Mark Gruenwald, Jeff Purves, Ian Akin, Tom DeFalco, Terry Kavanagh, Peter David, Todd McFarlane, Steve Saffel, and a couple more people whose names I can’t make out.]

Oh, one more thing. Before you go, pick up a copy of the Dark Horse Comics preview booklet [or just download the PDF]. It showcases some titles like Flaming Carrot and Concrete. They’re a relatively new publisher, but I predict big things for them. Here’s what it looks like:

Bonus:Now that I think about it, as long as you may be time traveling, perhaps you should look over the Wikipedia entry on 1988 in sports before you go, just in case you have some free time. And be sure to change your 2011 cash for 1988 or earlier bills so you don’t arouse suspicion.


This is amazing. I think my first year at ComicCon was ‘94, and there was already a tremendous growth in just those six years, apparently.

I went back last summer for the first time in eleven years, and really didn’t enjoy myself. But then a lot of what kept me going during the nineties cons was the thrilling possibility that someone might like my portfolio and hire me to draw Spider-man or whatever.

Love that George R.R. Martin is in there as “the creator of Wild Cards.”

Wow, this really puts things in perspective. Thanks!

I love that the one panel aimed at women is called “The Inevitable Women Cartoonists Panel” like ‘eh, we better shove those gals in here someplace’.

Awesome article. So disappointed to not be going this year. Although I’m not sure I’d want to risk traveling back to 1988. Been there and done that…

Awesome article. So disappointed to not be going this year. Although I’m not sure I’d want to risk traveling back to 1988. Been there and done that…