Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Marvel-ous San Diego

Well great a job as he did, I can't just let Kiel take all the spotlight for San Diego Comic-Con International coverage, now can I?

One of my favorite things about conventions is getting to really feel a part of the larger family/team/insert-term-here that is Marvel Comics/Entertainment. Admittedly working away in my corner office with the rest of the Digital Media Group's content division (wow, that sounded delightfully corporate) I sometimes lose sight of being a member of this larger whole that also includes the boys and girls from editorial, marketing, etc. as well as all our great creators. When you're forced to pull together for a mammoth happening like SDCC though, that sense of camaraderie with the peeps you're in the foxhole with really comes back to the fore, and the best part is when you remember how much you like a lot of those folks.

I think more than any show since I started at Marvel, this one was the one where I really bonded with many good people outside my department, and a major goal of mine is not to let those relationships die on the vine going forward. I'm so fortunate not only to have the job I do, but also to work with some incredibly fun, dedicated and talented individuals, so I'm glad I get the wake-up calls to appreciate all that now and again.

Whenever a show goes well for Marvel, it's mainly due to two dudes: Mike Pasciullo and Tim Dillon. They organize the crap out of everything and also coordinate things like massive golden thrones from big deal movies being the centerpiece of our booth and attracting mucho traffic. Once again, them boys outdid themselves this year.

Closer to home, my digital posse annihilated the con this year in the most positive of ways. We put out over 60 pieces of content between news articles, videos, liveblogs, interviews and much more--for real, you can check it all out here at our hub page. For a team of ten on-site staffers plus less than half a dozen freelancers, that's pretty dang impressive to my mind.

Shout-outs to my writing crew of Jim Beard, TJ Dietsch, Tim Stevens and the CKT's own Kevin "MIA" Mahadeo as well as newly-minted west coast assistant editor Marc Strom. Kudos above and beyond as well to our tireless video team of Alex Kropinak and "Fast" Eddie Bursch who did insane hours at the show and produced some beautiful stuff. Applause to our photographers Judy Stephens and Ryan Russell who were snapping away all weekend; Judy's pic of the Avengers cast even landed in New York Magazine! And high fives to my editorial compatriots John Cerilli, Ryan Penagos and Harry Go, plus our lovable adopted PR queen Margarita Vaisman and comics' toughest on-site reporter, the incomparable "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels. Oh, and of course big thanks to that dreamy Tom Brennan, just because.

And what was I up to at the show? Well, here's the short version...

-My primary responsibility was to liveblog a solid half of the panels Marvel held. I was generally paired with Strommy, but once in awhile Harry subbed in, and for the Marvel Digital panel it was all three of us. In all cases, I took the role of color commentator (ala Jerry "The King" Lawler, whom I met at the show) while my counterpart did play-by-play.

-The sole exception to that set-up was one of my very favorites panels of the show, Marvel Writers United, featuring Brian Bendis, Mark Waid, Matt Fraction and Chris Claremont, for which I flew solo. It was a similar "let it all hang out and talk about writing, influences and comics" panel with Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer and Judd Winick back at SDCC 2004 that firmly cemented my decision to do this for a living to begin with, so revisiting that experience after a fashion was an awesome trip.

-Another huge treat for me was getting to watch and liveblog two episodes of the upcoming Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series. For real, guys, this show is going to be amazing. I don't say this lightly, but I really do believe this will be Marvel's Justice League Unlimited, and you won't find many bigger JLU fans than me. It just had the humor, the action, the larger sense of continuity and so many cameos, which is a lot of what I loved about JLU. As a bonus, I got to sit next to Chris Yost, who wrote both eps and gave me little easter eggs as we watched. On my other side, screaming like a 13-year-old girl at a Miley Cyrus concert, was Jim McCann, and seated behind us was Chris Cox, the voice of Hawkeye--so cool!

-Also really enjoyed in particular the Women of Marvel panel, where Kathryn Immonen, Marjorie Liu, Laura Martin, Christina Strain and the aforementioned Judy Stephens spoke eloquently and entertainingly on gender roles for both characters and creators in comics. It was a little strange to see Arune Singh moderating such a lineup, but my man was another SDCC MVP for sure and really came into his own on this show; I'm proud of him.

-I can't forget the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions showcase if only because seeing Stan Lee and Dan Slott share a stage was a joy to witness (Slott was still geeking out during our flight back to Jersey).

-Aside from panels (and there are many great ones I didn't list above), I also got to do some video hosting, which is always enjoyable for me. Fun fact: I acted all the way through college and would have double-majored in theater and English had a favorite professor of mine not smartened me up to the idea it was better to focus on one over the other, so I really like being able to get back in front of the camera on occasion. Reuniting my tag team with Mr. Daniels was a highlight, as was myself and Penagos attempting to push through the delirium of close-of-show Sunday insanity.

-I also helped facilitate for the second year in a row Todd Nauck sketching WWE Superstars, in this case the Bella Twins; there's already a video up on and we should be posting one of our own shortly. Todd is probably the legit nicest guy in comics and one of the people who really made my weekend along with his beautiful wife Dawn, and the Bellas turned out to be incredibly kind, gracious and enthusiastic, so it was great to link them up and I hope we get to do more with both parties in the future.

-Oh, another unique bit of fun for me was getting to interview the editor-in-chief of the Guinness Book of World Records, who was on hand to present Chris Claremont with a plaque commemorating X-Men #1 from 1991 as the best-selling comic of all-time. That one's not online yet either, but I'll link as soon as it is and you can witness me trying to scam my way into history by setting a world handshake record and learn the current record for most Mars bars eaten in one sitting.

So much more went down over the week, but I've already got an essay here, and some stuff is best left to me and the eyes and ears of San Diego. Thanks so much to everybody who made this probably my favorite con ever!

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