We're back from San Diego and our annual trek to Comic-Con. Crowd control was better this year, though none of us even tried to get into Hall H. We heard it wasn't crowded if you went late in the day, but the partying campers discouraged us.
The Con was scattered all over the place this year. If you got a ticket at a panel you had to hike to the Hyatt to fulfill it–a hotel so far away they ran a shuttle to it. The blood drive was there as well, and we wouldn't be surprised if donations were down this year because of the distance. We gave at home instead of making the trek.
Members covered the whole exhibit hall and everything outside it, including some of our favorite annual panels, like The Sergio & Mark Show, Quick Draw, Oddball Comics and the ultimate panel, Starship Smackdown. It was great to get an update on what's happening with favorite characters at the Hermes panel on The Phantom and the ERB, Inc panel (who doesn't love Tarzan–can't wait for the movie being filmed in England right now). The panel on Don Rosa was a highlight for this scribe because her favorite comic books are his and Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge comics.
This year there was no "must have" swag like there has been in the past. Many people are writing that this was a ho-hum year for Comic-Con and speculating that it is collapsing under its own weight. It is huge, bigger than one person could possibly cover in four days. San Diego wants to keep it, though it's hard to see why after reading the information on the convention center site. It's the biggest one held there; the #2 convention (cancer researchers) attracts 17,000 attendees compared to 130,000 Comic-Conners. For a once-a-year event, the city is going to double the center's size and build on the grassy area by the water. Seems insane to us.
For GHPALS, the Con will continue all year as we came away with 92 free books, courtesy of the various publishers that exhibited: Penguin, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Del Rey and we apologize if we left anyone off this list. Sherrilyn Kenyon had her own booth and gave away copies of her books as well as a great bag. Here's a photo of some of them.
One might think these books were all science fiction or fantasy or some combination, but they aren't. Besides the expected Star Wars, vampires, werewolves and zombie books, there's a graphic novel of The Warren Commission Report, Physics for Rock Stars and even a book about being a Navy Seal. Several are aimed at children or young adults (what a huge market that has proven to be), but there's also erotica!
The PALS have decided we need to thank these publishers for giving us a year's worth of reading, so we decided to write a blog post about every single book we received even if it's just to say no one wanted to read it (though we would explain why no one was interested.)
We also want to thank the publishers for the great way they handled crowds at their booths. Lines were organized and moved quickly. They had spotters who prevented line jumping. Their staff was unfailingly polite and good humored, kind and controlled, even during the last hour on the last day. We look forward to seeing them next year.
Update 10 August 2014: Now that we've sorted them out we've discovered duplicates, so we changed the title from 92 books to 85. We did a blind drawing: PALs reached into a bag and picked a book out. Since they couldn't see what they chose until it came out of the bag, there were a few surprises. We agreed there would be no swapping, so this will be an interesting experiment.