Saturday 6 August 2011


SAN DIEGO has always been the Mecca for comic-book publishers and their fans.

Every year, thousands upon thousands make the pilgrimage towards the Pacific Coastal city – the eighth largest in the United States – which is immediately adjacent to the Mexican border.

Your entry into the San Diego Convention Center gives you a tablet which enables you to climb this Mount Sinai of the media world: a quasi-religious domain where every comic-book company will bring their biggest names and biggest products to “sell” to a loyal congregation.

The religious metaphors are apt … because like many religions, comic-book fans have varying degrees and choices of faith (I remember many years ago as a genre-writer, I publicised my ‘illogical’ dislike of ‘Trekkers’, and received the Starfleet equivalent of a Fatwa. For years, I expected a red-shirted assassin to emerge from the darkness to stab me with a pair of ‘Spock’ ears … but it never came!).

Like mass religion, the congregations queuing to see the comic-book messiahs are legion.

Even as a small independent publisher pushing to preach their word, it is difficult to concentrate on the business at hand without being mesmerized by the parting sea of artists and personalities from the world of comics, television and film.

You’re dazed. You’re confused. You’re talent struck.

When you emerge from the venue after the first evening, you’ll believe that Edward James Olmos is driving your taxi; Ryan Reynolds is the bus-boy; Natalie Portman is the desk-clerk at your hotel; and Carrie Fisher is in the room next door (Oh, Carrie Fisher is in the room next door!).

Now, you may notice comic-book writer Robert Kirkman or artist Adam Hughes don’t merit a show in this dream-like daze.

That’s because San Diego DOES concentrate all its preaching power on the Hollywood bible.

This year, critics of SDCC have accused the organizers of neglecting its comic-book publishing origins.

I reckon this isn’t a valid argument because I don’t know one comic-book publisher who wouldn’t sell their product for film or television adaptation.

Rough Cut Comics’ biggest success was The Surgeon, launched in the wake of a big-screen treatment with Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi. As the film project slipped into ‘development hell’ sales of this monthly title fell sharply. That was no coincidence.

Most of the biggest comic-book booths at San Diego are from publishers whose titles have been licensed by film or television producers.

Last year, Robert Kirkman and Image ruled the roost – not for the huge success of their Walking Dead series, but for Frank Darabont’s television adaptation. This year, Marvel went big-guns on Joss Whedon’s big-screen adaptation of The Avengers (due to released on the big-screen in 2012).

Both these comic-book titles are pushed further into the heavens while their big/small screen equivalents are on view on TV and cinema screens.

Who know what interest Rough Cut Comics’ newest title Rose Black: Demon Seed will get from next year’s San Diego?

The option on the original book recently expired, but some interest followed on from Jean Claude Van Damme (Whaaaaa!) … as well as representatives of the Italian model actress Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Prince of Persia) who figured she’d be a shoe-in for the title character.

When all’s signed, sealed and delivered, all roads eventually lead to San Diego. There are a myriad of great comic-book festivals in the UK and the States, but when you’re book finally reaches Tinsel Town, there’s only ONE pulpit you’ll be preaching from … and you won’t be reading that in Sci-fi Now.

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