San Diego Comic Con – Preview Night

Today is the official start of San Diego Comic-Con International. For those people who bought four-day passes, they were allowed entry to Preview Night yesterday. For me, it meant helping Paul Horn, creator of Cool Jerk, set up his table at the Small Press Area.

Set up at the Convention Center started around 10 a.m.,perhaps even earlier for the bigger displays. For us, getting in at 3 p.m. (three hours before the start of preview night) to set up the booth still wasn't early enough. One area of the parking garage immediately under the convention center was already sold out and lines for preregistered attendees were forming loops outside.

Inside, exhibitors, artists and staff had lines of their own but luckily in comfort of the air-conditioned center. Convention staff were cheery but this is also the first day (actually the pre-first day).

Once inside, there was a still before the rush of people. Exhibitors big and small were setting up. Cranes were used to hang banners, gigantic walk-through snakes were assembled, flat screen televisions were wheeled in, gaming systems were tested. I'm still amazed at the amount of work that is put into the event.

Setting up a small press booth was much easier in comparision. It took about 30 minutes to lay out the books and pins, tape up the banner to the front of the table and build the "pipe tree" that displays the t-shirts. But some surrounding tables were still empty.

For many, preview night is the time when the attendees are still scoping what's available and not committing to any purchases; there are still four days ahead. But Top Shelf was already moving merchandise. James Kochalka was signing books alongside Jeffrey Brown. Across the aisle, Neal Adams was in a hub-bub of activity.

For the first time, to my knowledge, Peanuts has their own display with Snoopy wandering the aisles posing for the impromptu fan photo.

Back at the booth, Paul was speaking to a lot of old fans and making new ones. To his immediate left was Phil Foglio.

Yes, Phil Foglio. People stopped by, dropping $42 to buy his two newest books. But why is he at the small press area? To get new readers who wouldn't normally stop by the larger booths, he explained.

Phil is nice guy and his assortment of books and the amount of people that immediately know his work is a bit intimidating. But there are still four days left and maybe some secrets can be culled from him.

Four hours passed and only one pirate was seen. Amount spent? Only $4 for a collection of mini comics called 'the creeps' by Britton Walters. I'll be bringing my own food tomorrow. I can't justify spending $3 on a cup of soda.