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The Return of our San Diego Report: I'll take Comic-con 2017 any time.

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We had such a great time at Comic-con this year, we want to tell the whole world about it, so I resurrected the con report! And since it took me a full two days, i shall never do it again! This year marked my 18th year of being in comics and while on the West Coast we realized it was Tom's 20th anniversary of debuting Coober Skeber Two at the show back when he was starting Highwater Books. This show grows and changes. I feel like it used to take forever to walk from the DC Comics booth to the Highwater Books and Drawn & Quarterly aisle back in the day, and we had many more publishing peers attending, that is all true. What used to be 1-2 aisles of small press is now just D+Q, Fantagraphics, and Giant Robot. And now we have corporate comics to the right and multinational book publishers to the left.

Comic-Con is not what it used to be, but that's not to say what the show is right now is bad. What amazes me about Comic-Con is that at its heart, it's still about comics. Think about it. How many people/organizations who are continually being courted by Hollywood or can boast that their business accounts for a $150 million impact on local revenue in a major US city still make time for comic books, much less independent comics?  Angouleme has a population of 40,000-San Diego has over a million. The con's power is no joke.

Name me another show or institution with those two points in mind that goes out of its way to invite Brigitte Findakly, Sarah Glidden, Mimi Pond, R. Sikoryak and Lewis Trondheim. Or where you know nearly the entire staff by name and they answer your emails in the middle of the show, stop by to see how you are doing, and just be all around good people? Not to mention picking up the cost of your freight? So thank you to the Comic-Con crew of Gary, Justin, Tommy, Jackie, Fae, Janet, Eddie, Sam, and everyone else. This show is such a multi-level beast, it's nice to see the people working behind the scenes are the same who ran it 20 years ago and are still doing a fine job of it, if not better.

Ok, enough of that schmaltz and more of this schmaltz. Hats off to R. Sikoryak who easily had the book of the show, The Unquotable Trump, all copies of which we sold out of in less than 48 hours, "forcing" us to sell his latest release Terms & Conditions. During his spotlight panel, moderated by longtime friend, the Beat's Heidi MacDonald, Comic-Con honored Bob with an Inkpot Award. Congrats, Bob—you deserve it! Look for The Unquotable Trump in stores this October. And as my son Woody said when I got my inkpot "you now get to go to every Comic-Con UNTIL YOU DIE."

Coming all the way from Montpelier, France to join us were Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim, debuting their September 2017 book Poppies of Iraq, Brigitte's memoir of growing up in Mosul, illustrated by Lewis. This was an emotional trip for Brigitte, as she was able to see her childhood best friend Nadwa. (Read the book and you'll understand!) Lewis and Brigitte were on many panels, and special thanks to Marketing Director Julia Pohl-Miranda who had to step in to translate for Brigitte when the original translator was caught translating via Altavista on her Nokia text and talk when her middle school french didn't suffice. Also thanks to Karen Green who moderated their spotlight panel. Also along for the ride was their son Pierre, so check out these adorable vids of the trip. There were supposed to be many more but Pierre disappeared when the plane touched down. Off to play videogames, said Lewis.

Next up is Mimi Pond who debuted her new graphic novel out this month, The Customer is Always Wrong, with advance praise from many trade outlets as well as luminaries such as as Roz Chast and Peggy Orenstein. Does Mimi always travel with a tomato to her signings? No, that tomato is fresh from the garden of Mary Fleener as a gift to Mimi. Gotta love it. Mimi is on tour this month and this Fall, don't miss it!

Last but not least attending the con on behalf of D+Q was Sarah Glidden of Rolling Blackouts, capping off a year of praise for the book. It's always fun to witness an author's first time at Comic-con and this time was no different. Let's just say that Sarah was over the moon. (Pretty corny, feel free to throw a tomato at me.)

Ahh and the Eisners! It was moving to see Gilbert Hernandez inducted into the Hall of Fame along with his brother Jaime. Gilbert was inducted first and had the crowd laughing when he proclaimed he was "much too young" for this honor.

Last year's D+Q panel had Lynda, Kate, Chester and Lisa on it to a SRO audience, so let's just say I was a bit nervous that no one would show up to hear just Tom and me gab about our forthcoming comics. Luckily, I was very wrong! 50 people showed up to hear a bickering married couple talk about comics. I guess we did a pretty good job since the convention staff who were there the *entire day* said it was interesting. Thanks Mimi for the photo, and thanks to the D+Q marketing crew for rolling out a week's worth of announcements for the show: Lisa Hanawalt! Jason Lutes! Julie Doucet! Aline Kominsky-Crumb! Our complete spring 2018 catalog!

On that note, a heartfelt shout-out to the D+Q fans who make attending Comic-Con so rewarding by sincerely telling our staff and authors how much our books mean to them, and attending all of the D+Q panels, and how much it means that we still attend the show. Here we have some diehard Lisa Hanawalt fans.

And here we have some Michael DeForge fans. I can guarantee that neither Lisa nor Michael's fans were there 18 years ago!

I think San Diego may be the one show where you get the biggest cross section of the industry. Where else in one show do I get to see Kevin Huizenga....

My old buddy from my DC days, Marvel EIC Axel Alonso... (you can't tell how angry Axel is in this photo because it took Tom ten minutes to "nail" this shot. Whatta pro!)

Matt Groening who buys all of our new releases, takes his time to talk to each cartoonist at the booth, and is basically that breath of fresh air you need on a late saturday afternoon, fourth day of the show! And...

Jeffrey Brown who comes by to meet Lewis and Brigitte but then spots a fan wearing a Clumsy shirt, so he stops to take a photo!

But I think what may be most remarkable to me, and perhaps quite unbelievable to a Peggy Burns in the year 2000 and early oughts, when Comic-Con had porn tents and a culture of sexy-women-in-bikinis-being-photographed-by-men so, so, so prevalent, heck, that I really never thought I would see the day that a professional woman in comics wouldn't leave the convention hall feeling very gross. And, even seven years ago I witnessed this. (make sure your audio is on!) But this year was noticeably different. From the first moment you open the program, you see the above.

Or for cosplay you see this.

Or Mariko Tamaki stops by to give some love to Jillian.

Or your daughter gets to meet her idol Shannon Watters of the Lumberjanes.

So the one non-D+Q event I did attend this week was the Roxane Gay panel who spoke to a SRO crowd of mostly women. She talked about how much fun she was having at Comic-con! It's easy to talk about how Comic-con has changed. And while I would like for the show to be more hospitable for small presses, or be open to the casual fan off the street, if I have to choose between a show that supports female creators, and where more women feel a bit more comfortable and welcomed there, and I get to see feminist icons (Did I mention that Abby and Ilana from Broad City were there?!) or a convention with porn booths and heavy with cheese cake culture, I'll take the present Comic-Con, thank you very much. And I say that with Heavy Metal as our neighbor, who actually has toned down the sexy, people! But perhaps they amped up the fratty a bit this year. You win some, you lose some.

And now for some staff outtakes....

Now what is Highwater? Coober Skeber One? It's a long, long story. And Tom will happily tell it every time.

But what do you when a old Highwater buddy needs a place to crash? Devlin/Crane 2.0. Tom would literally give his shirt off his back to this fine fellow, Mr. Crane.

I made Jaime move to the back of this shot, as he did not have the required dresscode. Jacq, Carol, Gilbert and RJ look amazing... Jaime you gotta get with the program. (Look at Tom holding court in the background. "Now what I would do with Kramer's, Sammy, is...")

Another great Eisner moment was witnessing Hollis Crane get emotional over meeting Sergio Aragones. That is some solid parenting, Jordan.

ABED!!!!!

But not even Abed could hold the attention of a certain ten-year-old. Thanks for stepping in, Sruti.

OK back to the show, now that is some serious Julia Pohl-Miranda cosplay. Or, Is Julia cosplaying the NYPL librarian Amie Wright? We will never know!

Tom finally learns some french. Merci, Brigitte.

No biggie. Just try to keep up with Mimi Pond! You can't!

Not only is he Jaime Hernandez, but apparently he cracks really funny jokes.

The French sure do eat their pizza in a funny manner.

So one of the things you hear about Comic-con is that you can't possibly get a booth in a prime area on the floor anymore, that it takes years of being on a waiting list. But if that is true then how did....

Hey, this reminds me, I'm hoping with the success of Wonder Woman, we get a She-Hulk movie. That I would be into!

This is Lewis and Sruti doing the "Trondheim face."

Perhaps Brigitte and Lewis have been in the good ole US of A a little too long.

Woody and Kimba patiently waiting for their tacos. Or as the old saying goes "Patience is the head of fine white tiger cup wristwatch Charlie Brown cosplay red-straw 42!"

OK, so somehow the pin phenomenon passed us by. But we're making plans for SDCC 2018, yes we are.

And gosh, Fran was there! This is the Fran-club.

Two of my favorite people!

Abe reassuring us that we are just as good company as Hollywood mucky-mucks. {Abe would never say "mucky-mucks", I'm sure.}

Sruti, trying her best not to say "reclaiming my time" to Tom and Abe as they talk about Ditko.


Mimi and Karen went out to lunch, man i wish I could have been a fly on the wall. Or just having lunch. Instead. Of. Three. Almonds. And. An. Apple. While. Standing. With. My. Back. To. The. Front. Of. The. Booth.

This must have been Thursday while we still had the Unquotable Trump in stock! Go Bob!

And lastly, I love a good, wildly uncomfortable, cosplay! We love you Vanellope!