Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 27, 2009
I flew out to San Diego to show my face, meet with my current publishers and hopefully return with one more assignment than when I arrived. Now that I am home, it looks like two potential projects cropped up so that’s not too bad.
The convention was huge so of course I could not possibly spend time with everyone I wanted to see. Nor could I even try and attend many of the panels that caught my fancy.
So, I have to evaluate the experience on what I did manage to do. I did check in with all my current publishers, including several considering project pitches. Professionally, that worked just as planned.
Showing my face at numerous booths and throughout Artists Alley also helped keep me in circulation since out of sight is very much out of mind these days. A fair percentage of people thought I was still at DC, so it was really important to let one and all know I am a freelancer.
On the other hand, many referred to this page and Twitter so at least some people know what I’m up to.
Socially, the con was terrific. I got to renew friendships that had lapsed from time and distance. It was great seeing people I gave their breaks to and those I shared offices with. The time spent with them was great and appreciated.
As a place to do business, the key is to arrive with appointments but to leave flexibility in the schedule to add stuff as it comes up. The notion of trying to drum stuff up cold is an old-fashioned one and totally wrong for the crazed staffers working the show. This is such a bizarre blend of trade and consumer show that everyone is practically doing twice the work so the stress is higher.
San Diego itself is a great town and walking to and from the show, and for meals. The sun was strong but first thing in the morning and later at night, it was terrific.
I’m very glad I went but will have to evaluate next winter if it makes sense to return next year or wait.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 26, 2009
Saturday was of course the most crowded day of the con. The place was packed and getting around was harder and slower which meant I or my meeting partner wound up late for appointments throughout the day. I also found myself moving slower as the marathon was catching up to me. My feet ache and the distance from the hotel to the convention center now seems twice as long.
Being the day of the masquerade there were more hall costumes than before and the quality of workmanship and creativity was most unusual. Two highlights were groups: dead-on Disney Princesses and from 1967: Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, Green Hornet and Kato.
I had a somewhat more relaxed schedule today but still had numerous meetings beginning with finally sitting down and chatting with Famous Monsters of Filmland’s Phil Kim for the first time. We’ve been dealing by phone and e-mail since the fall of 2007 so this was a treat and it’s nice to see his business planning moving ahead after many delays.
Other meetings included chatting with freelancers and some time with Nick Barrucci to make certain things remained on track for the Howard Chaykin retrospective book. Similarly, I met with Dan DiDio and Ian Sattler at DC’s booth to continue discussing my project which was not announced this weekend. I had a lovely brunch with Scott Agostoni, a William Morris agent who handles numerous comics creators and companies. He’s been instrumental in several of the projects I’ve worked on for Avalanche Comics Entertainment but like with Phil, never met him in person.
And just when I thought I was done with my meetings, I wound up setting up one final coffee for Sunday with someone to discuss a project I am doing some consulting for.
I walked out of the convention center around 5 and was struck by the realization I was done with this aspect of the trip. It was wonderful while it lasted, but I was to finish my time in San Diego away from the con. That started with some time back at the hotel room where my roommate and I chatted and then I went off to a lovely meal with Mark Verheiden and his wife and some others. Mark, Sonia, and I used to have a traditional meal in San Diego but my not being here since 2001 sort of ended that but we rousingly returned to that tonight with a lovely Italian dinner.
Given the coffee meeting in the morning, I got the vast majority of the packing done so Sunday should work smoothly before I return home.
Final thoughts when I’m back in Connecticut.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 25, 2009
At the convention, I was involved a mere one panel, which happened to occur on my birthday and brought me the coolest present ever.
Straight from ComicMix, here are the details:
The third annual presentation of the International Association of Media-Tie-in Writers (IAMTW) “Scribe” awards just went down at San Diego Comic-Con, honoring the best and the brightest in the world of property tie-ins. Awards are voted on by members of the organization.
“These writers, highly prized by fans, receive few reviews and little acclaim, and the Scribe Awards are designed as a step toward properly honoring them,” said Max Allan Collins, president of IAMTW, in a press release.
I know this is what you’re waiting for, so here’s the list of winners:
Best General Fiction Original – CSI: Headhunters by Greg Cox
Best General Fiction Adapted – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Rollins
Best Speculative Fiction Original – Star Trek Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers by James Swallow
Best Speculative Fiction Adapted – Hellboy II: The Golden Army by Robert Greenberger
Best Young Adult Original – Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar by Steven Savile
Best Young Adult Adapted – Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D by Tracey West
The Grandmaster Award – Keith R.A. DeCandido
According to those in attendance, the look of total shock on my face was priceless. Given the other nomoinees, I was so certainly my first straight novelization had no chance of winning. I was totally unprepared to hear my name and was stunned.
I am deeply honored by being recognized by my peers and thank former DH Books editor Rob Simpson for giving me the opportunity to write this book.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 24, 2009
The last time I was at the San Diego Comic-Con was in 2001 when I was working at Marvel and was responsible for the company’s presence at the con. This was my first visit since and my first strictly as a civilian since 1978.
People warned me that the show had grown exponentially in the last eight years and I knew enough from the growing mass media coverage in that time to be prepared for the sheer magnitude of the show. As previously noted, I was somewhat concerned about being a very small fish in this multimedia pond.
Having completed day one, I can safely say that I survived and was not bowled over. There are throngs of people everywhere and what has changed the most seems to be the barriers that now exist between the fans and the major exhibitors. The movie studios and publishers want to drive attendance and therefore bring in big name talent or have special giveaways. At Paramount you can a get tribble or at Warner Bros. you can receive their oversized reusable bag and at DC there are, of course, Black Lantern rings. To get them, or to shake hands with talent, you now have to stand on line and therefore lines snaking out of the booths and into the aisles where the rest of the people are traveling, have snarled things worse than before.
The barriers prevent anything more than fleeting contact with the people fans have come to see. In the earlier generations, professionals and fans mixed freely in the aisles to chat and sign a few comics or just shake hands. Now, it’s a mad crush and the pros come and go on tight schedules since they leave signing at one booth to return to sign at artists’ alley or some other publisher’s booth. Fans also seem to be spending more and more time on line for panels, for giveaways, for shuttle buses, etc. Comic-Con has really come to rival Disneyland with the length and duration of these lines. I foresee the day when VIP or Priority passes will be sold that will circumvent these lines creating a new tier of fan.
Some of these lines reached absurd proportions such as the 1200 tweens who camped out for upwards of 30 hours to make certain they attended the Twilight panel today. 30 hours just chilling on the hard cement outside Hall H as opposed to actually attending the rest of the con.
While there are over 100,000 people here, in theory, it never felt like it thanks to tens of thousands of fans attending programming, leaving the exhibitors’ hall mostly manageable. It also, though, robbed the show of some energy. There wasn’t the electric feel I had in the past and no one or two things were being talked about in the aisles or bathrooms or shuttle bus.
My day was a good one with productive meetings, and better yet, seeing many old, familiar faces. I won’t name drop here but it was terrific seeing old DC colleagues, writers, artists, colorists, editors, marketing folk, etc. While a small fish, I was certainly a well recognized one with many either offering me in-person condolences or early birthday greetings.
The nightlife at cons has trended away from large groups of people going out for meals. The con has added additional evening programming while many publishers or companies have taken to throwing invitation-only soirées. I attended Thursday’s IDW party and the moment I stepped off the elevator I realized my mistake. The line to get in was long and getting longer and once you entered the sixth floor terrace, you were bombarded by too loud music from a DJ and the place was jam-packed. I managed to say hi to a few people but after thirty minutes retreated because this wasn’t a pleasant experience. As I walked out of the hotel, the line to enter remained dozens deep meaning it was only going to get more packed. As it was, once I returned to the room, there were 100 e-mails awaiting me and some work that couldn’t wait.
Friday will be my busiest day with meetings from 9 a.m. and lasting all day long.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 22, 2009
The benefit of wrapping the most immediate work on Monday allowed me a relatively stress-free Tuesday to prep for the con. As a result, the day passed in a nice way. It was rainy and cool for July, perfect for taking Starbucks up on their offer of a free pastrie. Deb and I met our friend Heather in town where the women talked knitting and I sipped and nodded a lot.
Back home, I wrote up my Tomb of Dracula article for Marvel Spotlight and then watched Green Lantern: First Flight to review for ComicMix (look for it this weekend). I responded to many e-mails, took care of printing documents I needed for the trip and worked my way down the checklist.
By 4:30, I was pretty much packed and settled but various phone calls and dinner prep meant I wound up 40 pages shy of finishing a book, too few pages to bother schlepping but that’s about the only undone thing which is fine by me.
I had trouble sleeping, from anticipation I guess, so was up before the alarm and on the road by 6:10 this morning. Fortunately, every aspect of the trip from leaving the house to checking in at the hotel went flawlessly. No traffic, not too long a line anywhere, flights arrived on time, etc.
Now I’m settled in the hotel, looking forward to meeting my roommate later when he arrives. Shortly, I’ll head over to the con where I will no doubt stand on a very long line to get my page and then head in for preview night. Con reports as report-worthy things come up.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 19, 2009
It’s been some time since the early gangland days was captured on film and when I heard Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, and director Michael Mann were teaming up to tackle the John Dillinger story, I was excited. The trailers made it look like they captured the look and feel of the Depression and I was ready.
What I never expected to be was bored and fidgety during a 2.5 hour gangster movie.
By the time the credits for Public Enemies rolled, I knew a smidgen more about the characters than I did walking into the theater. Despite about two sentences on his upbringing, there’s nothing to explain why Dillinger became a bank robber and why he thought this was a lifestyle that would never change despite everyone telling him it was already over.
Similarly, we have no clue as to what made Melvin Purvis tick. He’s dedicated with a streak of humanity and Deb noticed he was wearing a wedding band but his family life and the toll his job took on them was never once mentioned.
As a result, the movie movies at varying speeds and does a rather poor job of making you care for either the hunter or the prey. About the only one you feel anything for is Billie Frechette, played by the French actress Marion Cotillard.
Mann’s hyperkinetic editing and filmmaking in the opening minutes left you confused as to who was doing what to whom, something repeated throughout the film. He never let the camera linger on the moment, letting the editor do the work for him. When he does slow down, the characters breath and its nice to watch the budding relationship between bank robber and coat check girl.
A theme that should have been played up was that as Purvis was taking down the colorful robbers of the day, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, etc. it marked the end of an era as the post-Capone mob, now led by his lieutenant Frank Nitti got smarted and built a nationwide criminal network that men like Dillinger threatened. There’s one scene that hints at something that could have been a more powerful story.
Instead, Mann made his movie much as Dillinger seems to have led his life, never planning ahead, never making specific goals and trying to achieve them. Dillinger lurched from robbery to safe house to robbery, never sheltering his cash, never figuring out what to do with it all and when to retire. Mann’s film cuts between Purvis and Dillinger but the contrast between them should have been sharper.
All in all, it’s a noble misfire that wastes a very strong and deep cast.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 17, 2009
27, 761 lines. That’s the number of Excel lines once everything was converted from MS Word and poured into the spreadsheet.
It’s taken me about six weeks to get this point but I am not at all done. Now I have to go through this line by line and clean it up, deleting duplicates, making sure everything is properly tagged, etc. Then I can begin the final phase which will become my roadmap for the foreseeable future.
The sheer amount of repetitive work has been somewhat mind numbing and has caused some aches and pains I hope will now fade with time.
Be assured, that’s not all I’ve done during this period. After all, my stuff continues to show up Westfieldcomics.com and I just posted three reviews to run on ComicMix over the next week. I also moved things along on the Howard Chaykin Retrospective so that was good, too. Best, I completed my Bat-essay for a project and delivered it nearly two weeks early. I have a piece for Marvel Spotlight I hope to finish in the next few days if Gene Colan becomes available and then I’m in great shape to leave town for the big San Diego convention.
I have to say, I’m used to being a medium-sized fish at many of these shows but San Diego will reduce me to the ranks of a guppy. As it is, they chose to use me on programming once, and that’s because I’m a Scribe nominee. Meantime, I’ve filled my calendar with appointments for existing and potential future work so I’m maximizing my time out west. Having said that, I’ve tried to block time to actually walk the floor. Much as I love the schedule of panels and presentations, I doubt I’ll make it to more than a handful, if that.
It’s been a long while since I felt daunted by a forthcoming convention appearance.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 14, 2009
I meant to post yesterday, but for whatever reason, I seemingly got slammed with extra, unexpected stuff all requiring immediate attention.
OK, to wrap up the con, we closed the show with Mystery Trekkie Theater. Our opening skit has been getting longer and more elaborate at the request of the committee. This year, we opened with a video of Mike Friedman floating in the hotel pool, fully dressed. Yes, our skit was a take on Sunset Boulevard. The wonderful Alan Chafin was William Shatner in the part of Nora Desmond. Mike was the writer sucked into his mad world to help bring the 900 page script of Star Trek: The Return of James Kirk – The Musical. I was Max and had something like six lines and still muffed one.
The skit ended with us mocking Alan and him getting mad at us. Just when he reached a fever pitch it appeared he was having a heart attack and collapsed. We crowded him and Peter yelled, “Is there a doctor in the house?” Out from behind the curtain stepped Robert Picardo, uttering the immortal, “Please state the nature of the medical emergency.” The audience went nuts.
We then skewered the Voyager episode “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy” and for the first time we worked behind the video screen and it worked very well. We’ve been doing this 1992 and frankly it was probably not our best job of mocking but the audience was pleased and the con ended on a positive note.
The drive home was lovely and uneventful Monday morning. Once we got the house squared away, I returned to my desk and since then have been trying to work through the last phase of the research project so I can begin sorting my data. Some work had to be done on the Howard Chaykin Retrospective yesterday that couldn’t wait. Then I got an urgent e-mail about the project that appeared out of the blue last week. They loved the outline I submitted on Thursday and they now want a sample chapter this week while the current Microsoft project has heated up, requiring my attention. I’m also supposed to speak today with the editor of my media tie-in comic and hopefully he has good news from the licensee.
With the San Diego convention next week, I’m feeling the pressure to produce.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 12, 2009
Shore Leave is like visiting old friends and family. This is the 31st con and I’ve been to all but four of them. The show remains a writer friendly haven and the authors adore getting together and trading stories, shots, and friendly banter. As a result of being around so long, the show has also gained a deserved reputation for being a great experience for the guests and word travels in Hollywood circles, so when invited, just about everyone says yes.
The con has become home to several traditions. In a little while, Peter David, Mike Friedman and I will take the stage to perform Mystery Trekkie Theater, an ongoing skewering of Trek since 1992.
On Friday, a new tradition seems to have been born. The Roast of Keith DeCandido was rude, crude and very, very funny. We laughed ourselves silly listening to our peers insult us and then mock Keith mercilessly. As roast master, I did the introduction, hurling jibes at everyone throughout the night but as we got a little looser, I admit to flubbing my readings by laughing at some of the jokes I was delivering (image me as Harvey Korman and you’ll understand). I got some very nice compliments afterwards so I guess it went well. The video clips were hysterical and Kirsten Beyer, home in Los Angeles given her ninth month of pregnancy, sent in a clip that stole the show. Best, we raised about $1300 for the American Red Cross in Robbie’s name.
And by the end of the Meet the Authors party later that evening, David Mack, our ringleader, was already planning next year. By Saturday night, as we shut down the bar, things had changed but started to coalesce. So, once more it looks like I will conduct the roast of another author.
My programming beyond that was the standard stuff: Saturday I blathered on about my life and my career, taking up more time than usual on that and had to be ruthless as to which movie trailers to show. Sunday morning was the Bob and Howie Show which has a loyal following and we had fun as usual. My other programming was some panels which went fine but for a change, I did not judge the masquerade. It was a smaller than usual collection, a mere 19 entries, but with one or two exceptions they were all amazing and judging the best of the best would have been tough.
I even managed to get some work in on Friday afternoon along with having a few meetings here with people on some percolating projects so it was more productive than usual.
Deb and I delighted at watching the Boogie Knights, with Kate. They took requests for a change and as fate would have it, the first song picked was one I requested and featured, who else, my daughter. What a treat!
Also, 17 people signed up to participate in the Memorial Poker Tournament, including long-time pals Mike W. Barr, Glenn Hauman and retailer Herb McCullough. Also playing and making it to the final table was Dollhouse‘s Miracle Laurie. Jack won the night and deservedly so. At the final table, he had a moment of silence for Robbie and apparently they all told Robbie stories throughout the night so that was pretty terrific.
Posted by Bob Greenberger on July 7, 2009
The rule of thumb is that you spend 80% of your time chasing freelance work while the other 20% is actually doing the work. Sometimes that seems to be the case and then you have entire weeks where all you do is the work.
Today, though. Proved a very interesting and productive day.
I set out to continue my data crunching and managed a substantive amount, more than expected so am ahead of my goal for the week. During the day, while working on the files, the following things occurred:
- Got a call from an editor confirming an offer for a project that came up yesterday. Of course, it has to be fit in between now and Labor Day atop my existing work but the word count is low, the pay is good and the subject matter is fairly easy. Have a conference call tomorrow to get things rolling.
- Exchanged e-mails with someone, leading to conference call, also tomorrow, regarding a project I may be involved packaging.
- Moved the latest Microsoft comic strip project to the next phase.
- Received cover jpegs from DC for my two Batman books coming from Stone Arch, one in the fall, the next due in the Spring.
- Was informed by an editor that a media tie-in pitch I submitted on June 22 is off with the licensee for approval.
- And was formally invited to be a guest at next February’s Farpoint convention.
I wish I had more days like this.