Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My favorite comic book convention story - Heroes Con 2008 (featuring Dan DiDio!)

Let me start off by saying that I think that for the most part, comic conventions are great.  They're a vital cog in the machine that connects fans to creators and companies to the people who keep them running - retailers and readers.  Teddy and the Yeti, even though it still occupies such a small area of comic-dom, would be, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent without conventions.  So I recognize their importance.

There are certain aspects of conventions that I'm not fond of or just don't get excited for, and on the top of that list is panels that big companies like Marvel and DC hold at nearly every stop.  I've gone to a few and they all tend to be the same thing - a sales pitch from the company with no "real" information being passed along to fans.  Most convention panels are structured like this: "Hi everyone, welcome to the panel with important people from the company.  Here's some big news - next year, the Fantastic Four will battle...DR. DOOM!!!"

To each his own, of course - if you're up for it, then good for you.  But I don't see the point in sitting though a 90-minute advertisement for stuff I already buy.  Maybe people like q&a panels where they can talk with creators...I dunno.

Anyway, in 2008 I attended the Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I sat in on the DC panel that was taking place on the Saturday of the show.  There was a lot of fluff, of course, mostly centering around recently completed "Sinestro Corps War" storyline and looking forward to what would become the 2009/10 event, "Blackest Night".  In attendance were many creators and staff members, notably Executive Editor Dan DiDio.

After announcements were made, Didio started to ask questions of the fans in attendance, asking what people thought of certain characters and storylines.  The conversation worked its way to the Batman family of characters (as they often do), and Didio began to ask people in the audience about the various iterations of Robin.  "Who's your favorite Robin?", he'd ask.  "Who here likes the book?"

To the second question, a girl sitting about 25 rows deep raised her hand, and Didio called on her.  "What do you like about the book?", he asked her.  The girl stood up and began her answer: "Well, I'm really sad that Chuck Dixon isn't writing the --"

The rest of her answer, the part that wasn't cut off, couldn't be heard, because as soon as he heard the name "Chuck Dixon" pass over the girl's lips, Didio shouted "BraRaRaRaRa...don't worry about it" into his microphone, and quickly went to the next person with his/her hand raised.

I was pretty stunned by all this.  To give a little bit of context here, Dixon, an industry veteran who might be best known for his extended runs on Batman-related titles, had been rather unceremoniously fired from DC, including as the head writer on the Robin title, just a few weeks prior to this convention; it's still not widely known why he was let go.

The rest of the panel went off pretty smoothly: we all got to vote on things like "who's happy to see Hal Jordan back?!" and were able to ask questions ourselves, like "what character do you like to draw the MOST?"  If I have a regret from attending this panel, it's that I didn't use the question and answer session to call attention to this snub once more.  "A little while ago", I should have said, "a girl mentioned the name of a creator who was recently fired from your company, and your response was 'BraRaRaRaRa!'  Do you think that was an appropriate answer to someone who was expressing her opinion - which you in turn solicited in the first place?"  Of course, I chickened out and kept my mouth shut, so I'll never know how something like that would have gone over.

Probably not well.

In any case, anyone who's ever attended a comic convention invariably comes away with some good stories - that's the best one I've got, at least for now.

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