Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 Comic-Con: How It's Gonna Go Down

Comic-Con International returns to San Diego in two weeks, and my Internet haunts are roiling up to a frenzy. I'll be there Thursday afternoon (July 24) and Friday (July 25), attend Friday night's Eisner Awards where my Last Mechanical Monster is nominated for Best Digital Comic, then jet back to the Bay Area for another commitment first thing Saturday.

I'm looking forward to seeing friends, catching panels, maybe even buying some comics or art. I'll be supporting the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum (and new parents Shaenon Garrity and Andrew Farago, huzzah!) by sketching commissions at their table Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. I may also get to talk a little business.

Based on past cons, I expect to have warm reunions with 10 or 15 people I haven't seen in a while, meet 5 or 10 people who until now have only been Web bylines or e-mail addresses to me, and be introduced to at least one venerable comics veteran who will leave me tongue-tied until the next day, when I'll remember a project of theirs I loved and always wanted to ask them about but by then it'll be too late.

What I won't be doing is expecting to win an Eisner Award.

That's not false modesty. I have a very good record for predicting the outcome of awards for which I'm nominated, calculating the odds with the cold, steely, unsentimental squint of an insurance actuary. Here's how it's gonna go down:

Besides me, the Best Digital Comic nominees are As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman, Failing Sky by Dax Tran-Caffee, High Crimes by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa, and The Oatmeal by Matthew Inman.

The Oatmeal gets 6 or 7 million visitors per month. More people visit The Oatmeal each day than will see my webcomic in a year. Everybody on Facebook has read an Oatmeal comic, probably the one about the dog. It's a simple numbers game. Even if only a tiny percentage of Oatmeal fans are Eisner voters, a tiny percentage of a very big number is still a big number. The Oatmeal is going to win.

However, I see a sliver of an opportunity here, in that I sense The Oatmeal isn't universally respected and beloved among comics professionals. The public, sure, by the millions. But Eisner votes are cast by pros, and I've seen enough critical posts and articles, including some arguing that The Oatmeal doesn't meet the Eisners' own eligibility criteria (primarily that it be a long-form comic that tells a continuing story rather than individual gags), that I've deluded myself into thinking I may have a chance.

Making no quality or value judgments about the other nominees, with which I'm not deeply familiar, if The Oatmeal doesn't win I think I have a shot.

However, The Oatmeal is totally going to win.

But it might not.

Saying "the nomination's the honor" is usually a platitude, but in this case I'm sincere. The nomination is fantastic! What it means to me is that six experts in comics and literature judged that my Last Mechanical Monster was one of the five best webcomics they saw among the candidates in front of them on that particular day. I don't know why mine was chosen while others were passed over. I was surprised by some omissions, too. Not my department. Don't blame me.

Those people liked these comics on that day.

That's all it means. But that's a lot!

For those of you laying down Vegas money on the outcome, I peg my odds of winning at 11%--a long shot paying out about 9 to 1. Wager accordingly.

I have no Comic-Con booth or table. If someone really wants to connect with me, I'd suggest finding me at the CAM table (#1930) between 2 and 3 p.m. on Friday or leaving a note at the Abrams booth (#1216), which I'll strafe from time to time.

Comic-Con will be a wild, worthwhile experience regardless of Friday night's results. I'm looking forward to it. Photos and stories will follow!

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