Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 Dubbed "Version 1.0" with "Version 2.0" Coming Next Year
Sunday was another bright sunny day for the SVCC show. The first panel I attended was the Q&A with comicbook legend Stan Lee. He made a point in his session that the proper way to spell comicbook was as one word. Prior to this event, I had not seen much of Stan Lee before, except for a couple cameos, which he humorously made references throughout the session. He came off as a quirky and funny grandpa-like character and was in a good mood and seemed genuinely happy to be there.
Panel: Stan Lee
He was accompanied by his assistant, who Lee explained helped him with questions in case he could not hear them, so he acted as a sort of moderator. In answering a question, it was revealed that he has just one room in his home his wife allows him to roam free, while his wife rules the rest, and the Comic Cons he visits are a good way to get him out of the house. He was very candid about answering questions. With regards to the Marvel films, he is fairly hands-off and enjoys being surprised just like anyone else watching the film. When asked why he got into comics, his answer was simple: greed. He said he enjoyed drawing comics and was making an income from it, and if had made money off of designing shoe laces, he would.
Sunday was not as crowded as the previous day, and it seemed like the load on the air conditioning was easier to handle since the main exhibit room was more comfortable to walk around in.
One cartoonist, Lonnie Millsap (based in Los Angeles) caught my eye with large posters of funny cartoons that reminded me Far Side Comics, but a little bit more weird and quirky, with some food themed characters thrown in. Of course he was all sold-out of books and he mentioned that he did way better in this show than at Comic Con.
Another interesting table was artist, Gregory James Monaghan who makes Creepy Doll Art . I thought they were fairly interesting. The artist finds objects and repurposes them into unique creations.
Panel: Stars of Cosplay - The Women
I caught a little bit of the Stars of Cosplay - The Women panel that covered the subject from the perspective of the officially invited to the show. These ladies and a couple men, had a row of tables next to the food court area, that always had a really long line of people waiting to order stuff like $8 "fresh nachos". During the panel, topics such as Patreon and intellectual copyright infringement were discussed, along with sexualizing characters and the examples they were giving to children. Not until the show did I know that the cosplay scene has some serious industry component to it. There are models/artists that have Patreon accounts that help them earn an income and support their investment in costumes and photoshoots. Some models apparently frown upon the use of Patreon, while others said they do not judge the practice. The infringement issues discussed were people outright stealing other people's images and claiming they were their own, photoshopping other heads to their bodies, and even social media identity theft by creating fake accounts with their images. Issues of safety and creeper guys and how to deal with them was also discussed during the Q&A.
Panel: Nuff Said: Stan Lee and Steve Wozniak Closing Address
The last panel I caught was the closing ceremonies with Steve Wozniac and Stan Lee. It was fitting to see the two together to give the event closure by revealing the origins of the show and the chemistry between two iconic figures of their respective industries. They explained they had met at a party in Las Vegas about 5 years ago and hit it off and thought they should do something together in the future. A video was played showing a humorous reenactment of the Woz and Lee messaging each other.
There was a little bit of Q&A and then someone came over and handed over a piece of paper to Rick White (on the left), Woz's business partner, and then he called Stan Lee's daughter, JC, to the stage, and came on from backstage. A lot of Woz's style seems to be about shedding formality and winging it, and I think for the most part the audience knows and accepts this in advance. However, it did seem the audience did not quite know how to respond when they said that they wanted Lee to be able to spend time with his daughter. It looked like she was trying to apologize to the audience (pictured above) and then they left together in the middle of the session. Was this one of those sitcom-like moments where there was an elaborate scheme to reunite two family members? Do they not really see each other much? There are some unanswered questions that will just have to be left hanging.
With a now empty chair on stage to fill, they called out into the crowd, for someone, (perhaps an actor?) to fill the seat, and out came Jon Heder, of Napoleon Dynamite fame from back stage to impersonate Stan Lee and answer questions from the crowd. For a couple minutes there was general bewilderment and looking around in disbelief in the crowd. The audience had some laughs and the answer seekers were good sports about it, though I would not blame them if they were disappointed to not get a chance to speak with the real deal. The questions then focused more on Woz toward the end. Woz mentioned that he did not measure success based on profit or other numbers, but the positive reaction from attendees at the show, and he is one of the few people on the planet I would trust on being honest about that outlook. Having Woz take charge of the show will hopefully keep it to something that is more accessible than what the San Diego show has become. A bigger and better Silicon Valley Comic Con was promised and it will be interesting to see what magic they he and his team will work out for 2017.