Another San Diego Comic-Con International is in the books and, as always, it was an exciting, crazy, intense, whirlwind experience. This was my eighth SDCC (omg) – and the convention’s 50th anniversary – and it never ceases to be a highlight of my year whilst being utterly exhausting.
The book-devoted crowd may (erroneously) not view Comic-Con as their scene. Media and blogs will focus on the film and tv studio reveals (they’re a big deal!), the celebrity sightings (which happen everywhere at SDCC), amazing cosplayers (noticeably far fewer in 2019?), and – of course – comics creators and artists.
What you may not be aware of is that SDCC has an increasing author and book publisher presence. Many of the major fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and young adult imprints have big booths, featuring author signings, giveaways, and advance copies of upcoming novels. Sometimes there’s even some sweet book-loving swag.
You’ll also find quite a number of indie and self-published authors on the exhibition floor (in the Small Press and IP Pavilion sections). There’re a great number of properties to discover, authors to meet, and publicists and journalists to get face time with.
And there’s my favorite part: the panels. You can find authors and other creators mixed in the enormous number of programming options.
Panel moderation and fun, thought-provoking programming are part of what I’m known for, and SDCC 2019 gave me another opportunity to put those skills on display.
My primary panel of the show was “10 Points to Slytherin: Why Good Fans Love Evil Characters”, on the night of Friday, July 19th.
Featuring an amazing group of authors/writers, the panel drew a big audience – including Avengers: Endgame co-director Anthony Russo. (You can see him in the crowd on the left side of the photo above.) I’m a huge Avengers (and Community!) fan, so seeing one of the Russo Brothers there was both a thrill and a little nerve-wracking! *sweat drop emoji*
My fantastic panelists included Marissa Meyer (author of The Lunar Chronicles and The Renegades Trilogy), Renée Ahdieh (author of The Wrath and the Dawn series and The Beautiful), Keto Shimizu (writer/executive producer for Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow), Caitlin Starling (author of The Luminous Dead), and Shaun Barger (author of Mage Against The Machine).
“10 Points…” has become one of our signature panels – and I love that each iteration brings wildly new experiences and observations. This panel was so much fun to moderate, and all of the writers delivered thoughtful and exuberant takes on their favorite villains and what makes them work.
I’ll share the audio recording of the panel in the Fictitious feed sometime this season. But for now, check out the photos from the event.
My SDCC 2019 experience actually began on Thursday, July 18th – with a mad dash from the airport to my first panel! “Care & Nurturing of Someone Else’s Universe” was an off-site event held at the gorgeous little Horton Grand Theatre.
This was my first time on-stage at the Horton Grand and it offered a unique experience amongst Comic-Con venues, with a cool, intimate space and a massive presentation screen above the panelists.
San Diego’s premiere bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy, presented this panel devoted to media-tie in authors. It was an excellent chance to explore writing for intellectual properties and playing in other creators’ sandboxes.
Author panelists included F.C. Yee (Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rise of Kyoshi), Matt Forbeck (Dungeons & Dragons: Escape the Underdark: An Endless Quest Book), Brenna Yovanoff (Stranger Things: Runaway Max), Adam Christopher (Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town), Kiersten White (Slayer), and Gary Phillips (Batman: The Killing Joke).
This was an absolutely fascinating discussion that, unfortunately, I was unable to record. I hope to get some of these authors on the podcast in the future, and perhaps dedicate an episode or series to the subject of tie-in writing. It’s definitely a staple of the fiction market, and the demand is growing for popular IPs to feature novelizations.
Big thanks to Mysterious Galaxy and Maryelizabeth Yturralde for inviting me to do another panel with them!
In between panels, meetings, amazing food, nerdy shenanigans, and the odd celebrity sighting, I snuck in some short author interviews. You’ll be seeing some of these mini-episodes pop up in the Fictitious social feeds soon.
My interviews included Adalyn Grace (All the Stars and Teeth), Clay McLeod Chapman (The Remaking), and Rob Hart (The Warehouse). My session with Adalyn has the distinction of being her first-ever podcast interview, which is pretty cool.
I did not manage to get photos of me with Rob Hart, but be assured that his immaculate mustache was on point.
Everywhere at SDCC is noisy as hell. Even though I managed to swipe a comfy little corner of the Marriott to record in, the Comic-Con crowds definitely made their presence known in the audio. So expect those mini-interviews to have a very different sound from my usual episodes.
Some other highlights of the show for me: attending the lavish and heart-warming Her Universe Fashion Show; brunches and drinks with some favorite authors, publicists, and creators; meeting Great British Bake-Off star Kim-Joy; hanging with my former exhibitor-boothmates from Dial R Studios; and a particularly amazing dinner at Cafe 21, some three miles away from the downtown Gaslamp District.
We shut down the bars twice and still managed to make 7:30am breakfast meet-ups the following mornings. Us book people and podcasters still got it, is what I’m trying to say. And the best conversations happen with authors and content creators beside roaring fires, and on hotel bar balconies.
I’m still a little worn out from SDCC 2019, but I’m so glad to have joined the festivities once again. I highly suggest you put it on your calendar for 2020.
Adron Buske is a speaker, writer, interviewer, and multimedia storyteller. A media professional since 2001, he spent 11 years in the radio industry as a digital creative director and, later, a corporate executive. He has worn many creative hats: video production director, graphic designer, web developer, fashion photographer, performing musician, gaming festival organizer, comic creator, and voice talent. He is a frequent speaker at pop culture conventions around the country, presenting seminars about entertainment careers, the craft of storytelling, and ways to power-up your life using concepts from gaming and fiction.
The Fictitious Podcast, hosted & produced by Adron Buske, delves into the craft of Science Fiction and Fantasy storytelling through interviews with authors and other writers, creators, and publishing professionals.