Despite objections by the San Diego Chargers and concerns about public access to the waterfront, the California Coastal Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, viewed as critical to keeping Comic-Con International in the city.
While the blessing of the commission — it’s a state agency with regulatory oversight of land use and public access to the California coastal zone — removes one major obstacle, U-T San Diego notes there remains pending litigation to the project’s financing scheme, which calls for a hotel surcharge of 1 percent to 3 percent. Hoteliers have already agreed to the plan, and a judge has upheld the assessment as legal, but opponents have appealed the ruling, arguing the arrangement amounts to privatizing the city’s taxing authority.
Conventions | The San Diego Chargers are opposing the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center — viewed as crucial to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015 — saying it will interfere with plans for a new football stadium. Instead, the NFL franchise proposes building a second venue a few blocks away, which would be part of a complex that included the stadium but would not be contiguous with the existing convention center. [Los Angeles Times]
Conventions | Meanwhile, on the other coast, New York Comic Con is about to begin, and Luke Villapaz has seven tips for surviving the con. One additional point, though: While it’s nice that NYCC has its own mobile app, chances of its actually working inside the Javits Center, which is notorious for its many cell phone dead zones, are slim. [International Business Times]
As big of a boon as Comic-Con International is to the San Diego economy, new research has found something significantly larger: beer.
U-T San Diego reports that an independent study released on Monday– it’s the first devoted to the impact of local craft brewing — found the county’s breweries accounted for $299.5 million in wages, capital expenses and contracts in 2011. The direct economic impact of Comic-Con International that same year was about $180 million, up a little from the $163 million figure found in a 2010 study commissioned by the San Diego Convention Center Corp.
Add to that $299.5 million beer number a reported $680.8 million in local brewery sales, and hotel and restaurant revenues from events like San Diego Beer Week. The new study determined local brewpubs employ 1,133 people, and breweries another 497.
The 93-minute melee for badges was only the first hurdle on the road to Comic-Con International. The next trial is this morning at 9 PT, when the mad dash begins for discounted hotel rooms in San Diego. Obviously, attendees don’t have to go through this process to find accommodations, but they’re likely to end up paying two to three times the Comic-Con rate.
Nearly 60 hotels, from Downtown San Diego to the airport to Mission Valley, are part of the convention block, offering room rates ranging from $149 to to $357 per night during the July 18-21 event. All but three offer shuttle service to the San Diego Convention Center, so even if you end up in the hinterlands, you’ll likely be no more than a 45-minute ride away. Unless you’re in Mission Bay, then … sorry.
U-T San Diego reports Comic-Con International organizers and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders have announced a one-year extension to their contract, ensuring the convention will remain in the city through 2016.
Why not forever? The limited capacity of the San Diego Convention Center has been a issue as Comic-Con gets bigger every year. By moving some events out of the center and into nearby plazas and other facilities, organizers were able to loosen things up a bit and offer an additional 5,000 badges this year.
Sanders has been advocating for a $520 million expansion of the building, but a tax on hotel rooms that would fund it is tied up in court, and the project also must be approved by the California Coastal Commission. There are other obstacles as well, but the bald fact is, as CCI spokesman David Glanzer said, “If by next year and the following year, we have such an influx of people that the added space we use doesn’t work and there’s no expansion, then it could be an issue.”
But with Comic-Con bringing $68 million into the city every July, Sanders and his administration have pretty good incentive to make it happen — and nearby Los Angeles and Anaheim have equally good incentives to try to lure Comic-Con away.
Publishing | Vertical Inc. announced Sunday at Otakon in Baltimore that it has licensed Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s 23-volume Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and Mitsuhisa Kuji’s Wolfsmund. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | A year after the launch of Kodansha Comics, general manager Kimi Shimizu and Dallas Middaugh of Random House Publisher Services discuss their re-release of Sailor Moon, Kodansha’s fall line and the state of the manga market in the post-Borders landscape. “Manga numbers have been in decline for the past couple years, but what we’ve discovered in the past year or so is that decline is dramatically slowing,” Middaugh said .”So the simple fact of the matter is that most manga readers —usually when they’re committed, they’re committed—are reading a series. I actually believe that it takes more than the loss of a retail outlet to keep them from pursuing the manga that they want to read.” [ICv2]
Creators | iZombie writer Chris Roberson discusses his recent public announcement that he would no longer accept work from DC Comics and his subsequent dismissal from his last writing job for the publisher. “Well, this has been building over the last few months, and mostly had to do with what I saw DC and Time Warner doing in regards to creator relations. I think the first thing — you have to understand that when I first started working for DC in 2008, the Siegels had just recaptured half of the copyright for Action Comics #1 and I felt very good about that. That seemed like a very positive step. And then over the course of the last few months there has been the counter-suit against the Siegels’ lawyer, Marc Toberoff, and I was less sanguine about that, and starting to get a little itchy about it, and then there were just a few general things about the way that it seemed that DC regards creators now that are working for them — and I can talk about that more in detail — but the real kind of proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the announcement at the beginning of February of Before Watchmen, which I just thought was unconscionable. And so I had already signed a contract by that point to do six more issues of iZombie, of which three of them had been turned in, and so I just made the decision to go ahead and turn in the remaining three, not wanting to jeopardize the livelihood of my collaborators Mike and Laura Allred. But once I turned in the last one, even though I had other work lined up, I would have to at least — if only for my own peace of mind — let people know that I wasn’t happy with it.” [The Comics Journal]
Legal | Cartoonist Susie Cagle, who was arrested last month while covering Occupy Oakland, says she has been cleared of all charges by the Oakland Police Department. The Society of Professional Journalists sent a letter to the Oakland police condemning the arrest, which ultimately assisted in getting the charges dropped. The letter called out the department’s crowd management policy, which says, “Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made, unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action.” [Fishbowl LA]
Conventions | San Diego City Council approved a plan to have San Diego hotels pay for a $520 million convention center expansion. The plan moves to a second hearing in January and requires a vote of two-thirds of the hotels that cast ballots for approval. [NBC San Diego]
Conventions | San Diego City Council President Tony Young and Comic-Con International staff are working together on a “marquee event” at Balboa Park that around the time of Comic Con. While convention organizers are interested in a Balboa Park event, they don’t support Yong’s original proposal, a nationally televised parade that would kick off or end the con, saying that the logistics, traffic and crowding would be problematic. [Sign On San Diego]
Conventions | Ohio State University’s student newspaper covers this past weekend’s Mid-Ohio Con. [The Lantern]
While riding the bus back to my hotel yesterday, we passed the world famous Kansas City Barbeque, where several heroes and one villain had just finished dining.
Kansas City Barbeque is well known as the setting for the famous bar scene in the 1980s Tom Cruise movie Top Gun, but as you’ll see in the image below, it’s also the favorite BBQ joint of super heroes from every publisher — including Crusader and Darkblade from Love and Capes, who are on the poster behind Cap:
If there’s a new definition for “epic,” true believers, it’s gotta be “Marvel Monstergeddon.” Marvel has teamed up with Feld Motor Sports for Marvel Monstergeddon: Super Hero Smash Up, a stadium show at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego featuring monster trucks customized to look like Marvel characters (and apparently the X-Men riding motorcycles). The event kicks off July 14.
According to Marvel.com, the show will include “a suspenseful storyline, amazing motorsports stunts and the loudest, most destructive monster truck battles between heroes and villains with the fate of the entire world at stake!” You can see some of the concept art, including sketches of trucks featuring Daredevil, Silver Surfer and Magneto, on their Facebook page. Attendees to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con can stop by Culy Warehouse at 335 6th Avenue on Wednesday, July 20 through Sunday, July 24 for a five-day preview of what’s to come in 2012, including an unveiling of “one of the most exciting 10,000 pound Marvel heroes created for Marvel Monstergeddon!”
After the jump you’ll find a video featuring Stan Lee promoting the event, and if you buy your tickets from Ticketmaster, you can get a copy of Captain America #1 with a variant cover signed by Stan Lee.
Last July, right before the San Diego Comic Con kicked off, a group of creators started planning an alternative to Comic Con International via Facebook and other channels.
“It appeared to us that a dramatic shift was taking place, a move away from individual artists, creators, and comics… There are a number of folks that have decided to bow out this year,” creator Ted Mathot, who creators comics like Rose & Isabel when he isn’t making movies for Pixar, told Brand X last year. He said they hoped to have an alternative to San Diego in 2011.
And now we know exactly what that is — Tr!ckster, a free event that will take place July 19-24 at the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, which is across Harbor Drive from the San Diego Convention Center. The event will include retail space for creators to sell “creator-owned wares” like “small run and limited edition books, fine art prints, toys, clothing, and more;” a fine art gallery space; and a series of “focused, creator-driven demonstrations and discussions of method, process, and theory concerning the act of creating new, uniquely-voiced works of art.” Each Symposia will be a ticketed event and will feature creators like Mike Mignola, Mike Allred, Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse, Mathot, Derek Thompson, Greg Rucka, Craig Yoe and more. They plan to run two per day.
The group also plans to offer a $20, 48-page hardcover art book at the event, with illustrations by Mathot, Young, Doug TenNapel, Andy Kuhn, David Mack, Mike and Laura Allred, Mike Huddleston and many more, plus an eight-page story by Morse.
Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and magazines to comic stores declined slightly in 2010, slipping 3.5 percent from 2009, according to a year-end report released Thursday by Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller’s estimate places the North American market at between $410 million and $420 million, down from the 2008 peak of $437 million.
Marvel again emerged as the top publisher, leading the market in both dollar and unit sales. May’s Avengers #1 was the top-selling periodical, followed by X-Men #1, Blackest Night #8, Siege #1 and Blackest Night #7. As expected, The Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim dominated the graphic novel and trade paperback list, taking eight of the Top 10 spots (the remaining two went to the Kick-Ass premium hardcover and Superman: Earth One). [Diamond Comic Distributors]
With Comic-Con International kicking off in a few hours, the media circus is in full swing. Here are a few links to read while you’re waiting for the doors to open:
• The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs talks to Stan Lee, Dan DiDio and Sergio Aragones, among others, about whether or not the con should move to another city. “Vegas, please. I’m advocating for all the hookers. All those fanboys would be like manna dropping from heaven. Honestly, some of those folks in the Storm Trooper suits REALLY need a little action. Now that I’ve said that, I should mention that I’ll be appearing for my Comic Con speech in a storm troopers costume. I take it back,” said Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed.
• USA Today spotlights video games, TV shows and movies that will be featured at the con this year, while the Wall Street Journal has their own list. Which ones will kill? The Hollywood Reporter might have some thoughts.
Heat Vision, meanwhile, talks to several screenwriters about adapting comics into movies.
• A popular topic with the media is costumes at Comic-Con; this one, about a Nazi memorabilia booth that’ll be set up at the show, is a bit more serious than you’d expect.
Although organizers had hoped to make an announcement about the future of Comic-Con International before this year’s event kicks off on Thursday, they now say a decision won’t be made until after this week’s convention is over.
Three cities — Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego — are embroiled in a bidding war for the event, whose contract with the San Diego Convention Center expires in 2012. At stake is the $163 million that Comic-Con’s 125,000 attendees pour into the local economy each year.
A decision by the Comic-Con board of directors has been expected since at least April. However, efforts by the three competing cities to sweeten their offers have contributed to repeated delays. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the current hold-up stems from a request made in May by convention organizers for San Diego hotels to sign contracts guaranteeing room rates for the next five years.
“I don’t think all the hotels have signed contracts yet,” spokesman David Glanzer tells the newspaper, “and the truth of the matter is, because the situation won’t be resolved this week from our end, I think this is being tabled right now. We’re already spread thin right now. Ninety-nine percent of our time is ensuring the show is successful.”
The delay is worrisome enough that Mayor Jerry Sanders last week began calling hotel managers to urge them to finish the contracts.