Top 10 List: How to Know You’re An Old Pro at San Diego Comic-Con Fandom

An SDCC 2017 attendee friend and I were chatting on the back channels of Facebook today. He shared this photo with me of the SyFy Channel’s sign, boldly listing “true SDCC fandom” characteristics. We were having a good laugh about how we would write this list. Can you pass our sniff test? I’ll bet those of you reading this will have some great additions to our list–feel free to chime in and share!

And speaking of SDCC 2017, I hope you got a chance to check out Dave Dorman’s new creator-owned WASTED LANDS novella and his AMAZING TALES OF THE WASTED LANDS pulp fiction magazine Kickstarter campaign! Here’s your handy link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mikebawden/amazing-tales-of-the-wasted-lands-inaugural-issue?ref=thanks_tweet

Are YOU a Pro at the Con? But can you meet MY criteria?

You Pass the SDCC Old Pro Fandom Sniff Test If…

  1. You can pronounce Bill Sienkiewicz’s last name correctly.
  2. You can correctly identify the actual creator–and for bonus points, the publisher–of the character you’re cosplaying.
  3. You attended SDCC back when the signage all over San Diego still said “Celebrating the Comic Arts.”
  4. You know why Ralph McQuarrie matters to the Star Wars universe.
  5. Creators know your name without even looking at your badge.
  6. You don’t drink a drop of liquid for 12 hours before you see a panel in Hall H. Also, you bring gum and a snack.
  7. You know 501st isn’t a style of Levis, but the world’s largest cosplay organization.
  8. You carry extra Sharpies in black and silver, in case the artists’ Sharpies go dry.
  9. You know where to find your favorite booths without relying on the guide book.
  10. You attended Preview Night when it was still exclusive to pros.

 

Announcing My New Blog Series: COOL PEOPLE I KNOW

I found this meme on Facebook the other day, and I screen-grabbed it immediately. In one sentence, it sums up how I live. You see, as an ENFP, I believe everyone has an interesting story, from every walk of life — from CEOs to ex-cons. I’m at my most hyper-focused when getting to know a total stranger. This is why my grade school friends have christened me “The White Oprah.” I don’t mean to interview people, but it’s like breathing for me. They fuel my curiosity.

The Meme That Best Describes Me

The Meme That Best Describes Me

Cool People I Know: My friend Rohita Shah, born in Zambia, now owner of an award-winning Mathnasium in Wisconsin, with 1 new Brookfield location opening soon.

Cool People I Know: My friend Rohita Shah, born in Zambia, now owner of an award-winning Mathnasium in Wisconsin, with 1 new Brookfield location opening soon.

I have to wonder if my genuine interest in people is somehow invisibly telegraphed when I’m out in the world. My friends have all witnessed it. Total strangers love to ask me for directions, how to fix their iPhone, or whether they should buy the outfit they’re trying on in a department store. No, I’m not arrogant enough to think my opinion matters one iota, but it’s weirdly consistent that they do. This bizarre people-magnet vibration I exude might explain why, when I merely entered an empty gas station to pay for my petrol — literally saying nothing but my pump number to the cashier — she unburdened herself, sharing the story of her recent abortion. Or why, when I went to the DMV with Darlene, my BFF since kindergarten, I knew all about the DMV eye examiner man’s divorce during the 5 minutes of getting my test. Or why I leave restaurants more often than not with the phone number or email address of the waitress or waiter to follow up on some conversation. I consider it an honor and privilege that someone trusts me to listen to them. I don’t judge. I just listen. I think people appreciate that someone is actually present and in the moment with them in this distracted, ADD world where they are accustomed to getting ignored.

When I first met Dave, he was extremely nervous about exposing me to the massive enclave of fandom at his San Diego Comic-Con booth. He needn’t have worried. I thrived on it. Unlike introverts who find it a psychic drain to deal with the public, I get energized by being around people. They recharge my batteries. Today, 16 years later, those San Diego fans visit our home, chat with me at least three times a week on Facebook private messages, and have become some of my best friends. I feel blessed to have met these many interesting people from literally around the world, whose paths I would never have crossed in my ordinary, Northern Illinois life.

An apt description of ENFP's.

An apt description of ENFP’s.

As women, we all have stories of telling our spouses about their friends’ medical issues and life dramas, as our spouses look on dumbfounded, replying, “He never told me anything about that!” But I take it about three steps further. I walk away knowing about their UFO encounters, their politics, and their funniest pranks. My conversations with people are always organic. I never know where they’ll meander, but they’re always interesting. As I was interviewing a VP on Friday for a B2B article on his company, I learned all about his Chicago cop relatives, and their take on the current gang situation in Chicago. It was a counterintuitive perspective I could never have guessed, and it became fodder for my hands-and-feet card game last night on the Mag Mile (And btw, GO CUBS!!!! FTW!!!).

So…aside from the ghostwriting I do in my career, I’m starting a new series on my blog, maybe once a week, called “Cool People I Know.” These interviews will be with people from all walks of life, and you will learn things you would never have guessed, about topics you probably have never considered before. I hope you have as much fun reading them as I have doing the interviews! Let me know, okay?

So I guess my Myers-Briggs score explains my career choice...

My Myers-Briggs score explains my career choice…

#SDCC2016 Attendees – PLEASE Stay Vigilant This Year

The greatest show on earth.

#SDCC – The greatest show on earth.

I debated whether I should even write this blog. I don’t wish to plant ideas in the minds of our common enemy. However, especially in light of recent events, I just beseech and implore every one of you attending San Diego Comic-Con this year to pay hyper-focused attention to your surroundings. Be aware of everything and everyone around you. We’re living in sad times; the anxiety riddled like myself are mapping the fastest route to the nearest trauma center for any major event we attend.

My son and I won’t be attending Comic-Con this year. Frankly, I’m a little relieved. That almost throw-away comment made in the press that the San Bernardino terrorists were actually plotting to attack a much bigger event made my hackles rise. It has festered in my brain ever since. Their distance to San Diego was too close for comfort. I just hope that all of you who are attending this year remain safe. There’s no greater soft target than a convention center full of entertainment industry icons.

Watch.

Look.

Listen.

Be safe.

I hope you all have a fun con. I will be keeping you, and the families of all of the fallen in my prayers.

#Foodgasm Alert: The Turducken of Pies

I was just reading this hilarious article about the new 5-pies-in-one, or the “Turducken of Pies.” 

Screenshot 2015-12-18 15.05.38

A few years ago, my dear publicist friend Stephen Crane and I headed up from his SoCal home to visit my other friend, Tony Swatton in Burbank. (I always stay at Stephen’s house for a few days after San Diego Comic-Con to recuperate.) Tony, whom I had just seen at Comic-Con, could be a blog in and of himself. He was the “Pirate of the Year” for Pirates Magazine and has graced the cover more than once.

Our favorite pirate, Tony Swatton.

Our favorite pirate, Tony Swatton.

Tony formed the “Norse Hollywood Dining Vikings” Club, which started out as lark; he and his buddies all dressed up like Vikings and showed up at Ikea for Swedish meatballs, bemused when they were firmly escorted out. Here’s a typical biz card:

Image courtesy of Matthew Hunt Designs.

Image courtesy of Matthew Hunt Designs.

You see, Tony makes all the costumes and weapons for those memorable Capital One ads, and they are all stored at his fabrication shop. Yeah, I’ve tried some on. Since Tony tends to hang with fellow pranksters, the hijinks never stop. (If I ever move to California, it would be Burbank just to be near our funny actor friend Dan Roebuck, plus Tony’s shenanigans.) Tony also makes the swords for all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and most recently, was the star of the internet sensation show Man at Arms. His Sword and Stone shop in Burbank, CA is legendary.

On Victory Boulevard just a few doors down from Tony’s storefront is this wonderful Greek restaurant. Actually, I’m not sure they refer to them as Greek restaurants in California, but that’s what we call them in Chicago. Diners, maybe? You know the kind. The menu goes on forever. If you have a tough time making food decisions, this is no place for amateurs.

So in all, it was Tony, Stephen, Scott Empey (Tony’s BFF and my custom jewelry designer) and me. We entered and walked past this well-lit, glorious display case of pies. You could almost hear the choir of angels singing inside of it. As we sat down and discussed which sensible foods we should be ordering, the discussion took a dangerous turn, shifting to those damned delectable pies. I opined that it was criminal that no one ever made a banana-coconut-cream pie, since I always hated having to choose between the two, like two calorie-laden lovers who could both satisfy me equally. At that point, Tony excused himself to go wash his hands, and I noticed him getting chatty with the woman at the counter on his way.

As our meal ended–our bellies sore from laughing at all of Scott and Tony’s crazy exploits–a vision of beauty arrived at our table: a coconut cream pie, flipped over atop a banana cream pie, with four forks! We four foodgasm’d out! To this day, it remains the most exquisite dessert I’ve ever had, in no small part because of the company who shared it with me.

If they ship, I’ll be ordering the Turducken of Pies for my next trip to Burbank, reassembling my merry band of knights of the round pie table, plus Tony’s new wife Karen, whom I love and adore. I even have a new name for my epicurean kindred spirits: The Norse Hollywood Dining Pie-Kings–Pie Pillaging Specialists.

This Comic Book Wife Thanks YOU, Clydene Nee

I received one of those alerts yesterday that someone had tagged me in a Facebook photo. Usually I am a tad panicked, as some of my more nefarious pranks have been recorded on film. When I clicked on it, I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

Clydene Nee showering the artists'  support team with love.

Clydene Nee showering the artists’ support team with love.

You see, despite Clydene’s health struggles (failing kidneys), her heart is and always has been behind the creators and artists (and their support team, the oft-forgotten spouses and life partners). Clydene has been a ceaseless, ardent supporter and coordinator for Artist Alley at #SDCC for as long as I’ve been attending (which is 15 years now), but she started in 1989 (you know, back before Comic-Con was “cool.”). She has also been a wonderful friend to me, personally, and to Dave. Clydene NEEDS a kidney, due to her long battle with diabetes. Here is a link to ongoing fund-raiser for Clydene, to help with her ongoing medical bills not covered by insurance, and information about her, beautifully written by artist Mark Brooks, ICYMI:

My longtime friend, SDCC Artists Alley Coordinator Clydene Nee.

My longtime friend, SDCC Artists Alley Coordinator Clydene Nee.

“I received a message from Clydene Nee over the weekend letting me know of a very difficult time she is going through at the moment. As many of my fellow comic creators know, Clydene has been the face and hands of Artist Alley at San Diego Comic Comic Con International since 1989 as the Artist Alley Coordinator. While Comic Con has made various decisions regarding Artist Alley both good and bad over the years, Clydene has been an advocate for the artists and always gone out of her way to accommodate many of us even on short notice. All the while doing it as a volunteer without pay and using a week of her personal vacation time from work to make sure Artist Alley runs smoothly. She’s a true friend of the industry and of artists in particular. She’s given of herself often times thanklessly for the artists and people she loves for free and always with a smile on her face.

“As many of you are aware, Clydene has had a few health problems over the years most evident this past Comic Con when she was moving through artist alley with the aid of a motorized scooter. Around Thanksgiving this year things unfortunately took a turn for the worse with Clydene falling into Kidney Failure and having to have emergency surgery to have a tunnel catheter put into her chest to feed tubes into her heart for dialysis. Her levels were so high that her bone marrow was no longer producing red blood cells and she was in full renal failure. She is hoping to have the tubes removed this week due to the danger of them causing a heart attack or developing a clot.

“After a second surgery to graft fistulas to her body for ongoing dialysis, she placed herself on the kidney transplant list. Unfortunately her insurance deems kidney transplants as elective surgery and will only partially cover the very expensive surgery. Adding insult to injury is the 3 times a week she has to receive dialysis treatment at a whopping $3000 a pop. The wait time for a kidney transplant can be months or even years meaning she could be receiving these treatments for a while. She been forced to move to a smaller apartment closer to the hospital and maintain her job since going on any sort of disability would make the transplant unobtainable. So Clydene, through all this, is having to keep up with her day to day job just so she can have some of her treatment covered through insurance and be able to eat and keep a roof over her head. Even with all this, Clydene will have massive medical bills that she will be struggling with for a log time to come even once this hurdle is overcome. She has kept all of this private and is just now telling her friends about her situation.

“As someone who has had more than one favor done for him by Clydene over the years, I feel the need to give back in some way. While I will be helping out financially, I wanted to reach out to all the artists and fans who have been helped by Clydene and ask for any amount of help you could give in her time of need. Even a small amount will make a world of difference to someone who has been so selfless to all of us. And to any and all fans that have walked the aisles of Artist Alley and enjoyed meeting your favorite illustrator and checking out all the pretty artwork, I encourage you to help out someone that was instrumental in making it such a great experience. We’ve set a modest goal of $3000.00 BUT I AM HOPING WE CAN GO FAR BEYOND OUR GOAL. 100% of all funds raised will go to Clydene to help out with her medical bills.

“If you would like to send good thoughts to Clydene you can contact her through her Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/clydene.nee
or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/clydene326.”

Thank you in advance for your support!
-Mark Brooks  

A Little About Clydene:
Clydene has been with Comic Con International since 1979 as a division head and unpaid volunteer. She began as a projectionist but took over Artist Alley in 1989 as its coordinator and has been doing it every year since. She also coordinated the live auction from 1989 to 2009. In 2009 she began as the head coordinator for the how-to sessions held upstairs in the convention center for all artistic hopefuls to come and learn hands on from seasoned pros like Jim Lee, Greg Horowitz and Adam Hughes. She also spent 7 years as a colorist working for Image, Dark Horse, Malibu and Universal. Her biggest notable accomplishment was doing color studies for Spawn at its inception where Todd McFarlane finally settled on the red and black color scheme Clydene had submitted.

How to Exhibit BETTER at Conventions

Dear Readers,

Thank YOU. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to write to us, share your own narratives, and respectfully share great ideas with us.  For many of you, like, say, Marc Alan Fishman of Unshaven Comics, losing money at #SDCC isn’t your truth, and we are genuinely happy that it isn’t. Marc’s thoughts are here. Chicago artist friend Gene Ha shared his amazing blog, which included content on how to display at conventions and how to sell at conventions. Gene also turned us onto the great convention display of artist Terry Huddleston. I think our friends Donato Giancola and Jason Palmer also do a great job with convention booth displays and here are some images of their booths.

A Jason Palmer Booth Display at SDCC

A Jason Palmer Booth Display at SDCC

A sliver of Donato Giancola's elegant booth display at SDCC

A sliver of Donato Giancola’s elegant booth display at SDCC

Today Dave and I will be guests on Wendi Freeman’s podcast, Double Page Spread regarding this whole convention controversy topic–and other topics–so give us a listen if you’re interested and do check out Wendi’s great podcast. She’s a lot of fun and has great content.

Here’s a final thought for today. Led by our artist friend Jim Pavelec, there is a site called ArtPact.com a free and subscription-based private group dedicated to sharing information among comic book freelancers. I requested that Jim add a forum for creators to anonymously discuss which conventions worked, and why or why not they worked. He assured me that he would be adding that conventions forum module to his site. ArtPact.com enables freelancers in the comic book industry the freedom to anonymously share information without fear of repercussion. Users review the various publishers and art directors they work for, they share contracts, and they have already affected some change within the entertainment industry in terms of contracts and payment terms. There’s a free version, and there’s a $29/year version. I’d recommend you do the latter to get the full benefit. Disclaimer: I make no money from ArtPact.com.

Thank you for reading, and keep those great ideas and topics coming.

Denise

The Hidden TRUTH About Comic Book Convention Earnings: For Creators, Have Comic Book Conventions JUMPED THE SHARK?

I’m guessing you’re here because you want to hear all about how Denise Dorman hates cosplayers, n’est-ce pas? Unfortunately for all of the haters still out there perpetuating this myth, that data point remains totally untrue. So…if you’re going to be a hater, read elsewhere. In the words of the great Obi-Wan Kenobi, waving his hand, “There’s nothing to see here.”

So how did this insane myth come to light? On a misleading click-bait headline on Bleeding Cool News in September of 2014. That’s what kicked it all off. And today, two years and 8 months after I wrote that initial article, I’m still getting 200 hits a day on this blog, and having to defend myself to total strangers. One of my best friends, Heather, shared with me that the weekend of C2E2, some of her brother’s cosplay friends verbally accosted her recently at his 40th birthday party, incensed that she was close friends with me, as was indicated on Facebook. They actually sneered at Heather, “I see on Facebook that you’re not just friends, but close friends with Denise Dorman…” Sadly, these are the kind of people who reproduce and vote every four years, and yet they have no intellectual curiosity beyond hearing a rumor or reading a headline.

Hmmm...would a cosplay hater be in the foreground of the 501st? Stop. Think. Listen.

Hmmm…would a cosplay hater be in the foreground of this 501st photo AND be an honorary member of the 501st? Would his wife? Stop for a moment. Think. Listen. Use some logic.

Here are some TRUTHS you need to know:

#1. Neither Dave Dorman nor I hate cosplayers. Never have, never will. We are honorary members of the 501st, the largest cosplay organization in the world. Some of our closest friends are cosplayers. I cosplay. Cosplayers rest their weary feet in our booth at SDCC (or any other show where we’re exhibiting), they elicit my help in adjusting or fixing their costumes, hair, or makeup, and they pose for Dave. My niece Madyson is a dedicated cosplayer, model and actress in Albuquerque. Are the lie perpetuators out there suggesting I would hate or diss my own flesh and blood, or close friends?

My beautiful niece Madyson, cosplayer, actress, model.

My beautiful niece Madyson: Cosplayer, Actress, Model.

#2. Dave Dorman couldn’t do his amazing art work without the help of cosplayers. They pose for him. ALL. THE. TIME.

#3. We admire cosplayers and we understand firsthand the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into their work.

And here is the key interview I did on Yahoo! News with Mat Elfring to clarify my stance on cosplay:

http://bit.ly/DeniseDormanOnCosplay

And if that isn’t enough, as a business decision, Dave and I made the decision to actually invest in the promising New Orleans author MiMi Rawks, whose new geek erotic romance novel, “Cosplay Virgin” from the three-book “Cosplay Confidential Series” should be hitting the stands in the next couple of months. Dave is doing the cover art for her book series, which takes place in the cosplay community. The first cover illustration is breathtaking, and author MiMi Rawks serves up some HAWT geek erotica; her story is as compelling as it is suspenseful and entertaining.

Now…are we done YET with kicking the dead dog?

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury

We Illinoisans derive some pride in knowing Ray Bradbury’s classic tales were influenced and informed by his environs growing up in Waukegan, Illinois. One of the first books that lit my fire for wanting to write fiction was Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

Today Ray Bradbury would have been 94, and I encourage those of you reading this to pick up his stories again. Really read them. No, really. Read them in the context of what’s happening in the world around you today. Like C.S. Lewis’ stories The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, Bradbury’s legacy is his relevance, which withstands the test of time.

I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Ray Bradbury at San Diego Comic-Con for many years. In this photo, he was still bipedal, walking with his walker in 2001. He was always dressed to the nines, a sweet, pleasant smile planted on his face, always animated with the fans.

Ray Bradbury and Denise McDonald Dorman, San Diego Comic-Con 2001

Ray Bradbury and Denise McDonald Dorman,      San Diego Comic-Con 2001

By the following #SDCC, he was in a wheelchair with a blanket over his lap, but still smiling and very engaged with his fans. He was positively lovely. One of our foremost pop culture expert friends is John Hitchcock, an author in his own right and owner of Parts Unknown Comic Book Shop in Greensboro, NC. I recall him telling me one of his favorite moments in geekdom was witnessing history unfold in a small room San Diego Comic-Con panel Ray did with Forrest J. Ackerman around that time. Miraculously, before that panel, the two had never met before.

When people ask me, “What is so great about Comic-Con, anyhow?” I think not of the crowds, the money we lose exhibiting there, or the sheer exhaustion of the five-day show. I think of improbable, magical moments like this one: Me, a small-town girl from Illinois farmlands, touching greatness for one brief moment in time.