Comic-Con 2010 Report

I know: in this day and age, you’re supposed to post a report within 24 hours of an event’s end, or, better yet, blog live. Sorry, I’m just a slow guy.

My first Comic-Con was a blast! Among other things, I learned that it’s “Comic-Con,” not “ComiCon.” (º∇º;)

Seriously, it wildly surpassed my expectations. Then again, my expectations were of something like a nerd mosh-pit, packed with unwashed, socially-challenged geeks with an average BMI of well over 50. Happily, it was nothing like that. (On the other hand, I never went near the notorious Hall H.) And I’m happy to report that Moto Hagio also had a blast. We both can’t wait to go back, preferably sooner than later.

And I must apologize to everyone who proposed such great questions to pose to Hagio. We ended up scrapping the interview and going with a very different format. Hagio described her career and showed slides (Sorry to those who attended for the minor technical difficulties), and then she took questions from the audience, which were translated by my dear friend Mari Morimoto. The “Spotlight,” with maybe one hundred or so attendees, went very well, and judging from the laughter, I succeeded in conveying Hagio’s subtle jokes. Since this was my first Comic-Con, and only my fourth con of any kind, I didn’t have much to compare it to, but after the panel Mari said, “I’m so glad there were no stupid questions.” After attending a couple of other panels, I realized what she meant. I suppose Hagio attracts a more sophisticated audience.

The book, A Drunken Dream, is even more gorgeous than I had imagined. Fantagraphics’ designer, Adam Grano, really went all out on this one. (The lettering that appears brown in the image on Amazon is actually gold leaf.) I believe the 150 copies they brought to the con were sold out by the last day. And Hagio probably did more signing over four days than she has done in the past four years.

Moto Hagio with Ray Bradbury

For me, and even more so for Hagio, the most moving moment was a very private one, in which Hagio was introduced to the great Ray Bradbury in a quiet room in the convention center. Mr. Bradbury has difficulty hearing and speaking, but the two of them were able to communicate quite well without words. (No interpreter required.) Ms. Hagio had tears in her eyes at the end of the meeting. For her it was a dream come true. Someday I will have to translate her manga adaptation of Mr. Bradbury’s “R” Is for “Rocket”.

Jo Chen and Moto Hagio

Another “Wow” moment for me was meeting the amazing Jo Chen and learning that she is a huge fan of Hagio. My traveling companion is a big fan of Jo Chen, so we lined up to get head sketches at the Udon Comics booth. Jo opened my friend’s sketchbook, and the first thing she saw was an autographed sketch by Hagio. Jo said, “Oh my God! How did you get this!?” Jo did not realize that Hagio was also at Comic-Con. So at Hagio’s next signing that afternoon, who was first in line but Jo Chen! Jo speaks some Japanese, but asked me tell Hagio that every year she rereads her old copy of Hagio’s The Poe Clan, and every year she is just as moved as she was the first time she read it many years ago.

So my friend, an aspiring manga artist herself, meets Jo Chen and goes all fangirl.

Jo Chen meets Moto Hagio and goes all fangirl.

Moto Hagio meets Ray Bradbury and goes all fangirl.

All fangirls at heart, and that’s the way it should be. Once you lose that sense of magic and excitement you had as a kid, I think you lose the ability to inspire those same feelings in others.

  1. Clarissa’s avatar

    I’m so glad everyone enjoyed it. SDCC is so big that it can easily be an overwhelming or even bad experience, so I’m really glad that it went well. My friend was pleased to meet and get a sketch from Moto Hagio; not having the time or funds this year, I just lived vicariously through Twitter (and now your post).

    I love Jo Chen’s work, too. (And of course Bradbury’s stories, when I was growing up.)

    Gosh, warm fuzzies all ’round. :)

  2. Matt’s avatar

    Thanks, Clarissa. Say, did you ask your friend to get an autograph and/or sketch for you? I seem to remember somebody from the old shoujo manga mailing list getting one via proxy that way.

    My friend commented bitterly that it’s not fair that Jo Chen is not only enormously talented, but also beautiful and a really pleasant, down-to-earth person, to boot. :P

  3. Jamie Coville’s avatar

    If anybody wants to hear the Spotlight on Moto Hagio panel, I recorded the panel and put it online here http://www.thecomicbooks.com/audio.html#2010SanDiego and with a bunch of other panels.

  4. Valéria Fernandes’s avatar

    Thanks for this report. I love Hagio Moto`s work. I really would like to be at Comic-Con this year. ^_^

  5. Lexie C.’s avatar

    I was sad to learn I wouldn’t be at Comic-Con this year, then I was downright sulky because Moto Hagio would be there. I read They Were Eleven and A, A` when I was about eleven years old and fell in love–it was such a different type of manga next to what was avail (Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon from what I remember at least). It may have ruined me a little XD

    I certianly hope you both go to Comic-Con again and I’m able to meet you both. I read your interview with Moto a few years ago from the Comics Journal and I’m more than a little thrilled to be receiving A Drunken Dream soon!!

  6. KrebMarkt’s avatar

    Great that you and Moto Hagio had a lot of fun in Comi-Con.

    Meeting an artist that shaped your childhood is something to be treasured as such opportunity rares and few between.

  7. Paraisosaikuda’s avatar

    Wow…The picture Moto Hagio with Ray Bradbury…It’ Amazing!
    Since I had read the manga adaptation of Bradbury which was drawn by
    Hagio, I thought someday if they could meet each other. Now, dreams came true!

  8. Elizabeth McClung’s avatar

    I was driven over 3000 miles in all to Comi-Con to see one person: Moto Hagio, and I suppose, to hear you (I was unaware you were the translator of A, A until afterward – a double thank you). My esteem for her work increased and I could not understand how ‘Tru Blood’ had near 1,000 and this hall was plentiful (and excellently distributed spacing for those with disabilities).

    I was surprised to see Ray Bradbury there as he lived four blocks away and my first week working a bookstore he spend doodling during a signing – and he is one of my favorite writers (and very good at doodling). To see Moto Hagio doing drawings at her signings (at least that is what I could see and what Mari Marimoto said what occuring) reminded me of that.

    Thank you for translating. Thank you for the structure you had, as I learned the question I dared not ask, “How did you, so early, break free to do these controversial topics? And to do them in public, in Japan, as a female?” I did like very much your translation, “And then a miracle happened.”

    It was a privilage to hear from such a bold mind (I am in intellectual love, particularly after the explaination of Lizard Girl, such an artistic solution to the ‘Why’). Thank you again.

  9. Dan Roth’s avatar

    Darn, Matt… you got to meet Ray Bradbury?
    I’m jealous.

  10. Huscheli’s avatar

    Awww it’s so cute to hear about everyone “fangirling”. Well, I certainly would if I’d see Hagio Moto…
    Good to hear you all had a nice time. I wish it wouldn’t be so far away ;_;

    I just recently got “A drunken dream” (shipping to Switzerland is just too slow) and I wanted to say it’s just beautiful. I hope it sells well!

  11. Zhang Jingna’s avatar

    So great to read your report and see a couple more photos. The Drunken Dream was indeed beautiful. Thank you :)

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