Has it already been a whole week since I took the three-hour train ride south to San Diego for Comic Con International?

Ya, I guess it has, and my feet have finally stopped hurting.

It was crowded as expected, but truthfully it didn’t feel as bad as last year. I can’t explain it, just felt that way. Other than being detoured around massive signing lines, or avoiding the video game corner, I was able to get around most of the floor with ease.

Of course walking that floor or standing in long lines (I avoided anything in 20 or Hall H) did end up killing my feet and legs to hurt and each night ached through the night. A hot bath took care of some of it, but not all.

So like many others, when you’ve walked the floor for hours you are desperate to find his and your feet are killing you like mine, you need to find a place to sit. But all the seats around the tables under the sales are filled and the sun is too bright out on the back patio as you avoid being struck by the sword of a knight in armor, and the Fire Marshal prevents you from slumping down a wall to the floor of the hall our lobby. What are you going to do?

May I make a suggestion? Go sit in on a panel. No, not a panel you’ve been planning to go to, or one that is so popular that you have to grab a chair and sit through to panels to guarantee you’re in for the one you want. What I mean is, go and sit in on a panel you have no previous interest in. One that would never have appeared on your planned out schedule.

Here are two examples. My fiancée just received her certificate to be a library technician, and wanted to attend a panel on Friday titled: COMICS IN THE LIBRARY – self -explanatory. But we got to the room half an hour earlier expecting there to be some type of line and wait out in the hall. The volunteers out front the door let us right into to sit in on the panel right before. This panel we hadn’t planned for was titled: GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR THE NON-TEENAGERS – this title is a bit more open in it’s meaning. Were they talking about kid comics that teenagers wouldn’t read, or were they meaning Adult Comix? So we sat in on it not knowing what to expect. What it turned out to be was another panel on libraries and how they were targeting graphic novels beyond their Young Adult readers. Sitting through half this panel gave us information on libraries and comic books as much as all the panel we had intended to be in.

The second example came Saturday when as creators of webcomics and planning for the future with digital comics, we headed for: “Digital Disruption: Comics, Webcomics, and the Business Model of the Future” with guests Mark Waid and Scott Kurtz. Well again, our feet were hurting and were able to get into seats for the last fifteen minutes or so of the previous panel. This was a Spotlight and not a panel, it focused on Comic Book Creator Peter Kuper. I’ll be hones with you, I had no idea who he was, was never a reader of MAD magazine, and his art style doesn’t appeal to me. How ever his own story was extremely interesting. We sat in as he was describing his development of a comic based on Kafka’s story Metamorphosis. Strange art and story for sure, but I really got a lot out of how we was designing the pages to tell the story and keep the viewer feeling like they were in the horrific dream of the story. He also showed art from the magazine World War 3 Illustrated, much of which was political in nature. Then he talked about how his family moved to Mexico from New York and he showed art work that he did there, and then in turn wound up doing further political work because of it. Sometimes the creator’s life can be as interesting if not more so than that of his creation.

As I said, these were not panels we planned to be in, but we got a lot out of. So at the next convention, whether it’s San Diego and its 120,000+ friends or a smaller local one, you’re feet are going to get tired. So go take some weight off, sit in the back of a panel, relax, and listen. I promise that you’ll learn something new, and enjoy yourself in ways you didn’t expect.

Kevin Paul Shaw Broden

Four Names of Professional Creativity