You made a Member ID account, right?

24 MARCH 2017

Because if you didn't, you can say goodbye to your dream of going to San Diego Comic-Con 2017.

The ability to create new Member ID accounts for SDCC 2017 has been shut down; we know from that Open Registration is nigh. If you never got around to making one, well, there's a reason Victor Kiam said procrastination is opportunity's assassin. Go in and make yours now and get ready for SDCC 2018.

Everyone else - the final round of your Comic-Con badge fate is almost here. 

Early Bird Hotel Sale is on

23 MARCH 2017

If you scored a badge in Returning Registration and you want to spare yourself from entering the hellmouth that is the SDCC hotel sale - then you'll be happy to hear the Early Bird sale is on.

What it is: your chance to book a room now at the hotel of your choosing. The catch: the hotels are not downtown. Most are on the shuttle route and they tend to be reasonably priced, though, so this is a good option if you're not aiming for the Hilton Bayfront. The other catch: you have to pay upfront and it's non-refundable.

As always, I have to recommend the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. It's a quick shuttle ride to the Con (3 miles or so) so you don't have that same stranded feeling you can get out on Hotel Circle. I stayed there in 2005; it didn't impede my social life at all.

I know a lot of you don't have a badge yet, or you're hoping to upgrade in Open Reg - so you don't know if you should jump on this or not. One option is to split the reservation with someone and book just the weekend or Weds/Thurs; then you can still come down, do the outside events if you don't get a badge, and not waste a lot of money. If you do get a full badge, you can look for a downtown hotel for the other days. Or you can book all 4 days and find someone to take over your reservation for you if you get lucky elsewhere.

We all know the hotel sale has become increasingly hellish each year - so don't write this off. I know we all want to stay at the Marriott Marquis, but it's an option for only a tiny percentage of us. If you don't have the stomach for the horror of Hotel Day - Early Bird is your best bet.

ETA: Early Bird typically lasts a few weeks. With Open Reg in early April, it'll probably still be live then, end shortly after the badge sale and be followed by Hotel Day a week or so later. Just my theory.

Interview with Zach Davisson

22 MARCH 2017

Interview time! You may know Zach Davisson from his work for Dark Horse, Drawn and Quarterly, Wayward,his numerous books, and his translations of Shigeru Mizuki. He's an interesting writer for many reasons, but I wanted to talk to him in particular about his ability to pursue a specific passion - in his case, Japan and the supernatural - and turn it into a career. So we talked at Emerald City Comicon about comics, ghosts, the creative life and committing to your passions. Here's what he said.

Let's talk about creativity. You seem to have specific interests. A lot of times, people who want to get work have the attitude of, "I'm a gun for hire and I'll create what you want me to." But you seem to have followed a specific direction about what you want to do creatively.

I was just having this conversation with someone. I curate my material. Like, if I take on a project, it has to be something I'm emotionally involved with. I turn down a lot of work, not necessarily because there's something wrong with it but because it's not me, it's not in my wheelhouse. I'm not going to do a romance comic because I don't think I would do a good job at it, it's not in my skill structure.

So much of working in comics is this lonely life, sitting at a table with a computer; you have to love it. I put a lot of myself into all the work I do. I think it's important that you aren't just a gun for hire, that you're attempting to curate your bookshelf. So when I translate or write something, I think of it as a Zach Davisson Production. Which sounds a little pretentious, but that's how I think of it.

Where does your interest in Japan come from?

When I was like 7 or 8, my mother conned me into going to see the movie Seven Samurai. It was the first time I heard a foreign language spoken and I was fascinated, wondering what it was like inside their heads. This gobbledygook made sense to them and they could think in it.

From then on out, I was fascinated. In my third grade class picture in 1983, I'm wearing this t-shirt that said JAPAN on it. So it's been a fairly lifelong thing for me.

When did you go over and live there?

I was much older - 31, 32. It was one of those things when I'd been trying to study Japanese for a long time and I realized that going to school will only get you so far. If you want to make a commitment, if you want to do it, you have to jump into the deep end of the pool.

So I moved there and it made me realize that stuff I'd seen in America is carefully curated by the publishers. You're not getting a general sample of what's available, you're only getting what the publishers think will sell. So when I moved there, I discovered Shigeru Mizuki who is so omnipresent in Japan. He's a foundational part of the culture, like on a level with Walt Disney or the Brothers Grimm here. But even people who are into manga here have never heard of him. That was a shock. One night I was with a friend and I had too much to drink and I climbed on a table and said I am the one who will bring Shigeru Mizuki to the West! I made this big announcement. And then I got back and went to all these publishers and it took years - but I finally did it.

Let's talk about Wayward.

Wayward was interesting because I always loved American comics as much as I loved Japanese comics. Someone heard that Jim Zub was doing this new comic about supernatural Japan and wanted someone who could be a consultant and maybe write an essay for the first issue. I only knew Jim Zub as doing the comic Skull Kickers, so I was terse in my first response to him: Sure, I'll look at your script.

And it was really well done. It was clear he'd done a lot of research. It impressed the hell out of me. So I wrote him back that not only would I write an essay for his first issue, I would write one for every issue going forward. So I just kind of invited myself onto the team permanently. And we've gotten to be good friends and I think the comic is phenomenal.

Your interest in ghosts - did that start before your interest in Japan? Was it separate or intertwined?

Separate - I've always liked ghostly, spooky stuff. I used to watch this show called In Search Of, I always loved Bigfoot, folklore and the supernatural and Greek myths.

But when I got to Japan, it was like I'd hit the jackpot. Japan has so much folklore and it's a living part of the culture in a way it's not in the West. And the more I explored it, the more I realized a lot of it had never been made available to an English-speaking audience. And I thought again about being a gateway for that work.

Do people get personal with you about their ghost stories?

Yes, totally. I love ghost stories. I tell mine too.

Can you tell one now?

My wife and I lived in a haunted apartment in Japan. In Japan, if your apartment is haunted, it has to be listed as a haunted apartment. It's part of the law and that makes it cheap. So we lived there and it was officially spooky. We'd hear weird noises and so on. We had quite a few ghost experiences.

What do you have coming out in the future?

My next book coming out is about the supernatural cats of Japan. I amassed all this knowledge about cats from Wayward, so I said to my publisher, why don't we do that. Hopefully that's coming out this year.

That sounds incredible. For fans who are into your work, what would you recommend to deepen their knowledge of Japan and other areas?

When it comes to manga and anime, that's a gateway but it's also where a lot of people stop. You can't learn about Japanese culture through manga and anime; that's like trying to learn about American culture through Spider-Man. It's all fake. So my advice is to move beyond that. But don't read pirated stuff - that's bad.

You heard it here, kids. Don't pirate. Last question: what advice do you have on turning your passion into a livelihood?

... Pure willpower. For me, the career I wanted didn't exist.

You'll be rejected multiple, multiple times. I got rejected by every publisher you can think of. If you quit the first time someone says no, or the 10th time, you're in the wrong business. Use the options open to you. I made a website and networked and slowly those "Nos" began to turn into "Yeses". It really takes the first person to take a shot at you and then you have that proven success and you can slowly build on it.

It takes a lot of patience. Someone asked me about this recently, about how long it might take, and I said it took me about 7 years from deciding to be a translator to my first book. I could tell from her face that wasn't the answer she wanted to hear - she wanted to hear "next week."  But this is not a "next week" career.

It takes perseverance, patience and willpower. And talent - if you can't do the work, it doesn't really matter.

Thanks, Zach!

Quick PSA on badge sales, glitches and documentation

21 MARCH 2017

Happy Spring! But maybe not so happy for those of you who didn't get a badge last weekend. And maybe, for some of you, not happy or unhappy - because you ran into some kind of badge sale glitch and CCI is still working out whether or not you can count on going to SDCC.

Which brings me to this announcement. We all know that if something goes awry - a screen freeze, an error message, some kind of systemic meltdown that affects you and only you - you screenshot it, send it to CCI and they make it right. Usually. Right?

Well, I ran into something this sale that I think bears sharing. I was covering multiple people during Returning Reg - and to do that, I created maps that detailed whose session was on which browser and which laptop. That way I could ensure everyone got first billing in their own sessions. Being a paranoid sort, I saved my little maps - and it was a good thing I did, because one of my badge purchases apparently froze/didn't go through. I didn't even realize it until the receipt didn't come. CCI needed the registration code for that session to research it - yes, in addition to my screenshot. That was a first.

Probably they could have dug around and found something without it (I hope) but I thought it was worth sharing for Open Reg and other sales. I know things can get chaotic during a sale (understatement) and many of us cover friends at work or handle other people's sessions. That in itself is a responsibility. But to really ensure you safeguard your badge opportunities, especially in the face of glitches and bad luck, it's a good idea to document everything you can and hang onto it. The session reg code I used for that badge wasn't requested until almost a week after the sale, and it was only due to my own paranoia that I still had all the codes and records.

Just something to keep in mind for future sales. If there's anything worse than not getting picked in a badge sale, it's getting picked, celebrating and then finding out days later that somehow you don't have a badge after all. Be careful and methodical, document everything and hang onto it.

NYCC is eliminating 3 and 4 day tickets - but they are holding a small pre-sale

17 MARCH 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Are you still sulking over your SDCC badge sale loss last weekend? Then there's no better time to think about New York Comic Con - you know, the Con that's constantly breaking out a ruler to measure up against SDCC - and that means getting yourself ready.

No, tickets aren't going on sale yet. But you do need to create a Fan Verification profile to be eligible for that future sale. Did you create one last year? Then you're good. In fact, you're better than good - you're eligible for a small and limited pre-sale. You should get an email asking you to confirm your profile details in the next few days. If you don't get it by 21 March, email and ask about it.

Now here's the part you won't like. The Javits Center will be under construction - and that means the Con is dealing with "space limitations." I know that is a horrible phrase to hear in association with a Comic Con but it is what it is. At least ReedPOP came out and said it. As a result, there won't be any 3-day or 4-day tickets on sale - just single day tickets to allow the most people to experience the Con.

They're also finally moving the ticket sale to a weekend. Otherwise it'll look the same. If you have feelings about these changes, you might want to attend their live Facebook Q&A this Monday, 20 March, at 3:30 pm Eastern time.

And yes, I really think you should consider NYCC. Maybe you'll get lucky next month for SDCC and maybe you won't. But it doesn't hurt to put yourself in the running for NYCC by creating your Fan Verification profile and watching for the sale.

So you didn't get a badge at all

12 MARCH 2017

If you got shut out of yesterday’s badge sale, you’re probably careening between shock and anger today. I think it's harder with a Returning Reg failure, because you’re a returning attendee and not a first-timer who has no idea what they’re missing. You've gone before, you want to go again; you may even be someone who's gone every summer for the last 20 years. When Comic-Con is a big part of your life, not getting a badge is more than disappointing - it feels like being kicked in the teeth. It feels like an injustice.

And the fact is that the Darwinian nature of badge sales has, over the years, created a breed of Super Attendees. They live, sleep and breathe the Con. They know how to get tickets to every event, they know the 2 days a year a downtown hotel lets people book the right dates, they know how to get the best exclusives and autographs and Hall H seats. And as more and more people master the learning curve and join the ranks each year, it creates a gap between people who gamely take a stab at each sale on their own and people who have a master plan involving an extensive network. These people are in this to win it, and when they don't get a badge - or the badge they think they deserve - they can plunge into disbelief and rage.

Point being: I know how upset some of you are right now. And I genuinely empathize.

You probably already know your options at this point, but I'll go over them anyhow.

Contact CCI with your tale of technical woe, if you have one. 

While the sale went smoothly, some people did experience glitches. My group had one. If you genuinely got compromised in some way, go ahead and contact CCI.

Prep for Open Reg but be realistic.

You’re no doubt determined to score in April and I hope you do. But Open Reg has gotten rougher and rougher the last few years. Last year was nightmarish, with hardly anyone I know getting picked as the minutes passed. I've never seen a badge sale like it. I know everyone is hanging their hopes on the idea of additional badges being available this year, but let's be realistic - it wouldn't be an extra 30,000 badges. 

Here are my statistics for getting picked in the sales:

Pre-reg/Returning Reg this year: 3 out of 7. (This is still being updated, as reports are still rolling in, mostly from people who did not get a badge.) Last year was 1 in 2.
Open Reg last year: 1 out of 9.5.

Work with a group you trust. 

The usual tales of people double-timing their groups have filtered in, but they're rare; most people have had positive experiences. If you're terrified to trust people online, put some effort into finding local people you can meet up with. Ask at your comic shop or around your gaming league. See if any local cosplay, gaming or film club organizations have people who are interested in going. Connect on LinkedIn or Facebook so there's some kind of trackability involved. Don't think your town is too small for this - I know a kid in a rural Wisconsin town who managed to find 5 other interested would-be attendees.

As always, look at other Cons.

I know, you think only SDCC will do. But have you looked into Cons like New York (bigger than SDCC), Dragon (so much fun), Silicon Valley (for the networker in you) Salt Lake (highly recommended), Denver (same) or Gen Con (big favorite with SDCC people)? Start looking around now and making a plan B. Pick a city you've never been to before and make an expedition of it. Here's something I've heard from people who previously didn't get a badge in the past: once SDCC rolled around, they didn't feel any real sense of loss. The badge sale loss was worse than the experience of actually missing Comic-Con. You may find the same thing.

There isn't anything I can say to take the sting out of a complete badge shut-out. Just know that you're the rule, not the exception, because demand is that high. And that your other options can be just as inspiring as San Diego.

Good luck in April.

When you and your friend have different badges

12 MARCH 2017

If you've done a San Diego Comic-Con badge sale, you know that disappointment is inevitable. It's really rare that you get everything you want - and that your friends and family do too. This holds true for almost everyone, by the way. If you assume that industry pros and top vendors get comped badges for everyone they want, it's just not true. Trying to get badges for the whole family, or a best friend and a significant other, can be a serious struggle.

For attendees, the badge sale structure of buying for 3 people per session often leads to a lopsided situation. Last year I knew a family where the parents and oldest son had a badge, and the younger son didn’t. Yesterday a woman emailed me asking desperately if I could help her get her boyfriend a 4-day badge because she got one, he didn’t, and now he wants her to do only offsites with him on his unbadged days. 

Then there are groups where three people have Preview Night, three people have Sunday, and one person has nothing. This can throw everyone's plans into disarray, especially if some people decide not to go, changing hotel cost share for the others, or if the person who was going to drive you all down from San Jose/borrow an aunt's condo is the one who got nothing. Right now there's still a chance to upgrade badges in Open Reg, but you can bet this imbalance will still exist for some groups after the last sale.

You'll have to resolve this tension however you think best, but here are my thoughts:

- If you’re the one who didn’t get a great badge, you need to be gracious and accept that your friends will have access you won’t. It’s not the end of the world. If there’s a certain panel or signing you’re dying to get to, see if you can borrow their badge for that time. Shake your online tree to find out who else didn't get a Friday/Saturday badge and hang out with them. Once you're at the Con, keep networking and you may find someone who's not using their badge that day because they're doing an event / hungover / need alone time.

- If you’re the one who scored, don’t rub salt in your friends' wounds, and help them try to upgrade in Open Reg. Once the programming comes out, find a morning/afternoon that doesn't appeal and spend it with them on offsites. But don’t make some misguidedly noble gesture of sitting out major portions of Comic-Con because they're sulking over their loss. Lots of couples and friend groups split up anyhow at SDCC, going to different panels and events and finding each other again for dinner. I hate someone tagging along with me in the Exhibit Hall because I’m like a jaguar on the prowl and I don’t want any dead weight. Your unbadged comrades will find plenty to do outside the Con, whether it’s a Nerd HQ panel, Adult Swim carnival, GamerCon, Conan O’Brien, Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist podcast or something else.

- The same applies if you just started dating someone who wasn’t eligible for Returning Reg and you suspect he/she won’t get a great badge – or any - in Open Reg. I've been there; my advice is to still go. You can control your level of SDCC immersion, like limiting your number of panels and finding outside events to do together. But if you’re going to be buried in gaming tournaments, or camping every night for Hall H, it’s probably best to leave them home.

SDCC badge sales are brutal – we all know it. And when it comes to your closest nerd friends, sometimes a vicious lightning strike of destiny separates your Comic-Con fates. Everyone needs to be stoic and accept the hand they get dealt. Once you're there at the Con, there is always a good time to be had, no matter what kind of badge is hanging around your neck.

Should you keep your Thursday/Sunday badge? Yes.

12 MARCH 2017

Today 3 segments of SDCC attendees are waking up with tumultuous feelings: 

1) Those who got a Thursday/Sunday badge and are questioning if they should go 
2) Those in groups where some people scored and some didn't
3) Those who got nothing at all. 

(Those of you who got 4 day or Preview Night badges - your next hurdle is a hotel and that's for another post.)

I'll post advice for dealing with each of these outcomes. Right now, let's talk about landing in the ambivalent zone known as the Thursday-Sunday split.
If you’re feeling bitter over this, know this isn't the worst fate that can befall you. You definitely should still go to Comic-Con. Here’s why.

Thursday is a great day: good panels and a freshly-stocked Exhibit Hall. There's something invigorating about a Con on its first day. The vendors aren't as tired and neither are you; most things haven't sold out and everyone's in a fairly upbeat mood. And lots of parties happen on Thursday night - my theory is the planners know everyone isn't quite as zonked as they will be by Saturday night.

Sunday has great Hall H panels, the SDCC talkback panel and plenty of offerings for children if you're a parent. Plus the Exhibit Hall features major deals, with vendors marking down their stuff so they don't have to ship it back home. And remember, even a one-day badge will make you eligible for Returning Reg, thereby doubling your chances of getting a badge for 2018.

My first partial Con was in 2007, when full badges sold out online and I (not anticipating this, or the horror that was to come) was forced to buy 3-day badges for me and my then partner. And guess what? It was kind of great. It broke my typical fever-like intensity and let me stay out till hours on Friday night, then spend Saturday sleeping in, eating brunch and jumping around in the ocean all afternoon. I didn't come home with that dead-on-my-feet feeling Monday.

So yes, doing just a few days at Comic-Con can be a godsend. You can relax, meet friends for leisurely meals, lay around in bed reading your new comics or take the ferry to Coronado. You can visit the Fleet Center and see what special nerd-themed exhibits they're running during SDCC. And you can party like Jay Gatsby since you don't have to join a Ballroom 20 line at 3 a.m. 

One caveat: if you're flying in from a far corner of the earth, it may not be worth it to run up a hotel/airfare bill for just 1 or 2 days at the Con. If that's your concern, I would recommend doing the Early Bird sale. You’ll spend less on your room and it won’t matter as much that you’re not downtown because you won’t be in a rush to make certain panels or lines. You’ll be traveling on your timetable (a rare and wonderful feeling at SDCC.)

Sad attendees who didn't get a badge at all - I'll address you later today. Same with those of you in the awkward situation of having a boon companion who didn't get a great badge like you did or vice versa. Stay positive and be good to yourself today.

Welcome to Returning Registration

11 MARCH 2017

10:25 AM

Well, that was fast. What did you think?

My thoughts: overall, the sale went very smoothly. Hats off to CCI; I know there were a few glitches for some people but nothing crashed and burned as far as I've heard. My team had 1 snafu with someone who first came up as already bought for (she wasn't) and then when someone else tried to buy for her, the session "expired." Hopefully CCI will make that right.

In terms of stats - who got what - I'll be collecting the numbers. For what it's worth, I oversaw 8 sessions and this is how it shook out: 2 got picked immediately, then there was a long inertia, and someone else got picked for Thursday-Sunday, and then someone else got picked for Sunday. So: half the sessions got in, and varying points of access. Sounds about statistically right.

One of the Preview Night sessions was mine - and it was the first time I've been picked in several years. (Still got a badge those years, but through the kindness of strangers and one ex.) Apparently the Comic-Con hex on my head has dissipated. Overall it shows this really is a lottery. Sometimes you win and sometimes you... beg people to win for you.

Not all of my friends were as lucky as I hoped, so yes, I will be back in the Open Registration mix.

Did you wash out completely? "Only" get Thursday and Sunday, or just Sunday? Don't feel too sorry for yourselves; you're still going to Comic-Con and you're still going to have a banquet of event and entertainment options open to you, in and out of the Con.

I'll post more on that later. Until then - celebrate if you can, and plot your Open Reg strategy if you need to.

9:22 AM

For the first time in a few years, I got picked right away. So did a friend who normally does not get picked. Now, though, a certain lull has set in. How are the rest of you doing?

9:06 AM

Okay, we got the patience message. It's on.

9:04 AM

.... And they're a little bit late. I haven't even seen the "Be patient while we sort you in deserving and undeserving categories." Hmmm.

8:47 AM

Some people have gotten booted; others have gotten odd messages to stop refreshing. Remember to:

1) Screenshot any glitch or weirdness in case you need later proof
2) Have your code at hand so you can log right back in

7:31 AM PST

It's finally here! Are you ready? Nervous? Hands shaking, stomach in a knot?

Me too. But we'll get through this together. Remember that this is only Round 1 and you have a very good chance of getting some kind of badge in at least one of the two sales. And even if it's a partial badge, you've got plenty to do at the Con on your off days. So try to stay positive.

Today's sale should go reasonably fast, but make sure your camp is stocked with drinks and snacks so you don't have to break your vigil even for a second. Hit the loo now. Have your credit cards ready. Do some yogic breathing. And remember that no matter what, you will have some kind of magnificent Comic Con experience this year.

Test your browser, don't use a phone & other badge sale lessons to remember

10 MARCH 2017

It's almost here: your and my date with destiny. Assuming the new system works smoothly (new on the back end; from our eyes, it shouldn't look too different), by tomorrow noon PST some of us will know if we're going to San Diego Comic-Con 2017.

Just a few things to note. CCI published a small tutorial on their Toucan blog with useful tips. I know, I know; you're an old hand at this and you already know not to refresh, etc. It's still worth reviewing. Especially if you cycle through devices quickly like I do, or share them with other users, it's good to check your power save settings, JavaScript, and generally make sure they're ready for the task at hand.

The post also offered up their annual browser test, which brings me to my next point. People who took the test on their iPhone were mostly getting "passed" results but with a special message warning them not to use their phone. I really, really, wouldn't use your phone tomorrow. If you're at work, on a train, or somewhere you can't access your laptop, get someone you trust to cover you. I know people have gotten through on iPads and phones before, but the system is different this year. Do you really want to gamble your badge on this?

And now I'm going to sound like your mom: take it easy tonight so you're well rested tomorrow. Be hydrated, take some vitamin B12, meditate - do whatever you need to be in peak condition. From your blood pressure to your adrenals, badge sales can wreak havoc on your emotional and physical health.

Good luck. I'll be with you tomorrow on Twitter and here, live-blogging the sale.

Interview with Dan Parent

8 MARCH 2017

Do you read Archie? If not, we have something in common; I was like you once, assuming Archie was too bland for my sophisticated reading palate. Then at SDCC 2013, I caught on to the furor over Kevin Keller, the first gay character in the Archie world, and picked up the title in a show of rainbow support.

What I discovered: Archie comics are awesome. I became an ardent fan of Kevin’s creator, Dan Parent, and then last year at SDCC I discovered his comic, Die Kitty Die, co-created with Fernando Ruiz – and that was incredible too. (Seriously, pick it up.)

Dan was at ECCC last weekend, where he let me pick his brain about Die Kitty Die, diversity in comics, Archie, running a Kickstarter and other topics. 

Let’s talk about Die Kitty Die, which I just love. I’ve been feeling detached from comics over the last few years but this is a comic I really like. I think you did something great here.

We did exactly what we wanted to do. We’re fans of Archie and Harvey Comics, and this was a way for us to pay tribute to the things we like.

You single-handedly converted me to Archie fandom with Kevin Keller. Do you hear that from other people?

Sometimes. At the time having a gay character was kind of a big deal; Archie was still considered family entertainment. Now you have gay characters in Disney movies and things like that. But at the time that was still not seen as much. But we knew the fans would like Kevin. That wasn’t a question.

Was that personally meaningful for you? When you were a kid, did you want to see more LGBTQ characters in your comics?

I always wanted to see all kinds of people - more inclusiveness in movies and TV shows. In the 70s, The Phil Donohue show used to have people from all walks of life. I remember one episode where my mom said, This is what a transgender person is.

They had that back then?

I think they said “transsexual.” 

I’ve said that if you present stuff, kids can handle it better than anyone. The kids are going to be fine.

Do you identify as LGBTQ?

Yeah, I’m bisexual.

Me too.  Back to Kevin - you did something groundbreaking. And you’re still pretty young, you have a lot of career ahead of you. Going forward, will you make it a point to represent overlooked voices or will you take more of a “if it happens, it happens” approach?

It’s always there in my head. I never want to do it for the sake of doing it. But it’s always there. I want more diversity with characters in every way. Like Archie having his relationship with Valerie. That was something pretty new too, believe it or not.

When was that?

6 or 7 years ago? We were going to have Archie and Josie in a relationship together, but they seemed very generic together. Valerie was way more interesting – not because of the color thing, but she was smart and kind of sexy and she put Archie in his place so it worked out for more than one reason. Then when [Archie CEO] Jon Goldwater came to the company in 2008, we talked about how white Archie was – and I asked, “Can we add gay people, can we add minorities?” And he said, “Please do.” So we ran with it and all it did was improve the company.

Have you ever read Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel?

No. But I like Alison Bechdel.

Well, I was obsessed with it growing up because it was the only lesbian thing I had. Would you consider doing an ensemble comic with gay and bisexual characters?

Probably. It hasn’t really presented itself to me because I’m working 24/7 doing this. But sure, definitely.

Everyone has a limited amount of time. You still work for Archie, right? In addition to doing Die Kitty Die?

Right. I do occasional covers and little stories here and there; I did a Kevin story for the Love Is Love book for Orlando [for victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting] and I’m doing a thing now for a Kickstarter book called Femme Magnifique. We took famous real women from the 20th century and did stories about them.

Who did you pick?

I picked Marlo Thomas. I like her because she was the first woman on TV to be on her own; everyone thinks it was Mary Tyler Moore but it was really her. In the 70s she did this thing called Free To Be You and Me. If you were a sensitive kid, it was okay, if you were a boy who cried it was okay, if you were a girl who liked trucks, it was okay. It set the stage for the message – if you’re different, it’s okay.

That’s radical even for today.

She’s also the spokesperson for St. Jude’s which she took over from her father. So it was that combination – she was a feminist ahead of her time, the Free To Be You and Me, the St. Jude’s thing. I think I picked Eleanor Roosevelt as well. But Marlo Thomas is more fun to draw.

Let me ask you this. Creative people usually instinctively know their medium – they’re a novelist, a comic book writer, a poet. But in terms of exploring mediums, do you think comics present an opportunity for LGBTQ because the creative parameters aren’t so rigid?

Absolutely. There’s a lot of freedom in comics. It’s a gateway drug, I call it, for kids. A kid will pick up a comic before a novel. So they may be inspired by something on the page that they wouldn’t otherwise be.

Let’s go back to Die Kitty Die. Have you seen anybody do cosplay for this?

A girl from the Joe Kubert School - Shannon is her name, she was at New York Comic Con. She’s one of our Facebook friends.

Is Die Kitty Die a limited run or are you going to keep doing it and doing it until you get sick of it?

We’ll keep doing it until we get sick of it.

What did doing the Die Kitty Die Kickstarter teach you? What would you tell other people doing Kickstarters?

I would say, have it planned out before you do it. And make sure you can meet your requirements, your deadlines and goals. Because a lot of people fall behind and don’t even finish them, and that’s really bad if you’re taking people’s money. We were really good about meeting our deadlines. Make sure you meet those requirements and deliver your product. I’ve seen people get in over their heads.

If you missed Dan at Emerald City, you can see him at a bunch of other Cons, including San Diego, Boston, Denver and some others. Check out his site to keep tabs on his appearances and see what he's doing next.