Gabrielle Bell's comic strip about ComicCon


Cartoonist Gabrielle Bell's multi-part comic strip about being at ComicCon is terrifically entertaining and a good reminder of why I don't have a hankering to go there.

Gabrielle Bell's San Diego ComicCon Comicumentary: part 1 | part 2 | part 3


  1. It’s fine as a comic, cute and well-paced, but I just found it depressing- sometimes self-admittingly so. You get out of Comic-Con what you put into it; everyone knows it’s crowded and exhausting, but it’s still a chance to have an amazing time, dress in/see some fantastic costumes, and meet some immensely creative people.

    Also, not to be a stick in the mud, but those tables cost a lot. $850.00 for a single six ft. table. Empty or not, that artist paid for the space- I think it kinda sucks to use it without asking or compensating.


    1. Every established artist, musician, etc. has stories about the days when they were young and poor and came up with ways to cut corners and beat the system.

  2. Wow. That was shockingly boring. I have never been to Comicon and this gave me no insight into the experience. It just came off as the artist complaining how she can’t spend $50 a day fast enough.

  3. It is bad that what really stood out to me was the misuse of “hoi polloi”? The meaning of “hoi polloi” is “the common people”. Note that includes the word “the”. Saying “the hoi polloi” falls right along with saying “PIN number”, “NIC card” and “salsa sauce”.

  4. I hated this. I don’t mean to put down the authors who obviously put in the effort and passion to make a comic, but I’m going to go on a rant about what a comicon should be.

    Sure, a comicon is a place that should welcome diversity of thought – but I think we forget something important. Comicons are like Star Trek conventions – they’re about the core values. Core values like comic books that are for kids, not those artsy fartsy 20-something angst-ridden disenfranchised white kids with ennui. Core values like the best illustrations of one badass kicking the ass of another badass in glorious color. Core values like boobies that defy physics and plausible physiology.

    Comicons should be the cathedrals in which mass is held to the glory of childish fantasies of violence and epic struggles between irresistible forces.

    This, this tiresome hipster-smelling depressive absinthe-swigging lifeforce-sucking soul-killing material is not the true way of Comicon.
    Comicons are for nerds walking around pitching a tent from seeing babes in Wonder Woman and Slave Princess Leia costumes. It’s for men who gave up real sex, or rather, sex gave up on them, and now must go to sleep with full body pillows imprinted with their favorite girl anime character (on both sides).

  5. I had way more fun at SD Comic-Con than they apparently did. It’s like a gigantic marketplace full of all your favorite nerd-stuff. I will go again when I scrape up the extra money.

  6. OK, first off, the Gaslamp is not known for awful food. Overpriced, absolutely, but there are quite a few excellent restaurants to choose from.

    Next, yes, the main area tables are quite expensive. There’s still a lot more demand than supply. For those just starting off, like they were in comic 1, applying for the Artists’ Alley area is a better choice, if you want to sell. If they’d just done a little research, they could have had a much better first experience. But rather than noticing the options they’d missed, she left in a huff. Her loss, and now I have no desire whatsoever to read, much less purchase, anything she creates.

  7. Phew, thought I’d be the only one who didn’t like the comic.

    I’m gonna echo Shoomlah: you get out of experiences what you put into them.

    The author got free travel, free hotel, and a $50 food per diem, and it seems she still had trouble enjoying an experience that literally a hundred thousand other people paid to have.

    It’s clear she has a gift for storytelling and the art is clean and memorable, but I don’t think it really reflects the Comic-Con experience the way Mark seems to imply.

  8. Yeesh, could you have a more depressing time? Hell, I would give my left cheek for a stipend to go to something that just plain out fun…instead I spent several hundred dollars I did not have at the time and still think it was worth it.

    If you go soured to the thought of having fun, then you aren’t gonna have fun. Myself, I went to see my friends and drink and have a good time and boy howdy did I ever. I met a lot of people I wanted to meet and believe it or not, did not spend anything within comic con itself simply because the only things I could justify buying I decided to support my local comic store with.

    Yea, its hot, overcrowded, and you will probably tear your feet to shreds, but I can’t wait for next year.

  9. @#4: OK, for the first part, but I think you ended up going a bit far. Would you say “Look at animal!”, since “animal” is Latin and so already contains “the”? Instead of “To the victor belong the spoils” would you say “Victori belong the spoils”, since victor would be in the dative in that context? That’s not how anyone is expected to use foreign words in their own language.

  10. Well, on a side note… I’ve been to ComicCon but I was working with Marvel last century (Online Spiderman) and it was a most different experience. There were positives and there were negatives. I can’t remember a negative that involved a fan, but that may simply have been chance.

    (I did not have a per diem despite the supposed loftiness of my colleagues.)

    I know this is petty, but…

    $50 per diem for food: (1) They eat at some over-priced FakeMex tourist joint with those scandalously weak and overpriced margarita bowls ($10 each at least).

    Then they go to Nobu (!!!!) for lunch/dinner. And spend how much? That has to be a $80 meal for two even if you’re on the one roll a piece one saki plan.

    Then have $20 per diem food money at the end of the day. That is not truthful. That is impossible.

    Look, I know how it feels to become an insider with the capitalist management (the court, really) if you’ve no previous experience of it. It’s jarring at the very least. Surreal, dirty, uncomfortable, and a bit comfortable at the same time. And exciting because most of us have never had that special service assigned to us through our talent, connections, arbitrariness…But with much guilt.

    And I’m too well-acquainted with what it’s like to want to get the most out of the per diem because you’ve been eating homemade kasha and rich, cheap soups, and brown rice for sustenance for years. And because the capitalistic/corporate vibe of it all just demands rebelliousness. But this just doesn’t feel right.

    There’s a lot to condemn about the commercial/capitalistic money waste that goes on at these events. But couldn’t it have been communicated with more bite and less bullshit?

    1. I particularly loved the 14 panel. „We table-squatters sell stuff while the one with the stick up her ass doesn’t – ha ha.“

  11. Best comment on her site, from Mothra:

    “The white-knuckle adventures of a woman who is constantly dissatisfied with everything ever”


  12. Context matters. It seems most of the commenters here would approach ComicCon from a fan’s perspective, whereas Gabrielle Bell sees it more as work: an opportunity to meet peers, publishers, etc. and to gain exposure.

    In a very small way, I’ve done the same thing: I’ve attended some events as a freelance sculptor seeking work, and others to enter competitions hosted within larger events which didn’t interest me as a fan.

    For example, I’ve entered Golden Demon competitions (and, ahem, won…) at Games Workshop’s Games Days. I have no interest whatsoever in Games Workshop’s other products, tabletop wargaming in general, nor the associated fan community (nothing personal). Hence, the events themselves are just chores; a means to an end.

    Yes, Gabrielle Bell or I could ‘get into the spirit of Cons’ and have a very different experience but, at least in my case, it’s just not my thing. It’s ‘work’.

    1. It seems most of the commenters here would approach ComicCon from a fan’s perspective, whereas Gabrielle Bell sees it more as work: an opportunity to meet peers, publishers, etc. and to gain exposure.

      Without name-dropping, I know several professionals who attend the show annually, and look forward to it. For many, it’s a kind of (1) corporate retreat, away from the day-to-day of a grueling industry; or (2) a chance to connect with colleagues you don’t normally see.

      I think this has less to do with the “context” of how she was attending and more with, as others have suggested, a pretty pervasive negativity she carried with her throughout the experience.

  13. Okay, I couldn’t tell if she has any idea who Nick Cardy is, but he’s a comics legend and about 75 years old. It is not cool to force someone – especially someone of that age – to kick you off his table.

    Also, she seems to have gone to a much grimmer convention than I did!

  14. Whine, whine, whine.

    I’ve been to SDCC almost every year for the past 13 years, and I’ve always had fun. You get out of it what you put into it.

  15. Clearly most commenters think this person is a blasphemer, but I’d love to know who the “famous woman cartoonist” was. I run into hall-monitor jerks like that all the time, and they all need to fry in hell.

  16. It’s a well drawn comic, but it was SO DOWN on Comic Con. I agree with the people who commented that you get out of Comic Con what you put into it.

    It was interesting to see one person’s view of the professional side of Comic Con, and now I know that staying at the Hard Rock Hotel is probably a really annoying experience.

    Having gone to Comic Con for the first time this year, I’m glad to say that every artist who I approached was incredibly nice and congenial. And I really did appreciate it when they took the time to do a little doodle with an autograph, regardless of their motivation.

    It’s interesting, though – for me, the Comic Con experience was overwhelmingly positive. Even when it was annoying and sweaty and I was being bumped into by 100,000 other nerds, it still had a great mellow vibe. It’s too bad this artist didn’t get the same feeling from it, because as a geek who has spent a lot of her life ostracized for being different, it was awesome to be in a huge crowd of people who were just as different as I am.

  17. Also, how can you be down on an event where someone shows up dressed as Pedo-Bear on kids’ day and hands out candy?

  18. I enjoyed the comic, different people have different experiences at a convention. That’s what you get when you have thousands of people all crammed into the same location with different perspectives, viewpoints, and manners/hygiene.

  19. I liked this quite a bit. Saying ‘too much negativity’ I think misses her good humor with her own self-defeating perceptions.

    1. Bingo.
      The people up in arms about how negative she supposedly is, or ungrateful or whatever, are just being silly.
      Projection crossed with overreaction.

  20. I like it, but I like Gabrielle Bell’s stuff anyway. And it’s true that the people who most need the exposure are those who are least likely to get it.

  21. I’d read that Bell had appeared at a conference in which she seemed pretty down on her own work as well by making an odd statement about how she wanted to “draw like the guys.” As a female artist, I was very disappointed by this.

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