Schedule Sausage

It took a lot of raw meat and a lot of grinding but the San Diego Comic Fest schedule is finished. As much as a schedule can be finished. No plan of attack survives the battle.

As Programming Coordinator for San Diego Comic Fest I saw an opportunity to bring the process into the 21st century. A lot of conventions are still relying on email and MS Word:

  1. Collect availability and panel ideas via email
  2. Create a list of programs
  3. Send this list in a Word doc to all the panelists with a pair of square brackets, [], by each item
  4. Spend days processing these docs by hand, figuring who’s interested in what programming and juggling the availability of over a hundred people

The bulk of the time is spent manipulating clusters of guests and their schedules, trying to avoid conflicts, and keeping it all in your head. But me, I like to crowdsource and I use computers to make my life easier. Here’s my process:

  1. Collect availability and panel ideas via Google Forms
  2. Schedule the panels
  3. Release the schedule on a second Google Form to the guests. They manage their own availability. This is the step that saves the most time
  4. Upload to which handles future communications and all presentation.

That’s saves a whole lot of data entry. But there’s a lot of transitioning between mediums. From Google forms, to post-it notes, to Excel, to Sched, and email, email, email. Sched is good for presentation, but not for inception, and it could be a whole lot better at conflict recognition. I think there’s room here for a better tool. One tool to take the convention from conception through presentation with support for print.

I know what I’ll be working on this year.

But this year I’ll be Moderating How We Write on Friday at 2pm and Pop Culture Professionals: Writers Sunday at 3pm. The main upside to scheduling a con; putting yourself on whatever panel you want.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

Da’ Fest

San Diego Comic Fest 2013 is over and I have my life back. Let me tell you, after being on the inside of a convention at Assistant Programing Director I’m never complaining about a convention ever again, either as an attendee or panelist. I’ve seen how the sausage is made.

I landed on four panels overall:

Comics You Should Be Reading I did a similar panel last year and now I’m out of current comics to recommend. If I try again next year it’ll be “Comics You Should Have Read but can’t because the came out years ago and haven’t been collected in trade.”

The Implications of Supermen and Superwomen in the Real World was fun, but ultimately as futile an exercise as being a superhero comics fan. Steve Barnes is a very smart guy.

How Do I Draw This Which I was in no way qualified to be on, but none of the artists wanted to moderate and I knew enough about how comics work to keep the conversation going. Russ Heath’s hearing aid was dying so he’d answer whatever question he thought I asked, the guy is hilarious.

And then I filled in on Writing in Someone Else’s Universe where I asked Marv Wolfman and Nancy Holder about specific problems of writing freelance and their answers were almost always “You suck it up and you do it.”

And now, a weekend of sleep.

(my list of) Best Original Graphic Novels of All Time

On Friday I was on my very first panel with Erik Bear and Jackie Estrada. A great way to get my feet wet. The hardest part on the day of was carrying in the ten books. But it did require a lot of preparation. ‘Original’ was the hard part of composing this list, so many comics are serialized first. But from my collection my picks were:

  1. Odysseus The Rebel Admirable for breaking from the traditional Odyssey mold.
  2. The Bloody Benders My favorite Rick Geary true crime book
  3. Pride of Baghdad based on a true story of tragedy and war.
  4. Batman: Arkham Asylum inspired the video game, the original story is a much deeper exploration of the madness of Batman
  5. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills this made me take superhero comics seriously
  6. Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall I’m cheating here since this is a collection of short stories but hey, it’s great so there
  7. Meanwhile a choose your own adventure for the 21st century
  8. King David a warts and all tale of the Hebrew king
  9. Alice in Sunderland not just one of my favorite comics but one of my favorite books. A fascinating history of Sunderland England and a demonstrations of what can be done in the comics medium.
  10. A Tale of Sand based on a screenplay by Jim Henson in his pre-muppet days

Here’s a little clip HamerskyOnComics recorded.