Comic-Con: 'Ben 10' creators reflect on 25 years of San Diego's 'pop-culture tsunami'

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Comic-Con was really created for artists like the quartet at Man of Action Studios. Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau, and Steven T. Seagle are accomplished storytellers who’ve conquered the world of comic books and television animation. They’ve written and drawn Superman, X-Men, and Spider-Man, while developing their own original characters and projects — like Ben 10, the popular animated-TV franchise on Cartoon Network. They have their own imprint at Image Comics, but they’re also cozy with Marvel, with whom they are collaborating on the Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble Disney XD animated shows.

Not surprisingly, this year’s Con will not be their first. Members of the gang have been making their annual pilgrimage to San Diego for the past 25 years. And even though they are now Comic-Con stars, prime attractions shopping their wares, they’re still fans at heart. Casey, Seagle, and Rouleau took some time to write about what Comic-Con means to them.

Joe Casey:
“I’ve been showing up to Comic-Con since 1995. I was blown away then, as I have been every year since, as it’s grown bigger and bigger. Now it’s just a monster. The mother of all pop-culture experiences. As a comic book writer, I’ll admit it gets tougher to find the actual ‘comic’ in Comic-Con (unless ‘darkly comic’ counts), but I make sure I somehow find it each and every year. At the same time, we’re there to pimp our work as maestros of action animation, be it Ben 10 or our stable of iconic Marvel shows, so there are more demands on our time than there used to be. Then there’s the endless meetings and random hookups, where our location becomes like a mantra: ‘Man of Action… booth #2007… see you there…’ And let’s be honest — it never really ends, does it? When Comic-Con finally closes down on Sunday, that really only means one thing… The countdown to SDCC 2014(!) has begun.”

Steven T. Seagle:
“I attended my first Comic-Con in 1988 with my high school/college buddies. We stayed in a single room in the San Diego Hotel. There was a sweaty Captain America in my elevator. I walked the floor of the show in the San Diego Concourse. And I went to a party at the Holiday Inn where some small press comics creators had made a solid Jell-O shot out of their entire bathtub. Nowadays I hit Con with my fellow Ben 10 creator buddies, Man of Action. We have our own suites at the Hard Rock. A not-sweaty Colin Farrell was in our elevator last year. We have front-row seats for the wildest show on Earth at our booth (#2007). And the parties are everywhere from the rooftops of swank hotels to Petco Park — but the shots, sadly, aren’t in bathtubs these days.”

Duncan Rouleau:
“My first Comic-Con in San Diego was in 1989, where there were easily over 20,000 people in attendance. I was blown away at how large it was in comparison to the Chicago conventions I had attended as a kid … and I needed to be part of it. As a member of Man of Action (creators of Ben 10 and executive producers on various Marvel animated TV shows), I now have a ringside-view, at booth #2007, to this cultural phenomenon! I watch year after year, as waves of writers, artists, movie premieres, video game releases, and comic books wash over San Diego like a pop-culture tsunami. Now with 2013’s attendance of 140,000 I wonder, ‘Can this get any bigger?’ And, I suppose that very question is one of the many reasons that I keep coming back for more. Because seeing is believing.”

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