The yearly South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, TX might be devoted to tech, film, and music, but if you're a comic book fan, there are plenty of ways to make the fest even more special.
1. Hit the local shops!
Austin Books & Comics is a must-see - a mecca for all fans of sequential art, from superhero fanboys to alt press devotees [5002 N Lamar Blvd, (512) 454-4197]. No less a pro than Mark Waid has declared the store as one of the best he's ever seen, and I have to agree. They also keep a surplus store open on the weekends only. Austin Books' Sidekick Store offers tens of thousands of half-off trades and $1 back issues [5555 N Lamar Blvd, behind the Half-Price Books]. You can spend a little and walk out the door with a lot. Dragon's Lair is a respectable comic store, but it has a much heavier focus on hard-to-find board games and RPGs [6111 Burnet Rd, (512) 454-2399]. They keep late hours, which is a big plus. Capstone Comics is where I keep my local subscription service, and while it's slightly out of the way from downtown Austin [2121 W Parmer Ln, (512) 339-4251], they sport the largest collection of high-end statues in town as well as a store-within-a-store devoted entirely to Universal Monsters merch (Monsters Universe).
2. See Neil Gaiman!
In an "odd couple" pairing, the acclaimed writer of Sandman, Neil Gaiman, will be having a public discussion with TV creator Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men) on the creative process. The panel is named "What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Bitter," and you can catch it at the Long Center on Saturday, March 9 at 3:30pm.
3. Attend the Marvel panel!
Last year at SXSW, Marvel unveiled their Marvel AR technology which allows app users to get DVD-like special features from their favorite monthlies. This year, they've been teasing a few more things, bigger and more mysterious. They've got five big projects to announce, and they've dropped a few hints along the way.
There's the two unusual "Number One" images. There's the cheeky 52 scratch marks which seem to hint at Wolverine clawing away at DC's New 52. Then, there's Project Gamma, which no one knows a single thing about other than the name (it might, maybe be video game related). You'll have to attend the Marvel House of Ideas panel, located in the Palmer Auditorium, at 1pm on Sunday, March 10 to get all of the skinny (as well as the chance to nab a variant Age of Ultron #1, which will be handed out at the festival).