25 July 2010

Awesome Assembled!

For the most part, the reason I don't make it a point to attend Comic Con anymore is because it's changed too much. For one, it's incredibly overcrowded and you know how I feel about crowds. Tickets sell out months ahead of time so if you want to go you better buy now, literally. I got my one day pass like eight months ago. Plus the people who show up to Comic Con nowadays are different. I know it's not for me to judge who is a fan and who isn't, especially since I don't wait in lines, dress up, participate, or actually buy much anymore but the thing about modern Comic Con is that it's just become a thing for people to do. Like going to the zoo or Sea World. The Comic Con I grew up with was dominated by stalls of comic book vendors and tables of geeks playing Magic and AD&D. That's the Comic Con I knew and loved, Dorksville USA.

While I understand the sleek new Comic Con and the monetization behind it, the floor space is now dominated by video games, television/movie promos, and packed with just about everything except comics. Everything is event driven and epic from a marketing standpoint but there's just not much going on anymore. Comic Con's dork soul has floated away and while there are a few cool exhibits here or there, a wonderful small press area, and some fantastic people watching, it's hardly enough to get me out of bed and through the crowds anymore.

Unless there's a bachelor party planned around the Con. Then I'm totally there!

My friend Chris is getting hitched in the fall and since we are fellow geeks -- he feeds me lots of comic related goodies -- I knew this would be quite the experience for him. Many of our other friends were rolling in for the weekend as well and I knew we were headed toward good times when a friend had us pre-make D&D characters via email. You don't know how much that assignment excited me. For my bachelor party, everyone better bring some twenty sided dice with them, and a few d4s for extra-credit. The guys got Chris a Superman outfit to wear and he was a great sport about it and walked around with with Clark Kent's humility and Kal-El's regal bearing all weekend.

Strangely, Chris was the only fully costumed Superman we saw all of Friday (the only day I attended). Alvin's theory was that Superman was too mainstream and most everyone else went for obscure costumes to get geek cred. That left Chris as the Only Son of Krypton and people were constantly stopping him to pose for photos. The best part was overhearing little kids walk by and then whisper to their parents, "Dad, it's Superman!" SuperChris was a celebrity all weekend and is probably being uploaded to albums and Facebooks as we speak.

A huge highlight was walking around and almost literally bumping into Jim Lee. He was talking to somebody and munching on some nachos. At first I wasn't positive it was him because I'd imagined he'd be taller. Like ten feet tall, approximating his stature in the comics industry. Who is Jim Lee? Only the greatest comic book artist of all time and now co-pubisher at DC. He's drawn definitive versions of the X-Men, Batman, Superman, recently redesigned Wonder Woman's costume, and is probably the greatest comic book artist of all time. Oh wait, I said that already but I'll leave it in there twice to indicate how great he is. I had at least three of Jim Lee's posters on my walls growing up and if I had my way (or owned any walls in my adulthood) they'd still be hanging proudly.

Later on, I found out that Chris' friend got an original Batman sketch done on his iPad by Jim Lee. I got a copy of it and can't stop staring. I'd repost but it's not really my sketch so I feel bad revealing it to the world. Trust me though, it's awesome and I can't believe Lee finger painted it. I so badly wanted to take a picture with The Jim Lee but I get all weird around famous people so I just choked and followed him around. I needed to share my excitement with the world but I was walking the floor with my neophyte friend and he was less than enthused. "Who's Jim Lee?" he asked. "Is he related to Stan Lee?"


This brings me to a great point. At Comic Con, your "normal" friends become cool liabilities and can be the cause of super embarrassment. "Shhh! Don't ask that question out loud! I'll explain to you who Galactus is later! Gah, stop look at those plushy toys and concentrate on the comics!" Comic Con is full of nerd love moments like me seeing Marvel editor-in-chief and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and then staring at him creepily thinking, "This man three feet away from me is responsible for so much good in my life. I must see how he wields a pen." This kinda stuff non-fanpeople just wouldn't get I don't think. Heck even when I saw the guy who makes the Cube Dudes I got a little starstruck.

Traditional celebrity sightings included glimpses of Anna Paquin, a guy who really looked like Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and Adriane Curry dressed up as slave Leia. Wait, is Curry a celebrity? Arguable. She apparently likes to dress up for the geek crowds though. I anointed her most annoying girlfriend on Earth during the show on Vh1 with the ex-Brady. Are they still together? Oh and there was an autograph booth for the Soup Nazi. Not the actual Soup Nazi but the guy who played him on Seinfeld. Yes, the actor was charging money for a signed picture of him from a minor role he did fifteen years ago. There oughta be a German word for depressing and fantastic at the same time right?

Well, whatever that word is, I'd like to also apply it to my attempt to meet Marjorie Liu, who's a very prolific writer and whose career I've tracked for awhile. Aside from being an author across multiple genres, she writes for Marvel and has done a lot of Dark Wolverine, X-23, and is now penning Black Widow. A long time ago she started a Wolverine and Jubilee fansite and recently did a Wolvie and Jubes story in Girl Comics #3. Basically she went from fan to actual Marvel writer and that's like my dream come true.

So in trying to say hello to Marjorie and go, "Hey, I think you're awesome!" I ended up at one of her many panels, waited around till the end, and then since we were told to not approach the panelists until they had reached the signing area, I, like the rules abiding person that I am, waited. But then we had to get going so my only chance was to try and catch her walking in-between. However, a lady in cat ears was sucking up Marjorie's time and I panicked. Doubly so because again, I get weird around famous people.

Basically I interrupted their conversation by quickly tapping on Marjorie's arm, blurted out a request for a picture (without an introduction, entirely out of context, and without any verbal appreciations for her work, even a small one), and was so rude and broke all the rules for proper requesting. I did everything I didn't want to do, which was be totally weird. She was nice enough to take a picture anyway though. Which I will post here for posterity and to prove that you can win and lose simultaneously with great awkwardness. See why I'm gonna need that word for depressing and fantastic at the same time?

I did get a chance to meet and chat with Ryan Claytor from Elephant Eater comics (who I blogged about a month ago) and that was much more successful than the botched Marjorie thing. Ryan's booth and marketing stuff is just super quality -- just like all his work -- and I kind of loved his bookmarks, posters, promos for his upcoming summer tour, and even his own Elephant Eater bags! And not only that but he hand stitched his own tablecloth, which is quite the feat. I picked up more of his And Then One Days and his Master of Fine Arts thesis, "Concatenations: Autobiography in Comics," which I'm excited as all heck to read.

To wrap up, Comic Con 2010 was a success and while I can't imagine I'll be back next year, you never know. The more bachelor parties held at Comic Con versus some lame place like Vegas the better my life will be. Thanks for partying here Chris! And yeah, we got a little bit of D&D in. Everyone else is so jealous, I can tell.