The 2010 San Diego Comic Con
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple weeks you probably know that the 2010 San Diego Comic Con has occurred. Held on July 22-25 in the massive San Diego convention Center, the Comic Con is the biggest pop culture event in the world, and heavily covered on the internet and all the major entertainment magazines. I’ve attended the Con regularly since 1987, and so have witnessed first-hand its expansion from modest comic book celebration to full-blown nerd-pallooza.
This year I attended, as I usually do, as a guest rather than a VIP. I have experienced the VIP treatment in past years, and while it’s fun getting the type of panoramic view of the event available only to Important People, I’ve concluded that the best way to experience the Con is as a fan. It’s the fans who make the event what it is, and anyway, full immersion in the kaleidoscopic swirl of Comic Con is essential.
I admittedly have some complaints, mostly about the overcrowding and increased Hollywood saturation that have dogged the Con in recent years. Yes kids, there was a time when the event wasn’t dominated by overhyped Hollywood blockbusters, and when it was possible to get into Hall H without waiting in line for 8 hours or park within a block of the convention center for around $5.00 (obviously those days are LONG gone). But the sheer craziness of the event has only increased, and craziness has always been one of its major selling points.
Only at Comic Con are you likely to see (geeks dressed as) Spiderman rubbing shoulders with WATCHMEN’S Rorschach; Supergirl and Wonder Woman in a shoot-out; medieval outfitted warriors jousting, complete with a similarly costumed referee who used words like “thou” and “shall”; director Robert Rodriguez and several cast members of his upcoming MACHETE manning an outdoor taco wagon to promote the film; a chick with a giant afro dancing atop Warner Bros’ neon-encrusted indoor tower; and the most eye-popping assortment of costumed freaks this side of Venice Beach.
I’m aware of the stabbing incident that occurred on Saturday in Hall H, but I missed it…I think! Throughout the weekend I recall hearing mass screaming emanating from seemingly all over the convention center. The screams were likely for celebrity appearances, although they could have been for something less savory--a stabbing, for instance. But in an atmosphere where total insanity is the norm, unseen screams are part of the overall canvas.
Then there was the all-important dealers’ room, where I spent much of the weekend. It’s an unwritten law that getting to the really good stuff in the dealers’ room entails much time spent digging through boxes, often on your hands and knees. But the goodness, as always, was there, as evinced by the oodles of graphic novels and DVDs I procured.
I also caught some panels. As the con has several hundred panels running throughout each day there was no possible way I could come close to catching them all, and I’m afraid I missed seeing Ray Bradbury, Angelina Jolie, Harrison Ford, Kevin Smith and Grant Morrison, all of whom were present.
I did however see the Winner Twins, 14-year-old girls who, in a tale that will surely warm the hearts of all you struggling writers out there, wrote and published a novel at age 11. Their presentation, amid a sparse crowd made up mostly of kids and their parents, played out just as you might expect. Much credit was given to the twins’ father, who apparently encouraged the girls to pen the book after reading Stephen King’s ON WRITING. Call me cynical, but regarding these two giggly girls and their father, I can’t help but wonder who really wrote their novel--which, just in case you weren’t jealous enough, made the Winner Twins “the youngest award-winning writers in the country.”
Speaking of kids’ stuff, I caught part of an episode of the teenybopper series UNNATURAL HISTORY. The comic con meeting rooms don’t exactly make for optimum screening venues, as I learned a few years back upon catching a con screening of the sci fi indie AUTOMATONS, and again with the few uninspiring minutes I saw of UNNATURAL HISTORY. They involved high schoolers looking for John Dillinger’s loot and lifting prints off lockers. Hm.
The Marvel scripter Brian Michael Bendis, a short and chubby but amiable enough dude, was given an award by the con and put on the spot by Marvel’s head of TV. The latter, posing as a fan, asked Bendis if he’d come on board as producer of Marvel’s upcoming Spiderman series. Bendis replied “Yeah, sure!” Another fun moment occurred when a fan asked if Bendis was familiar with Carl Jung. A flustered Bendis admitted his immediate response was “What comic did he do?”
I also caught a presentation by several DC scripters, one of whom claimed he wanted to put Superman into situations he couldn’t “punch his way out of.” Another spoke of a new series called “Garbage Man” and we got a promising-looking image of the GM, a fittingly monstrous Swamp Thing-like mutant.
Finally I was present during a Sunday afternoon presentation for the kiddie cartoon series KICK BUTTOWSKI. This was dominated largely by the actor who voices the title character, who admitted “I don’t really do anything” when asked how he prepared for his character, and that “once a week I get to be a ten-year-old and act like an idiot.”
Change the “once a week” of that sentence to once a year and you’ll have a good summation of Comic Con’s allure. There’s no experience quite like it, and while I may have some old fart reservations about the good old days versus the not so good present, I will be coming back next year, so the 2010 Comic Con couldn’t possibly have been all bad.