MIKE GOLD: Comic Conned-Out
A whole bunch of us ComicMixers have been attending various and sundry comic book conventions over the past half-year, and, having just come back from Chicago Wizard World, I’ve got a few observations.
For the record, we attended Comic Con in New York, Comic Con in Pittsburgh, I-Con in Stony Brook, New York, Heroes in Charlotte, North Carolina, MoCCA in NYC, the Big Apple Con in NYC, Comic-Con in San Diego, and Wizard World in Chicago. We also did the annual Book Fair and the Licensing Show, both in Manhattan. We’ve got at least three more shows coming up: the Baltimore Comic Con, another Big Apple show in Manhattan, and Mid-Ohio Con in the middle of Ohio.
MOST INTERESTING SIGHT: Scalpers hawking one-day passes at the San Diego Comic-Con. Just like at sports events and concerts. Pretty amazing. I wonder if SDCC saw many counterfeits? I wonder if I could trade my pass for two tickets to The Police?
BEST COSTUME: This is a close call, and sadly I don’t know the name of the winner. But he dressed up as Adam Strange in a costume so on-model Murphy Anderson would have swooned. Take a look; he’s the guy with the ray guns.
BEST PRESENCE OF COSTUMED FANS: I-Con, in Long Island. Damn near everybody was in a costume. Some furry, which confuses some people. But if you’re looking for the thrill of being surrounded by hundreds of costumed college students, many of whom are armed, I-Con won’t let you down.
BEST EXPOSITORY MOMENT: When Adriane Nash explained the concept and activities of “furries” to Michael Davis while at dinner in Chicago. ‘Nuff said.
BEST REUNIONS: Len Wein and I are old friends, but for some reason we haven’t been in contact for a while. A sweet, gentle, funny, talented man, Len will be visiting Munden’s Bar sometime soon. Len and I got together at Michael Davis’s SDCC dinner party, which was my second favorite meal of the convention season thus far (and it was a close second). Also, and equally, Mindy Newell, at MoCCA. Mindy used to write comics; Mindy should be writing comics. Or something. A great talent, a wonderful human being. Hiya, Mindy!
BEST MEAL: The post-Wizard World decompress at Chicago’s Gulliver’s Restaurant, the only place I can get genuine Italian beef with barbecue sauce along with the Italian beef goo. ComicMixers Adriane Nash, Mike Raub, Kai Connelly, Andrew Pepoy, and Chris Burnham joined my wife Linda and me, along with artist Reilly Brown and writer, professor and fellow Gulliver’s habituater Len Strazewski.
BEST COOL THING TO BUY: Actually, it’s the only cool thing I bought, and I’m pissed I didn’t have more fanboy time. Still, HeroClix’s Fin Fang Foom is truly amazing. If you could only buy one thing in 11 conventions, this is the one. Picked it up at Chicago WizardWorld.
WEIRDEST SIGHT: Adriane noticed a guy with an American Nazi Party tattoo at one of the DC panels in Chicago. Fine, no big deal. Free speech, and it’s his right to advertise the fact that he’s a hateful turd. But the next day shortly before the show closed, Mr. Nazi decided he was tired and he chose one of the then-abandoned publisher’s tables to rest his weary feet. Which one did Mr. Master Race choose? That of the Guardian Line; yes, the “black comics” line published by Urban Ministries and masterminded by ComicMix columnist Michael Davis. The guy didn’t know why I was laughing. Then again, he also didn’t know I was circumcised.
MOST ILLUMINATING SIGHT: Martha Thomases and I were walking through Book Fair when we came to what was clearly the busiest sector of NYC’s Javitz Center. “Look,” I said excitedly to Martha. “The comics ghetto!” Most of the comics publishers huddled together (with the assistance of Diamond Distribution), and it was great to see the book publishing industry taking comics so seriously. This was in addition to the regular book publishers with their graphic novels on display; posters for Mark Evanier’s forthcoming biography of Jack Kirby were being snatched up left and right… by librarians! “Hey, lady! This isn’t a library!”
MOST DEPRESSING SIGHT: Martha Thomases and I were walking through SDCC when we came to what appeared to be the afterthought of the show. “Look,” I said morosely to Martha. “The comics ghetto.” Most of the comics publishers huddled together, seemingly for survival. The San Diego Comic-Con is a truly great popular culture convention, but it is no longer a great comic book convention. It appeared as though the comics part was a fart in a blizzard of movies, television, games and other cool media. That’s fine, but SDCC needs a real “back to its roots” infusion… or it should change its name.
Three more conventions to go. Then about four months of catch-up before it all starts over again!
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.