Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Year Called Comics, part 3b: Convention Convolution

A Year Called Comics, part 3b: Convention Convolution
(The third of an eight-part year-end analysis of the A Comic A Day project!)

Some decisions at the Comic Con are just made for you. When the parking lots and garages are full in and around the convention center an hour before opening time, you have no choice but to troll San Diego’s Gaslamp and Little Italy districts for precious vehicular real estate. (Further, when DC skywrites “ha ha ha” to promote next summer’s surefire blockbuster The Dark Knight, you cannot help but wonder if God is actually mocking your commitment to comics.) When you wait in line for over an hour only to discover that the daily allotment for the Con exclusive you’ve wanted has depleted, you have to decide whether or not to try again tomorrow. When a hall fills to capacity for some world premiere, you have no choice but to sit next to that deodorant-free dork whose sheer mass already requires half of the seat you’ve managed to score.

Yes, at the Comic Con, sometimes you have no choice. But, before even any of those challenges, you have the chance not to make the choice. Let me explain . . .

When my friends and I left San Diego’s Hotel Circle an hour and a half before the Con opened on Friday, we thought ninety minutes would be plenty of time to travel eight miles. After all, we scored a parking space in the convention center’s structure on Thursday with only half an hour to spare. So, rather than park in a lot some distance away and take a shuttle, a completely rational option, we tried to replicate the previous day’s success – for naught. After finding an open space, getting a cup of coffee, waiting for and enduring the shuttle ride, four hours later, we landed at the Con. Our trip could’ve been expedited by skipping the gamble and seeking a spot outside of downtown’s immediate vicinity in the first place, but after we made that choice, we then had no choice.

More importantly, at the Con, I had to make the critical decision whether to peruse the exhibit hall, which is elbow to armpit full of freebie hungry geeks, or endure potentially hours’ worth of wait for a panel of interest, usually regarding anticipated movie or publishing projects. On Thursday, I opted for the latter, seeing previews of Iron Man and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and catching a two-month premature showing of the straight-to-DVD DC animated Superman: Doomsday film. I stood around a lot, sometimes moving only inches in minutes, but it was worth it, especially since I forwent that option today to explore the showroom. I found and purchased plenty of comics I’d wanted, including Starslayer #2 and #3, which feature the first appearances of the Rocketeer, and took a risk on a few trade paperbacks that may either become instant favorites or collection-filling regrets. Either way, I can rest assured that these decisions were mine alone.

Regretfully, by my observation, the quietest places on the Con floor are the comic retailers. I spent quite a few unencumbered hours thumbing through dollar bins, blackening my fingertips with back issue dust and assured my oft forsaken backpack was safe outside of the trampling feet of a main thoroughfare. If one enjoys simulating sardine conditions, he need only lumber his way to the video game booths or movie studios’ displays. I understand that this venue is designed to celebrate the popular arts, but the greatest art exhibited at the Comic Con is corporate marketing. “Comic” precedes “Con” now in name only.

Still, I can’t complain. With both Friday and Saturday sold out, I’m grateful just to be here, and the giveaways alone are worth the price of admission, with T-shirts, posters, pins, comics, and even Mini-Mates aplenty flooding the floor like porno on the streets of Vegas. DC is promoting their latest crisis du joir, Marvel is pushing Iron Man and their DVD release Dr. Strange (for which I walked out of a world premiere with the temptation to redub the character Dr. Snooze), the CW is distributing large Smallville burlap bags perhaps in an attempt to environmentally discourage the use of plastic bags, and ABC Family is cramming Kyle XY and his navel-free midriff down everyone’s throats. Thanks to these sneak peaks and innovative promotions, I’ll be able to choose my vices wisely even after the Con.


Geek in the City said...

Okay, you and Prime "posing" just might be the illest picture from the Con...

...Yes, I just typed "illest", what can you do?

KaraokeFanboy said...

Shia who??