Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comic Con



It’s been 4 days since the 2009 San Diego Comic Con ended. 4 days, and I still feel like I’m reeling from shell shock. I’ve had a number of people asking me about it since I got back; what did I do, did I get to meet anyone famous, what was it like? It’s the latter that is hardest to answer. There is no way to describe what it is “like” to attend Comic Con, literally, nothing exists that one can compare it to, except another Comic Con. It is SO big, SO crowded and SO fucking insane that I could write a book about it and you’d still not know what its like. It’s like going to a family reunion and seeing your half retarded third cousins from West Virginia running around like chickens with their heads cut off, only instead of six or seven of them, there are 125,000. And no, I’m not exaggerating, the official count isn’t in yet, but the expected number from the promoter puts the number a little over that. Now imagine that number crammed into four blocks of space, throw some celebrities in there, a dash of stupid and you get a glimpse of what it was like. I was there for four and a half days, that’s including the preview night, and by the end of it I was finding it hard to talk to people. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun and exciting and all of that shit that you imagine it to be BUT, that is only a small portion. I’d say 40% of me was having fun, and the other 60% wanted to punch someone…mainly the manga kids camping out in the lobby with “Free Hug” signs.

What I learned was Comic Con is important for the things that happen because of Comic Con. It’s the only excuse that hundreds of very busy artists, writers, editors, etc can find the time to see each other and hang out. There are no bull pens anymore with dozens of artists working on pages into the night; no Stan Lee’s or Jack Kirby’s strong arming the medium. Through the power of the internet, these people are spread out in their own parts of the world and this is the perfect excuse to leave their caves for a few days and see some fans, and kick back from deadlines.

What is interesting about this is that you essentially have two events going on. I’m reminded of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when the old man is discovered as the wizard and tells the group “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” You have the spectacle for the fans, Comic Con proper, and you then have the parties, the hotel bars and the dinners amongst the pros and the exhibitors. This is where the business is conducted, connections made, and cards passed about. Where the people who are the center of raving fans’ attention, can be amongst friends and free from harassment. And the crazy thing is that they are free. People who are mobbed in the halls at the convention, blend in and kick back at the Hyatt bar a block away, a bar that has a constant stream of fans walking by it, a steady supply of drinking pros in it, yet no overlap between the two at all.

My only explanation is that inside the walls of Comic Con, attendees feel as though they have been given carte blanche to behave like idiots, that this place is the ONE place they can be free to express themselves and their interests or to ask for help, and for some reason, that magic only extends as far as the front door to the convention center. They put the experience and the people on a pedestal so much so that they don’t even seem to see these people as normal humans, but idols to be worshiped and adored, looking on the exhibition hall as their Parthenon, sacrificing their common sense and dignity.

I straddled the fence between both of these worlds. Sitting out on the back terrace of the convention center, my preferred place to smoke, I was constantly inundated with doubt and confidence, sadness and excitement. I swung like a pendulum through the spectrum of emotions as my experiences cut a similar path across the con. I met as many people on the terrace smoking as I did in that Hyatt bar I mentioned. Risks were sometimes rewarded, but just as many were not. It was four and half days of my highest highs and lowest lows.

Based on my attempt to describe what it is “like” you might think that I didn’t have a good time, that I regret having gone. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is it might honestly have been one of the most pivotal moments in my life, the point from which the rest of my life stems. I have yet to leave it far enough in my past to truly know all that it meant, but I am left with an overwhelming sense of who I am and where I am going in my life.

I’ve seen the man behind the curtain, and there is no turning back for me. I’m not going back to San Diego until I have a reason other than to just simply go. I feel like the rest of my life is in front of me for the first time since I was a kid. I know what my dreams are and I have found that they are not of my reach.

3 comments:

Gregory said...

I really enjoyed this assessment.

mrchrishunt said...

Thanks Mr Rutty.

shades of rigor said...

lovely writing, sir.
do you ever actually work at work, or do you just send text messages & facebook & write lovely blog entries?


p.s. if you read ANYTHING on this, my former & childish blog, i will kill you.