I don’t plan to skip covering the news or turn this into my personal travel blog, but seeing as how I did attend my first Comic-Con this weekend, I figured some of you might want to know what that’s like. If that’s not you, feel free to ignore this post. I won’t be offended. If you are curious, well HOLD ONTO YOUR MOTHERF*CKING HAT, MOTHERF*CKER! Because here is semi-thoughtful review of sorts.
What Comic-Con Means to Me, by Carrot Top’s brother, the clown-faced lesbian
I went in expecting to hate it.
For one thing, I’m more of a comedy nerd than a comic book nerd, so I’m not even really the target audience. I’m actually really creeped out by this new trend of everyone rushing to prove that they’re the nerdiest. Of course, Comic-Con isn’t actually about comic books anymore (“Community” has nothing to do with them, for instance, not even if you squint), but what it has become isn’t exactly my flask of whiskey either. Standing in f*cking lines, people constantly handing you pointless trinkets, huge crowds of smelly, slow-walking weirdos, bored promo models in tranny makeup, publicists, studio flacks, and marketing people galore; all pandering to that mostly imaginary demo of guys who are supposed to like absolutely anything to do with monsters, boobs, gadgets, videogames, comic books, cartoons or anything originally intended for children. But probably my biggest reservation about Comic-Con was that it’s all taken on an air of the World’s Most Photographed Barn. We’re not sure why we’re standing in this line or where it goes. We just suspect we want to be at the front of it and post the pictures on Twitter.
Being that I’ve already admitted that I’m not interested in what Comic-Con is supposed to be about, and yet I still went, I have to cop to being the perfect personification of all the shallow, venal things it’s become. If I was to go, there was no choice but to accept that and say F*CK IT, I’M GOING TO TAKE THE WORLD’S MOST LOOKED-AT PICTURE OF THAT AWESOME F*CKING BARN.
So was it exactly as sh*tty as I expected, like The Last Airbender?
In some ways, yes. I waited in line two and a half hours for a Tron panel and three and a half for a Thor/Captain America panel, only to get turned away 10 people from the cutoff both times. And for what? A fluff press conference and pictures and video I could see online in a day anyway? Hastily put-together footage from a movie I could just wait to watch in its entirety? It wouldn’t have been a worthless experience, I’m sure, especially not if you’re the type who likes to see how the sausage is made, but certainly not worth standing four hours in the sun for. Robert Downey Jr. is cute and all, but he’s not that cute.
Overall though, once I’d accepted all those things I knew were going to suck, it was actually a memorable, enjoyable experience. Actually, that’s not quite right. It was an experience.
One of the biggest surprises was that things you imagine to be sad and pathetic (the grown-ups in costumes, the LARPing, the sweaty guys ogling) is actually kind of adorable and oddly charming. For every 18-year-old kid I saw in a “FLYNN LIVES” t-shirt1, I saw at least three groups of kids like this:
Even if I had no idea what their costumes were or any interest in whatever anime circle-jerk panel they were attending, seeing how much they were enjoying it, I couldn’t help but smile. And no, it wasn’t charming only because they were teenage girls. Case in point, you get the same feeling from this guy:
I might not necessarily want to take a long car ride with him, but there’s a genuineness about him that just comes through. It’s like that double rainbow guy; he’s clearly batsh*t insane, high on drugs, or both, but just seeing a person enjoy himself that much is strangely endearing. For someone like me who doesn’t really care about this stuff, aside from the standing in line, the getting your feet stepped on, the trying to get into a party you don’t care about that much anyway, Comic-Con is like watching one big, four-day long Double-Rainbow video. It might be a train wreck, but it’s a train wreck that could use a hug.
Yes, there were lots of red-faced creepos with way too much photography equipment (like me) falling all over themselves to get zoom shots of anyone with more than three square inches of pale, dimply, exposed flesh. But those costumes have an interesting effect. I can’t tell you how many times I saw Jason Mewes or Rob Corddry or Eli Roth — people who I’d consider moderate celebrities — anonymously sipping Starbucks five feet from a random black dude dressed as Pluto Nash who’d attracted a cloud of 15 amateur photographers. Yeah yeah, we’re all narcissists who think we’re celebrities now because blogs and reality TV and blah blah blah, but it’s still fun to see the local overweight file clerk brimming with confidence and being treated like Lady Gaga just because she squeezed herself into cheesy Princess Leia costume.
And about those lines. In the Thor line, I stood next to a guy who works in a maquiladora in Mexicali and runs an independent comic book press on the weekends. He said he’s been coming to Comic-Con since ’93. I have nothing in common with this man, but we spent two hours talking about TV, movies, cartoons, etc, and it never felt like I was being forced to make boring chit chat just for the sake of it. We could agree that Spider-Man 2 was kick ass and Spider-Man 3 and X3 were vile abortions, and that Adult Swim and Always Sunny are awesome. So to all those snooty, oh-I-don’t-watch-TV a-holes I’ve met in academia: f*ck you. Do you see all the experiences of shared culture you’re missing out on because of your insecure need to distinguish yourself from the rest of society? What’s that? You read another experimental novel from the Victorian era? In the words of Christian Bale, OOOOOH GOOOOOOOD FOR YOUUUU.
I guess what I’m saying is that the value isn’t so much in all the useless crap being thrown at you, it’s the shared experience of dodging that useless crap and how it helps us relate to each other. That’s mainly what I took away from it2.
That and a f*ckload of free t-shirts.
1. Short aside here: how the hell can anyone that age be into Tron? The original looks kind of sad and dated even to me, and as for the new one, it’s not out yet. You couldn’t have seen more than a teaser trailer for it before this weekend.
2. To answer the natural question, “Whooooa, what does it mean???”
Previous Comic-Con Coverage: Day 1 Photo Essay, David Hasselhoff’s Party Bus, Day 2 Photo Essay, Guy in a Harry Potter shirt stabbed a guy, Notes from the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World panel, Notes from the Community panel, Final Photos Ése.