24 July 2010

Comic Con 2010: I Bought A Comic

I've been in San Diego this week, attending my very first Comic Con. I've never had any desire to go to Comic Con. I have no urge whatsoever to dress up as anything, or even look at people who are dressed up as anything. I don't even really want to be around the dress-up people. Some are cool about it, and sort of keep to themselves, and aren't into flaunting the fact that they are dressed up as Jocko Sinn from Obscure Manga #782. Others, the most terrible ones, embrace their disguises a little too much and run around posing and interacting with other people while in character.

One man wearing orange body paint and paper mache shoulder pads approached me yesterday. He held a greasy section of Plexiglass in front of his face, then squinted at me through it.

"Hmm. This life form does not appear to be registering on my scanner," he said.

"Please, I beg of you, leave me alone," I said.

He left me alone. Most of these people are nice about it. Whenever I find myself losing patience with all the play acting and faux sword fights and less-than-epic reenactments of something that's beyond obscure, I try to remember that many of these people probably have terrible existences that involve god-awful jobs and awful relationships. (Though I did meet one nice man who ruined my ability to stereotype; he appeared to be in his 60's, and was dressed as a Ghostbuster. He works as a doctor in Indiana and claims to be happily married.)

Who am I to get peeved by the three days out of the year when these people get the chance to do something in public that would under normal circumstances get them chased out of their hometowns by pitchfork-weilding villagers?

So I try really, really hard not to get peeved.

Have your fun. Live it up.

You damn freaks.

In an attempt to embrace the show and make myself a part of Comic Con, I forced myself to shop for, and purchase, two things: 1. a toy of some kind, and 2. some comics.

I made a long list of comics that I was interested in purchasing: Eisner's A Contract With God, Clowes' David Boring, Lynda Barry's One! Hundred! Demons!, Spain's Nightmare Alley, Pekar's Our Cancer Year, etc.

I brought my list to the biggest shop on the expo floor and handed it to one of the employees. He peered at the list. He peered at the shelves. He peered at the list. Then again at the shelves. List. Shelves. List. Shelves.

After about 10 minutes of searching, of the 12 comics on my list, he'd found only one: Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics.

"That's it?" I asked.

"That's it," he said.

I took my one comic--which is really excellent, by the way--and waded back into the crowd of costumed freaks.

I tried a few more tables, and again came up empty. I sort of understand not being able to find Lynda Barry--man, she's so great--but Harvey Pekar? The man died a couple weeks ago. And there's nary a trace of him or his work anywhere at the show.

That just shits.

Instead, there are giant Hulk ads everywhere. There is a Red Hulk now for some reason. There are a least four different kinds of Spider-mans (I don't know their names; Old, New, Future, and Mega maybe?). There are several kinds of Batmans also being advertised. A gigantic metal Transformer Bumblebee towers over the show floor. There are a handful of Iron Man statues, and the car from The Green Hornet--LOOK IT'S THE FUCKING GREEN HORNET CAR! I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT I AM SEEING! AIIIIEEEEEEE!--and some sort of rubber alien prop that might or might not have been used to film this or that scene in The Green Hornet.

I get it. Super heroes are cool. They make money. That's where it's at. That's what this is all about.

In an ideal world, a world that catered solely to my wants, needs, and desires, a larger percentage of Comic Con would be devoted to the stuff that I like, and am interested in. But the world is a long, long way from being designed with my needs in mind. Instead, it's filled with people named Jocko Sinn who don't mind standing in a four-hour line so that he might be able to stand within a foot of a rubber alien prop and maybe get close enough to Kevin Smith so that he can smell his musk.

Meanwhile, Harvey Pekar's corpse rots in its grave in Cleveland.

Which is a fucking shame.

As for my toy purchase, I bought a Kenner Star Wars action figure. Old school, baby, all the way. I settled on an old, battered, well-worn, far-from-mint Obi-Wan Kenobi for $8. When I was a kid, my mom took my brother and me to the local store and let us pick out exactly ONE Star Wars action figure each.

My brother, predictably, chose Luke Skywalker. Everyone always chose Luke Skywalker. Whenever my cousins got together to play with their Star Wars figures, it was a fucking Luke Skywalker/Han Solo convention. "Hello, Luke." "How you've been, Luke?" "I've been fine, Luke, how have you been?" "Oh, look who's here. It's Han." "Hey, Han, over here!"

It was impossible to recreate scenes from the movie, or cook up any credible fiction, with 10 Lukes and eight Hans.

So I settled on Obi-Wan.

Because nobody had Obi-Wan.

Nobody wanted Obi-wan. And we needed, more than anything, an Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan and I are flying back to Vancouver today.

May the Force be with us.


  1. I feel your pain Mr. Jones. I collected plenty of comics in my day, but I do find it difficult to find great work that may not be so mainstream. I don't collect comics anymore--too many of them, my favorite characters often seem like pale shadows of their former glory, and it is difficult to find more obscure but terrific work.

    And yes, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is most excellent indeed. It's a must-read for anybody who considers themselves a comic-book fan.

  2. Scott, go the the Fantagraphics Booth (#1718).

  3. Does anybody else see a resemblance in Harvey Pekar and Kilgore Trout? Sad really, may he rest in peace.