Last Saturday, I did something I haven't done in years. I went to a comic book convention.
A comic con, for those of you that have never heard of one, is a gathering of comic book fans that feature appearances by comic creators, exhibits and lectures on comic-related subjects, screenings of rare genre films, merchandise for sale like old comics and toys and, of course, lots of people dressed up like their favorite comic characters.
When I was a lad, Boston was host to a wonderful series of comic conventions. They were huge, multi-day affairs with stellar line ups of cartoonists. Over the years, though, the Boston cons lost their momentum, and eventually faded away.
I had not been to one of these Nerdapaloozas in years, so I was intrigued to learn that a Boston would be host to one. The Boston Comic Con 2010 promised a big line up of guests, and was being held in a big, fancy convention hotel on the waterfront. I talked Perfect Wife into joining me. It was to be her first con, and I hoped it would be as grand as the ones I attended years ago.
It wasn't. Not by a long shot.
True, it was a well attended event. Actually, it was a jam-packed event. The line to get in stretched down the street. After waiting a while in the bracing winds, we finally made it inside, and discovered why the line was so long. Yes, the con was being held in a fancy Boston hotel, but it was being held in its basement. A basement much too small, with dealers and fans trying to squeeze through the narrow aisles.
This was not like the cons of my youth. On the day I attended, there were no special lectures or film screenings. It was really just a glorified flea market with some cartoonist sitting around selling sketches and signing books. I was very disappointed. I think PW was appalled, although she is much too polite to say so. There were some highlights though:
• At every con, there are fans dressed up in costumes. Some of the costumes were really impressive, some not so much. I, of course, enjoy the cheese factor of the pathetic attempts at costuming. At this con, I particularly liked the fat, balding middle-aged Superman, the hefty, five foot tall Batman and the Black Canary who should have spent more time fighting crime, and less time eating Twinkies. For some reason, there were a lot of people dressed as the Batman villain Two-Face. Maybe it's an easy costume to throw together or something. The only problem with some of them was that the people wearing them had so much adolescent acne, it was hard to tell which was the "good" side, and which was the "bad" one.
• At this con, I learned a valuable, money saving tip: For the best prices on things, bring an attractive woman with you. Pretty girls are as rare as personal hygiene at a comic con, and most geeks don't know how to deal with them. Being a hot babe, Perfect Wife was able to haggle down the price of an action figure I wanted from the stammering, awkward dealer. He was unwilling to adjust the price for me, but PW turned on the charm and, BINGO! We got it for half price.
What was the action figure? A Star Wars Ewok. That's right, an Ewok. I know it sounds pathetic to be delighted at the purchase a "children's toy", but, I have a massive collection of Star Wars action figures (dolls) and all that was missing was an Ewok.
Actually, that is pathetic.
• The big saving grace for this con was the guests they had lined up. They had some real heavy hitters, like Jim Lee, Mike Mignola and Steve Rude. I know those names mean nothing to the public at large, but in the comic community the are major playuhs. I didn't care about any of them though. The guest I was most pleased to see was MAD Magazine legend Sergio Aragones. I have met Sergio as a "fellow professional" a few times, and he is always nice enough to pretend he remembers me. This time was no exception, and Sergio was kind enough to autograph a photo I had taken of him and PW at a cartoonist's event a few years back. He was also gracious at declining our invitation for coffee. Classy guy.
I met a bunch of lesser known artists too. Some are destined for obscurity, some I expect to see a lot more of in the future. One of the latter was artist Kelly Yates. A really nice guy. The fact he draws stories for the Doctor Who comics doesn't hurt either.
So, while there were some bright spots at the con, ultimately I was disappointed. Hopefully, it was a success for the people who ran it, and they will learn from their mistakes and do a better job next time. If there is a next time, that is.
Lest you think I am being a Negative Nelly, I am not the only fan who was underwhelmed by the event. Check out my fellow geek David's thoughts here.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I wanna go play with my Ewok.