Drew: This past weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of attending Boston’s own Comic Con. Like Peter and Shelby‘s recent experience at C2E2, this was my first con. I arrived a little late, and found the line stretching around the block (the entrance to the convention center is around the corner and down a looong city block from where I took that picture), but was only the first of many lines I would enjoy that day.
I say “enjoy” only semi-facetiously, as I actually found those lines to be a great time to interact with my fellow nerds. That particular line found me trading stories about late 80′s/early 90′s action cartoons. In another line, I met a second pair of buddies — a father and son. The son was an intense but friendly high-schooler who LOVES comics. Dad obviously had no particular interest in comics, but was affable all the same. Standing in line or breaking for lunch afforded me the opportunity to take in some awesome cos-players, including several dozen Jokers, Flash’s own Rogues, and a particularly committed Sinestro, whom I never saw break character the entire weekend (much to his wife’s chagrin).
I headed to the Artists’ Alley in hopes of getting a few things signed (and maybe securing an interview or two for the site). My first stop was Francis Manapul‘s table. The line was short, but slow, as he was painting gorgeous as-you-wait commissions for his grateful fans. Almost as impressively, he was able to do this while chatting everyone up, sharing juicy teasers about what’s coming in the Flash, and pausing periodically to sign comics. He was part man, part machine, and all awesome.
I swung by Cliff Chiang‘s oddly lineless table (come on, Boston, he’s doing awesome stuff with Wonder Woman). I was able to get all eight issues signed without waiting, and observed him working on what turned out to be, appropriately enough, a commission for the blogger over at DC Women Kicking Ass.
I was able to snag a signature from Tim Sale. This was a Big Deal for me. I got him to sign my copy of The Long Halloween — the first trade paperback I ever bought, and an obvious pillar of my Batman fandom. I was exhausted from over-exposure to awesomeness (check back tomorrow for my interview with Francis Manapul), so I called it a day.
Day two started innocently enough. I knew I wanted to hit the DC Comics Panel, featuring all of the artists in attendance currently working on a DC title. My intention was to stake-out a seat early, which meant showing up for the preceding panel, which included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle co-creator Kevin Eastman. To this day, I’ve never read a TMNT comic, but it was still neat to have this element from my childhood return with such ardent support from a roomful of fans.
The DC panel was packed. The last seat — next to a Batman cos-player — was quickly filled… by a guy in a Joker outfit. The panel itself was set-up as a Q&A allowing fans an opportunity to interact with some of their favorite artists. I don’t mean to be a nerd-snob, but many of the questions were focused on either pedantic, “magic xylophone” level minutia, or on editorial or licensing decisions the panelists had no control over. Again, nothing against the fans asking the questions — they’re entitled to be curious about whatever they’re curious about — but the few questions posed by the panel moderator indicated that he could have ably led a more stimulating discussion than those about the specifics of issue numbering or what cities people worked from.
And I think that was my biggest surprise of the convention — I had come to think of myself as the typical nerd, but I now realize that the “Comic Book Guy” stereotype actually does manifest itself in real people. I was so honored to have a chance to meet some of my favorite artists and have them sign some of my favorite comics that it really made me sick when someone would plop a stack down for signatures, then slide them back into their protective sleeves without so much as a “thank you.” I think that was the thing I was most shocked by: comics are a commodity to these people. Every issue I had signed is a cherished possession of mine — not an object, but a work of art I care about. To see people getting each issue (with each variant cover) signed and filed away for either display or a quick buck on ebay actually hurts my heart a little.
GOD, I am a nerd-snob, aren’t I?
Those thoughts by no means marred the experience — I loved it and plan on going back in the future (with friends!) — but it certainly was eye-opening. The joy of the cos-players and the folks like the ones I met in line outweigh the cynicism of the collectors, so I left with a very positive outlook on nerd culture. Plus, I got all these books signed!