Retcon Punch at Boston Comic Con


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!


11 comments on “Retcon Punch at Boston Comic Con

  1. So, I keep my books in bags/boards. But I do this mostly because individual issues aren’t as sturdy as a trade paperback, and are prone to damage. Do you remember comic books in the 80s/90s? They fell apart if you looked at them the wrong way. But I do also read mine more than once, and barely tape the sleeves shut. Sleeves also make for easier storage. But I also felt a little sick when I would see the ‘Comic Book Guy’ you described above at C2E2. When I would get things signed, I would exchange a few words with the artists/writers. BE NICE people! It counts.

    • It’s not that I have anything against the sleeve/board set-up (frankly, anything would be a step-up from my “stack in a box” storage method), but the way certain people did it that bothered me. At least imply that you enjoyed the comic. Maybe I came off as a gushing fan-boy, but I’d rather do that then treat the artists and writers like dancing monkeys.

      • When I went to Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga #1 signing at Meltdon, the store’s staff reiterated over and over that Brian was only going to sign 3 books. It was midnight after all and the poor guy has a new baby at home. That didn’t stop asshole after asshole from plopping down 20 issues of Saga #1 and making him sign them all. That’s the part that REALLY gets me – clearly, he’s just getting 20 issues signed so he can have (and probably sell) TWENTY SIGNED COPIES OF SAGA #1!

        Brian took it in good humor (the guy did just buy 20 copies of his brand new book), but man, is that shitty or what?

        • Yeah, that was the thing that really irked me — the guys who were also getting variant cover issues signed. WHY DO YOU NEED TWO COPIES OF THE SAME BOOK? I’m really not a fan of the whole variant cover thing. The value of comics comes from the fact that we care about them, not that they’re rare. It’s really sad that there’s a market for that shit. Oh well, there’s a sucker born every minute, I guess. I just hate running into the people who are doing everything they can to take advantage of them (and cheapening the art-form in the process).

  2. Do you still have that Two Face from the Long Halloween action figure I bought you all those years ago? Did I buy that as part of some RLA appreciation thing or just because we were in love at the time?

  3. Hey, didn’t they just relaunch the TMNT line like a year ago? I don’t have any information about it, but an easy entry-point would totally get me reading Turtles books. I may have to ask my comic shop guys for advice.

  4. I need to figure out what to do with the books I got signed. On the one hand, I consider them “signed art” and want to display them as such. BUT then I can’t read them whenever I want to….

    • Yeah, I’m not sure what to do with mine — though then again, I’m not sure what to do with my comics in general. My signed copies are definitely going to continue to be my “reading/reference” copies, but maybe that’s just me rebelling against collector culture.

  5. Pingback: Interview with Francis Manapul: April 21st, Boston Comic Con | Retcon Punch

  6. I’ll share some of my “convention tricks” with you. Maybe you already know everything, but otherwise you’ll thank me.
    First trick: You must go to conventions on the last day. The reason is simple: in the previous days the seller doesn’t make much discounts, because he thinks “Tomorrow I may sell it at a full price.” On the last day, he starts being afraid of coming back home with lots of comics and very little money, so he will be much more willing to make discounts. Yes, of course going on the last day is a risky move, because someone could have bought what you are looking for in the previous days, but generally speaking it’s a profitable choice.
    Second trick: When the seller tells you the price, NEVER accept straightaway. Even if the price is ridiculously low, you must make a sad face, that conveys the message “I would like to buy it, but the price is too high.” When the seller sees that face, sometimes he shrugs his shoulders and turns his back on you, sometimes he makes a discount. If he makes a discount, close the deal. If he doesn’t, check whether the other sellers have what you want at a lower price: if they have, buy it; if they haven’t, close the deal with the hateful seller who doesn’t make discounts.
    Third trick: Ask a credit card payment. Sellers prefer cash, so, 9 times out of 10, they will tell you they don’t accept credit cards. When they tell you so, you must say “Then I’m afraid I can’t close the deal”: 9 times out of 10, the seller will be so sad about seeing his money fly away that he will tell you “Well, if you pay cash I could lower the price again.” If he doesn’t say so, close the deal anyway: “grab all lose all”, the proverb says.

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