Thursday, July 27, 2006

Comic Con! #1

Brad and I returned on Monday from 5 days in California at the San Diego Comic Con. For those who haven't heard (as I hadn't, 2 years ago), Comic Con is a convention for comic book art, but it has grown to the point that it describes itself more as a convention for 'lovers of pop culture'. Comics, all kinds, movie companies, fantasy books and movies, Star Trek and other TV series past and present, Star Wars, artists, fans, publishers, and more all converge for 4 days. I'm going to blog a couple posts about my thoughts on it.
First, however, let me say quickly that we took a one-day detour to go to Sea World. I hadn't been there for over 10 years, and I'm almost embarassed to admit how much fun I had. Sea otters, orcas, dolphins, and such are high up on my 'cute' list, especially when they perform in a show. Well, 'cute' doesn't quite cover it, since killer whales are not the same kind of cute as an otter carrying a can of soda (picture to follow), but it's just a rare spectacle to see rare animals showing their intelligence through what they've learned, and I guess the best way to put it is that I appreciate that. I squealed and oohed and ahhed all day, as we went to about 5 animal performances, and Brad was extremely patient through the whole excursion. I think he was keeping his mind on the upcoming Con to keep from getting too bored, although he really enjoyed the animal shows too (and even touched a bat ray, albeit under duress- from me :-).
Wednesday night, however, we made our way to downtown San Diego, found an elusive parking space, and hit the Con for preview night. This was an early entry for all the 4-day pass holders to register and be the first to see the merchandise floor. Now the San Diego convention center is huge, and the Con filled it to overflowing. The ground floor, with the merchandise booths, was probably about a quarter-mile long and covered with booths and aisleways for its entire length. We wandered around for about an hour and a half, and most of the time my mouth was just hanging open, trying to take it all in.
Now, I saw myself rather as an interloper at this event, because I really know next to nothing about most comic books and characters. All I know about Batman, Spiderman, etc, comes from the recent movies and from Brad. I do know my Star Wars, and I've read Tolkien and Hitchhiker's Guide, so I didn't consider myself a complete ignoramus, but my knowledge is a cupful in the vast ocean that was presented at this Con. So I tried to take as much as I could in, but I also bordered on overload most of the time we were there. I helped balance the feeling by people-watching; and if you're a people-watcher, you should go to this event next year- it was a prime spot for the passtime. The crowd was not homogenous, by any means, but there definitely was a trend towards males in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Some people were in regular clothes, some had shirts or buttons proclaiming their particular allegiance (Green Lantern, anime series, Star Wars, etc), and others were in costume. Of the costumes, some were intended to be a certain character and others (this was more prevalent among girls) were an opportunity to dress however they always wanted to (mostly this was Hot-Topic-esque).
Probably the dominant impression in my mind, as we left that night, was that the escapism that comics and pop culture offer is hugely popular. There are plenty of other forms of escapism in the world, too, but this was a big representative slice. It made me think about why people want the escapism, and how much it's a part of my life, and what my attitude should be towards that. The next four days gave me a lot more time to think these things over.

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