Report From The Con, Feb 6-9, 2009
Oh, sure there's plenty of hypey stuff at the show. Big Grand Theft Auto display featuring hostile, pissed-off-at-the-world toughs in the over-the-top graphics. The Marvel booth also displays its kinetic and multi-angled art in intimidating steroidal size. Various horror publishers send zombies out onto the floor to make sure you know about their undead wares. But thinking back to the days of the pulps, when artists like Edd Cartier -- Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's favorite illustrator before he'd founded his religion and was still a mere SF hack -- turned out stylish noir art for the likes of The Shadow, one must consider how far we've come from the simple elegant lines of that day. Are the constantly in motion jumble of color and character on display in many of today's comics an improvement, or has something been lost through mind numbing sensory overload.
The Comic Con seems to say that overload is supposed to be fun. And it is sort of cool; how the whirl of pop art and commerce mingle with the costumed freaks and geeks, in whose midst we are, like being at a party of circus folk -- the type of people kids were once fascinated with before CGI and huge production budgets made the major superheroes a somewhat slick and safe product.
Oddly, there's more of a sideshow feel where the real people are hanging out. Prime example -- Lou Ferrigno. For those who may not have their finger on the, weak, yet somehow still beating pulse of pop culture, circa the Seventies, he played the original Hulk in the TV show. Someone said they found Lou to be not so friendly, but I'm sure he was just trying to stay a bit in character for the fans. And the nerd/geek factor runs high when you have to pay a star like Robert Culp (I Spy, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice) $15 to have your picture taken with him. It's almost like: "Give me some money and I'll act like I'm your friend for 20 seconds." I paid him and had his assistant take our pic with my cell phone. I did it ironically, of course. But I didn't respect myself in the morning, for multiple reasons.
(Credit: Artist, Chris DiBari and Lucasfilm)
There were tons of things I was slathering over, yet couldn't buy due to budgetary restrictions. For a friend I picked up Secret Identity -- The Fetish Art Of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster, because she gets a (ahem!) kick out of that sort of thing. And it came with a bookplate signed by the author, Craig Yoe and Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, who penned the intro. I freely admit to geeking out a little over that.
More practically it will also serve as a good reference for items I picked up from the estate of a printer/collector's stamps dealer, a kindly little fellow who had a nice collection of naughty books and one-off print runs he and his buddies in the shop produced. The situation was very similar to an episode of the old LA Law show called The Lady Is A Stamp, wherein, post-death of philatelist (that word itself almost brings a leer), going through his "stamp collection" his porno hidden within is found and turns out to be an even more valuable collection.
Of course the big hottie for the geek set is Princess Leia in her Jabba The Hutt slave metal bikini. From a slight distance the sight does make even a jaded geek's pulse quicken, though when you get up close you usually see the flesh-toned body stocking. The image is becoming played out though as a number of these costumed geek ladies are always turning up at these conventions and are becoming as much of an (unavoidable pun ahead!) overexposed icon as Betty Page in various artist pinup poses. There are also countless Amazonian types -- pioneered by Sheena, Red Sonja and pneumatic and animalistic ladies of earlier decades -- in all media possible, including print, statuary, action figure, video, etc. But they all seem to be made from the same large breasted, jutting hipped, flaring nostriled, fiery eyed, flowing hair template.
After seeing so many of these images what really looks sexy is one of the female geeks in a Tank Girl Tee, a little streak of blue in her hair, reading Harvey Pekar's latest graphic opus and thinking about camping out on the sidewalk to be one of the first to see The Watchmen. Coming soon!