Right now, at this moment, there are bins of half-price trade paperbacks going unfondled by me. There are lines of people waiting for hours for the chance to see movie trailers a month before everyone else and I am not one of them. There might be a 40-year-old nerd embarrassing himself in front of Paul Levitz right now, but it is not me this time.
That’s right. I’m not at Comic-Con. I have a newborn baby girl, a three-year-old and a novel due. The choice was not actually that agonizing or difficult.
Thanks to the Internet (and Geoff Boucher), I can get all the news without shoving my way through the crowds. I believe that this year roughly a kajillion people are expected to show up, topping last year’s previous record.
It should be obvious to anyone that geek culture has won, and Comic-Con is its annual victory dance. Even James Wolcott is at Comic-Con this year. Now that Vanity Fair covers Nerd Prom, maybe everyone can finally stop using the goddamn headline, “Not just for kids anymore.”
Like this guy, I feel the need for some credit and recognition: I was a geek long before it was cool. I can still name all the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes (see my embarrassment and Paul Levitz, above); I read Alan Moore before Watchmen; and I was properly ashamed of myself for indulging in what was supposed to be a diversion for subliterates and grade-schoolers.
My very first Comic-Con, I dragged my then-girlfriend/now-wife along. Guys still stared at her like she was some kind of alien species in their midst, and she wasn’t even in spandex. (To be fair, guys stare at her everywhere.) Now the floor is packed with women, many of whom are wearing outfits like the “Wookini.” My second or third Comic-Con, I saw Grant Morrison just hanging out in one of the aisles and said hello. We talked for almost 30 minutes without another person interrupting. I cannot imagine that happening now. For starters, Morrison’s phalanx of elite supermodel bodyguards would never let me near him. Not that I would get that close, since I’d be at the back of the mob straining to touch his blazing white suit.
The backlash is inevitable at this point. Some people cannot wait to turn their backs on the whole thing, as if they’re just as embarrassed as I used to be. Like horror movies a while ago, there’s the forecast of the death of the superhero movie. There’s plenty of evidence for that argument: they’re remaking Judge Dredd, for chrissakes. (This should last at least until The Dark Knight Rises shatters box-office records again.)
Maybe we will return to Jock Culture, which is what I grew up with, and which is still a much bigger generator of revenue, no matter how many kids line up to see Harry Potter at midnight. Maybe we’ll go back to nerds huddling in their nerd-holes, fearful of sunlight and pummelings. Lord knows it is still not easy to be a kid, no matter how many movies they make about guys in spandex.
I’m reading Morrison’s Supergods, just released this week. It’s a book-length essay encapsulating all the things Morrison has been saying in his comics for the past couple decades. But this is the graf that really stood out to me so far:
When you put it that way, it doesn’t seem so much like fantasy anymore. The world is badly in need of saving. Maybe we’re not escaping into comic book worlds as much as we are looking for answers and heroes and hope. Given the alternatives, I would rather have my kids dressing in day-glo colors and believing in infinite possibilities fueled by solar rays and pure imagination. So if they want to go, I’ll take them to Comic-Con someday.
And maybe if we’re lucky, they will come back from their insane splash-page adventures with the ideas that could teach us all to fly.
- San Diego Comic-Con beckons. Here’s geek centerfold fantasy and Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn on her favorite things about Nerd Prom.
- And he might not be Maxim-worthy, but Chris Sims has his own take on what to see at Comic-Con.
- And while I’m not trying to start rumors of an impending Chris Sims/Olivia Munn whirlwind romance and marriage, here’s advice about how to get laid at Comic-Con. I wholeheartedly endorse #8, which advises showering.
- BTW, my panel, “Fang Boys and Fang Girls,” will be at noon on Saturday, July 24, in Room 7AB. I say “my panel,” but we all know the truth. It’s Charlaine Harris’s world. The rest of us just live in it.
- The Goon coming soon.
- Dept. of Dishing It Out But Not Taking It: Elizabeth Hasselbeck edition.
- “I am obsessed with Survivor, so I thought it would be fun.” One-star reviews of classic books on Amazon.
- Great news for Jack Reacher fans. Christopher McQuarrie (of the amazing and underrated Way of the Gun) to take on adaptation of One Shot.
- Interview with Bill Murray. That’s all you really need to know.
But here’s the thing: the high-wattage celebrity factor is already pretty significant. Plus, this convention shouldn’t be about what’s easy for the A-listers. The beauty of Comic-Con is that it’s about the fans. Keeping it as far away as possible from Hollywood reinforces the notion that this event is different from every other hyped-up, choreographed promotion-fest that happens on a weekly basis in the Land of Studio Lots and Power Lunches.
Glenn Beck vs. James Cameron: round two.
In the eyes of the law, who’s a better parent? Multi-millionaire Oscar winner/America’s sweetheart or a serial philanderer motorhead and his porn star ex-wife? The answer may surprise you.
Can a pope be fired? Because it looks like that might happen.
As I said earlier, I’m not at Comic-Con this year, which is why I’m sort of glad to see this report from Topless Robot: “everything kinda underwhelming.”
Unless, of course, you are a Twilight fan. In which case, you’d probably pass out from giddy delight. A lot of the old-school nerds are upset that fans of Edward and Bella are infringing on their turf. (See Topless Robot, above.) But there’s no question, really, what the big draw is this year, and what’s actually bringing the energy and enthusiasm to the con. (Not to mention actual girls, who have always been a minority at any gathering of comics geeks.)
Which leads me to the question: why has it taken until now for anyone to do a Twilight comic? And it’s manga-style, too. Yet another exhibit in how the comics industry is ignoring pretty much every demo except the aging fanboy.
And speaking of aging fanboys… (Yeah, nice transition there. Give me a break, I have real writing to do.) You can keep up with all the other nerd alerts coming out of SDCC by following my friends at Zap2It.com, or Dan at HitFix.com, Borys and James at the Hollywood Reporter, and Peter Larsen, AKA Old Pedro. It’s actually Peter’s first time at Comic-Con, so he’s losing his con virginity — intriguingly, by hanging out with thousands of adults who have never had sex. So if any of my fellow nerds see an 11-foot tall guy looking around like he’s lost, tug on his pantleg and help a brother out.
Yes, yes, I know: it’s Comic-Con. And once again, I’m not going. As it turns out, having a toddler cuts down on the time available to invest in nerd obsessions. Who knew? I am a little sad about that — I’ve been to Comic-Con almost every year I’ve lived in California — but not too much. I usually spend all my time among the vendors, buying far too much stuff. The last time I went, I ran out of vendors before I ran out of money, which was a first. The show — and comics geekdom in general — finally has the attention of the greater world, if not exactly the respect. That’s a good thing. But it does cut down on the number of surly, unwashed comics shop owners with stacks of dusty boxes, in favor of giant displays featuring Scarlett Johansson in a skintight leather suit as the Black Widow…
You know what? That’s all just fine.
But since I’m not at SDCC, I offer up a couple other facets of the geek world for your viewing pleasure today.
First, an interview at the Onion AV Club with Grant Morrison, the mad genius behind Invisibles, We3, Final Crisis, Seaguy, Marvel Boy, and a crapload of other comics. I saw Morrison speak at Meltdown Comics last month, and even when he’s just knocking ideas around, he usually comes up with an entirely new way of looking at things.
Next, on the other side of the continent from Comic-Con, an exhibit of stitch-related crafts dedicated to Star Wars. This is for my wife, who won’t recognize many of the characters, but will love to examine the knitting. You’re welcome, sweetie.