I assumed that, after the initial stampede to get into the exhibition hall, there would be an ebb and flow to the action, a kind of natural rise and fall of crowdedness that would allow us to get around more easily after everyone had bought all their limited edition figurines.
My assumptions were based on blithe ignorance.
The crowds did not cease. Nor did they ease off, thin out or scale back.
People were everywhere.
Walking from one end of the hall to the other causes everyone to accidentally get to second base. I didn’t have this many breasts pushed into me slow dancing in Grade Eight. And I’m not just talking about female breasts. There is a heavy contingent of well-endowed gentlemen wandering about, and I don’t mean down below.
And when has shame disappeared from our culture?
I remember being a kid and worrying about who was going to go Shirts and who was going to Skins in gym class, but these days, there doesn’t seem to be such a stigma. There are people out there walking around as proud as punch, big, round people with plenty of self, and they’re wearing skin tight leotards, thongs, side cleavage-revealing dresses and bodystockings. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be wearing those things, because I fully support anyone’s decision to do what he or she thinks is right, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. But that doesn’t mean that he or she should.
If you have two great rolls of back fat bulging out the back of your costume far enough to look like some early form of wings, then shouldn’t you be hesitant to wear that outfit?
If twenty-seven pounds of cleavage falls out of your bodice and hits the floor when you bend over to adjust your lace up sandals, shouldn’t you be at least a little bit put out? I’m just not seeing this here. Let’s just say that there are a lot of Green Lanterns at Comic Con who wouldn’t pass the physical.
Remember I don’t think less of these people, I am just stymied by their confidence.
There were a few highlights from that premiere night that had nothing to do with questionably tight costume selections:
Seeing Neal Adams sitting there sketching Batman was a treat. I haven’t seen his work in ages, but there was a time when I was loved it. For many years, his definition of Batman was Batman. I leaned over his desk to thank him for some great art over the years, and he said I could get a photo with him for twenty bucks. Okay, maybe that part wasn’t so great, but you can’t blame a guy for trying to make some money.
Dropping by the Heavy Metal booth was awesome, as everything is when Kevin Eastman is involved. During our time working on the Turtle doc, we have been lucky enough to work with him and enjoy his kindness and hospitality a number of times, and we know him to be a truly generous and wonderful guy. And every single one of his fans who stops to get his autograph would say the exact same thing.
Kevin talks to everyone, signs everything, sketches for everyone, hugs anyone who wants it, tells the same story over and over again without any failing enthusiasm and does it with a big, honest smile throughout.
I can’t imagine any pubic figure so willing to share himself with his fans without any complaint for so long, and when asked about it, he says this – “I love my fans and I am lucky to have them because they’re the greatest. They’ve allowed me to have a great life and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to give them some time.”
He’s no less kind to us, letting us store some of the gear we’re not using under the tables at his booth, greeting us like old friends and making us feel very welcome in his presence. Every time.
Another really interesting aspect to this show is the overwhelming sensual power of it all. This is one of those places where all of your senses are exploding with data all at the same time, and the data is all over the map. I’ve already described some of the smells and feels, so we won’t go back into that, but the sights and sounds have to be experienced to be believed.
The more money a company has, the more incredible their booth, of course, and in the Exhibition Hall, incredible means big stuff, bright stuff, pop culturally relevant stuff, booth babes, characters we known for years, screaming soundtracks, hawkers with crappy mics, shiny giveaways and gewgaws, giant figures and models and posters. It’s just a barrage of competing imagery and noise, and for a sensitive little man like myself, it becomes a job trying to sort through it all. But it’s not a bad job. It’s tiring, sure, but it’s fun. I walk down the same corridor many times, and I never feel like I’ve seen it all.
I can’t help but think how amazing this place would be if I was here by myself. God knows how many football fields of geek culture all lined up in discrete booths, all loaded with stuff you would probably want to spend some time examining, everywhere you turn. It’s fascinating and frustrating and bizarre and entertaining and as much a pain in the ass as it is awesome.
By the end of that first night, after three hours of bumping around with more people than live in my entire county (two and a half times as many, actually), I am more than ready to zombie shuffle out to the parking lot and head for the hotel.
On our way out we see the Twilight overnighters hunkering down for the night. Even after a day of baking under the sun, and for some, on their 24th hour of waiting, they are still happy, giggling and giddy as they argue about who’s cuter.
I stop and talk to a few of the women in line, sitting on lawn chairs under a sign that says Twilight Mothers. They tell me about their online community, their Twilight Widowers, how excited they are to be here, how far some of them have come, and how much they are loving the whole experience.
“Even the waiting?” I say.
“Especially the waiting!” one woman says. “I’ve made so many new friends!”
I look back at the rest of the line. Hundreds of them, snaking through the grass outside the convention center. Not everybody looks happy, but the miserable are definitely in the minority.
Cousin Curt and Cub Reporter Isaac are right behind me, and I turn around, tempted to ask them if they want to stay, and almost hoping they do.