Editor’s note: Part one of the Nerd Prom 2010 Post-Mortem can be found here.
I’ve made a lot of noise here over the past couple of weeks or so about the negative parts of Comic-Con, and make no mistake: there ARE negatives if you look at the experience in a certain way. It’s crowded; the only reason I know that I haven’t yet been frozen out of my first-choice hotel is because they haven’t put Comic-Con 2011 dates up for reservation yet… and yes, I have called every day since I got back (Martha on the reservation desk either has caller ID or she answers all callers with a hearty “Fuck off, Reuter!”). And it’s Goddamned expensive; during some of my efforts to get drunk in bars the downtown Gaslamp District, I’ve been gazed upon with pity and offered roached butts and Bus Station Men’s Room Toilet Tank Sangria by homeless heroin addicts.
And God knows I’ve bitched incessantly about how Comic-Con should be more about, I don’t know… COMICS. Go ahead and check out the panel schedule for this year, and remember what Robert Crumb said about comics being nothing but written words and pictures. So what the fuck is DANNY ELFMAN doing here? Yeah, he wrote the soundtrack to Batman, but that was SIX MOVIES AGO. That fucker can write one good score… and he did… twenty years ago… and he KEEPS ON SELLING IT.
Sure: White Collar, Californication and Glee might be good shows (I say “might”; I’ll start watching any of them as soon as the goofy dialogue to musical number to indiscriminate gunfire radio approaches 1), but they are only related to comic books based on the number of lawyer-scrawled Wonder-Woman-rimming-Superman doodles that may or may not appear on the contracts that forced Comic-Con to bring them in in exchange for Tron: Legacy participation.
And make no mistake: that kind of “We’ll bring you the gold if you showcase this turd” blackmail HAS to be going on behind the scenes; it’s Occam’s Razor: there is no reason for Molly Shannon to be appearing on a major Comic-Con panel when she would attend for the vague mention of a hot meal.
Jesus, even Angelina Jolie showed up at Comic-Con this year, which made a nice headline for the straights in the press – “Jolie Deigns To Rub Elbows With Nerds” – and gives the gutter wits ample fodder for jokes about walking past a hundred thousand dirty, dehydrated and hopeless people without adopting any of them. But those of us who ATTEND Comic-Con know what the REAL story is: Since all the REALLY good shit is scheduled for Saturday, if Angie only had the juice to get a THURSDAY Hall H panel? She’s only a Sky Captain II away from the Sunday morning voice acting panel in *snort* room 2AB… and then it’s just a hop, skip and a Sharks Tale II away from working the Troma booth in a half-shirt and a completely dead-eyed smile.
Sure; it adds a certain amount of extra excitement to Comic-Con knowing that these Hollywood types are wandering around, but it’s just that: hype. And it’s usually EMPTY hype; having Will Sasso at a comic book convention adds nothing substantial except for more unnecessary biomass, unless his studio contract rider stipulates that he be helicoptered out of the city to shit… and having just written myself into a corner where I now have to picture Will Sasso taking a pantless dump, I pray that that rider exists.
Comic-Con has become so big and stuffed with Hollywood shit that some people are starting to call it the American Cannes Film Festival. And being an American institution in the twenty-first century, that means that they’re getting ready to fuck it up by trying to GROW it. Which is a uniquely American instinct; everyone wants a bigger dick… here, more often than not, we try to get a bigger dick by stomping on it. Repeatedly.
Comic-Con’s lease at the San Diego Convention Center expires after 2012, and since it has reached its current critical mass, the organizers are in talks to maybe move the convention after that, with the current front-runners being Anaheim and Las Vegas. This is an exciting prospect only to people who haven’t been able to attend the convention in San Diego, people who have obtained souvenir sunstroke by fruitlessly waiting in line for Hall H, and people who hold an unnatural grudge that crowds have prevented them from achieving their dreams of harassing Nicolas Cage for an autograph at a urinal.
For those of us with a history at Comic-Con and who are willing to put in the planning and the sacrifices to be there every year, saying that they’re gonna move it is the geek equivalent of seducing a woman by describing a sweet act of lovemaking and then tagging it with: “Only up your ass. And HARD.”
A huge part of the fun of going to Comic-Con is that fact that you’re also going to SAN DIEGO. Our hotel room there overlooks the bay. We’ve been going long enough to have found a fully authentic Mexican taco joint, in a part of town where the only other things for sale are bail bonds, where I can stuff myself with a breakfast burrito so dense it comes with salsa AND an event horizon for six bucks.
I know a San Diego burger joint that, in spite of California having the most stringent Mommy-State, Body-Nazi laws I’ve ever been subjected to (And I say this as a resident of Boston, whose mayor would outlaw human defecation if Bloomberg in New York muttered that it might make the subways at least less openly horrible first), know that ordering “rare” isn’t the same as attempted suicide by Bovine spongiform encephalopathy and therefore requires no police involvement. They also have 7.2 percent ABV Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale on draft for three bucks a whack, proving that even in an enclave of damn dirty hippies there’s at least one place that doesn’t give a fuck WHAT you do with your brain so long as it’s capable of getting itself the hell out under its own power when you’re done chemically burning it.
Do you think I want to trade these things for a buffet breakfast of egg product at the Bellagio based in a room overlooking some rat-infested hole in the desert where Steve Winn plans to shit another replica of a better place in the world? Unless he’s opening a casino / hotel complex called The San Diego, Vegas can go fuck itself… and even then, I don’t like to vacation in a place where you have to kill MULTIPLE hookers before you get put on an ugly list; I’m lazy, it feels like I’m being condescended to, and at least in San Diego I know where to get a bail bond if things go sideways on me.
And Jesus; Anaheim would be even fucking WORSE. The only thing Anaheim has going for it is Disneyland, and call me old fashioned, but I still believe that the only people who should be voluntarily setting up shop next to Disneyland should be carrying a business card printed with words “Disney”, “Walt Junior” or “NAMBLA”.
Even if you ignore the fact that if Walt Disney had spent a little more energy on his anti-Semitism than on his delusions of grandeur Anaheim would probably known only as the pornography capital of America right now… well shit; you CAN’T ignore that, can you? In programmers terms, Anaheim == Disney, which means that even if there were no connection whatsoever, it would be hard to argue that Disney didn’t buy and pay for Comic-Con. I don’t think I could in good conscience attend Comic-Con – a “celebration of the original comic arts” – if I thought it was under the thumb of a company founded on a cartoon character knocked off another original character, with a stolen name and personality, who debuted in a lighthearted tale about attempted felony forcible rape.
Personally, I don’t think Comic-Con’s going anywhere. San Diego’ll fight tooth and nail to keep it there, because what else do they have to bring that many people in? The Zoo? Like hell – Comic-Con’s a guaranteed week of big money a year. The Zoo can’t match that – they can’t schedule when the pandas fuck! And do you have any idea how much Mrs. Dash and honey mustard it would take to get a guaranteed one-week timeline when they eat their young?
No, Comic-Con’s just putting the arm on San Diego to get as much free stuff as possible; when this is all said and done, Comic-Con’ll sign a ten-year lease with San Diego in exchange for an expansion to the convention center and a massive tax break. I know a line of extortive bullshit when I see one because I’m from Massachusetts, which means I know enough to be able to tell that “Las Vegas Comic-Con” rings about as true as “Hartford Patriots“.
To be concluded…