July 31st, 2020


Comic Con at Comic Con

Here's the recently deceased Congressman John Lewis when I saw him at Comic Con in 2016. As I recall, he was actually involved with a comic of some kind. I certainly wasn't expecting to see him, though I had by that point come to expect the unexpected at Comic Con.

The Comic Con at Home experiment ended last week and it's generally being seen as unsuccessful. Views on YouTube for most panels were under 20,000, far less than the number who actually attended the Con and well under the usual number of views generated by YouTube posts of the event. Nothing beats actually being there, or even vicariously being there. So to-day I thought I'd post a list of experiences I had at the Con that could never be simulated online.

Twin Peaks 2017 Panel

2017 was the year Twin Peaks came back and that will always be a high watermark in my life. And one of the highlights of that was watching the premiere of Season 3, Episode 11 with a room full of Twin Peaks fans and several castmembers. Of course, for other fandoms there, there were equivalently exciting events.

Randomly Meeting Talented Celebrites

Guillermo Del Toro gave me permission to take the photo when I randomly ran into him in a bookstore on the main floor. Too bad it came out so blurry. This was in 2015, right after I saw his panel for Crimson Peak, and it was a pleasure to be able to honestly tell him how fantastic I thought the movie looked.

The 2014 NASA Panel

Saying you watched Buzz Aldrin on YouTube is a lot different from saying you were in the same room with Buzz Aldrin. Anyway, a video gives you one perspective on an experience. When a thousand eyes and ears are transcribing the experience, each in their own way, some of them only privately, it's a very different thing.

Talking to Great Comic Artists

Thanks to Comic Con, I've met both Jaime and Gilbert (pictured) Hernandez, Gerald Brom, Gary Gianni, and many more. It's great to be able to show your appreciation (Brom told me how lonely an experience his work could be) and also get some insights into their work process.

The Cinema Makeup School Creatures

The main floor of Comic Con is filled with a diverse array of amazing talent and spectacle. One of my annual favourites was the Cinema Makeup School which unleashed a different astonishing creation on the crowd every year.

Comic Con Taking Over Downtown San Diego

The Con's been too big for the convention centre for a long time. Panels were held in the library and in hotels and businesses all over downtown held their own events and genre related promotions. For a few weeks every year, downtown San Diego became Comic Con.

The 2011 Twixt Panel

Few events are comparable to watching one of the greatest filmmakers alive, Francis Ford Coppola, experiment with a new style of filmmaking--one he obviously didn't end up pursuing, but still--and actually edit a short film in real time response to crowd reaction. It was a singular experience but also part of the atmosphere of experimentation and creative freedom to be found at the Con.

Seeing Original Frank Frazetta Paintings Up Close

Also in 2011, Robert Rodriguez announced he was going to remake Ralph Bakshi's Fire and Ice and, to promote the film, or really, to use the promotion as an excuse, he gave everyone in the Hall H crowd a ticket to view a selection of actual Frazetta paintings in a gallery across the street. Seeing the paintings up close I saw the colours as Frazetta meant them to be seen and I realised how muted they are in typical reprints.

Striking Up Conversations With Cool Weirdos in the Queue with You

How many lengthy conversations about art and music have I had with total strangers who felt like old friends who I also never saw again? It was part of the weird community feeling of Comic Con.

Meeting Talented Indie Artists

(Pictured art by Danni Shinya Luo) I've meet so many talented artists, writers, and creators in Artist Alley and areas for web comics and independent publishers. Especially now that many of the sites that made it easy to find new works from such creators are gone, actually wandering amongst them in person was always a pleasantly eye opening experience.

That's just a few of the experiences you can have in person and you'll notice I didn't even mention buying merchandise.

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