August 6, 2007

Comiconsequences and Batman Belts

Comicon sucks. There, I said it. But having said it, that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy Comicon (at least on some level). It just happens to be a rushed, crowded, sweaty, and frustrating ordeal each July.

Me and a biiiiiiig comic fan, who paved
a path for me into the con.

Every year a couple hundred thousand people from all over the world descend on San Diego for this uber-geek-fest of pop media. And I have to admit I get swept up in all the "gee-whiz, wow, that is so cool", vibe as much as anyone.

Is this the line to the bathroom?

I am NOT a comic book aficionado. Not even close. I'm ashamed to admit that I have a barely functioning knowledge of comics. Oh, I know the major comic characters, and I'm a huge fan of anything Alan Moore's written. But I'm soooooo out of the loop, especially in this - the super bowl of comic book information and memorabilia. I have to say, it's just overwhelming, and more than one day on the trade floor and I reach information overload.

I don't care if you ARE a Sith-Lord, use the Force to learn some hygiene.

Working in the animation world requires that I keep a functioning knowledge of what's going on in this industry. Comicon is not just about comic books, it's about art, animation, movies, TV shows, novels, posters, video games, toys, and anything else that can be attached to a broadcast or print property - especially if it's sci-fi, superhero, or horror. If it's in print, on TV, or in the movies it's probably represented here in some fashion.

I need to get back into reading comics, there's some really cool stuff happening, and I'm way out of the loop. It's just that it takes a $30 to $50 a week commitment to stay even moderately current buying what comes out each week.

My earliest geek connection to all this stuff had to be the old campy Batman TV series with Adam West. I wasn't even in grade-school yet, but it was one of my favorite TV shows. And my most prized possession at that time was my very own Batman Utility Belt.

Kid's love guns & bats, why not both together?!

Even as a kid, it always bothered me that my Batbelt came with a pistol (dart gun, if I recall) - because Batman never carried a gun. At the time this toy came out (1966 or so) it cost about $5. Me being just a little tyke and unable to understand the cost of things, a Batbelt became a unit of cash in my mind. I would ask my Dad how much certain things cost and he'd tell me, "that's about three batman belts" or whatever was appropriate. So this was my earliest recollection of learning the "value" of something.

But if I'd really learned anything about "value" I would have saved my damn Batbelt... the picture above is from a recent toy auction where that sucker sold for over 8 grand! That's more than 1,600 Batman belts.

As I grew older I discovered comic books. At the time - the early to mid 70's - I latched onto some of the basic characters: Batman (of course), Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, and Superman, and many one-shot forgettable wannabe superheroes who never lasted.

But Batman remained my overall favorite. I guess what I liked was that Batman was a superhero who had no "super" abilities, other than his above-normal physical strength, his great agility, and his superb detective reasoning. The dark cape and creepy bat cowl didn't hurt either I suppose.

Fortunately I never saw THIS issue of Detective Comics. I'm pretty sure it would have turned me away from the Kilted-Crusader once and for all. I found this image online... and it just sends chills through my bones at how bad this looks.

Quick Robin, to the Haggis mobile...
And stop looking at my baterang!

And so that is was my start with comic books. Then I fell out of touch with them, but then around 1986 it was Alan Moore and Frank Miller who drew me back in, with Moore's Watchmen and Millers' re-imagining of Batman in The Dark Knight Returns.

Oh man is this some good stuff here!
Blood & lightning, how can you go wrong?

And understand, that all my comic references are painfully pedestrian to anyone who really reads comics. I was, and am, just a "tourist". However from the 80's on I would drift in and out of the comic book world. Much like I was drifting in and out of booths and panels at Comicon.

Wandering around the Convention Center at Comicon is somewhat daunting, especially since so much of what I see I have no connection with - but would really like to. There's just too much. So after awhile I just end up looking around, not at anything specific, but at this mass of geek-oid humanity. It's pretty amazing that so many people find the same stuff interesting and that it strikes such a passionate chord for some. Not unlike how die-hard sports fans are I suppose. The Comicon people are fascinating. There's all types, all shapes, all sizes, all temperaments, and a lot of them have time to come up with very impressive costumes.

And as you walk along the convention floor you never know who (or what) you'll see...

Holy crap! It's Henry Rollins!...

...and over there its... Joss Whedon!

Mr. Whedon, will you sign my lightsaber?
Um... sure, but I think you're confusing Firefly with Star--
Please don't hurt me...

I also run into plenty of people that I've worked with to like my buddy Zack Sherman

All systems are "go" for stupidity!
(Zack made me wear the helmet for the picture.)

Zack's cool, not just because he has a hairline that no human male should be allowed to have, but he also worked at ILM on all the new Star Wars films doing effects, and he wrote and published his own graphic novel Seal Team 7.

And if that wasn't enough, Zack's also directly related to this guy:

Gen. Tecumseh Sherman.
Careful, he bites.

Zack and I first met in the early 90's while we were both working our "survival jobs". We were employed at Electronic Boutique in the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square mall. Wait a second... the Sherman Oaks mall... Zack Sherman....? hmmm, that's fishy.

The first time we ever hung out was to eat coconuts and watch "Enter the Dragon". Seriously.


There are also plenty of panels and screenings to attend at the Con... it's just difficult to get into most of them due to the crowds. I was able to get into the Henson Company panel where they performed a little of their Puppet Up improv show. It's a live stage show where the performers improv skits with puppets. It's great!

Lisa and Brian Henson, looking far more
serious than they really were. Or maybe they
were just in a meeting with
Better check for bite marks.

And there's plenty of movie stuff to run into as well, like the Mark I suit from the upcoming Ironman movie.

Geez, I really need to get this thing ironed.

Comicon is after all one huge trade-show. With publishers, broadcasters, artist, and writers all exchanging info and collectors grabbing up their dogeared prizes or MIB toys that they can cherish. As for me? I was just glad I got to pester one unsuspecting costumed character...

Yo! Pikachu, check my cool coconut Kung Fu fighting moves!

And then next year, the madness all starts again.


Eugene said...

I had no idea you used to work at EB. So you'd be the person to ask if I'm having trouble getting Mechwarrior to play right on my Apple 2gs...

And while Batman in a kilt is bad, I assume you've already seen the other cringe-worthy comic book covers at

Tom said...

Yeah... back in the day, I worked at EB. The upside was that I got to wait on a lot of celebrities in that mall. That made it kinda' cool. But there were also lotta jerks I had to deal with. I'd just started when the home version of Street Fighter came out - that was a crazy time.

Man thanks for the Superdickery Link, that site is awesome! Mmmm, I'm sensing more comic posts.

Eugene said...

These are my favorite superdickery pages-

brownfoxb said...

Best Comic Con blogging. Ever.

Charlotte said...

Cool that you liked Puppet Up! :D Got a couple Muppeteer friends in that show, and they're going to be playing some dates in LA. Check it out--and help pad the audience. ;D

"Jim Henson's Puppet Up - Uncensored (the puppet improv comedy troupe that I'm a part of) is having a show in L.A.! It's at the Avalon theater in Hollywood on the 17th. If you can't make it then, there are more dates listed on the Avalon website , and you can get there via ."

And pimpin', Eugene? Hello?! What, no shout-out to GEEK MONTHLY's intrepid reporter, YME? ;D

Eugene said...

I don't want to risk cheapening my relationship with YME by acknowledging it in public. I value it too much to do that. Okay, fine.


Swenlin said...

I'd also like to say that your photos are great, Tom. That first one with the Con poster hanging in the convention center is fantastic - and so crisp too! That image is like a sci-fi potato chip! I'll bet I could eat a whole bag of that image!

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