TQP Day-Trip: Comic-Con!

Posted: June 21, 2009 in Threat Quality

Comic ConWelcome to the first-ever Threat Quality Day Trip, to the Wizard World Philadelphia comic convention, hosted by the sadly faltering Wizard Entertainment. How faltering was it? It took me a while to feel out why the place felt so…low-rent, until it dawned on me: there was no presence by either Marvel or DC Comics at the event. Turns out, the Heroes World convention in Charlotte was the place to be this weekend, and you can read all about the Big Two’s major announcements (okay, mostly just Mark Waid writing a Dr. Strange miniseries) at Newsarama.

Without the relative respectability major publisher presence gives to a convention, WWP brought me back to the rinky-dink Holiday Inn conventions of my youth. This isn’t a complaint, really – I have fond memories of my first forays into comics fandom (which is mostly populated by sickly and/or overweight die-hards – if you ever want a confidence boost, go to a convention; I’m not overstating it to say Chris, Friend of TQP Matt Burns, and I were among the handsomest people there).

Anyway, allow me my disjointed impressions of the show:

Chunky Venom–          Kinda light on costumes Friday afternoon, since the contests were held on Saturday. But I got what I needed, in the form of a short fella in a Venom costume, rocking a pot-belly, a backpack AND a fanny-pack. Thank you, chunky Venom. You made my day.

–          There were, in fact, two competing amateur-Jedi organizations. And they would like us to join. In case we found Ren-Faire too upscale, I guess.

–          Without Marvel or DC in attendance, the biggest publisher there was easily Avatar, which publishes the bulk of Warren Ellis and Back Issue BinsGarth Ennis’s output these days. Manning that booth – Mike Wolfer, artist and co-writer of Ellis’s combat-magician series, “Gravel.” After shaking his hand, I can tell you this: Mike Wolfer has very boney hands.

–          The majority of the booths are made up of area retailers with massive 50-cent bins. This is retailers trying to re-sell me terrible comics that I bought in the early 90’Chris and Swords and have since thrown out.

–          I’ve never seen a guy so happy as Chris when an operator at one of the (many!) edged-weapons booths let him hold a ginormous sword. Like a kid on Christmas morning. A scary kid, on a very dangerous Christmas morning.

–          Walking down Artists’ Alley is an especially uncomfortable experience. Everyone looks ready to have some attention paid to them, and the moment you lock eyes with them, you feel like a bit of a shit if you don’t go over and say hello. But many of these people are totally unfamiliar, and even those I did recognize – like Jim Califiore, who did Aquaman like 15 years ago – what are you gonna say? “Hey, you’re that guy! Well…moving on.”

–          Artists’ Alley is nowhere near as saddening as The Walk of Celebrity Career Wreckage, where people you vaguely remember from days gone by (hi there, “Buck Rogers” actress Erin Grey, who looks like my mom now) and more recent genre shows (“Witchblade” star Yancy Butler, who, uhm…either has an eating disorder or a serious coke habit, and I I Met KITTdon’t know which one I hope made her that alarmingly thin) sit at a table and put up with too-invested fans for $30 an autograph.

–          But at least now nobody can say I haven’t seen Lou Ferrigno and the Knight Rider car up close.

–          Not in attendance Friday: Edward James Olmos (who apparently is not too good for this nonsense). The lack of Olmos made us all realize that had he actually been there, we probably would’ve just bugged him about all of his non-“Galactica” roles (“So, when you were playing that supreme court candidate on ‘West Wing,’ what kind of research did you do? Did you follow Scalia around or anything?”).

–          We also learned just how much fun it is to do gravel-voiced impressions of an exhausted Olmos sitting in his hotel the night before the convention (“Hello, room service? …hhhh…Edward James Olmos requires more hookers. And whiskey. And hookers.” – yes, our Olmos speaks of himself in the third person…and demands hookers). Give it a try.

–          I could not decide which was the sadder sight, so I’ll present them to you and let you decide:

–          Sadness #1: Former wrestler The Honky-Tonk Man, 20 pummeling Where Is Honky-Tonk Manyears older than you remember him, still wearing his Elvis jumpsuit; at some point, the suit must’ve gotten itchy or something, because the next time I saw him, he was walking back to his table in flip-flops, gym shorts, a tank-top and unbuttoned short-sleeve, the better to show off his expansive gut.

–          Sadness #2: A woman none of us could place, because unlike other booths, there wasn’t even a sign to let us know where we might have known her from. There were only a series of tasteful nude pinups on the table. When we asked the guy coordinating the “Get your picture taken with a celebrity who’s an awfully good sport” tent, he struggled to recall, then finally answered, “Oh, she flashed her boobs in American Pie.” When Chris pointed out that it was Shannon Elizabeth who did that, he replied, “No, she flashed her boobs earlier in the movie. That’s her claim to fame, apparently.”

–          Needless to say, we liked this guy, and I kinda wish we’d gotten to talk to more of the event staff – they’re the ones with the really interesting stories, and are far easier to relate to.

–          Thing I managed to do right: catch the last half of a Q&A with Garth Ennis Q&AEnnis, writer of Preacher, Hellblazer, War Stories, Hitman, Punisher, and a lot of books between and since  that have mostly been puerile gross-out humor and ultra-violence (even though I do agree with Chris that Ennis is kind of a one-trick pony, I’m more forgiving, since he sometimes does this trick very well). Pleasant enough experience, until I realized that I haven’t read anything he’s done since the start of his mature-readers Punisher book. Worth it to hear his opinions on the three Punisher movies (“Yeah, I know, it’s Dolph Lundgren, but one thing they did right – when he pulled out a gun, he didn’t put it back until like 20 people were dead.”). And yeah, I’ll listen to anyone with an Irish accent.

–          And we were DEFINITELY the best-looking people at that Q&A.

There you have it: Philly Comic Con ’09. What’s that? More photos? Okay, fine. (Others can be seen here.)

Amateur Jedi Booth

Amateur Jedi recruiting station #1.

Chris Has a Weapons-gasm

Chris has a weapons-gasm.

How Exciting!

I just pooped an energon-cube, I’m so excited by this bout!

Girl-Robin, Jubilee and Riddler

Reason #424 to have an Asian lady-friend: You’ll always have a Jubilee to compliment your…uhh…Riddler and Robin costumes (I blame DC for not having more Asian characters!).

McCain Blowout

Comic-Con ’09: THE place to get bargain-basement McCain merch. (And yes, “McCain Blowout” sounds hilarious for so many reasons I can’t even start.)

Obligatory Storm Trooper and Slave-Leia

Your obligatory Storm Trooper/Slave Leia shot.

Nightmare Before Comic-Con

Nightmare before comic-con.

Signed Shadow Poster

At some point it seemed like good business sense to get the cast of The Shadow to sign a poster. But y’know what? We like The Shadow. AND The Rocketeer, dammit, since you asked!

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy and the Penguin browse the discount bins.

We Do Not Like This Development

And finally, Chris expresses his displeasure at the possibility that we’ll end up on the Wizard website. (It’s okay, Chris – nobody, not even Wizard staffers, check the Wizard website.)

  1. braak says:

    God damn I should have bought that horse-cutter sword.

  2. Hsiang says:

    Now, every time you see an entire uncut horse you will shed a single manly tear.

  3. braak says:

    You have no idea how much it pisses me off, knowing that there are intact horses still out there, and knowing that I could have done something about it.

  4. Megan says:

    I’ve been to many cons in my day. Of course when I was going to cons regularly it was during the glory .com days, so everyone had money to throw around. This one sound just pitiful. But from what I heard Mocco was a bust this year too.

  5. Moff says:

    I’ve read a little of Ennis’s The Boys, and, while ultraviolent and puerile (man, he still thinks being gay is pretty funny—or maybe he’s satirizing people who still think being gay is pretty funny), it held my attention enough that I’d like to read the whole thing whenever he finishes it. (He may have finished it by now; I don’t know.) I just read Preacher earlier this year, and it was a far fucking cry from, like, Sandman, but I did go out of my way to finish it, so.

  6. Moff says:

    (Although basically, in the highfalutin, “darkly intelligent” world of Preacher, the solution to everything seems to be punching. Punching really well.)

  7. Jeff Holland says:

    Punchin’, and also a little growin’ as a person (persin’?).

    According to Ennis, “The Boys” is currently in its third year, and they’re shooting for about 70 issues. But I think given the choice, I’d much rather catch up on the Punisher MAX series, since Ennis tends to take his war-themed stories a little more seriously than anything involving superheroes.

    (Which is why “Hitman” is such a weird book, tonally – one minute, it’s doing that whole war-buddies camaraderie, then next it’s introducing a superhero named Dog-Welder. God I hope they finish collecting that someday.)

  8. braak says:

    @moff: I think it’s interesting that big speech that Jesse gives Cassidy about how he’s just no darn good, because he never LEARNED how to punch, he just used his vampire powers to punch.

    But it’s never made clear exactly when Jesse learned how to punch, either. All the flashbacks ever show is him getting the crap beaten out of him. I’m not sure that’s a viable way to learn how to be good at punching.

  9. Jeff Holland says:

    Maybe Jesse just got a lot of punching to compare: “Okay, when Jodie punched me with his knuckles in a jabbing position, that hurt a little more than when he backhanded me, but less than when he threw that lunging uppercut. Duly noted.”

    Sorry: “Duly noted…pardner.”

  10. Moff says:

    @braak: Those are really good points.

    I also wasn’t really clear on whether Cassidy really did have a crush on Tulip that caused him to become a complete ass, or if that was catalyzed by the whole “firing an unloaded gun repeatedly at his picture” voodoo curse.

  11. I think ever con has that exact same lobby, with that exact same endless silver escalator up to the event floor.

  12. V.I.P. Referee says:

    The last con I went to was in Boston. Lots of interesting folks showed up. The place was crawling with the cast of “Mystery Men” and outfitted like a psychedelic “Hello, Kitty!” carnival. Three random guys approached me at different times and told me I looked like an elf. Since I wasn’t remotely in costume, I was, at first, totally put-out by that—like, maybe, I had very prominent Keebler-esque ears or looked like “Bat-baby”. I was later told by my ex that it was a compliment and, therefore, allowed myself to be appropriately flattered. Halfway through the day, a girl that had been hired to dress like some character (I don’t know what; her outfit consisted of a Victorian riding hat and coat with tails over a body suit, light blue tights and riding boots) approached me and just started discussing her thesis, stating “sometimes I’ll work these conventions along with a regular crew…” I don’t know what vibe about me said “not one of them” but the scenario reminded me of two parents talking on the playground, while the kiddies ran off their energy. There were film-screening rooms, a fancy dress ball, gamers dorkin’ it out everywhere and rooms and rooms of comic and fantasy merchandise. I had a “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” table battling over whether I’d join “Bar-fleet” or weapons crew. I’m not sure if the con experience is different for ladies than dudes, but I’ve encountered some of the most compelling pick-up lines in that environment. Maybe some of the guys don’t get out very often but they always travel equipped with a “Princess Leia” costume, just in case.

  13. threatqualitypress says:

    Cons are different for ladies.

    We were just discussing this, over at io9–it’s not that women are not interested in the Geekly Arts, per se; it’s just that, at the moment, the ratio of unattached women is very low compared to attached women or any variety of man.

    This makes just basic gender relations a little lop-sided.

  14. Jeff Holland says:

    Not helping at all – at least at the Philly convention – was the prominence of studios like Xenoscope and Aspen, which tend towards the “Let’s make a fetishy ‘Alice in Wonderland’ comic” variety that sends the absolute worst message to any woman who might be on the fence about the whole comic book thang.

    On the other hand, a major reason I started my first conversation with my lovely wonderful (hi honey if you’re reading this!) girlfriend is because a mutual friend told me she’d been to the San Diego con a couple years earlier. So who the hell knows?

  15. V.I.P. Referee says:

    You do realize that, like, 30 warlocks, 50 clerics, 4 androids and a silver surfer would be in awe of your alpha prowess for having been the one that could reach her.

  16. V.I.P. Referee says:

    …they’d all be, like “Why him! Whyyyy! Did I not use enough hair gel—did my shin guards get limp?”…

  17. Sag mal wie heisst den dieses Theme hier? Ich hab es schon mal wo gesehen und würde es selbst auf meiner Seite nutzen.

  18. Elvin Relyea says:

    Hey, I loved the post. I recently donated most of my old jackets

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