25 July 2008


Destiny has seen fit to put me at San Diego Comicon, “Celebrating the Popular Arts.” I have to be in San Diego the day after it ends, to meet with the movers. A friend could score me an exhibitor's pass. So who am I to argue?

It's huge, and strange.

Screw you if you think American culture has no love for art. I walked the floor with thousands of people hungry to buy art: coffee table books and posters and chapbooks and sculptures and paintings on little 6"x6" canvasses and the bristol boards comic book artists used to create the original art and more. Yeah, a lot of it is kitchy stuff connected to Big Media Properties like Batman and The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and so forth ... but if someone wants to put a little statue of Darth Vader in their living room because they love the story, then what could be more gloriously human than that? And what's really stunning is the profusion of art I've never heard of that obviously yearns to reach people the way those famous things do. Overwhelmingly derivative stuff, most of it, but if you tell me you don't have some love deep in your heart for heroes with swords and spaceships and vampires and superheroines then I'll call you a big fat liar.

But I also saw a lot of artists sitting at tables, doing sketches and signatures, whose work is a lot stranger than that. I chatted with Ted McKeever as I flipped through an awe-inspiring portfolio of his original drawings of crippled angels, which I read in comics twenty years ago. I saw the inhumanly prolific Sergio Aragones, whose funny little doodles you may remember crowding the margins of Mad Magazine, looking wry and happy and making the people around him laugh. I bought a little book from an artist—“the story of me attending my parents' divorce hearing”—because I liked her funny little painting of a cute, dyspeptic baby Galactus with a half-eaten planet on his lap. I saw Joe Linsner, creator of white trash speed metal goddess Dawn, looking as creepy and disreputable as he ought to.

And I'm not immune to Big Properties myself. There was an oddly realistic looking lifesize model of the Owlship, presumably built as a prop / set for the forthcoming film adaptation of Watchmen. The picture is sure to make me angry, but I confess that seeing an object of your imagination brought to life like that is nonetheless a thrill.

I bought a silly t-shirt at Alex “The Norman Rockwell of Superheroes” Ross' booth.

How could I resist that?

I saw John Barrowman, who plays Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and Torchwood, glowing with delight that there were so many people lined up to tell him that they enjoy his work. He is exceedingly handsome. And shortly afterward, I saw a Playboy Playmate signing pictures of herself, looking strangely prim in her meticulous makeup and almost-a-dress, and was tickled that there wasn't nearly so long a line of people waiting to get a moment with her.

I saw Kevin Smith moderating a panel of women in the genre:

  • Pia Guerra, who draws Y: The Last Man, says Ampersand the monkey is based on her cat and easily her favourite part of the book to draw.
  • Gale Anne Hurd, who has written and produced a bunch of cool movies, said that she figured that the only way to raise money for a movie about a heroic waitress was to entitle it The Terminator.
  • Lucy Lawless was loopy and bantered with Kevin Smith outrageously. It turns out she's seriously down with geekkultur: she mis-heard the question what character from history would you most like to play? and answered, “Anything by Bendis.”
  • Jamie King turns out to be very tight with Mr Frank Miller. One wonders. Underneath his forbidding exterior, it turns out he's a warm, loving guy, she reports. Uh, okay. And when all the women on the panel said that The Bionic Woman was a major inspiration for their careers (!) she confessed that she was named after her!

Plus Mr Smith got a big round of applause when an audience member asked what everyone's favorite female hero was, and Smith said, “God.”

I'm going back today to heckle Zach Snyder and applaud Joss Whedon ....


thorn said...

Wow. You are really a geek. I don't get half the references in this piece.

Glad you are having a good time.

Jonathan Korman said...

You can't fool me, Thorn. I know you wish you coulda met Cap’n Jack, and have been initiated into the mystery of Galactus' Power Cosmic!

thorn said...

I said I don't get half the references. But could probably jack that up to 3/4s.

Of course I want to meet the heroic Captain Jack - even if he wouldn't kiss me in real life.

And I still don't believe in the Power Cosmic, and that t-shirt is completely opaque to me. So there.