A Comic Con, Considered

12 08 2009

This last Saturday, I experienced a world of costumes and pageantry, celebrity and celebration, art and artists. Of course, this description is apt for only one event, the annual Wizard World Chicago Comic Convention.

A cohort of my college days has gainful employment with the magazine that hosts the event, and he provided myself and some fellow friends with free tickets to the showroom floor. A spectacle like few I have ever observed awaited us there, the nerds bedecked in costumes (some of impressive craftsmanship) from a range of comics, video games and movies served as the most fascinating visual stimulus. Big guns, giant swords and other arrays of fake weaponry dotted the convention floor like witty taunts in a “Spiderman” fight.

For the uninitiated, the events “celebrities” can induce more head-scratching than star-gazing. How excited would you be to see the original Chewbacca, for example? What about comic book writer Mark Millar? Or even Lou Ferrigno, who played The Hulk in “The Incredible Hulk” TV series?

Still nothing?

Luckily, the D-list celebrities with exhorbitant autograph fees section formed only a part of the event’s overall offerings. For comic aficionados, the so-called “artist’s alley” stood out as the prime attraction. Up-and-comers in the world of panel-sized storytelling packed this area, displaying their finest wares and exhibiting the scope of modern-day comics, which goes beyond the realms of sci-fi and superheroes into more existential territory, like the coming zombie apocalypse. Joke aside, current comics are a medium capable of covering some complex subjects, like “Unknown Soldier” a book about Uganda’s civil war written by Joshua Dysart and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli.

The final leg in the con’s three-part stool was a large contingent of vendors, some local, selling box upon box of comics old and new. For those in the know, they represented a chance to uncover hidden gems or complete long-held collections. For those knowing not (like myself), it meant absently sifting through a box or two and then ambling away to check out the chick in a laced-up bikini-vest, mammoth battle axe, hoofed feet and a pair of devilish horns.

The con’s most lasting impact occurred after the show, many beers and two “Star Wars” movies into the night later. Present at the con where a host of psuedo-celebrities, wrestlers, thespians and good-looking women, barely famous for some act or appearance in the distant past, who currently made at least some money shelling themselves out for events such as the con. A ferocious (though friendly) debate emerged among my friends and I about the influence and presence of such figures, their overall impact on American culture and the feelings incurred by seeing such a mass of them in one place.

The issue polarized us into two camps, one side sickened and disgusted by the shameless glorification of people who had, in reality, accomplished very little and a general bemoaning of the American infatuation with celebrity.

The other maintained that, in general, most of these low-rung actors where just people trying to make it by any way they could and most likely not really making a whole lot of money from such an event. Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with being a fan of something like, say “Star Wars,” and therefore choosing to pay money to feel like a part of the film by meeting some of the people who participated in it.

I believe either case has its merits and both can present meaningful arguments. So, I ask you, dear reader, how do you see the role of these “celebrities” at an event such as the comic con? Would you pay $50 for an autograph by Edward James Olmos? In a larger sense, what do you think of the American cult of celebrity and its effects on our culture in general?

Advertisements

Actions

Information

One response

17 08 2009
George

i wouldn’t pay $50 for anyone’s autograph, but EJO and Lou Ferrigno are two guys I would definitely want to sit down and have a conversation with. Chewbacca would only do it for me if he wore the costume and stayed in character

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: