by J Parker Adair, special to The Beat
[While I plied my nephew with comics back in 1988 while babysitting (thank you, Archie, for those TMNT Adventures comics), it wasn’t until yesterday that I managed to get him to attend a comic book convention. So yesterday at C2E2 was his first ever comic con, and in the interest of journalistic and anthropological study, we present his experience.]
The Virgin Experience
When I saw the double monstrosity known only as “Mega Bus” pull up to me in Omaha, I knew my first comic convention would be something special. An overnight ride to Chicago was met with little sleep due to a combination of anticipation and fear.
My convention going experiences in this realm totaled exactly one 30-minute experience at a below average dealer show at a Howard Johnson so I felt more than prepared to take on the hoards at the real deal.
The day opened up in my comfort zone with some educational panels on comics in the classroom and the library’s role in encouraging readers. The announcement of “The Graphic Textbook” piqued my interest as an education student whose fiancee has a masters in education. Several elementary classes were interrupted by my geeky texts to teacher friends.
What came next was nothing I could have prepared for. As a football coach, I’ve been to many conventions and the dealer room (or “aisle of death”) is to be avoided like an opera singer with halitosis.
Here it was a thing of beauty. Immediately I geeked out about the Captain America auction before realizing I wouldn’t even be in the running for the golf pencil Tommy Lee Jones’ stand in used in a deleted scene, but it was still cool to see the stuff used in the movie about my favorite super hero.
My uncle expected to introduce me to a lot of people he knew, but less than five minutes in I ran into Tess, the creator of “Little Forkers.” She was a customer of mine, but we’ve only ever interacted over the phone and email. It was not only great to see her face-to-face (she’s an incredible woman with a great story and shocking sense of humor) but to get an autographed copy of her first edition.
I got through maybe 25 percent of the booths … on one side of the floor today. Still need to get my commissioned picture of a hamster dressed as a Green Lantern. (I love that a request like that earned a normal response like, “no problem.”) I also realized how heavy five hardback trades and a stack of single issues can be. Dropped those books off but didn’t make it back to the coat check in time to pick them up. Tomorrow will be like discovering them all over again!
From 3:30-7:30 I was in panels. My favorites are the ones that take a look at societal and political themes in books. As a history minor, I appreciated Samantha Doerge’s look at the Cold War’s influence on Marvel and the anti-hero. Chris Deis opened a lot of eyes by speaking on historical ignorance in “X-Men: First Class” and “Captain America: First Avenger” as well as other forms of pop culture. That led into the Black Comix panel which was filled with brilliant minds who covered multiple genres.
By the time I left the panels, my brain was overflowing with knowledge and my stomach was empty of food. ::Note to self: don’t forget lunch tomorrow::
Tomorrow’s goals: find some gifts in the dealer room, get my Green Hamster commissioned sketch, eat lunch, check out some of the doc screenings (I’m a docaphile too), watch the comedy of Stephen Rannazzisi, actor on one of my favorite geek shows, “The League.”
Time to cuddle up with my Hulk Hogan wrestling buddy and get some sleep.
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!