Longtime Beat pal Steve Marmel gave us permission to repost his Facebook rant on Comic-Con. We found it of some interest because Steve is what we’d term a card-carrying nerd-lebrity — he’s got his own fairly lengthy IMDb page, has starred in at least one TV show and several Comedy Central Specials, and has written and produced tons of animation and live action, including The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, and the upcoming Welcome to Mollywood. But we only know him because he likes comic books. And even the nerd-lebrities think Comic-Con isn’t as much fun when it’s all Hollywood and not enough comics!
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Hey, you.

In the back of the room, sneering at the guy in the home-made Flash suit that might be a little bit illfitting, but he made it himself. You know who I’m talking about. You, the guy that didn’t stop to appreciate how freaking cool the guy in the “Sandman” costume was.

Yeah, you.

I, like a lot of people, made my annual pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic-Con. I, like many of the people who have gone as often as I have gone, understand the cons of the con. We make the jokes. But we’re allowed to.

It’s our f***ing party.

Batman isn’t just a property that made 300 million dollars, he’s a guy who took a tragedy and honed himself into a weapon against evil. Iron man isn’t just a vehicle for Robert Downey Jr. to reintroduce himself to the public, it’s the story of a flawed (alcoholic) billionaire that uses his genius as one of the 12 steps to redemption.

You get into that convention center, with 125,000 people all moving around like the slowest moving sweatiest of sharks, going from booth to booth for autographs, sneak peeks, panels and spoilers and it’s easy to forget: This might very well be the intersection of fandom and commerce, but it’s fandom that drives it.

We like stopping at the DC booth and seeing the trailers for new cartoons, or the DCUniverse Online game which, I can promise you, will eat hours of my valuable free time. We can stare for an hour at the Star Wars booth. We all want to buy Alex Ross originals, but most of us don’t have 2 grand for a scribble.

The lines move slow because we are savoring it. And there are a lot of us. But we’re not in any big hurry because we wait all year to get there.

For me, for the kid who started reading comic books at 8 years old, who found a bit of an ethnic identity over the fact that Kitty Pryde from the X-men was Jewish, and from Skokie, Illinois, who scrimped on booze to continue to buy comic books through college, I love this art form. I love this form of story telling. For those of us who weren’t the “winners” in high school, there was always something wonderful about comic books (or gaming) because those were morality tales where good and evil was clear, outcasts were respected…

…the good guys won, even if they weren’t popular.

And the San Diego Comic Con is their super bowl. Their prom. Their homecoming. If you don’t know that Wolverine is supposed to be short, and that Batman doesn’t kill, you are a welcome guest. But somebody let YOU past the velvet rope, not the other way around.

So next year, when you’re coming down to San Diego to look at some new “hot property,” or you have to navigate a see of gleefull comic geek to get to the panel you need to be at, remember that.

Make the jokes, sure. We will too.

But do it with a smile. And say thank you, huh?

Because you’re welcome. Even if your reasons for being there are different than the other 124,999 people.


  1. I like that typo… “see of gleeful comic geek[s]”…

    See: a group or crowd of people in motion, usually slow moving, gawking at nearby sights. The pedestrian version of automobile drivers rubbernecking at an accident, causing traffic backups on freeways.

  2. I myself have been that guy sneering at the 300lb man in the ill-fitting Flash suit. How can someone know that Wolverine is supposed to be short and Batman doesn’t kill people but not apparently know that the Flash is NOT 300lbs and doesn’t have a piece of cheese from his Subway sandwich stuck to his shirt. If Hollywood made a movie of the Flash with Jack Black in the title role Fans would throw a fit but this guy gets away with it at the nerd Super Bowl no less.

    When the shoe is on the other foot comic book fan boys are rarely ever respectful of Hollywood so it seems a bit incredulous to think that Hollywood would be so gracious to comics.

    That said, I understand exactly where Steve’s coming from.

  3. “It’s our f***ing party.”

    Yeah, but the football team’s crashed the party, spiked the punch, and want to cast Jack Black as Green Lantern.

  4. When ever I go to any convention, I always have to remind myself that “convention = celebration.” Do you think the guy walking around in the dead-on Cylon armor was comfortable? Do you think the Elvis Stormtrooper walks his dog around the neighborhood wearing that white cape with the Imperial logo bedazzled into it?

    It is a celebration, and everyone celebrates it their own unique way.

    Now, more people want in on the celebration. People know a good thing when they see it, so why should anyone be surprised by the success? No one can stop the SDCC train. Either get on it and enjoy the ride or shut it and get off

    If anyone feels strongly about process or program changes, they should send the great people who run the show some feedback: Not liking the lines? Suggest alternatives. Not liking the stops and starts in traffic because a costume poses with a picture? Recommend a solution.

    If you plan to keep going to these shows and stay on the SDCC train, offer a way of making it more enjoyable.

    Otherwise, park it. I guarantee someone else will take your ticket.

  5. Well, you’ll be less likely to rant over unimportant bullshit like the pecking order of attendees at a comic convention.

  6. Tom: Ha!

    Michael: It was more a musing than a rant. But as long as it’s open for discussion… it was a post on a facebook page. They all can’t be about the 2008 election, ya know?

  7. ““It’s our f***ing party.”

    Yeah, but the football team’s crashed the party, spiked the punch, and want to cast Jack Black as Green Lantern. ”

    Maybe so, but now would be a good time to gang up and kick their asses while we still outnumber them by a large margin. That margin will shrink every year as more comics fans stop going to bloody COMIC-con.

  8. With the Batman and Iron Man examples if you’re really a fan of the characters you have to admit the films treat them better than the comic books. They get the characters in a way the comics seldom do any more. For all the Hollywood bashing they’re showing more love for the things you care about.
    Spider-Man in the films isn’t going to make a deal with Satan. No one’s going to get raped in the JLA’s clubhouse on the TV series. No group of bad guys are going to kick Kid Flash to death on the Teen Titans series.
    The comics may be where your love of these characters started but don’t shut out where they’re going.
    And welcome to the new folks who only know the films and tv shows, maybe they’ll get turned on to comics, maybe not but be a generous guide to them and it’ll only make things better.

  9. Nicely said, Ian. Although the Hollyweird world has racked up substantial points in the “travesty of original comics ideas” department, certain producers of comics (one with the initials DD) *have* been playing catch-up of late.

    Of course in both cases it comes down to what both sets of producers thinks will sell. If they think respectful treatments sell, they make those; if they think utter travesties sell, they make those. The creators often don’t have much say in it.

  10. I can’t believe people are sneering at 300 lb Flashes out there.

    I can’t be the only continuity junkie here. I just can’t.

    Am I the only guy who remembers the back of comics and a super hero world where the only thing that would stop the Joker was a Hostess Cup Cake tossed by the boy wonder?

    Doesn’t anyone besides me remember a universe where Golden Delicious Twinkies could distract the Red Skull long enough for Captain America to kick the crap out of the fascist a-hole?

    FOR YOUR INFORMATION… those wonderful fans are simply dressed up as heroes from a forgotten DC/Marvel universe where villains were foiled by the magic of a treat with a shelf life of 40 years.

    So all you haters, drop the attitudes, go back to comic book school and learn you some history before you start embarrassing yourself with your “fat guys can’t be superheroes” talk.

    It just so happens that I sold a lot, and I mean A LOT, of seeds to buy this here bike. Don’t make me get on it, peddle to your house, and teach you some flippin’ manners.

    (And by that, I mean, I’ll stand outside your house and throw ding dongs at your front door.)

  11. My supervisor at work loved the IRON MAN movie; he talked about the movie before and after seeing it, but I haven’t seen the movie and don’t intend to, so he’s stopped bringing up the subject. It’s not that I’d think IRON MAN would be “bad” in any sense, but the plot mostly rehashes the hero’s origin. I know his origin and don’t care to see a movie about it. A movie has to have interesting content if I’m to consider seeing it. My supervisor, meanwhile, has no interest in reading comic books. He might represent a group of people who believe that advances in special effects have enabled moviemakers to do superheroes better than comics can.

    I see few differences between comics fans’ enthusiasm and love for the characters, and the enthusiasm and love shown by fans of soap operas, “cult” TV shows, or pro sport teams. A fan of any of those can go overboard, for a variety of reasons, but if he doesn’t, the hobby is harmless. Such a fan who goes to conventions to celebrate his hobby would, I’d think, react negatively to seeing outsiders trying to profit from his industry without contributing to it. A comics fan would have a worse reaction to the prospect of having superhero comics rendered obsolete (in the public’s opinion) by video versions of the heroes.

    It’s easy to think that a fan’s enthusiasm for something is indicative of an addictive personality, and thus unhealthy, but I doubt that superhero comics as such would exist unless they had catered to that personality type. Without the superheroes, other American comic books might exist only as a sub-subgenre, less popular commercially than poetry.


  12. John Kipling,

    I see now what a naive fool I have been. Please accept my apologies. I hope the 300 Lb man dressed as Flash can also accept my apology. I now recognize that he was attempting to portray the Flash from Issue #115, “The Day The Flash Weighed a Thousand Pounds.” In which Flash is hit with a “Fat Ray”. Bravo! Good sir! I commend you on your dedication to detail. I will not be so quick to judge next time.

  13. I saw some photos from a WISCON of a couple of years ago. There was a chubby Power Girl, but I think she got a snark-free pass.

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