Cons Should Be Good - Our Man Dan's SDCC Report

If you recall, we had a little contest to decide who was going to be Comics Should Be Good's representative at the San Diego Comic Convetion. Dan Apodaca won, and the following is his report on his experiences at San Diego this year.


This year was my sixth time coming to the San Diego Comic-Con, and there was a definite theme for the trip. That theme? My disenchantment from almost all of what's happening now in comics.

Throughout my time at the convention, I noticed myself becoming more and more apathetic towards the con itself. I didn't attend any Civil War, 52, Infinite Crisis, or One Year Later panels. I missed the Spider-Man 3 trailer and Snakes on a Plane. I even forgot about the secret passwords for free stuff from the DC booth. All in all, I probably spent under 10 hours inside the actual convention center. Right now, you're probably wondering a few things:

Why did I go to the con? Was there anything I actually cared about?

There was, actually, and I'll get to that in a little bit.

Why did you enter the contest if you don't care about any of the big comics happenings?

Brian told me to. You cannot deny his power.

What did you do, if you were hardly at the con?

Simply put, I saw friends from far away, drank lots of alcohol, and made fun of nerds.

Now, I know that people get indignant when the nerd-ridicule starts, but let's be honest, all of us have shaken our heads at these people at some point, and if you haven't, you're probably one of them. And though the criticisms may not be new, I promise you that I directly witnessed every single offense, multiple times. I'm not picking on stereotypes, here. I'm trying to shame them into disappearing. And to that end, I've put together a list of rules and suggestions for nerds attending future cons.

1. Please, please, please shower and use deodorant. I know you guys hear this all the time, but it's really a problem. If you think this doesn't apply to you, go buy a stick of Right Guard.

2. Don't create a nerd-herd. Whether it's because you're ogling booth babes, noticing an exclusive nude Beast statue, or just feeling like checking out the ceiling, stopping in the middle of the con floor can cause a massive pile-up, which only gets worse when you factor in the smell from rule #1. There's also a chance you might just get pushed out of the way, and those percentages increase as the days go by.

3. If you're attending a panel for someone you really like and admire, resist the urge to stroke their ego during Q&A. Nobody wants to see you snivel about how the Dark Crystal changed your life and taught you to love fairies. You're taking time away from someone who might actually have a provocative question. If you're not careful, you could end up being that guy that Kevin Smith publicly humiliates (the guy deserved it). Also, if someone else asks your question, just sit down. There's no shame in it, and it's much better than getting up to the mic and rambling about your undying love for the creator, while you try to think of another question. On that note, no 8-part questions. 2 should be the maximum, and that's only if time's not an issue.

4. I cannot stress this enough: Any and all costumes must fit! Nobody wants to see Huntress' gut hanging out. Being female does not automatically make you hot.

I've probably just sent a whole bunch of people into a flying rage. It really is for the best, though, as those people wouldn't care about what I'm about to talk about, anyway! What's that, you ask? Why it's...

Things I liked at Comic-Con!

Gasp! Can you believe it? I don't hate everything! Well, don't be too shocked, because the things I liked are all exactly what you must be expecting from me at this point. 'Cause I'm sounding like an elitist snob, right? But my cat has this meow that sounds like a bird chirp, which he uses to lure in prey.

I did not attend Preview Night. There was bad traffic coming down from L.A. and I didn't get into San Diego until about 8:30, at which point I was already late to a meet-up of CBR (Comic Book Resources) folks! By the time we finished making fun of as many absentee posters as we could think of, and got back to our hotel, Preview Night was over. Eh.

On Thursday, I attended the Grant Morrison/Deepak Chopra panel. I was a little late, because I had to help prepare the CBR weenie roast, but I was able to see and enjoy the majority of the panel. Chopra came across as too "new-agey" for my tastes, but for a Morrison fan, this panel was a dream come true. He spoke about a range of different things, and always seemed genuinely interested in the questions people asked him, even if some of them violated rule #3. One of the major criticisms that I've heard about Morrison is his use of "Mary-Sue" characters. King Mob is the obvious one, and many people accuse him of doing it with Emma Frost. However, Morrison said that he always tries to inhabit whatever character he's writing, and behave as they would to help him understand them better. He tries to have Superman's selflessness, and Batman's regimented brain, and when you look at it that way, it sound much less offensive. Especially when you consider that any good writer does so from knowledge and experience, and is therefore writing a part of himself into the character. That's just how it works.

He also talked about how the charkas are keyed into seven basic ideals/tenants of humanity and how those apply to superheroes. Superman relates to love and giving, while Batman represents perfect stability and finesse, and even transcendence. This is all stuff that I don't know enough about on my own to discuss definitively, but I found it very interesting and plan on reading up on it now.

But the most exciting part, to me, was an idea that Morrison's been mentioning for years now, but I finally got to hear the full explanation of, at the panel. Both Morrison and Chopra explained it. Basically, the idea is that our world is in its caterpillar stage, and we are steadily approaching the butterfly stage. When a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, it's a process of (in simplified terms) the caterpillar's body decaying and decaying until it reaches a point where the butterfly genes kick in and use the old body to reconstruct an entirely new and different being. Morrison's been saying that he believes there will be a major reality shift in 2012, and was comparing the decaying caterpillar body to the current surge of strife and destruction in the world. Could we be building up to the end of the world, as we know it? Is hyper-evolution right around the corner? I guess we'll have to wait and see. If you can find a transcript of this panel anywhere online, I recommend you check it out.

After the Morrison panel, I rushed over to the "Spotlight on Dan Clowes", to see him speak. When I got there, the place was already full, and there were a few people waiting. While I was happy to see the strong support for Clowes, it seemed strange to me that the panel would be scheduled in such a small room. It really was tiny, and packed to the brim. Luckily, after waiting for a bit, I was able to grab a seat from someone who left, and saw most of the panel. It's harder to talk about this one, because it's completely different from the last one. Where Morrison talked philosophy and principles, Clowes talked gossip and snark. His was more of a "hang-out", though it suited him perfectly. He's a really charming guy, and as witty in person as on the page. This panel also had rule #3 violators, as well. There's always at least one really obnoxious person in any fan base.

Thursday night was the CBR Weenie Roast. We drank, did trivia, and imitated other posters. We made fun of people every chance we got. This happened a lot.

On Friday, while wandering around the convention center, I noticed the Drawn & Quarterly booth. Since I like many of the books they publish, I drifted in that direction, only to notice upon arriving that Adrian Tomine was, at that moment, signing and sketching for fans.

I was a little sad that there were only four people waiting, but also happy to find one of my favorite creators so accessible. I bought the scrapbook collection, which is excellent, and had the first of my two only super-geek-out moments at the con. I know this is vain and nerdy, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity that might never come again. I asked Adrian Tomine to sketch me.

I love it. The D&Q people were very nice and gave me cool free swag!

That night, I checked out the panel on The Power of the Dark Crystal (the sequel they're working on) and the Henson Company in general. The movie looks good, if you're a fan of the first one. They're also putting out a new show soon, called "Augie and Del's Late Nite Buffet". I think they said they sold it to TBS. But the best part was a clip they showed from an improvisational stage show they've been doing in Los Angeles, using Henson puppets and puppeteers. It's called "Jim Henson's Puppet Up!" Now, I know that the idea of puppet improv is not the most enticing one, but the clip they showed was damn funny. Keep in mind that I'm not only an elitist snob, but a theater and comedy snob, as well. So, when I tell you it's good, that means it's really good. I plan on seeing the actual show here in L.A. very soon. After that, I stuck around for a screening of Ultimate Avengers 2. It was okay, but not spectacular. I haven't seen the first one, but I was told it was about as good. The voice acting didn't impress me, there were some weird unexplained scenes, and it felt like about twenty minutes of story was missing from the movie. Also, Hank Pym didn't hit his wife! Not even once! This is a travesty and a betrayal to the character. In fact, I think this counts as raping my childhood.

Just for that, I bought the Essential Marvel Super-Villain Team-Up and watched Doom subjugate the hell out of the Avengers.

Okay, not just for that. Also for this:

On Saturday, those of us from CBR who were attending the con embarked on a pub-crawl. It was a great time, and allowed us to get drunk in many different locations. Around six, a few of us stumbled to the con in an attempt to catch the second Adult Swim panel. Unfortunately, there was some power-hungry employee there with a cop moustache, who kept giving us the run-around. We weren't able to get in. However, just when we were about to leave, we received word that Kevin Smith was hosting a hilarious panel. Apparently, he was supposed to do it much earlier that day, but got stuck in traffic for hours, and was now doing pure Q&A/stand-up. Now, anybody who knows me will tell you that I am not a fan of Kevin Smith's work at all. I've never liked any of his movies or his comics. But the people I was there with wanted to go, so I sucked it up and went.

I have a completely newfound respect for Kevin Smith. He's a very honest guy and takes people to task when given the opportunity. There was one particular nerd who announced that he had "the dubious honor" of getting banned from the Kevin Smith message boards twice. Smith asked him the reason, and he said, "in a fit of rage, he dropped the c-bomb". Anyone who has ever heard Smith talk knows he curses like a sailor, so it should come as no surprise that he tried to goad the nerd into saying it. It was a surprise, though, when the nerd started to look like he was going to cry and left the mic. A hilarious surprise. After that, we went back out drinking.

Sunday was my only day that I really devoted to the con. It was pretty much the same thing as before. Lots of video games, movies, anime, and other pop culture, and some comics. It's not that I don't like getting to try out the new Mario game, it's just that I hate having to deal with the line of eight-year olds blocking my way to the door. Every year, this becomes more and more of a kid's convention, and every year, I spend less and less time at the con. Coincidence? I don't know if I'll go next year, but there's one thing that's always brought me back in the past.


I know, I know, now I'm starting to sound like a drug-addled hippy (if the shoe fits), but really, that's the best part. I had the most awesome roommates anyone could hope for, and I got to know a poster I wasn't as familiar with, making a new friend. We're going to the puppet improv show. So, even though it seems I've lost my love for the culture of comics, I've become quite enamored with some of the cultural outsiders. After all, those of us who'd rather hang out with each other than Paul Jenkins are really in the minority.

I'd like to thank Brian Cronin and Jonah Weiland for their generosity and patience, and suggest that next year they get someone with some talent to do the reporting.

Thanks for the report, Dan!

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