Another Comic Con done, as nerds once again leave the land of Simon & Simon for one more year. Although I think there are already people in line for Hall H 2014 because why not? As with past years, Hall H and Ballroom 20 didn't disappoint. And by that, I mean nobody got into anything. The Agents of SHIELD pilot screened, and I talked to one person who had seen it. One person I knew went to the Marvel and X-Men panel. Haven't found anyone who went to Doctor Who or X-Files yet. The exclusives were sold out half an hour into preview night on Wednesday, a night so packed with people that I think a few of them were squeeze-killed.
RIP, the squeeze-killed.
Nerd flags were flown high, by cosplayers, furries, industry nerds, nerd kings/queens, and the Sunday nerd parents who brought their cute nerd children. Nerds frantically tried to get into parties. Fire and brimstone was hurled at all of us by an angry Christian cosplayer with a megaphone and a sign that said something about hell and the Bible and I'm sure whores were mentioned because that's the kind of Bible this cosplayer reads. And standing around the cosplayer were nerds with signs: Kneel Before Zod, Science Has Saved More People Than Jesus, etc. There was even an awesome guy with a Nicolas Cage sandwich board because NICOLAS CAGE, and Galactus taunted the Christian cosplayer pretty much all weekend.
It was, as it always is, an incredibly frustrating experience. The con organizers seem to have no interest in how much mayhem occurs and how frustrating it is, which I guess makes sense because so many people come every year that making the experience truly rewarding and worthwhile simply isn't necessary. Remember, we are Americans. We were created to be consumers, and when they change "customer" to "guest," we roll our eyes because we know that we will never ever be treated as guests, but some focus group has told the marketing team that "guest" is less of a lie. Which it isn't. We are consumers, and Comic Con not only allows us to consume, it makes it so hard to consume on a certain level that we will do ANYTHING to consume. It also primes us for stuff we'll be consuming later. Pre-orders, panels of upcoming movies and TV shows, etc.
The con desperately needs to be reorganized. The Hall H and Ballroom 20 nonsense needs to be streamlined. Having people wait in line overnight and then sit through six hours of panels to get to the one they want is ridiculous. The only thing more insane is when some idiot panel moderator goes,"How many of you have been waiting eight hours to see this panel?" and people cheer, then the moderator looks impressed. REALLY? You should be horrified that people are being forced into chutes like cattle. It's not by choice, dimwit.
And again, all of the "journalists" who came to cover the convention grumbled about remakes and sequels and superhero movies and the corporatization of the Universe, yet these dumbbells primarily only covered the big corporate panels. Did any news outlets cover the smaller panels? The writing panels? The comic book panels? Geek magazine had a great presence at Comic Con this year, doing panels that used to be the norm a decade or so ago. They were well attended, too. But unless a costumed Loki is shouting at the mewling quim, no press coverage, I guess. So press people, don't act so superior about your points of view. You're just as suggestive as the rest of us.
Zachary Levi's Nerd HQ panels were the hit of the convention because they were throwbacks to the pre-corporate takeover. It wasn't just Captain America being asked what it was like to put the suit on again (seriously, Chris Hardwick, WTF were those questions?). Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry was another popular spot, where nerd took on nerd in tabletop games. The proactive geeks have decided to use their power for good, and it's working. But how long before Geek magazine, Nerd HQ and Geek & Sundry just branch off and become a different convention?
(that would be okay actually)
It would be glorious if the organizers could find a way to balance
all of this. The bigger panels all feel like they're taking place at a
different convention. I guess if you think of it as an alternate
universe, it works for Comic Con. See, nerds are used to having to make their own way and find their own community. So if the big corporations want to take over Comic Con and present big splashy panels, that's fine. Nerds will just go elsewhere.
Another huge convention winner was science. Science!!! It was everywhere. The Cosmos panel (which I missed because I am a big dumb idiot) was a huge highlight even just hearing about it. Science Heroes were everywhere, and nerds reminisced about the impact science had to turn them into nerds. Nostalgia is always a hit at Comic Con, and maybe that's why I'm not as against remakes and sequels as other people are. I don't mind reliving inspiration, especially when it's so nicely (on some occasions) married with a different, unique take on the material. We are always inspired by what shapes us, and there's no shame in going back to that for more inspiration.
But regarding the bulk of the convention, everybody knows how effed up the Hall H/Ballroom 20 situations are. But because it's the only way to see the thing you love, people do it. The corporations love creating this false demand that's borne only out of shitty organization. Even though people are hot and tired and angry most of the time, they know they have to do it if they want to see something they love. They have to come to Comic Con and wait in line and struggle through the dealer's room and scheme to get into whichever party. They do it because the one thing that overrides all of this bullshit and corporate overlordship is that they love something.
Corporations don't have to create this love. It's already there. Most of the corporations' job is already done. What they want, though, is new blood. And that new blood has to be marketed to. Who better to use for that than those who are so passionate they'll wait in line for twelve hours to see the X-Men cast? Or a TV pilot they are going to see in a few months? The corporations have figured out how to use the nerds. Flip the switch on supply and demand, and anything looks like a crowd-pleasing masterpiece. But we let them do it, and we know they're doing it. It's just that they control these properties, these characters, and these stories. We have no choice, if we want to keep loving them.
That's always the thing about Comic Con that works for me, even amidst all of the nightmarish crowds that have GOT to be against every other city's fire codes. When someone recognizes which obscure show or movie your shirt is from. When you see an awesome homemade costume. The Sideshow booth. MY GOD, THE SIDESHOW BOOTH. The whole convention is nerds talking to nerds. Nerds telling other nerds what nerdy thing they've just seen. It's a marketing tool, yes, but it's also one enormous nerd conversation. And there isn't anyone who doesn't do this. Because at Comic Con, you will find people who love something, even if it's not the thing that you love. But that common love for something makes it all worthwhile.
Well, mostly. I REALLY wanted to go to the Agents of SHIELD panel.
We did Starship Smackdown again this year and it was, I gotta say, pretty frakkin awesome. It's the last big nerd party at Comic Con. While topping last year's Neil DeGrasse Tyson Enterprise monologue was impossible, we did have a few great special guests and hopefully someone filmed it and will put it up on the interwebs at some point. It's always a good way to end the con. Everyone will fight for their favorite starship, lemme tell you!
So if you went to Comic Con, I hope you got to see the thing you love, or talk to people who love it. Because that's what it's all about.