While mucking around Hulu one day I found a little gem of a documentary by Morgan Spurlock called Comic Con IV: A Fan’s Hope focusing on the mega extravaganza the San Diego Comic Con. I am a fan of Spurlock’s films so I watched it hoping to gain some insight into this well-known event. Each year thousands of people attend hoping to pick up the newest toy or get a glimpse of some Hollywood star shilling their next project. The documentary didn’t disappoint, but it also ensured I will never attend one ever. I go to various cons when I get the chance and even wrote about my first experience at Wizard World with mixed emotions. I plan on attending again in the future as long as I can remember when it’s going on. The San Diego Comic Con offers every aspect of the things I love, but very little of it makes me want to go.
When Comic Con started in the 70s it was meant to be an insider look into the world of comic books and how to break into the business. You could meet with artists, attend symposiums and, novel thought, buy comics. At first they were lucky if a few hundred people showed up, but these were the die hard fans long before the internet age who spread this thing like mad by word of mouth. Over time it shifted its view from comics to other aspects of geekdom. As one seller put it the comics had taken a far back seat to the point where people forget that’s why the con was started to begin with. If this is a comic con then it should have remained about comic books and nothing else. I am a simple man. If I go to a horror convention I expect to see things about horror. One of my big beefs about Wizard World is they included professional wrestlers and reality show personalities who have little to do with our world. Comic Con now includes movies, video games and toys. Sometimes they are about comics, but more often than not they aren’t.
One thing that can make a con of any sort great is the total lack of corporate sponsorship. It creates an open opportunity for everyone to get a chance to show their stuff and hopefully get noticed. Once the movie executives realized they can make money off us they jumped on it quick. Now Comic Con is all about hawking whatever crappy movie that may be coming out whether it has anything to do with comic books or not. In most cases not. It has become more common for actors to be obligated to go to similar events. And you could see on their faces they couldn’t care less about being there. They looked out on the cheering fans with such disinterest that if the crowd noticed it would have ended in these so-called stars being dragged down the streets. Matt Smith is one of the few actors who got it right. He wasn’t a fan of Doctor Who when he got the role, but he understood the fan base. For proof, just look at the little girl who asked if he was scared of Weeping Angels. He told her not to worry, for he’d fight them off. He gets it and you could tell he was glad to be there. Or he is just a really good actor and faked it.
I thought about railing against the crowds, but you’re going to get those at any such event no matter the size. I personally don’t get why anyone would wait eight hours in line to see Sylvester Stallone’s shrunken potato of a head incoherently discuss his newest movie. Hey, that’s me. I think if given the chance to go back when Comic Con was a more pure version of itself, I would have a blast. As it is now I can’t see myself ever going. One thing I was glad to see is that camaraderie still exists in the con. I can’t tell you all the times I have gone to such events and made friends very quickly. How often does that happen at a football game? All the things we love will continue on in spite of corporate America pillaging us for profit. We will continue to spend money on the things we love whether Hollywood is involved or not. Cons will continue as will the fans. That gives me hope the things I love will continue long after I am gone.