OR, NOT WITHOUT MY PRESS PASS
I was one of the lucky few to nab tickets to this year’s New York Comic Con; But alas, I was not one of the fortunate few to receive a press pass this time around. Mostly this is due to this year’s ridiculous gauntlet for press accreditation. Also I suspect there’s a roof on awesome that the runners of the con were afraid to exceed. But it matters not because I was still privy to sights and sounds, horrors and delights, which would corrupt the scruples and murk the judgment of any lesser writer.
Thankfully, I’m more incorruptible than Batman and George Washington wearing matching promise rings while they wrestle gently with puppies on a man picnic for two.
What follows is just some of what I saw and did that rejuvenated my pop-culture spirit and made my inner nine year old the happiest kid in the world. Wonder up fuckers!
Venture Bros. Panel:
Venture Bros. is quite simply my favorite thing currently still being made.
It’s not only a devastatingly funny deconstruction and satire of super heroes and Saturday morning action cartoons, it’s also one of the best ongoing adventure sagas you’ll ever watch. What’s key to it is that characters actually change, constantly. So you have to watch it in order to preserve the continuity, unlike so many other Adult Swim shows. Actually, unlike so many shows period. For most shows, after each episode all the characters are reset so that the next episode written by another writer can pick up and play with the characters. Venture Bros. is almost entirely written by its creators, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer.
I got the chance to sit front row …
(okay, right behind the press chairs, and yes it stung a little) at their panel entitled “Let’s All Smoking.” They were joined by some more voice talent from the show, but honestly if it was just the boys I’d be completely entertained and satisfied. They’re just natural cutups. They ran a couple clips from the forthcoming A Very Venture Bros. Halloween Special, which showcased the (hopefully) only temporary, new, emo, hipster-scum hairdo for one Dean Venture. Next they revealed a sizzle reel for season 5 which made me and my girlfriend have to leave after viewing, rush over to a drugstore and get Plan B morning after pills,
because we’re positive it got our brains pregnant!
That’s not a joke, and it wasn’t a gentle, I’m-a-little-tired-after-work-but sure-let’s-have-sex-for-nine-minutes-before-I fall-asleep-behind-you insemination. No, it was a savage, glorious brain sexing that left me as scarred as I was satisfied. My mindgina was left quivering and cowering in the corner, frightened of what it saw as well as how much it liked it, and ultimately how it will never be the same again.
Another highlight from the Venture panel was Doc Hammer, after being prompted by a request from the floor, utilizing his Dr. Girlfriend voice to sexually stimulate or “phone off” an attendee’s absentee friend. And if you watched the sizzle reel, yeah, that’s the robotic owl from the original Clash Of The Titans; and yeah, that’s outstanding.
Grant Morrison Panel:
I’m an immense fan of the man as a writer as well as a counter culture figure. As for his writing, in particular I dig The Invisibles, All Star Superman, We3, and Flex Mentallo. But when it comes down to it, I haven’t read a thing he’s done that I couldn’t appreciate. The man also practices chaos magick so basically, to many of his fans, he’s not only a writer they adore but he’s some kind of shaman. Which makes me feel bad for the guy as he sits through a cavalcade of some of their desperate questions where they expect him to wrap up his entire worldview in a few nicely packaged sentences. But Morrison is always game and always respectful to his fans, even when they’re asking for the impossible.
The first man to ask a question was my favorite, not for his question though. Before the man spoke he emoted the textbook example of the convention nerd mouth breathe.
It was so bad my first thought was, “He’s putting us on, right? He’s like making a meta gesture poking fun at nerds at the mic at conventions, right?” But no, he was the real deal. But so, thankfully, was Morrison as he answered his question and all the rest with grace and good humor. He was funny, sharp witted, and charming as ever. I especially liked his anecdote about meeting the Wu’s Rza who’ll be developing Morrison’s latest comic Happy! Apparently the first thing Rza wanted to talk about was UFO’s. Makes sense.
Erik Larsen, Signing My Shit!:
I have been collecting Savage Dragon since I was ten years old when it first appeared. I have almost every single issue (181 issues) and Erik Larsen, unlike many other creators, continues to write and draw every issue of his creation. I got to meet him, shake his hand and tell him how great he was.
I tried not to gush too much. I probably failed.
Helping me keep it casual was the fact that before I took out my Savage Dragon issue 1 to be signed there was a rather convincing gentleman behind Erik Larsen dressed as the Macho Man Randy Savage doing his shtick. Larsen looked back at the guy then looked at me and we both smiled and shared a look. As he signed the Dragon issue he noticed that it was the newsstand copy and I told him how when Image Comics first came out a lot of the first issues were sold out at the comics stores so I had to pick up many of them at Circle K.
I then brought out a dog-eared old issue of Spider-Man that he did, which was one of the very first comics I ever had. He looked at it, chuckled and said, “That is one ratty-ass old comic.” I agreed, I mean the thing was even missing a cover. I explained how long I had it and that before the cover was missing it was already ruined because my mother wrote my name on it with magic marker back in fourth grade when I was going on a field trip. She did it goodheartedly, she did it so no one else would swipe it but of course as a kid I was livid because it destroyed the supposed value of the thing. Back then, like many idiot kids, I thought every comic I owned would be worth ten thousand dollars as long as I held on to them and kept them in mint condition. Of course the joke was on me, seeing as the cover got torn off later on. So the comic’s worthless, at least to anybody else. Even if Larsen hadn’t of signed it I’d still have held on to the thing.
Pick up an issue of Savage Dragon. It’s stuffed with action, humor, ultra violence, ultra sex, and everything else that makes comics fucking great.
Just pick up the latest issue of Saga, issue 8, then get the trade paperback and prepare for the most gorgeously illustrated and deftly crafted fantasy to come down the pike in forever.
They have giant rocket trees which they use as spaceships and robot aristocrats with TV heads having graphic sex in this book.
Also there’s this in the book:
Man Points From Eastern Bloc Spider-Man At Times Square:
The last thing I want to brag about to you, my dear Wonderlings, didn’t actually happen at Comic Con.
But since it involves our friendly neighborhood web-slinger I figured I’d relay it anyway. My drop-dead foxsauce redhead girlfriend and I were taking a much needed break from the nerd purgatory that can be NYC Comic Con and were exploring Times Square a bit. But it seems we could not escape costumed weirdoes accosting us even that far from the con. But this was actually pretty great and I’m glad that it happened. As we were waiting for a cross light we were approached by a man in full Spider-Man regalia with a thick Eastern-Bloc accent that made him sound a bit like Borat. He was not a Comic Con attendee-- rather one of those costumed folks who populate tourist sights like Times Square, Hollywood Boulevard, or the Vegas Strip. Anyway, Borat Peter Parker tells me, “Congratulations, you have a very pretty girlfriend. She reminds me of my wife, you know? Mary Jane.” As if he had to explain. He then offered me his spider fist, as is the arachnid custom, for bumping. I returned the gesture with aplomb and took my girlfriend’s hand proudly as we crossed the street, we crossed quickly too just in case he was planning on robbing us, I mean after all this was New York City. And he had a foreign accent.
So there you have it, I went to New York City and got back to glorious Boston with my xenophobia intact!
I saw the best and worst of humanity at that con, met some of my favorite creators, saw a lot of random costumed ass, far too many slackers dressed as Doctor Who, and even more wearing Finn’s cap from Adventure Time.
The con made me at times hate everything I love when I saw it reflected back at me through sometimes smelly, always desperately overwhelmed, strangers who thought they were cleverer and more unique than they actually were. Which is exactly who I really am too, and probably you as well. After this initial self-hating nerd malaise, a second, even more powerful feeling poured over my temperament. Acceptance and then a sense, if not belonging, then a powerful feeling of recognition. Anima, Animus, that sort of thing.
I saw a man in his forties on a cell phone yelling angrily at what was probably his wife, or maybe his elderly mother, either way the person on the phone was apparently trying to find him. He told them in a severely pissed off tone and without humor, “I’m right over there, you can’t see me? I’m wearing a red Superman cape?”
Me too, dude. Me too.