Sunday, September 28, 2014

Alamo City Comicon

John Picacio at Alamo City Comic Con
So, the family and I went to Alamo City Comic Con today, in downtown San Antonio. These kinds of uber-huge commercial conventions aren't really my thing. They're big, noisy, chaotic affairs that seemingly exist only to separate attendees from their money in the most efficient manner possible. But Bug's invented a super-hero of his own, and wanted to talk with the creator of Spider-Man, otherwise known as Stan Lee, about how to develop it as a property (really, he wanted help making a movie, but he's eight, so the nuance of building a character's popularity over time is lost on him). Monkey Girl and Fairy Girl both wanted to go, and The Wife thought it'd be fun, so we did the one-day whirlwind visit.

First off, traffic was awful. Bad even for downtown San Antonio. Stuck in gridlock, I let the family out to make their way to the convention center whilst I hunted for parking. As my luck would have it, the parking garage I made for was already full, so I had to work my way to my second choice. And I would like to take this opportunity to express how much I despise drivers who think they're being clever by driving ahead one lane over, only to cut in at the last minute. And you know who I hate just as much? The assholes who think they're being nice by letting those cutters in. Hey, nice guy, why don't you wave me around so I can get ahead as well? I've only been sitting behind you for the past 45 minutes. But I eventually parked and made my way several blocks over to the convention, which gave my blood pressure time to calm down. An hour after I'd dropped them off, I met up with The Wife and Bug--the girls had already bolted on their own--and headed into the artists' alley area. I wanted to find John Picacio first off, as I had something for him--a humorous, San Antonio-themed La Loteria game put out by the San Antonio Express-News for the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists annual meeting held a couple of months back. I found him and we had a good talk, bemoaning the impersonal nature of uber-cons like this (but he did point out that Alamo City, being local, treated the smaller/local guests much better than the national conventions did), and he thought the Loteria hilarious. The man was clearly running on fumes from operating his booth four days straight, so I let him get back to interacting with attendees/potential new fans, as he can see me any time he wants.

The Wife and Bug had gone off on their own whilst I chatted with Picacio, so I went to track them down. On the way, I ran across my daughters. I suppose I should explain at this point that they both have a thing for cosplay. Monkey Girl, the elder, is working on a steampunk outfit that is a long way from completion, so she simply dressed like a teen. Fairy Girl, on the other hand, is like so many other girls in that she's obsessed with Frozen and Elsa, the Ice Queen, in particular. So she attended the convention as Elsa. And a mighty fine Elsa she made, too--dozens of little girls flocked to have their picture taken with here (a bunch of older girls, too, including one in costume as "Hipster Elsa"). Fairy Girl is not quite so outgoing as her sister, and as such, was taken aback by her sudden celebrity status. By the end of the day, though, she was a veritable Disney princess, with the pose and smile down pat. It made me happy to see so many people fawning over her, and it made her giggle.

Elsa at Alamo City Comic Con

As for the main event, Bug meeting Stan Lee, that was a non-starter from the get-go. The thing I really hate about these commercial cons is the fact that they charge extra--lots extra--for anyone to get within spitting distance of the headlining guests. Which is why, for all their missteps, I love the smaller, fan-run conventions: You can chat with the guest of honor at any random party or even go to dinner with them. They're intimate and personal. With the massive cons, the little kids who are presumably the idealistic, future audience of the form, they're simply shut out by all the collectors and whatnot out to make a killing on Ebay. It's depressing, really. I wonder if folks like Lee even know there are alternative ways to do things? So, we told Bug well ahead of time he wouldn't be meeting Stan Lee. He kind of understood it, but his experience is with smaller conventions, so he kept looking around in the dealers' room/artists' alley area, expecting to catch a glimpse. How many eight-year-olds still get excited about the prospect of meeting Stan Lee in this day and age? But all was not lost. Bug's absolute favorite super-hero is Batman, okay? So guess who had a four-table spread set up? Neal Adams! I had no idea he'd be there. I mean, my obsession with Green Arrow is pretty well documented, and Adams is a big, big, big reason for that. I explained to Bug who Adams was, and he happily picked out a dramatic Batman-by-Adams print for me to buy for him. I didn't go total fanboy--Bug was the reason I was at the con in the first place--so in addition to Bug's print, I got myself a Green Arrow print for myself (to match the Grell on my wall), and went to have them autographed by the man himself. I have to say, Adams was great. Bug, chattering all day about his super-hero, was suddenly tongue-tied. Adams engaged him in small talk and tried to coax him out of his shell. When Bug finally articulated that he had a super-hero and wanted to know how to get it published, Adams told him first he had to write out the story, then draw the story, and then have Daddy pay the printer to get it printed in book form. When I suggested maybe we could do it as a web comic, Adams shut that down, saying no, Daddy had to pay to have it published. I'm not convinced those are the answers Bug wanted, but at the end of the day he came away happy he got to talk with a man who drew Batman for many years and gave him his undivided attention for five minutes. And Bug didn't mention Stan Lee again.

Bug and Neal Adams at Alamo City Comic Con

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