Monday, June 03, 2013

Comic Con Overview

For the third year in a row I went to Philadelphia's Comic Con.  It is usually held in June (mark your calendars now for 2014, June 19-22).   I haven't seen any official or even unofficial numbers for attendance but there seem to be a lot of people there.  It encompasses a variety of sci fi universes:  books, movies, comics, television, graphic novels, etc.  Sunday was "family day" with a lot of activities for younger kids.  I went down Saturday just for the day.

This is a great regional conference.  It is self-contained, taking up only a part of the convention center.  The people who attend are well-behaved (if sometimes oddly dressed).  I hadn't bought tickets in advance (note to self, next year buy tickets online before the show).  There were two cash windows but only one credit window open so the line was long getting in.  However, as new people got in line word would pass down that if you were paying cash you could skip ahead.  Cash people would duck under to ropes to the front.  The cash people said "excuse me,"  and the credit people didn't get upset.  Everyone was nice about it.

The main event is usually the vendor hall.  There are free side events, talks, presentations, Q&As with personalities (actors, comic artists, etc) but the schedule for all of these doesn't seem to be issued in advance. There are also events requiring additional payment.  I go through the vendor hall, which takes about three hours, then I'm tired and ready to go home.  In the past I've had an issue with the women's t-shirt sizing, with a large still being smaller than a man's size small.  A lot of the women walking past the booths, including me, wouldn't fit into them.  This year, though, I found a booth that was selling reasonable sizes and bought a few.  I also came home with a Dr. Who beach towel, a leather cell phone case, and a few assorted other odds and ends.   One stall had a drawing of a character I really like but when I got a closer look her waist was not much wider than her neck and it just seemed a bit creepy so I didn't buy it.

The people who come in costume are always entertaining, though not everyone who wants to wear spandex should.  And the chain mail bikini didn't look comfortable.  There was a group of men in speedos (over tighty whiteys) and suspenders; maybe shirts and tights should be included next year.  But most of the costumes looked great and showed a lot of imagination and detailed work.  A few were truly spectacular.  There is a costume contest and most of the people who come in costume and amenable to having photos taken.

Oddly, there was little merchandise for the new Star Trek movie, and not much Game of Thrones either.  Last year there was a lot of GOT material but it seems to have faded.  There was more of an overall mix this year, lots of stuff from lots of scifi.  William Shatner and Stan Lee were there, along with lesser lights.  A photo op with Shatner ran $80 and even for a longtime fan that seemed a bit steep.  A Shatner / Nimoy event was billed but it also was out of my price range.  Last year five Star Trek captains were there and the convention hosted a "Five Captains" event but I passed on that as well.  Color me cheap.  One section of the exhibit hall is set off for live appearances and lines set up for autographs or photo ops.  It is possible to wander by and see who is there.  Some times you see people who are in current popular shows or are drawing or writing current popular books, but more often the personalities who attend were in shows that aired in past years.  This year I saw Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Lou Ferrigno (from the Hulk television show).  Lauren Holly (a Bristol native) was there, as was Henry Winkler.  

It's also interesting to see how much framed autographed photos are selling more.  All the ones I saw came with certificates of authenticity which is good.

As with previous years, some of the merchandise showed a casual misogyny that bothers me.  One booth offered various artwork for sale.  One piece was a sculpture of three naked barbies impaled on spikes with blood (red paint) on the dolls and sculpture base.  I found that really disturbing.  Among the t-shirt captions at another stall was the odd zombie reference "dead girls don't say no."  Again, cringe-worthy.  But there were more positive t-shirt captions this year than I remember from previous years and that is a hopeful sign.  

All in all I had a good time.  It's a chance to commune with fellow geeks and stock up on nerdery not usually available in stores.  Last year I shared the train downtown with a couple of Vulcans.  This year the Joker was in the next car.  Keeping with tradition I had a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and had the once in a lifetime opportunity to say to the waitress "The Star Fleet officer at the table behind you is trying to get your attention."  Priceless.  I'll be back next year.

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