Comic-Con 2011 Recap (Episode I: The Litmus Test)

25/07

This is the official kick off to my San Diego Comic-Con 2011 blogging theme week.  The goal is to post at least 3 short reflection pieces, here’s the tentative schedule:

– Tuesday: Reactions to the “Oh, You Sexy Geek!” panel on gendered geek culture, authenticity, and accusations of pandering and “bad feminism” (which, as we all know, really means “bad second wave feminism”)

– Wednesday: Considering the webcomic Axe Cop as transformative work and play

– Thursday: Swag as a signifying practice (or, why the Conan O’Brien potholder is important)

In the meantime, some initial thoughts (filtered through minor adventures in cosplay), but first a list of things I missed.  If you were at one of the following panels and would like to share insights/squees/commentary below in comments, that would be stellar!  We’ll go by day:

-THURSDAY-

11:15am (Hall H): Twilight: Breaking Dawn panel (Rumor was Twihards didn’t fill the hall, which many smugly took as a sign that A. the phenomenon was waning, or B. that Twihards had been successfully bullied out of attending the Con.)

1:00pm (26AB): Panel on digital comics (I would just be curious to hear about strategies and debates re: the turn to digital comics)

5:00pm (32AB): Buffy and LGBT Comics Fandom panel (interested to see if there was any continued debate about Buffy’s sapphic dabbling here, in particular)

-FRIDAY-

10:30am (8): Locke & Key [failed] pilot screening (purely fannish interest here, as a reader of the comic)

2:00pm (26AB): Transmedia, Comics Form, and Contemporary Adaptations

6:00pm (25ABC): Girls Gone Genre

-SATURDAY-

11:30am (Hall H): Twixt with Francis Ford Coppola (twitter lit up with discussions of Coppola editing footage on his iPad during the panel, and multiple remarks about how Coppola’s approach would “revolutionize” distribution…would love to hear accounts or be passed along links to video of this)

2:15pm (Hall H): Knights of Badassdom  (thoughts on the film’s representation of LARPers? I’m fannishly curious about this one)

5:30pm (26AB): Comics in the Classroom

-SUNDAY-

– 11:00am (7AB): Watchmen 25 Years Later

– The TV takeover of Hall H (Glee, SPN, Dr. Who)

– 2:30pm (26AB): The Culture of Comic-Con (DEVASTATED that I missed this)

…and, of course, would love to hear thoughts on other panels not listed above that you enjoyed, found interesting (professionally/academically or personally), trends in panels that you spotted, etc.

By way of introducing the themes that will undoubtedly run through my posts on Comic-Con 2011 this week, I present to you our Saturday costume (I’m saving tales of Archer cosplay for my Tuesday post):

Saturday (quasi) Cosplay: Rob and Don

Admittedly, a lazy rendition, but still evocative of their henchmen namesakes, from Frank Miller’s 1986 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  There was a lengthy discussion about bald caps, but because we were tackling two costumes this year with limited time, we settled for this version, even though I would have loved to thrift hunt the 80s components to do a spot-on characterization:

Then again, I also dream of cutting my hair and dressing as Carrie Kelly/Robin some year...

For better or for worse, I saw this costume as something of a litmus test.

Luke (aka Rob) and I attempted to strike a balance between the canonical (Watchmen and The Killing Joke aside, I find that most who have every picked up a comic or two have at least come into contact with Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns), and the obscure (Rob and Don appear in approximately 10 panels of the collected graphic novel, as the only named members of the mutant gang).  Keeping the recurring debates about fannish authenticity, the shifting promotional space and demographics of comic-con, the perils of swag culture, and whether comics are adequately represented at the con in mind, here are the results of said litmus test, by the numbers…

– Number of signs of recognition/knowing snickers from attendees passing us on the floor Saturday: approx. 3-5

– Number of drinks comped at dinner: 2 (I choose to believe that this was due to our waiter being a Frank Miller fan, rather than incompetent.  Either way, this one worked in our favor.)

– Number of conversations and pictures requested: 1

– Number of attendees who chased us down and frantically asked us which booth was giving out out glasses as swag: approx. 80-100

There’s one disheartening way to read these stats (kids these days, no sense of history, rabble rabble, the con’s turned its back on actual comics, the conspicuous consumption swag culture is ruining everything, etc.), but I’d prefer to tell you about the one guy who did recognize us, stopped us to ask for a picture, and chat.

He was late 40s/early 50s, wearing a Superman t-shirt.  He actually used the phrase “lickin chegs” within the first minute of talking to us, which aside from being an excellent fannish reference to the comic, is impressive to just casually drop into a conversation.  Here’s the best bit: the guy’s name was Don.  His best friend growing up was named Rob.  They were both huge fans of the comic and the characters.

Meeting a guy like Don is one of the many reasons I still love the experience of comic-con, despite my reservations and cynicism about particular industrial/promotional evolutions and gender-biased mutations the con has undergone over the past decade (which, I’m sure, will emerge in later posts).  For a few minutes, I got to talk comics with a fan I’ve never met and I’ll likely never see again, got to hear a bit of his story, and felt the sort of immediate kinship that can exist in fannish spaces amongst strangers.

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