Warning: I have just returned from New Orleans Comic-Con. Thus, I have not had a great deal of time to research a column topic. What follows may be a random, flowing stream of consciousness , but without the literary pedigree of James Joyce.
New Orleans Comic-Con. There has never been a more wretched hive of nerd and geekiness. Splayed out across numerous booths are enough comic books, posters, steampunk accessories, unapproachable “booth girls,” fake weapons and aging B-list celebrities to choke a bantha.
I ventured into this morass not as Jane Goodall in “Gorillas in the Mist,” for I do not consider myself an outsider. In this analogy, I am a gorilla – a hairless gorilla with an unnatural obsession with Star Wars and vintage Uncle Scrooge comics.
Of course, no sci-fi or comics convention would be complete without an obligatory appearance by William Shatner, the creepy old man of Star Trek. William Shatner is like Dorian Grey. When he hit 59, he stopped aging, but you suspect that there is a painting of an old, desiccated Shatner in his house that looks every bit his 80 years.
Bruce Campbell was originally supposed to attend, but alas, he ultimately could not. This was by far the biggest disappointment of the entire event. Those of us who adore the Evil Dead movies (and think that Sam Axe is the best thing to come to the USA network since obsessive-compulsive disorder) were devastated when we realized that he was no longer on the schedule.
Thankfully, there were some celebs in attendance to pick up the slack. Adam Baldwin was there (no relationship to the Baldwin brothers, thank God), and of course there was Stan Lee, the legendary creator of Spiderman, Hulk, the X-Men, and pretty much the lion’s share of Marvel’s line-up. Marvel will no doubt will start propping him up “Weekend at Bernie’s” style when he finally passes.
But what really makes Comic-Con is not the psuedo-celebrities or the eye candy, but the comics themselves.
In my mind, comics are the pinnacle of written storytelling. In comics, you not only experience the written word, but the imagination of the artist embodied in sequential storytelling. Comics are also often easier to read for those of us who grew up glued to the TV and have virtually no attention span as a consequence.
Thus, it should come as little surprise that the more dedicated Comic-Con attendees come dressed as their favorite characters. Half the reason to attend is to see and/or be seen dressed in a manner that would only otherwise be appropriate on Mardi Gras. As for myself, I attended wearing a three-piece suit — not for ironic effect, but because that’s just the kind of thing I normally wear. In the end, it meant that I looked like the weird one.
What was weirder, though, was the choice by the Convention Center to place Comic-Con next door to the Reilly Auto Parts Hot Rod show. This ensured that muscle car enthusiasts were intermixed with people dressed like Frodo, which is a wee bit surreal. Thankfully, no outbreaks of violence were reported (I think the Imperial storm troopers were keeping the peace).
Still, the Hot Road show was worth seeing if you could pry yourself away from all the comic-ey goodness. I noticed that one of Al Copeland’s gaudy, gargantuan boats was there (because it just doesn’t say “Copeland” unless it screams “tacky”). The folks from the reality show “Swamp People” were there with a booth, which was kind of strange because none of us have that far to drive if we want to look at swamp people, and we don’t have to shell out good money for the privilege.
Ultimately, I left the Convention Center with a stack of comics and a head full of mush. That, my friends, is what Comic-Con is all about.
Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney and resident of the Garden District, offers his opinions for UptownMessenger.com on Mondays. He has previously written for the Reason Public Policy Foundation.