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Musings on Comic Con '09

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Humor is one of those subjective things that either works or it doesn't. Andy Borowitz's recent "critique" of last week's Comic Con is just one of those misfires that's just pathetic.

The reason I bring this up is that there may have been more women than men -- not much this year -- having seen the line for the Twilight Panel with literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of teenaged girls waiting for hours on end to get in. Which brings me to my real point here: How big is too big?

I've been going to this thing on and off -- mostly off -- for around 18 years, and while the TV and movie panels and swag were always there, it was much smaller and more about what it was called. Comics. Don't get me wrong, the guys doing the panels needed to be there as much as the people who paid to get in, and the media parties were pretty good (you can get a healthy and filling meal from hors d'oeuvres, and I especially liked the fact that none of them kicked me out). But aside from most of the actual stuff that had to do with comics, it was impossible to get into anything without waiting on line for hours on end.

The first full day of the event, I attended a panel on the astroboy movie, and left early to get to the Disney 3-D thing at the main hall H. I'd kind of forgot the aforementioned Twilight fans were there en masse, and discovered, to my horror, that the line went across the street, then into the park and went back and forth three times. There was a guy claiming to be from the staff who said to give it up -- we wouldn't get in until four at least, which I knew wasn't true as half the hall would clear out when the Twilighters left, which is exactly what happened. I managed to get in to the Avatar thing, but only after waiting for over two hours and missing two panels that I really wanted to see (and Twilight, which I didn't).

The TV lines were even worse. One of the stars of Dollhouse is a friend of mine, and due to situations that were nobody's fault, we didn't manage to hook up last month and not showing up for this would possibly ruin our platonic relationship. I missed most of it, and had the security guards not been looking the other way for a second, that would have been it for her and me. The happy ending notwithstanding (nothing is more validating than having one guard stopping another from throwing you out of a place), the simple fact is, is that unless you are prepared to just sit in one place all day, you cannot see anything that didn't have to do with the actual art of cartooning. From what I heard, the Pat Oliphant tribute wasn't particularly full.

It wasn't always like that. When I first started going, San Diego was the place every cartoonist in north America would get together to schmooze. The parties to get into were not the ones sponsored by IMAX®, (who were kind enough to drive me to their presentation), Wired magazine or Entertainment Weekly; the pick-up soirees were where the top cartoonists in the industry -- and I mean newspaper strips and underground stuff -- would get together to jam on paper while getting wasted in places that no longer exist. But time marches on I guess...

The crowds and the lines are bringing the event to a crisis. The whisperings about moving the place to Las Vegas are beginning to get louder, and to be perfectly frank, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Unfortunately, they may not be able to pull it off if they tried. San Diego became what it was because it was convenient to LA and easier to get around. Getting around LA is difficult even with a car, and Las Vegas in the summer even more so. Besides, I don't think they would have a venue large enough.

It could be possible to split Comic Con in two, with the movie stuff run as a giant film festival and the comics stuff returning to the art of drawing and storytelling.