Thursday, September 1, 2016

Comic-Con In Palm Springs - Being A Kid Again!

Official Palm Springs
Comic-Con badge
When I was a kid growing up in the 50's all of my friends, like me, collected comic books. In those days, yes eat your hearts out Millennials, they cost 5¢, then later 10¢. If you got the big ones, as in thicker with multiple stories, they cost a whole 25¢! Big money in those days. As I went to high school and then far away to college, comic books were the last things on my mind. When my mother moved to New Mexico they, like a great many other possessions, went I would imagine into the trash.

I never gave comic books much thought as after getting married and having kids, I barely even read the funnies in the paper anymore either. Dick Tracey, any super hero, even Doonesbury bit the dust until someone pointed me to Dilbert and I have remained a daily fan because he speaks so clearly of the human condition today in the workplace.

Star Wars Storm Trouper.
Through the years I have heard of Comic-Con and after following the antics of the boys on "The Big Band Theory" and their childlike love of action figures, comics and such, thought it would be fun to go to Comic-Con, at least once. The biggest and evidently first Comic-Con was the creation of Stan Lee, a comic book artist and promoter. The first show was in San Diego in 1970 and has spread, from what I hear, all over the world.

Paint me blue!
To be honest, I went for the titillation, the gawking of the attendees. I had heard about and seen photos on Google. Images of fully grown adults, like on BBT that for some reason embrace this stuff ... almost, you might say, worship imaginary icons! Sure I stayed up all night in the 50's waiting for the US to launch its first satellite only to watch the Vanguard explode over and over again until finally the army succeeded with their Redstone Rocket. I saw every monster and space movie there was and until "2001: A Space Odyssey" they were a pretty sorry lot. Who can forget the contrail of Buck Rogers space ship, the silly costumes of the monster from the black lagoon. Even "Frankenstein" looked homemade as was apparent in Mel Brooks remake "Young Frankenstein." It was all fun and gave us all a thrill or three at the time. I especially remember Steve McQueen in "The Blob"!

Yes, I saw all the grownups dressed like our storm trooper, there was even an Avatar whose body was painted in blue (how'd you like to wash that off let alone put it on)? What I was not prepared for was the art. While it was not my kind of art, there is no denying that there were many, I mean MANY talented men and women there selling their art. Many artists were there not only selling their comics, posters and such, but were actually drawing and
Cards from various artists!
more than glad to answer your questions. I was curious where they found such amazing pens and inks that gave crisp, clean lines far beyond what a Sharpie can deliver. Sorry Sharpie, but its the truth. For me, always looking for a permanent way to keep a clean line on my birdhouses and such, this was a revelation.

The other surprise, be kind, I'm 70, was that many of these artists also have YouTube videos where you can watch them draw as they give you pointers on their art!

You might think that you were at a Playboy Magazine convention there were sooooo many nude and usually near nude women images for sale. That surprised me as well. There wasn't a piece of art there, no matter what the subject that wasn't amazing, clean, almost flawless if you are into that sort of thing. I don't know exactly what I was expecting but not this much art and such an amazing range of talent. However, I would be remiss not to point out, the majority fit into a very narrow range of both style and subject but the execution was impeccable. It was stunning but would have no place in my home.
The Convention hall before the crowd really hit. Over 12,000 attended the first Palm Springs Comic-Con
Art for sale
Looking at this as art and sellable art at that, it is an overwhelming success. Stumbling on an artist friend whose husband in an artist in this genre, several people bought some of his art, while we caught up on our lives. While many of the men there appeared to be Millennials, most were unmarried and often had bags of things already
before the crowd really hit. I mean, look at just one of the choices here on the left! While there were women there, the majority of the sellers and buyers were male ... of a certain age. It was hard to tell how old the costume wearers were because they were made up, and well! They would do any makeup artist in Hollywood proud. One scene seared in my brain was the two guys getting into and adjusting their Ninja Turtle outfits in the men's restroom. If that wouldn't give you the heebie jeebies, I don't know what would. One three or four year old stood there with his mouth hanging open! Yes, they are that good.

The sad thing for me, and I am sure with a great many men of my generation is the loss of our comics that might be very valuable today. We had so many, many comics. They surely have a value today; more than a nickel or a dime.
You pays your money and takes your pick!
What I paid 5 or 10¢ for was now going for $5, 0r $10, some up to $200. I can remember a friend who still have a hard time forgiving his mother for throwing out his baseball collection. He now knows for a fact some of those cards are worth substantial amounts.

Considering that the Palm Springs Comic-Con was announced shortly after the closing of the San Diego show, in less than a month it drew 12,000 attendees. I heard from a friend that the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con selling around 150,000 tickets was sold out in 10 minutes. It was a success. They are already planning on a second show here in Palm Springs for 2017.

The long row of "stars" in one aisle gave me pause. While I didn't see Stan Lee, he came after I left, I did see Lou Ferrigno, known as the original "Hulk" signing autographs as a long line waited to purchase and have him sign a photograph. I stopped and looking at the others with their names emblazoned in large letters above them, had to admit I didn't recognize any of them even though I had seen some of the movies they were in. I do know that capitalizing on even minor fame is not worth this. Fame is fleeting but somehow they tried to capitalize on it and maybe fans did too.

Will I go again? My ticket cost $32 and it was done more as a lark than with any serious intention of stocking up so to speak on fantasy materials. The art is impressive, the skill of many of these artists is truly amazing. I almost felt, was even tempted to say, please create something that is meaningful but had an epiphany; that maybe, just like graffiti art, this genre is art too. Just because it isn't my thing, it obviously is to millions around the world!

Thank you for reading my blog. I encourage you to read some of my earlier blogs as they all deal with art and the design of things that shape our daily living!

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