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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Slipping From Caricature To Cartoon: ComicCon 2009

[Editor’s Note: Pictures are from a slideshow of the ComicCon 2009 hosted on Rotten Tomatoes]

The comic book convention. Hmm. I wish to tread lightly here. If a wag is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, I can’t see how being mean to these souls is appropriate. I do not wish to harm the harmless. They wouldn’t care anyway. Their worldview is all about embracing derision. Not strong in the face of criticism, exactly. More like learning to like the taste of sand.

When faced with cultural trends, the default attitude is plaudits or vitriol, nothing in between, and never ambivalence. 99% of the “analysis” I read and see, isn’t. It’s a poorly disguised, already-held opinion drifting on the sea of culture looking for any dock to bang against. Everyone and everything at the ComicCon is nothing and nobody to me. It is prominent enough for me to pay attention to. That’s it. I have no (Triumph the Insult Comic) dog in this hunt.

These are grown people. There are a few people who have dragged their children along in matching costumes, but the kids don’t look all that interested. Kids just put a plastic pail on their heads and become knights-errant. They don’t spend twelve forty-hour weeks making a Watchmen costume trying to impress a Princess Leia who’s a bit broad in the beam for the metal bikini but wears it anyway. Kids like fun. This is not fun. This is serious.

But, as they say: “Why so serious?” It’s a convention based on comic books. Don’t blame me if I look at the way you’re behaving seriously trivially seriously. I’m not the one that demanded that comic books be called “graphic novels” and entered into real school curriculums here and there as if they’re important. I haven’t mistaken George Lucas for St. Augustine and Robert Heinlein for Paul of Tarsus. Hell, I haven’t even mistaken George Lucas for a competent filmmaker.

A kind of incoherence has crept into the language. School teaches students never to learn anything by rote, and to rely on your judgment alone when you’re trying to spell arguement. So I’m unlikely to be able to ask you what’s up with your overriding urge to dress up like it’s Halloween every day, and you’re four years old forever. You’ll just answer in that Internet singsong about reigning in loosers that definatly need to seperate themselves from you right now before they beg another question. I can’t find things out by talking to you. I must watch and learn.

People are people. Fifty years ago, people made elaborate train set worlds in their basement, model airplanes, and ships-in-a-bottle. They spent countless hours perfecting their ping pong stroke and their horseshoe arc. Hell, I made a decidedly flammable popsicle stick ashtray and gave it to my parents, who did not smoke. People have always wasted their time trying to amuse themselves.

But beware: the Shriners wore funny hats and drove in parades in little cars, it’s true. But the Shriners weren’t founded solely as a way to gather together to wear funny hats and drive little cars. When your child can be admitted to a ComicCon Hospital and be treated for third degree burns, for free, then 160 pounds of Catwoman in a 120 pound suit can snicker at their fezzes, not before.

It’s said that no real head doctor would offer an opinion of any person based solely on what they read in the paper or saw on the TV about them. But I’m an amateur, so I’ll let it rip. If a goldfish got to wishing, he wouldn’t wish he was just on the outside of the bowl glass. He’d wish he had fangs and wings and breathed fire and shat bullion and mated with mighty morphin’ megasexual mates ten at a time. Then he’d go bump into the glass on the other side of the bowl.

I spotted this on a Flicker page of a StumbleUpon correspondent:
Dollhouse 1920. Made for my mother from an old packing crate. The embossed lettering is still visible on the back of the roof. Made by her father, Andrew Sebastian K., who died a few months later.

That story is right up there with Hemingway’s six word masterpiece: For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

That man grew up. He married and had children. He made his children toys from whatever was handy. He made his meager (as is everybody’s) offering to posterity and launched it, luckily, before his time was over.

What a looser. He could have made himself a bitchin’ Nosferatu costume and gone to WarrenGHardingPalooza instead.

13 Responses

  1. I hate to say it but it sounds like working in the basement all day and night is beginning to affect your normally sunny sense of humor.

    Take more coffee breaks in the sun and see if you begin to appreciate the zany efforts of ComicCon attendees as they create a more pleasing reality to replace the current insanity the rest of us live in.

    In any event, keep on making the splendid furniture.

  2. Ditto David.

    If, and only if, these people spent their whole lives in this one sole occupation of building the perfect Boba Fett costume, then maybe, just maybe, you'd have a point.

    But of course, they don't. They are doctors and plumbers and all sorts of useful people who just have a hobby. Their "fezzes" may not help you, but in their other lives they might.

    This weekend, I fixed my trailer. It's a trailer I built as a teenager. My first welding project. I finally replaced the axle after 20 years. I sweat and toiled over it for four hours. I examined it. Its welds are crooked, it's wonky in the frame, plenty of features, but none really expert. Over the years, I figure I could have bought two better more useful pro-made trailers for what I spent to make this one from scratch. But it's mine. It gives me joy. It's my Boba Fett costume.

  3. “Hell, I haven't even mistaken George Lucas for a competent filmmaker.”

    Thank. God.

    The rest is true of course as well.

    And you quote my favorite short story to boot. If Mister H. were still with us, I would like to tell him it’s still a good short story minus the “never worn.” Go see… If it’s not, than none of them are.

  4. Leisure is serious business, for sure. Sometimes that's sad; sometimes it's entertaining. But ComicCon is just one measuring stick for values, sanity and the state of other affairs.

    Also, I haven't dressed up as a super hero of any sort for years…even though I am one.

  5. The whole super hero thing past me by as a kid…I was more of a 'battle of Britain' and Fort Apache kind of kid…it still does now.

  6. Dead on with the George Lucas swipe.

    Reload, ready, fire again!

    That was my lame comi….um….graphic novel impression….

    And I loved the incorporation of the dollhouse.


  7. Lynne's grandfather made the little house.

    She's a VIP in this thread, so everybody better be nice to her or I'll go all Internet Tough Guy on you.

  8. It may be better that these people spend the time to make their costumes and go once or twice a year to conventions with others like them than try to bend their personal lives and the lives of those around them to fit into some sort of Jane Austen/Merchant-Ivory mold as one MD of my acquaintance has done.

    Also, what does it say about the person when we sign our comments with such unusual nicknames as those above? Of course I should talk, my nickname here is that of a character from a book of short stories by Charles M. Russell, the Montana Artist.

  9. It is my understanding that those who disparage the imagination of others usually have little imagination to call upon themselves.

  10. American Grafitti was a pretty good movie. The rest of Lucas' work, meh.

    The people making poor immitations of other's work are sad. The originator had imagination, those who copy, not so much.

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