Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Comic-Con Post-Mortem

Hi everybody who I met at the con!  If you're looking for the Handouts from the Graphic Novels 101 panel or the Graphic Novels in Libraries panel, you'll find them under "pages" down in the sidebar. 

So, Comic-Con.  Most of the blogosphere has moved on, but I needed some time to let my synapses recover and the overcooked oatmeal that was my brain return to something resembeling a thinking apparatus.  This was a different con for me.  Number 1, I didn't go last year, so I had a longer break than usual between Nerd Proms.  Number 2, it was my daughter's first con, and a lot of my time and energy was devoted to making sure she had an enjoyable experience.

Comic-Con isn't about comics anymore, and it's too damn big.  This isn't exactly news to anybody, but this year, it really struck me.  I had a really good show, but I had a good show by making the concious decision to avoid all of the movie and TV presenations and to avoid the end of the hall where there booths were.  As such, I missed out on some of the "big" moments from the event.  And I'm O.K. with that.

However, I do think that the Con organizers need to get on the stick and figure out a more fair and equitable way to get people seated during high demand programs.  I am guilty of seat squatting, I admit.  I try to at least be a quiet, well behaved seat squatter.  I always feel... guilty about doing it though.  As a panelist, I can tell you that there is nothing more exasperating than being on the platform, talking to a room full of people who aren't listening at best, and at worst who are carrying on their own conversations and making a ruckus.  My panels are small and ill-attended.  If I were a marketing rep from say, DC/Warner Brothers, I might be a little more than annoyed about people who just want to see Thor footage snarking and hooting their way though my Green Lantern presentation.   The people who run the con are bright, they can work this out, and they need to, before people decide it's not worth the trouble to go to see a panel that somebody else is going to get up on YouTube before the day is out anyway.

While some elements of security and staff were much better run this year, it just made those that weren't stand out more.  I can only imagine the amount of coordination and planning that goes into an event of Comic-Con's size, but often, it did seem that Hand A didn't know what Hand B was doing.  For me, this was best exemplified by the Masquerade, where after being told to stand in 4 different lines, loosing my temper and getting shouted at by other attendees, a blessed staff person took pity on my daughter's aching feet and puppy dog eyes, and got things straightened out.  Unfortunately, this wasn't an isolated incident.  There were panels where I wasn't allowed back in while going to the bathroom, panels where my daughter was elbowed in the face, and panels where my husband was cursed (in my 8 year old's hearing) at for having a better seat.  Happily, those were the minority, but they shouldn't be happening at all.  Get 100,00+ people in one space and there are bound to be some jackasses.  Get 100,000 people in one space and start jerking them around, and the jackass proportion skyrockets.

The rest of my thoughts will go into list format, since I am still too brain dead to be that articulate.
  • The attitude in downtown different this year.  It seemed like the Comic-Con attendees were actually welcome.  It was nice not to feel like a freakish drain on the local economy.
  • Gina from First Second is the nicest person in the whole world.  Thanks for organizing a great panel Gina!
  • Kidlet had 3 wishes for this con.  To meet Jeff Smith, to see Rick Riordan and to see the Masquerade live.  Thanks to some very nice staff people, all three came true.
  • To whoever the genius is that decided to show fan movies over the Lucasfilm pavilion, I hope you get stuck in traffic and your air conditioning breaks.  That freakin' screen nearly got my kid trampled.
  • To all the publishers who gave me ARC's, I promise to read and review them.
  • It seemed to me that the issue of Women and Geekdom got moved into the spotlight a little bit this year.  I feel like I need to thank the Twilight girls for that, although I don't want to.
  • To the guy at the Star Trek booth who assured me that Shirtless Kirk cologne doesn't smell like ham, thanks for having a sense of humor.
  • Do you think that pulling Comic-Con duty is a punishment or a reward for the San Diego PD?  The officers I spoke with were split pretty much even. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hey Comic-Con

Hi Everybody! If you're here looking for the Handouts from the Graphic Novels in Libraries panel on Saturday or the Graphic Novels 101 panel on Thursday, check back in a few days. I'm still at the con, and it might take me a day or two to get them up.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In My Mailbox...

Astro City, The Dark Age, Book 1: Brothers and Other Strangers. I love Astro City, and I have been looking forward to this collection for a long time.  I'm interested in getting more backstory on the characters.

Thrones, Dominations --   When I get stressed (and I am!) I return to Dorthy Sayers.  This is a sequel to Sayer's last Wimsey book, Busman's Honeymoon, based on her notes.  It's amazing that I've never read this before.

Bad Girls -- This is a title that's been on my radar for a while, but even if it wasn't, there was no way I could pass up that Darwyn Cooke cover!

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam -- I actually got this for my daughter, but I'll read it too.  

Batman, R.I.P. -- Sometimes, waiting for the trade puts you way, way behind the curve. 

The 39 Clues: The Sword Thief -- Speaking of behind the curve, kidlet just finished Book 9 in this series, and I have to get caught up.   

Final Crisis -- Oy.  Well, if I want to read Blackest Night, I have to start here.  And I love Grant Morrison. But... oy.  

All books were picked up at my library, of course.  It's a schizophrenic, DC-tastic week! 

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to encourage blogger interaction.  I discovered it through Dreaming In Books.  

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts on Wonder Woman...

So, this week, the comics world was rocked by the announcement that Wonder Woman got a makeover.

When Fangirls Attack has a very nice, very complete roundup of the Internet frenzy that followed the announcement.   The Beat did a wonderful survey of big "name" covers through the ages.  Since others have done the work,  I'm just going to tell you how I feel about it:

I'm disappointed, but I know that ultimately, it doesn't matter. 

Wonder Woman has always been a figure that confused me.  I love the idea of her -- a female warrior, who prizes peace above all -- and think that the contradictions inherent in her character made her fascinating.  However, I'd say that at least half of the time that I read comics that feature her, I walk away disappointed. 

To put this in a visual format, I'm not sure how these two women can be the same person: 

On the left is the Alex Ross version of Wonder Woman, on the right, a cover by Brian Bolland.   The woman on the left is how I see Diana Prince in my head.  She's confident and strong.  She could kick your ass, but she'll try to talk it out first.  On the right, an extra from a soft-core porn Gladiator film.  

So, how can they be the same person -- is Wonder Woman role model, a symbol of feminine power and strength?  Or is she Wonder Woman: Bondage Queen?  I think until you answer that question, her costume isn't going to matter much. . An artist, particularly a cover artist, shape the way we view a hero, but editors and writers have to choose the characters destiny before the artists get involved.

That's why, more than Wonder Woman's new stirrup pants and Member's Only jacket, I was concerned by the new direction that the series is getting,
We learn that Paradise Island fell when Diana was just a child, when the gods withdrew their protection. Hippolyta and many of the other Amazons died in a last-ditch defense against an army with weapons that could kill even them, while some of her guards and handmaids smuggled a young Diana off the island. She was thus raised in an urban setting, but with a foot in both worlds, courtesy of her guardians and teachers from Paradise Island. They expect her to retake Paradise Island, defeat the army that’s still hunting for the escaped Amazons (and Diana in particular), and restore all her people to their previous glory. This is a lot to ask of someone who has no recollection of that world, and obviously has no idea about the timeline shift.
So, Wonder Woman is no longer a child of the gods, was no longer raised by a community of loving supportive women and no longer has the society of Amazons to support her and use as a model for her interactions with the outside world.  Basically, she just became every other superhero with a tragic past and a score to settle.  Boring.  Boring and wrong.