NEW YORK COMIC CON 2011 – AN ESSAY

At some point in the wee hours of Friday morning, I dreamt that I was a King who was soundly defeated in some epic, Game of Thrones-style battle. Disgraced, I felt there was nothing else I could do but hurl myself off of the highest cliff in the realm. As the craggy ground and certain death rushed up to meet me, I was jolted into reality by the decidedly un-epic sounds of Train’s “Calling All Angels” blaring out of my clock radio. Outside my window the sky was black as pitch, the only light emanating from the oversized LCD numbers of the alarm clock which read 4:21. Their eerie green radiance mocked me as I dragged myself, zombie-like, out of bed and into the shower. As the hot water splashed on my face, I had to put all thoughts of royal suicide and lack of decent sleep behind me, because today was no ordinary sit-in-a-cublicle day. Today I was going to my first “major” Con, and my first Con as a member of the Geek Press. Today was New York Comic Con 2011 day.

After watching Ramona Flowers’ BF get F’d in the B Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on my trusty 2007 iPod classic (who needs iPhones?), the train rolled into New York City under ashen October skies. One wildly expensive expensive taxi ride later, I was standing outside of the mighty Javits Center, a massive concrete leviathan whose belly housed the stuff of nerd dreams. On the sidewalks outside the Javits, the line of weary worshippers looking to enter and bow before their four-colored Gods in Geek Mecca stretched for what seemed like miles. A parade of Batgirls, Zombies, Master Chiefs, Supermen, Thunder Gods, Jedi Knights, Castellans, Droids, Vampires, Harley Quinns, Browncoats, Stormtroopers, Deadpools, and hundreds of others could do nothing but wait; their arsenal of lightsabers, katana blades, power rings, and suits of high-tech armor rendered powerless by 20-somethings in bright yellow STAFF shirts standing vigilant at the doors. Those that chose not to don the garb of some kind of avatar were adorned with the numerous sigils of their houses — Bat-emblems, S-shields, Dharma Initiative octagons, Starfleet insignias, Lantern symbols for every color in the spectrum, Captain America shields, Star Wars logos, Autobot or Decepticon icons, and thousands more.

It was an awe-inspiring sight, but I needed to remain focused because I had a mission – do whatever it took to get the hell away from that nightmarish line and obtain my press pass!   When the young lady in charge of press badges confirmed my I.D. and granted me my lanyard with “PRESS” lovingly emblazoned on the plastic badge, I could do nothing but beam. I felt like Luke Skywalker receiving a medal from Princess Leia after bravely destroying the Death Star with the luckiest shot in history. I was then unceremoniously herded into a long line where hundreds of others wearing the same Press badge waited to enter the show floor. When the doors opened and the sea of humanity surged forward like a tsunami, I relaxed and let the wave wash over me.

When the tide subsided, I found myself on a stable surface of plush red carpet that had just the right amount of sponginess under my cold, tired feet.  The smell of chemically-buttered popcorn mingled with the body odor of a thousand Con-goers wafted through the recycled air, but once my eyes beheld the colorful wonders of the pop-culture universe on display, all sensory perception faded away — leaving only a sense of pure amazement. For a brief moment I felt like a dead Asgardian Geek-warrior God, granted passage to some blissful Nerd Valhalla where I was free to live out an eternity of reading comic books, watching movies, and playing video games – all while surrounded by beautiful Poison Ivys, Slave Leias, Power Girls, and a bevy of fantasy babes clad in little more than spandex and nylon. Mouth agape, I walked around in a daze for what seemed like hours, taking in the glossy, neon, plastic, pixellated, lcd, newsprint magic of it all.

When the initial shock and awe left my body, I set out to find my friends who were also in attendance (some I had known for nearly 25 years, and others I had never met in person), so we could get down to the business of fully geeking out on the Con floor and at the panels. During our adventures at the Con I saw models paid to pretend they were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents stare at fake computer displays at the Marvel booth, which was designed to replicate the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier in the upcoming Avengers film; strolled by ex-WWF wrestler Virgil and his “Million-Dollar” championship belt; shook hands and shared a few words with “Dot Com” from the TV show 30 Rock; became a member of the Justice League (via digital manipulation at the DC booth); attended a panel with the talented and ridiculously adorable Felicia Day; waited in line for 45 minutes to see Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, the hilarious creators of one of my all-time favorite animated shows,  The Venture Brothers;  got to be an “action figure” in a life-sized Star Wars toy package; and saw more cool toys, video games, anime, comic books, t-shirts, posters, prints, props, costumes, and art in ten hours than most people see in a year. It was simply overwhelming.

I was exhausted and battle-weary as the day came to an end, but the dire portents of my dream rang untrue — I was not a disgraced, suicidal King who had suffered a humiliating defeat. Hell no !  If the magnitude of an event such as the New York Comic Con proves anything, it’s that I’m a proud warrior in a kingdom that rules the land; one that has its battle flag firmly planted in pop culture, influencing content and driving box-office takes, TV ratings, and video-game sales. Our great Camelot has left behind dimly lit Church rec halls and sparsely attended flea markets for mighty castles of steel and concrete, colorful banners bearing the likenesses of heroes hanging proudly on the walls like the royal tapestries of old.  As long as creativity and imagination flourish, and we pass our love and knowledge on to the young…our kingdom can only grow more powerful.

Here’s my personal photo gallery from the Con floor:

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