Tom Bastian chronicles his first experience at a comic book convention. It's negative, jaded, and pretty funny! Comicon fans duck and cover!
"LoserCon 2000" by Thomas K. Bastian
Conventions can be a weird experience. Ok, not can,
they ARE!! They make you wonder if youíre as weird as the rest who go,
and embarrassed by your chosen hobby, interest, or past-time. For some,
itís like a pilgrimage to see washed up old TV stars, and bask in
their career limbo, or to find that rare toy or comic so they can lord
it over their classmates, or worse, co-workers! If youíve never been,
youíre really not missing much. You arrive at the hotel or convention
center and are immediately confronted with people who are way too
excited at the chance of meeting the guy who played opposite a real
celebrity on a TV show or sci-fi movie 30 years ago.
went to one of these things last year with a friend, and before I even
left the house, I knew it was gonna be the perfect opportunity to mock
every living soul we encountered, at least to some degree. Some fared
better, but most guys were labeled in some way if I couldnít figure
out what "his deal" was. And let me tell you, most of them had
deals, so I dealt them as I saw them!
applies to the convention goers as well as the sellers, and the
third-rate celebrities. (Do these people even qualify as celebrities
anymore? There should be a term just for these people, like "cubic
zircons of fame" or something!)
So we get there, and check out the celebrity room. And we see
this one guy we immediately recognize as being the star of a certain
popular 70`s show, (I wonít use any names cause he might charge me 10
bucks, but he played the Incredible Hulk, ok?). So we go over and say hi
and ask for a picture with this guy, just cause we thought it would be
cool to do, but we were shot down, and told if we bought
a picture of him, heíd sign it. Why would I spend 10 or 15 bucks for a
picture when I can get one with
the guy for free?? Let him sign his name on someone elseís picture for
all I care. But he musta been confronted by camera toting conventioneers
before because he had his sales pitch down pat. He also wrote a book
about fitness we coulda bought, but he didnít seem like the best
source for bettering oneself. At least not anymore. So we left him
hunkered behind his table of unwanted pictures and books, and scanned
the rest of room for anyone worth a second look. There were a couple
guys from old shows like Battlestar Galactica, and Lost in Space, but
none of the ones youíd care about.
along with these zirconians, there were pin-up model/actresses, and
centerfolds from the Nixon era! The pseudo actress/models only want you
to buy a picture of them, and will flirt with, or seem interested in,
any guy who happens to glance one micron in her direction. The guy could
be covered in pimples, and have cat-hair imbedded in his black X-Files
shirt and she makes like heís a hunk of choice beef, when in reality
heís only gristle and filler. But selling these pictures is her source
of income until she gets that killer bit-part in a Toxic Avenger flick,
so sheís gonna work it to death until some poor sucker buys a picture.
Or worse, like us, get suckered into paying 5 bucks for posing with this
floozy, while we use our own
camera to take a picture! Hmm, bet Lou...er...I mean, that
other guy didnít think of this! So we posed with "Candy
Summer" or whatever her fake model name was, and high-tailed it
away from her with our faces burning with shame and embarrassment, and
each 5 bucks poorer. We steered clear of the former pin-ups, and
didnít see what they were hawking, but Iím sure they werenít current
then took our leave from this den of obscurity, and hit the dealer room.
I like Star Wars I admit it, but that doesnít mean I`ll fork over wads
of cash for anything related to it. But I encountered these two guys at
a table who tried to sell me this cardboard tube resembling a lightsaber
filled with candy, from Europe! Yeah, sounds ultra-cool donít it? I
didnít ask the price because it was a cardboard
tube filled with candy!! From Europe.
I was happier to walk away with my wallet, filled with money. Aside
from the dealers selling comics, toys, and useless candy-tubes, from
Europe, thereís always the ever-present video bootleggers. For $15-30
bucks you can own a poor quality copy of a movie or TV series so bad it
was never released on video legally! There are reasons for that. But
these guys sit behind tables full of videos; they frantically made
themselves the weekend before, with a TV/VCR set up showing samples from
his inventory. Funny thing is, this doesnít make people scatter like
roaches but it draws them closer to look for that lost TV classic or a
tape of Star Trek Bloopers! Again, being a Star Wars fan, a fairly
discriminating one, I found a tape of the truly horrible 1978 Star Wars
Holiday Special, shown on TV once, and vowed by George Lucas to be
hunted down and every copy destroyed! I saw it when it was shown that
one time, and I always wondered if it was as bad as they say, (I was 8
years old at the time so it was cool cause it was Star Wars!), but
itís true, itís pretty bad! Chewbacca`s Dad has to be seen to be
believed! Heís got the mange pretty bad! And a wicked case of dry-rot
to boot! And on his mouth. But I wanted to see this travesty, so I
bought it. There wasnít
too much else in the dealer room that interested me. If I look hard
enough, I can find all the new toys in stores like they did, and avoid
paying the 150% markup they tack on.
to the dealer room was this elaborate set-up. Swords, knives, and silver
skull-shaped things you decorate with, hang around your neck, or stash
your weed inside! Naturally the people selling these weapons of battle,
or wall-decorations above the bed, are dressed in period costumes,
plastered in black eye-shadow, sporting beards that put ZZ Top to
shame...although I think the ZZ`s washed
theirs! (I say ďperiod costumesĒ assuming the Conan
the Barbarian movies are based on fact. They arenít are they?
Never a big fan...).
By now, after gawking at the celebricons, geriatric playmates, videos grainy-er than a gas-station security-cam, and not falling for any of the "special deals" on action figures, youíd probably be getting a little hungry. We were, so we perused the food area. Now...hotdogs are tasty, I admit, but are they worth $3.50?? I`d understand if it was a hotdog from some fancy French restaurant, but it`s a comicbook convention! They had other food too, but 3.50 was the lowest you were gonna get. Wonder what a T-bone was going for. So rather than spend a bomb, we went across the street to McDonalds! I guess we werenít alone in our money-saving scheme as we saw tons of other obvious convention attendees there already (you canít miss the fashion sense of them people, they must all shop at Spencerís Gifts and Pot Accessories).
lunch, and staring at the geeky fanboys, we went back, to check out the
Q & A rooms. Thatís where they stick the guy who played so-and-so
on Lost in Space or whatever, and he gets asked questions heís plainly
heard a million times before, makes a few lame jokes about his female
co-stars, and sips his water waiting for his timeslot to be over.
It all has such a pointless, has-been quality to it, but hey,
people paid to get in and wanna see this mook, so I guess someoneís
was my first comic convention, and I already couldnít imagine how
people do more of these, including the has-beens. I`d blow my brains out
if I was still clinging to a bit-part from decades ago! Hey, they could
still stuff and mount my carcass for display at a convention! But I
imagine it would be harder to stop people from snapping a picture, you
know? I bet Lou is already working on this...
wasnít all bad though, I saw for myself what these things are like.
Live and learn I guess, and I gotta admit I met a few very nice people,
like comic artists Dick Ayers, and Franchesco. If they had more people
like this, I`d go again. Ditch the dim stars who wonít acknowledge you
without paying, and the snobby artists who know
how lame it is to be in the same room with an old guy who hasnít acted
since the 70`s, and maybe the thick vibe of hopelessness would
© 2004 Lee Bezotte. All Rights Reserved.