July 18, 2003

Comic-Con

So here I've been for two decades in the city that thousands make a pilgrimage to each summer, and I've been oblivious. It's like living in the suburbs of Mecca and never doing the haj. Today, at long last, we all went to Comic-Con and trolled through the vendor area.

And saw: stacks of comics from the 50s, miniature orcs and knights, strolling Klingons, medieval trollops... you name it. Cartoonists have groupies here, all lined up to get a signature or to watch him draw. June noticed how dark most of the present day comics are, so different from the brightly colored worlds of Archie and Superman.

I had two brushes with celebrity here. First, I followed a line of people waiting for an autograph and found a familiar face at the end of the line surrounded by security people. Immediately I recognized him as the guy who blocked the aisle and smiled apologetically as he settled into his seat in first class as I headed for steerage on the plane coming back from DC. I didn't know who he was but he clearly had star quality. I completely forgot about him until I saw him there signing autographs and looked up at the sign: Crispin Glover. Don't know what his connection with comics is, but there he was.

Then, sitting quietly at a table with a tip jar, with no lines of fans in sight, sat one of the heroes of my yoot: Forrest J. Ackerman. In 1958 he began to publish Famous Monsters of Filmland, a monthly magazine filled with stills from all the vampire, godzilla, werewolf and flying saucer movies that I loved as a kid. I bought every issue (long gone, unfortunately) probably well into high school. Forrie's career went back further than that, all the way to the pulp magazine origins of sci-fi (a term he coined). What an interesting, idiosyncratic, obsessed life!

Had we planned this better, I would have gotten to see two more of my favorite bloggers and writers: Wil Wheaton and Neil Gaiman, both there today but somewhere out of view. Maybe next year.

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