Monday, September 16, 2013

Field Trip: Montreal ComicCon

We drove up to Montreal for ComicCon on Saturday, the first time for any of us to visit a comic book convention.  Ever since jumping into the comics hobby a few years back, my curiosity about the geek culture surrounding the industry has steadily increased.  One catches glimpses at comic book stores, of course, and I got more meaningful exposure when I went to the midnight showing of The Avengers with Mock.  But the ComicCons are the ultimate gatherings.  San Diego (home to the biggest convention) is three time zones away but Montreal's only a couple of hours drive from our house - seemed worth a try.

Originally, we were going to go with Mock and his family but other developments for him (becoming an uncle, for instance) took precedence.  So, it was just the three of us.  Our Girl was none too happy about getting up early on a Saturday but she soldiered on and we arrived just before the doors opened at 10.

Not wanting to spend the entire visit standing in line, we decided to forego the celebrity autographs - George Takei, Edward James Olmos and Gillian Anderson were all on hand among others - and panels.  Instead, we devoted our time to the vendors.  Obviously, there were loads of comic books on sale but also toys, t-shirts and so forth.  My own best find of the day:






We also really enjoyed the Doctor Who display, taking pictures with Daleks and the TARDIS.

Of course, ComicCon's most amusing attraction is the geeks themselves.  Costumed enthusiasts abound: superheroes, Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Men in Black, you name it.  My favorite was a woman in a gas mask with an "Are you my mummy?" sign (Doctor fans will understand).  Our daughter was most impressed by the Dalek who scolded a passing Stormtrooper for failing to find the droids he'd been looking for!

If I were to go again, I'd want to devote more time to Artist's Alley, where the comics creators themselves hawk their wares.  Practically on our way out the door, I was drawn to the table of Conor McCreery, co-creator of the Kill Shakespeare series.  I was on the look out for a t-shirt for Drama Guy, my teaching partner.  DG is a serious Shakespeare nut and McCreery's t-shirt with Shakespearean characters posed as the Justice League was nearly irresistible (see link here).  Alas, I had no cash (stupid ATMs weren't working) and he was not set up for plastic.  I felt bad.  "I don't even have anything for you to sign," I said sheepishly, "but I'd like to shake your hand."

He looked up and smiled at that, a wonderfully human moment in the midst of a zany day, probably for both of us.  We shook.  I met the girls in the hallway so we could go home.  DG will just have to be satisfied with a Firefly shirt.

I'm glad we went - an experience to cross off the life list.  I don't know if I'd go again, though I must admit that it would be great fun to watch Mock in this environment.  DG asked when I got to work this morning if I'd go to the one in San Diego but I don't think bigger would make it better.  As I told My Wife, I'd much rather go to a good book store.

However, in preparing for and attending ComicCon, I've made what I believe is an important self-discovery regarding my own geek identity: I am a science fiction fan first, a comic book fan second.  I think I already knew that but hadn't previously articulated it.  My native language is Star Wars but I'm reasonably conversant in Star Trek, Doctor Who, Firefly and others - currently learning Battlestar Galactica.  There you have it, folks: my statement of geek self.

25 comments:

  1. I love cons, and I love going to panels, but I would never pay for an autograph. Unless maybe Billy Corgan was at a con, I'd pay for that. ;)

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    1. George Takei was tempting but, predictably, those were the longest lines of all.

      So, you're a Smashing Pumpkins fan?

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    2. Billy Corgan has a tea house in Highland Park where you can go and just ask him for his autograph and have some tea.

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    3. That's very cool. Just the fact that he has a tea house is cool.

      My Wife had a Corgan sighting in Chicago once. She was at a restaurant. Corgan and his girlfriend were at a nearby table arguing.

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  2. I haven't been to a 'con in forever (more than 10 years) and never to one I really thought was all that great. I would, however, like to go to San Diego once.

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    1. My enthusiasm for big crowds is limited so I don't know about SD. Montreal was plenty big enough for me. Maybe someday.

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  3. So much fun ! I am so glad you went. Everyone needs to experience one, just for the costumes alone !
    I remember driving daughter, son and friends to all the anime-cons in California. They where at hotels so I just got us rooms for the weekend. I love them but I am an Japanese anime fan.
    Daughter dressed up as Nausicca one year.
    Daughter and friends use to take the train down to comic-con in San Diego when they got older so I no longer had to drive them. We lived in Laguna Beach so it was easy.
    One year she walked all over Comic-Con, checking in different stations and got an Avatar The Last Airbender, Appa Mouse Pad. And she gave it to me ! I am a big fan of the TV series.

    Did your daughter enjoy going ?

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Our Girl likes the Last Airbender, too. There were some good costumes from that franchise as well.

      She did alright. There was grumbling about having to get up early on a Saturday but she did better once we were actually there. She lasted about 3 hours. Getting new comic books helped.

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  4. I love the thought of cons but I can't bear the thought of the crowds. At this year's FandomFest (an annual Louisville thing), both John Barrowman and William Shatner were here, and the thought of Barrowman just a fifteen-minute drive away ALMOST swayed me, but not quite. I just can't face the crowds.

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    1. Captain Jack Harkness! We also love that guy.

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  5. Sounds like fun! I've only been to smaller affairs; a Star Trek convention in Philadelphia (1990-ish) with hardly any cosplayers in sight, and a few local comic book "shows" (can't even say "conventions") where the focus was just on the comics. Someday we'll have to try one of the bigger ones.

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    1. There's a smaller one in New Hampshire that Mock really likes. I might sooner give that a try than going back to Montreal.

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    2. Do you have the info on that? Maybe we could say hello in person!

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    3. Ha! Wouldn't that be a gas?

      It's in Manchester. This year's is the last weekend of September. Here's the site: http://www.granitecon.com/

      I'm virtually certain I can't make it this year but it is held annually. So sometime, that could be fun.

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  6. I can't wait to visit Canada. I'll have to check a map but I think we're as far north as you guys but on the other side of the country. Wish I had a cool-guy Star Wars t-shirt from Montreal ...

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    1. FYI, the best, most vibrant rainbow I've ever seen in the sky was in Whistler, British Columbia. Drive north! :-)

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    2. I love Canada. I get Canada envy often.

      Suze, if you're in Washington, you are north of us. The entire state of Washington is further north than the entire state of Vermont.

      I also love the Pacific Northwest. We went to Oregon for our honeymoon. If it weren't so far away from our families, we might have moved out there.

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    3. We went to Santa Fe on our honeymoon when we were (briefly) living in Houston and then ended up moving to New Mexico and revisiting SF for a number of anniversaries. Where in Oregon did you go? I have a lot of family in Oregon.

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    4. Mostly the Willamette Valley visiting vineyards. We also made side trips to the coast and to Eugene for the Oregon Bach Festival.

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    5. You two are pretty damn cultured. I can see why your wife wouldn't wear the Wookie tee. :)

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    6. Ha! Cultured! More so than the average bear, I suppose.

      She just doesn't like to wear shirts with words on them. I, on the other hand, have loads but I can't wear pink - not a macho thing, just a color that doesn't work for me. Daughter, however, looks good in everything (it's a bit ill-making, actually) AND she likes Star Wars.

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  7. Sounds like a great time. I'd be happy with a Firefly shirt.
    The costumes of the attendees is always the wildest thing at any Con.

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    1. I gave him the shirt this morning. He was quite pleased.

      The costumes were great. Some of the artists dressed up, too, which was great.

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  8. 'He looked up and smiled at that, a wonderfully human moment in the midst of a zany day, probably for both of us.'

    This has come to mind in the intervening days more than once, the fact that I liked this so much and didn't mention it. So, yeah. Mentioning it.

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    1. It was the highlight of the entire experience for me, which is why I think that's where I'd want to focus my attention if I do this again.

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