Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Con of San Diego

I'll tell you how long it's been since I've been to the Comic-Con in San Diego.

The last time I went, the thing was held in a couple of rooms of the El Cortez Hotel (that's up on the hill near downtown S.D.) and there were a bunch of people running around dressed in Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia costumes.

It was like, 1977. Maybe 1978. The main things being hawked at the Con in those days were ... comic books. Big surprise. Variety's Brian Lowry remembers the way the Con used to be:

Back then Comic-Con was truly about comicbooks and the only stars one was likely to see there were the artists and writers who created them. The confab itself was so strapped for cash that each year the artists donated work -- which they dutifully sketched out on easels as a small crowd watched -- that were auctioned to help support the gathering.

In those early days, the entire convention of a couple thousand people could be held in a single hotel. One large ballroom functioned as a dealers' room, where vendors displayed their wares, and an adjacent space housed panel discussions. Gradually, studios began to preview movies there, but as often as not those events were disasters, irritating fans as opposed to whetting their appetites.

Although it was more than 30 years ago, for example, I keenly recall a preview of the 1978 feature "Superman," where the studio rep described the campy villain Lex Luthor, played by Gene Hackman, as a real-estate mogul, not a master criminal. He was practically hooted off the stage ...

So the festivities start again next week, but the small, hardy band that roved about the tables at the El Cortezn has now grown into a mob in the hundreds of thousands.

Progress. Or not.

President Koch has plans to attend. I have plans to decide what I'm going to do later.


Anonymous said...

WGA president Patric Verrone will also be there, and will hold a writing panel.

Anonymous said...

Its not the same as it used to be. Rather than an event selective in its appeal to comic book fans and one that that reciprocates their effort getting there with exclusive items and promotions, its now just rings the fans up for all they are worth. You'll pay a lot on tickets and getting there, but there was nothing there last year you couldn't find at your local mall.
What are the odds that the Sci Fi channels is going to erect the same, tired, purple structure at their space as the last five years in a row. They're really milking that thing for all its worth, and in doing so they aren't wowing the crowds with anything.
Unfortunately, nothing at the comicon is very 'wow' worthy anymore.

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