Saturday, July 26, 2008

mama weer all crazee now

after the panels, we spent the rest of thursday wandering around the con ctr. the trade show in the main hall was overwhelmingly jammed with humans, both in costume and not. many went for authenticity, others for camp value -- like this "stormtrooper elvis" in the photo above (by mimi, like everything in this post). my favorite touch was the belt:

it reminded me of many years ago, when some friends and i checked out a star trek convention at a local hotel, and across the hall was an elvis convention. i got a great shot of a klingon and a vegas-elvis together, which at the time seemed hilariously strange.

anyway, so ... we made a beeline for the bbc america booth and loaded up on toys. we considered huge sets of daleks, sonic screwdrivers, a face of boe, and the voice-activated dalek, but eventually i settled for the con-"exclusive" action figures of the ninth doctor and the tenth/fifth set from "time crash" (where peter davison's doctor is styled as he was in his prime, and not with the paunch and receded hairline of his actual appearance in that special). but my favorite thing is this tiny little TARDIS cell-phone charm:

it spins around and flashes a blue light whenever i make or receive a call or a text (and sometimes at random moments, which is fun). they also had a teeny dalek, but i just had to have my very own TARDIS in a jar. yeah.

we looked at endless amounts of t-shirts, but nothing really grabbed us. we did find a guy selling patches; she snagged a slytherin one and a robin (as in batman and robin) one, and i got a doctor who logo from the tom baker years. awes! we were frustrated in our search for buttons, though. i thought that was so weird -- putting tiny badges on one's jacket is as hip as it was 20 years ago when i was a youth, and yet we saw hardly anyone selling them or giving them away. (but one place did have an excellent eyeball button, which i scooped up for a buck.) maybe we just weren't looking in the right places -- the room was huge.

we visited the sci-fi channel pavilion, DC and marvel, dark horse (where much umbrella academy stuff was purchased by mimi ... including buttons!), top shelf, fantagraphics, and so many more i can't remember them all. also stopped by the booth of my pal mary fleener and her artist friend scott saw to chat for a while.

and we saw cylons, both old-school ones:

and new models:

plus a version of puppet-angel from that crazy evil-children's-show episode of angel called "smile time":

later, amid the merch vendors, we saw an apparently official puppet-spike doll too, but i don't remember spike getting turned into a puppet. that was a long time ago, though, so i could be wrong.

naturally, there was the requisite star wars audience-participation floor show:

and, of course, lego versions of star wars stuff (pretty impressive kit, i'd say):

what we didn't see a lot of, all things considered, was comic books. tucked away in a corner of the hall, somewhere between the small-press folks and the goth-clothing vendor, were a relative handful of people with the familiar long, narrow cardboard boxes holding actual funnybooks. "silver age comics -- 50% off!" read one sign. that was actually kind of depressing. my only other trip to the con was all ABOUT tracking down reasonably priced golden ages and searching out missing issues of the alan moore swamp thing -- a treasure hunt that i'd imagine few people even bother to participate in nowadays, what with the reprint collections making it so much easier to read the old stuff from any era.

still, i was amazed that so many people were there to get their geek on, in whatever form that meant. i loved seeing the people in costume and how much care so many took to get the details right (the old-school cylon above and his mates even had helmets with the red light and the sound effects). but i am still getting used to the notion that geekness is cool. (i still can't forget that TV ad for the LOTR fellowship DVDs from several years ago, with the little kid turning to his dad and going, "gandalf is THE MAN!")

OTOH, it makes total sense that comic book movies and other fantasy properties are so popular right now. i suppose some of the appeal of superhero tales is that you can imagine yourself with that kind of power. but i also think that, in the fifth year of a war that has gone from being supported by nearly everyone to being suspected by almost all of us ... where we exist in a black-and-white world full of grey areas ... such stories are bound to be appealing. these days, not insignificantly, a lot of them feature heroes who struggle with their own morality and motives, or simply have their own (possibly questionable) codes -- although others are more clearly drawn. still, they all offer the classic good-vs.-evil, where good is guaranteed to eventually win, even if it has to get bashed around and crack open some heads in the process. there's also the more escapist, romantic stuff like twilight, but even the supernatural love jazz has its conflicts and battles, its triumphs over adversity and trouble. they all provide an escape while tapping into the zeitgeist desire for a better world, since things in this one are so hard and bleak. plus, frankly, the stories have resolutions, and real life doesn't. even in the really dark stuff, like battlestar galactica, there's a sense of moving toward something and reaching it, whatever might happen. in real life, things get bogged down and drag on and don't seem to change much (except maybe to get worse, while still not being resolved). it's enough to make anyone wanna dress up like a vegas stormtrooper, fer shur.

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