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Time Travel Via Shiny Plastic Marketing: The New York ComicCon

February 8th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I spent most of the NYC ComicCon lurching in circles with my mouth half-open, hunting for a copy of Detective Comics # 587 and spending way too much money on plastic bullshit that reminds me of my childhood. The experience was spectacular.

I haven’t been to a comic book convention since 1991, in Virginia Beach — the whole enterprise was dusty, pasty and pungent. Not now, baby. Now that comics, computers and sci-fi are billion dollar businesses, nerds are out of the basement and blinking in the klieg lights. Pop culture’s always been a byproduct of marketing campaigns, but we are now in a golden age of hype and shiny bullshit.

girls_hunting

Today’s thirtysomethings were the target audience back in the ’70s and ’80s when Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and other pop mythologies did the first Triple Lindy into the collective consciousness. Now we’re just old enough to have kids who get just as pumped about Star Wars as we did, and fetishizing fictional universes is a family affair.

Whenever alien archaeologists unearth whatever temples we leave behind, they’re gonna think that Spiderman was our God and stormtroopers were some kind of high priests. Frankly, I’m thrilled. Digging through comic boxes and buckets of chipped action figures gets me all stoked and unstuck in time and I get the same sense of wow, cool wonder that I got when my dad took me to see Star Wars for the first time.

But this thing was for everybody. Really, it was just like the Mermaid Parade except indoors and marginally less sexualized. The people-watching and the costumes were spectacular and totally worth the admission price.

This is my favorite photo from this weekend’s NYC ComicCon, but there’s a lot more after the jump:

kid_at_comiccon

When I first passed the guy above, the look on his face was perfect: slack-jawed, lips hanging open with a drool stalagmite beginning to form. I stopped and started to take his photo, and he instantly began to pose. I totally forgot my manners and said “no, no, do what you were doing before, walking around with your mouth all hanging open.” What you see here is a sort of halfway pose between the gaping maw and the cocky grin.

It’s almost impossible to take candid photos at a comic convention. It’s a lot like a drag show in that regard . Everyone’s put so much effort into drawing attention to themselves that they pose as soon as they see a camera lens.

batgirl_purplerain

This is pretty much the single coolest image I saw all day — a unabashed reference to Prince’s “Purple Rain,” but in Batgirl form. Check out the Adam West-style Batman back in the doorway.

kissed_trooper

I would really love to have video of this guy’s helmet getting decorated like this.

hulk_costume2

This was hands-down the coolest and scariest costume on the premises Saturday. There’s another photo for reference in my gallery. The guy in there is on stilts and wearing this Hulk-style scarecrow robot shell. If I’d seen it as an 8-year-old, I’d still be wetting my pants.

cloak_clasps

This is how you know you’re at a comic convention, Renaissance Faire or something like it, when you see this kind of setup on a table. There was also a well-stocked open-air corset booth with a sign that said “ABSOLUTELY no photography!” I saw this one woman lacing herself into a corset, and I have to say that it enhanced her cleavage pretty dramatically. But because this a comic convention, the enhanced cleavage was in the middle of her back.

watchmen_banana

This guy was dressed up like a banana with a Watchmen smiley face on it. No real reason. You can’t see it in the photo, but the banana suit was filthy, like he’d worn it while sleeping on the subway.

plaid_spidey

I think this costume was created as a joke, but it’s the most realistic Spider-Man costume ever, if you think about it. According to the legend, a teenaged Peter Parker whipped together some Spidey duds real quick one weekend. It’s a lot more believable that he made them out of old jammies and bathrobes than whatever super-polymers they dress Tobey Maguire in in the movies. I especially love the peeling, busted eyepiece.

tired_trooper2

The best part was seeing folks half in an half out of their costumes at the end of a long day, when the makeup’s smeary and the suit is saggy and everyone’s had a long long day. This trooper’s so over it right here.

There’s a lot more photos in this set, if you want to see more. Me, I’m going to rest my legs, eyes and wallet for another year.


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