July 26, 2004

Requiem for a Dream

It all began in 1993 when I attended my first San Diego Comic-Con. My high school best friend Nicole had hooked me on Elfquest and we were constantly in search of back issues, so we took the train down from Orange County armed with pristine sketch books in case we wanted to ask someone for a drawing. I'd also discovered that there were a handful of companies publishing comics in the style of the Japanese cartoons I'd loved as a child, and I figured I could find more at the convention.

I soon discovered that if you can't find it in San Diego, it probably doesn't exist. I haven't missed a Comic-Con since. The next year I dragged Brent along with me, promising him stacks of Michael Whelan prints. And then we made it into a family vacation, though Mom and Dad were lucky if they caught more than a few glimpses of us over the course of the long weekend. There was anime to watch, masquerades to attend, and of course comics to buy. More recently it's just been Brent and me along with the infrequent significant other.

I can trace the evolution of my comics-love in my sketchbook, now chock full of drawings by all manner of comic creators. Here the manga phase, the Vertigo phase, the indie/self-publishing phase. Now I'm more likely to have a friend draw something for me in it over dinner than I am to whip it out on the con floor. I always said when the book was full I'd stop going to San Diego. It still has blank pages, but I think I'm done.

Primarily the con is just too big now. Rumor has it there were 100,000 people there this last weekend, and even the robust SoCal air conditioning in the main hall couldn't keep up. I walked through a cloud of geek sweat so thick it rivalled the fog at home. The floor has doubled in size since 1993 and a walk around the outer perimeter is a solid mile. I chose to spend most of my time this year hiding out at Patrick's booth, Tranquility Base, where the inflatable furniture and wheat grass and friendly people soothed my weary soul. There I could pull out my Moleskine and pretend to be a real writer for a little while.

I spent exactly $19 on comics this year, which has to be a record low for me. I watched 3 hours of anime. I drank about 3 dozen Coronas (with lime). I went to one panel (Richard Kelly of Donnie Darko fame, if you must know). I had one very refreshing morning swim that totally fried my hair for the rest of the weekend.

I was surrounded by incredible folks who pour every available ounce of their energy into creating work that is beautiful and amazing. I deeply felt the lack of my own talent and ambition, coupled with my extreme distaste for what I do to make money.

I still love comics passionately. After all, what medium better combines my twin loves of storytelling and art? I am more apt to buy an occasional graphic novel these days than to keep up with a monthly series, but I dream of the day my finances allow me to reopen my box at the local comic book store and Wednesday becomes New Comics Day for me once again. But for now I am tired of being nothing better than a groupie and after 12 straight years I need a break from San Diego.


Comic-Con International: San Diego
Anchorman (also takes place in San Diego and is therefore worth a link here)

Posted by nightfall at July 26, 2004 09:28 PM