This past weekend was the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo and, having been meaning to try going to a con for a few months now, I decided to get tickets. For my first convention, one-day tickets for Saturday seemed plenty to get me overstimulated and looking for a hole to crawl into by the end of the day.
I met up with my guides around 11, and we made it down to the south side, where the McCormick center is located by a not before 12:30, when we finally made it into the hall.
It was enormous in there.
I have never seen so many little action figures, toys, and comics in one place. Not to mention the art, which was all sorts of styles I don’t get to see enough, sporting all permutations of popular game characters and styles. There certainly was no want of things to buy.
Some of it was really creatively done, but I think in retrospect, with the afterimages of star trek medallions faded from my eyes, a lot of it was crap based on popular shows and comics. This is probably just my mental image of the event not lining up with what it actually was supposed to be, but I would have loved to see more original work there – less of the industrially produced story and some of the greater breadth of storytelling that has been gaining fame in comics lately.
Even the panels had a lot of a corporate feel to them. The first one I visited was on role playing and tabletop games, and what was supposed by the three panelists to be new and exciting in them. They did have a few honest suggestions, which I’m hoping to look into, but after the first run through the panel died the death of industry talk and made up business speak that I hated when I worked at SAP.
The second panel, though, was on censorship and comics, and was far and away the most interesting thing I witnessed that day. There, I heard about rulings as recent as the 80′s, when an artist was told he was not allowed to draw – complete with random house checks by the police to make sure he hasn’t been drawing. The artist was Mike Diana and the comic that landed him in trouble was called boiled angel. An earlier comic battle was back in the 50′s, when Bill Gaines testified in downtown NYC that horror comics were not obscene and should be allowed to be sold as they were. Unfortunately, public opinion was against him and led to strict rules on what could be printed in comics for decades. The speaker was from the comic book defense league, and was a great speaker.
Finally, to end on a question, it was exciting to see all of the costumes at the show. People obviously took a lot of time to design and make them, and it was fun to have superheroes and demons walking around, but there is obviously a gap between the genders in skin shown and body parts on display. I certainly have no problem with anyone wearing a revealing costume, I just worry about the double standards that are obviously there somewhere, and I hope that gap will close somehow in the near future. We need more brave men in sexy costumes, I think!