Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Nostalgia is an odd thing.  It's a reminder of how things were.  It's a longing for a moment.  It's a desire to capture a context.

The San Diego Comic-Con  is based entirely on nostalgia.  That's its currency.  Its heart and brains and lungs and legs.  Comics don't change much.  They're still 22 pages with two staples in the center.  Themes may be updated.  Instead of a superhero lifting a car off a lady, the superhero may now be gay with a sister addicted to heroin.  But in the end, he's still lifting the car off the lady.  Movies are premiered and promoted, but they're based on fifty year old comics and twenty year old books.  Circle back.  It's all about nostalgia.  It all emanates from that base.  That's why visiting Comic-Con can be both exciting and disconcerting.

In a time of war and political polarization, there's something calming about seeing Corey Haim and Corey Feldman together again, sitting at a table and signing copies of the Lost Boys DVD.  When I took a week long driving course at 16, we watched their collaborative effort, License to Drive.  That in turn brings back memories of those summers when life was solely based on working at TCBY, playing home run derby, and drinking Slurpees.  At a table around the corner sat Ms. Daisy Duke herself, Catherine Bach.

Then there are the comics.  The Comic-Con provides a unique environment.  Rare is it that you get such amazing access to industry leaders in any field.  It's fun to walk by tables and see the artists and writers I loved growing up.  But while I recognized the names, I couldn't connect all of the dots.  I couldn't remember which comics they wrote in 1990 when I collected them.  I guess that this is the disconcerting part of nostalgia.   It reminds you that you're getting older and are further removed from those times.  You're detached.

The Comic-Con was absolutely packed and a lot of fun.  I saw some great artwork.  It may be obvious that Star Wars has generated its own economy, but I don't know if people are aware of how vast and pervasive this economy extends.  The tentacles reach far and swing wildly.  You can buy anything you want emblazoned with a Star Wars logo.  Some people base their careers on the fact that they were tangentially associated with one of the movies.  You can get an autograph from the girl who was Jabba the Hut's alien slave girl (not Princess Leia, although Carrie Fisher was there too).  The convention is so enormous that it can quickly become overwhelming.  It helps if you go in with a focus or plan.

One of my favorite artists is Simon Bisley.  If you know him only through his artwork you'll imagine him to be psychotic and menacing.  His artwork can be aggressive, wild, and violent.  It's also engaging, inspired, and brilliant.  Simon brings with him his own mystique and reputation (he's collaborated with Danzig after all).  When I saw him at the Heavy Metal table, he had his expected unkempt spiked hair, goatee, and tank top that displayed his huge arms and extensive tattoos.  I bought one of his books and had him sign it.  Approaching the table, I wasn't sure what to expect, but upon hearing his British accent he seemed more like Jamie Oliver on steroids instead of the wild image that preceeds "the Biz."  He was easy going and funny, but so as to not disappoint,  he did take a swig straight out of a nearly empty vodka bottle before signing my book.

The Comic-Con took up all of Saturday.  So how did I spend Sunday?  By watching the I Love the 80's marathon on VH1.  That nostalgia is a funny thing.

No comments: