Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Tourist in an Unknown Land: Seven Hours at New York Comic Con (Part 2)

When we last left our hero, he was trying to find his way towards the panel rooms in time to meet his friends… 

     Descending to the lower depths of the building, I kept my friend talking to figure out where they are. I could use a map, but maps are useless to me-- I never wind up where I want to go regardless of whether or not I use them. Instead, I navigate by getting what I call good and lost. There's an art to getting good and lost, but it will get you where you need to be without fail. So I take the escalator and I start my technique, my friend giving me the exact place so I can figure out where they are once I get to the general area.

     Now, this is a technique just about anyone can try. What you do is you just sorta let your mind slip. Like you would if you were meditating. Keep walking, it's very important you put one foot in front of the other, but to get to good and lost, you need to stop thinking of a destination. The walking is more important at this stage. Move in and out of the crowds, and for the love of God don't run into anything, but just take the paths that stand out to you. As you wander, you'll find yourself getting more and more disoriented until you don't know where you are. Relax when this happens. It's all part of the technique. 

      Now that you don't know where you are, keep doing the same things, but be aware. If a way out of the place you are stands out to you, take it. If a door is open, walk through it. Music helps a lot, too, as it kind of shuts up the tiny engines that allow you to move based on intuition. Eventually, though it might take as long as half an hour (sometimes longer when I'm navigating Manhattan...more ground to cover), eventually you'll get exactly where you need to be. It may not be where you want to be, exactly, but usually you can get to there from here. It works best if you have an undefined idea of where you're going and a little bit of time to kill. 

     In my case, though, since this kind of intuition-based hokum is the only way I can navigate, I use it to my advantage in any big situation. Eventually, I found myself in the event room section, after finding the food court and the events theatre. The panel my friends were in was closed, so I bummed around a little more out there, and then went off in search of fresh prey. "Fresh Prey" in this case meant looking for some friends who were also around in the area. However, I'd neglected to give them my contact info until well after the point where they were out of my range, which made things a little difficult. Still, I figured, they were both in costume, there was no way I'd miss them*. 

     In hindsight, this was a mistake. Especially on a full convention floor. Especially when most people were in costume. Also, looking for a young woman with bright red hair at any geek convention short of a model train enthusiast's gathering is a bit like (in the immortal words of Mr. Neil Gaiman**) playing "spot the pigeon" in Trafalgar Square. More so if they're wearing black. I wandered around the various floors for a while, looking for anything that caught my eye, anyone who looked familiar, and that was when it happened. I was walking around the event floors, debating whether or not I wanted to kill some time watching anime in one of the viewing rooms, when a guy in a baseball cap came up to me and asked, 

"So are you supposed to be Weird Al or something?"

      I blinked for a few moments. Internally, I ran through my options. The guy may have been a little confused by the loud Hawaiian shirt and the long hair. I could do many things to him, but really, I just wanted him to leave me the hell alone. Finally, I hit on the diplomatic approach and went for it:

"Nah, I'm covering the con today and this is my only workshirt."

      He persisted. "Oh. look like him."

       So I just nodded for a moment, keeping things quiet for the most part and sort of odd. Finally, when he looked really uncomfortable, I finally said, "Yeah, it's the hair and the shirt, right? Look, I gotta go." And I shrugged back into my long black coat and slouched off back to the panels hall. 

       I noticed from the banners outside each one of the rooms that one of my idols, Grant Morrison, was doing a panel. I've wanted to ask him a few questions for a long time, but they're not the kind of thing you ask in public. Long discussions on magick and the occult and susto*** and all of that aren't really suited for a panel. Short ones, yes, long ones not so much. As I looked kind of bewildered, I was immediately ushered into the room where the Morrison panel was to take place. At the time, there was a panel on how they wrote and drew an issue on Wonder Woman, that while entertaining I didn't have much of an interest in****. The lack of sleep from the night before, combined with the heat from the convention hall and about seven or eight other factors was giving me a headache, so I tuned out the panel, until suddenly from the corner of my eye, I saw a skinny bald man approach the microphone, and I was yanked into focus by a sudden high-pitched howl. 

Morrison had arrived. 

      He was the only one on stage. There may have been a moderator sitting next to him, but she was superfluous. Grant Morrison held the audience, delivering a rambling but perfectly-coherent speech about his new projects (he's got two new movies in the works, one based on what he himself described as "A Christmas Carol on drugs"), the idea of superheroes as perfect ideals*****, and the possibility of a comic where the Ents from Lord of the Rings live in regular apartments. The questions afterwards ran the gamut from demon-banishing (you use logic and shapes...demons can't stand rationality) to what was going through his head when he wrote Flex Mentallo, one of his more famous works (Ecstasy and mushrooms, apparently), to questions about how his multiverses work (Featuring him grinning evilly at one fan's theory on a certain aspect and telling the fan, "Oh, it is so much worse than that"). As the panel grew to a close, I was invigorated, and it was clear Morrison really likes his work and likes to talk about his work. 

    I left the panel to find several missed calls from my friends telling me they were getting ready for the Sean Astin panel, and having missed the few chances I did have to talk to Grant Morrison for now (And the press badge that may have made it easier...******), I headed onward to finally meet up with them for the very first time that day, finally achieving my goal of having met up with people I know.

What I learned:
- Contact information is important
- Completely improvising your plans can often lead to plans not happening
- Italy has an entire genre of devilish anti-heroes, and there's a movie coming out called Annihilator that plays on this archetype
- Superman has been remade for every decade he's existed, and in the forties, fifties, and seventies he was a bit of a bastard
- I should really outline these looks at things. I mean, jesus.

In the next installment:
- The dangers of going off-topic
- An explanation of why I'm rubbish at panel coverage
- I almost climb into a trunk
And much more

A guest contributor weighs in on their experience of NYCC in the first piece on this site not written by yours truly. 

See you next time!

*When I later looked up a picture from the event, I think I could make myself out in the background, slouching towards God-knows-where. Had I only bothered to turn my head to the side...ah well. 
**Still have to review Neverwhere or Stardust. Maybe when I get another spot for a classic review.
***susto is a condition that occurs when you experience some sort of fear or trauma that causes you to believe your soul has left your body completely. Or, as I like to call it, "Late February to early April 2012"
****Wonder Woman is a comic that seems to be telling me at every possible moment "THIS IS NOT FOR YOU! STOP READING ME AND GIVE ME TO SOMEONE WORTHY!" So now I leave it alone.
*****Often misquoted in arguments about why comics should be dragged back to a time before the Bronze Age of Comics happened, much to my dismay
*******Yes, this will become a reocurring theme.

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