It's Like Father, Like Son for Comics Geeks
If I had pocket change when I was a kid, you would find me at Hilltop Drug — which was close to where I lived in Los Alamos — looking through the latest comic book offerings.
Although I'm sure Mr. DeMarsh, the old man who owned the place, would have preferred if my friends and I would just buy something and leave, we would usually spend hours sitting on the floor in front of the comic books, leafing carefully through each one before deciding on which to buy.
I got so caught up in this one time that a friend and I got locked in the store — a traumatic experience, let me tell you.
But it illustrates how much I loved comic books. My favorites at that time were Spider-Man and Batman, but I also stumbled upon some re-issues of Captain Marvel that I loved. As I got older, my tastes expanded to the sword and sorcery stuff like Conan the Barbarian. (Admittedly, my shift was probably due more to the female characters and the way they were drawn than anything else.)
And then, during a family move in high school, I left all my comic books to a friend. I had outgrown them, I guess. I should note here that I gave them away of my own free will, even though my complete set of Star Wars comic books would now do well to pay for my kids' college education.
For the most part, I haven't much missed comic books, even though what is produced now is much more sophisticated than when I was a kid. The reason is that all of those kids in the 1970s reading comic books didn't stop reading, they just started demanding stories and art geared toward a more mature audience.
And even though I still admire comic books and the superhero mythology they explore, I'm not what you would consider a fan.
However, I did spend some coin to take the kids to the Albuquerque ComicCon last weekend. This mostly was done in response to the pleadings of my youngest son, an 11-year-old boy with an active imagination and a joy of wearing costumes based on comic book characters.
For this event, he chose to dress as Link from the "Legend of Zelda." If you don't know who that is, a comic book convention would have been the last place you would be found. The kid made his costume — with the help of his mother — for Halloween, and it isn't that bad.
I had never been to a comic convention, and I'm told that if you like such things, the one in San Diego is the one to attend. The one in Albuquerque last weekend wasn't horrible, and from my acute powers of observation I could see it worked like this:
There is a fee to get in and it's best to know some sort of secret handshake where you can get tickets online at a cheaper price. I didn't, so it was full price for our little party.
In the hallway outside the conference rooms were tables on both sides with various "celebrities" waiting for the opportunity to charge $30 for an autograph. At the Albuquerque event was Denise Crosby, who was on "Star Trek" for a season or two; the guy who played Mini Me in the Austin Powers movies; Eddie Munster; Dean Stockwell, who looked like a defeated old man; a couple of retired pro wrestlers; and several other washed-up actors who haven't had a regular acting gig in awhile.
Normally I would think that it was outrageous that Noah Hathaway — who, as a kid, was in the original "Battlestar Galactica" series — could get away for charging 30 bucks for his signature. But hey, there were people putting down their money for a photo and an autograph; and everyone seemed satisfied with the transaction. Who am I to judge?
In some of the conference rooms, there were seminars held by some comic book artists and movie special effects artists and similar people. That was kind of interesting, but the ones I stepped in to were lightly attended.
Inside the banquet hall were vendors and people circulating about, looking over the merchandise. Some of it was interesting — like the comic artists peddling prints of their work — and some of it was baffling, such as the booth for a satellite television provider.
It should be noted that about half of the people wandering around were in a costume of some sort, while the other half were busy looking at the people in costume. There were Star Wars stormtroopers aplenty, there was a couple of Wonder Women, a Green Lantern or two, a wizard of some sort, a pair of Lego men and various other comic characters I didn't recognize. That's the danger among the comic geek set; obscurity in a costume is fine as long as it isn't so obscure that no one knows who you are.
If you are in costume — and if it's a good one — people will ask to take your photo. Naturally, the women got the most attention, but I would have never guessed an 11-year-old dressed in a green tunic and elf ears would garner so much as a second glance. I was wrong.
My normally shy son was not in the place for two minutes before someone was asking to take his photo. This was repeated at least a dozen times and he would make sure to pose as his character. I know I've got a bias, but it was freakin' adorable and my son got to walk among people who understood him.
His world is one of imagination and playfulness. I really like that about him because it's a pretty cool world, one I fully inhabited when I was his age.
These days, the idea of dressing in a costume does not appeal to me, mostly because there doesn't seem to be any pockets in a Darth Vader costume and I've got to keep my keys and wallet somewhere. Despite this reluctance to participate, I appreciate those who do. Some of the happiest days of my youth were spent sitting on the floor of a drug store looking through comic books, wondering how Captain Marvel was going to defeat his arch-rival, Doctor Sivana.
See my obscure reference to a Golden Age comic villain? I may not wear the clothes, but my heart will always be with the comic geeks.
Contact Rory McClannahan at 823-7102 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.