A friend gave me a free pass to New York ComicCon yesterday.
The event had too much passionless aim-for-the-middle-of-the-herd corporate promotion, and not-enough scrappy little guys with a vision... wanting to connect with other humans.
Chuck D had a booth, promoting Public Enemy comics. And the PE crew did appear to be doing something they really -felt-; not something that was tailored to placate the existing expected taste of geeks-in-general/ and Nobody In Particular.
(e.g. yet another line of cute/"dark"/X-treme/sexy/ironic/japanese-influenced/jokey doll toys.)
Chuck had a long line of fans, and was very present-in-the-moment with each one. Whereas many of the artists in Artist's Row had a glazed detachment; like a drone behind the register at Taco Bell. Zombies giving autographs. Gary Coleman looked miserable. Kevin Smith looked more fascinated with himself, than with anybody in front of him.
The in-costume attendees also get credit for their DIY panache, but (as always) they had that All Dressed Up And Now What? awkwardness. My attempts to chat with--or even make eye contact with-- costumers/ led to averted gazes and quick dis-engagement. "I'm not really here", they radiated.
Earlier, to pick up my free pass at my friend's apartment; I walked thru the-former-Little-Italy (now Chinatown), where a gang in satin roadie jackets with green praying mantises embroidered on the back-- banged out clattering Chinese war music and waved big flags reading "Southern Mantis". Several of their crew were beneath a big dragon costume, and they conducted mock dragon battles with rival martial arts schools. It went on for blocks. There was a gang in black hoodies with the Freemasons logo (compass over a G), but with crossed swords blow. Chinese Freemasons! Their dragon was jet black!!
My point is... that it was pretty inevitable that I wouldn't see anything nearly as awesomely superheroic as that, inside the ComicCon. But why were the ComicCon people so unable to interact with humans? As opposed to the Chinese New Year people, who were comfortable flirting, answering questions, listening.
At one point, at the 'con, I needed a pen. I started looking for a booth giving pens away. I went up to the gaming area. Heroclix tourney in progress.
I saw some pens under a sign labelled "Dungeon Delve". I tried to sweet-talk a pen from them. All I got was a memorized schpeil about how I could win prizes by playing some game. They didn't actually say what game. The big prize was a nylon bag with the Dungeons And Dragons logo embroidered on the side. I expressed that I would play their demo, and that I didn't want any of the prizes they had named-- but could I please keep one of their many pens instead? They said the pens were not prizes. I almost walked away. (They almost failed to demo their game). They & I both wanted something from each other, but they couldn't wake-up to that fact and negotiate a mutually satisfying deal.
Some other guys came-along. They wanted to play. I offered to play, so they could have the requisite 4 players. I asked what we were playing. It turns-out it was Dungeons and Dragons. You literally had to know that already, in order to join the product demo. At no point was I asked whether I knew what D&D was, if I was a player, etc.
I grabbed the pregen Fighter. I was handed a pen. All the other guys had their own dice, but some pretended they didn't--- so they could mooch dice from the demo guy. To keep, I presume. We had to kill 3 monsters within 30 minutes to earn points on a card to win prizes. I don't know if that was 30 in-game minutes or realtime. I decided to act like a zombie myself. As if I had no idea what was going on. Occassionally, someone would say, "What do you do?" And I'd glance at my character sheet and pick whatever caught my eye. There was a Control Animal ability and one called "Ride", and I got groans when I said I wanted to use them on a dragon. So I used the bastard sword and throwing-axe instead. At every juncture I just sat passive, until someone told me which die to roll. Nobody told me what number I was trying to beat, or what my result meant. I was role-playing: the role of a 4 year old little sister drafted to round-out a party.
We killed 3 monsters, and the other guys wanted to keep playing-- to earn more points. I quit. I tried to bequeath the points I'd earned/ to the Cleric who had bothered to heal my wounds. But the DM said points were non-transferable. That Makes No Fucking Sense... god forbid somebody recruit A Whole Bunch Of People to demo the product, in exchange for earning their prize-points for himself. Noooo... it makes muuuuch more sense to demo a-product-he-already-owns to One Guy for 4 hours straight, so he can earn the same number of points. When I announced I was quitting, the other guys were mostly concerned with who would get the free dice I left on the table. I stole a pen.
On the way home, I saw the Breeze Team breakdancing in the subway. More real-life superheroes. One b-boy was attempting to woo a girl, and another girl was peppering him with admonishments to leave the first girl alone. Humans being real.