I ventured out of the SLG booth at WonderCon, and within minutes I was wishing I was somewhere else. I got The Magic Bottle by Camille Rose Garcia, which is awesome, (and from which my icon comes), but after that everything just started depressing me. Outside one of the toy booths, a woman sat on a chair--I guess to make sure no one ripped stuff off. She was wearing black pointy-heeled pumps with wide ankle straps and a very short pink skirt that was riding up in an unflattering way. Did her employers ask her to dress like a street walker? She looked miserable, and why not? Comic book geeks were shuffling by her, or rudely bumping into her without saying "Excuse me," and where she sat, she was just about gut-level.
I think what depressed me is the separation I feel from comics and graphic novels as storytelling and art when I'm in convention crowds. Sometimes it is not like that. Sometimes I'm gratified that we're getting these comics into people's hands. And there are those moments, when more girls pick up Wonderland or GloomCookie, or I say, "Oh, no, they can look at it all they want! We don't believe in putting comics in plastic bags around here!" when a father warns his kids not to touch copies of The Super-Scary Monster Show too much, and the kids open the book and grin at the art, and one declares, "I want to be a cartoonist when grow up!"
Yeah, that's good. But out on the floor, when you've gone past the Oni booth and the Top Shelf booth and the Image and the Last Gasp booth, and you're caught between a bunch of toy booths and looking for some glimmer of individual creativity, then it feels very bleak. That's why I wanted to get back to the booth so much, back to some place where there was some meaning for me.
Some questions I've asked myself this weekend:
Why do people wear things like T-shirts that show the silhouette of a monkey scratching its butt accompanied by the slogan "SCRATCH 'N' SNIFF"?
What in the world is a T-shirt that reads "Voting is for old people" supposed to mean? Is it ironic in an unclever way I'm just not getting, or am I justified in thinking it makes its wearer deserved to be slapped?
Why will people wait in such a long line at the DC booth just to get free bookmarks that will just get all battered up in their con bag and end up being thrown away and little pins that you can gather by the handful on your way out as the hall is closing?
Fur-suiter in wolf suit wearing wolf-howling-at-moon T-shirt. WHY?
Is the crackly-electricity-sparky thing that guy has every year, which makes that annoying Tazer sound, dangerous? It looks dangerous. I hate it.
Award-winning and talented graphic novelist Gene Yang sat at our booth chatting with only a couple of readers while in the aisle behind them, throngs of people gathered around a guy dressed up like Adam West's Batman to take pictures of him. This is my emblem of the "mainstream" comic book industry.