What does Voltron, Gumby, “Gods of War III” and Bone have in common? Nothing and everything. This is the great cultural collision that occurs at the San Diego Comic-con. I moved into my booth as all of the exhibitors to the world’s most popular cultural event prepares to overwhelm, nay, smother an unsuspecting public when the doors open.
The last ten or so years has seen a deliberate migration of Hollywood into what used to be a convention to celebrate just comics. A general sense of grumbling can be heard from the true comic fans who resent the beautiful rich crowd carpet-bagging onto Will Eisner’s turf. But what many don’t realize is that this has contributed to the mainstreaming of comics into the rest of culture. With entertainment’s money comes stability of the comics medium, a broadening of a market, more books sold, artists, writers, publishers and bookstores able to stay alive a little longer this is good for our tribe.
But getting back to Voltron and Gumby, why does a convention that celebrates comics also have hundreds of video game consoles, movie stars, even classic 70’s cereal boxes for sale? It’s the overlap. I don’t care who are, if you loved the limited run 1980’s anime television series “Voltron” you read comics. Period. If had to roll my 20 sided dice I’d also bet my last saving throw that you also played video games.
There’s probably a real good chance that you have a throw-back t-shirt of some ancient classic like “Star Wars” and you probably owned a “Planet of the Apes” lunch box. We were raised on the peak of cheap plastic manufacturing that figured out how to get a free toy in a box of cereal while we were figuring out how to put a man on the moon.
Let’s go back to Comic-con 2005 where Dreamworks executive and marketing genius Michael Vollman rolled out a giant diesel truck on the show floor. It was covered in a giant black tarp so that one could only see the wheels of the vehicle but the logo silkscreened on the side said it all…the “Transformers” logo. Ever hear of “Transformers?” Well, at least now you do. And the word of mouth started with a potent, core audience because some savvy marketing folks knew where to find the highest concentration of “Transformer” nuts in the world. Two years later the movie comes out, two years later the sequel.
No matter if you love anime, Dungeons and Dragons, Iron Man or just dress like a Klingon, this is orchestration of those forces converging on America’s Finest City. Oh, and if you don’t have tickets you can’t come because they sold out three months ago. Scalpers are getting 400 bucks and up for passes but you can come back here each day where I’ll bring you the sights (woman wearing that Princess Leia slave outfit who should not be wearing the Princess Leia slave outfit), sounds (of money dumping on my lap by the truck-loads) and smells (mostly pungent B.O.) of the convention floor for free.