Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Pathos of Comic Con Mustaches

Geek Speak: The Desolation of the Hipster 

It seems like mustaches are everywhere now. A day hardly goes by that I don't see mustaches on bags, posters, postcards, and coffee mugs. Somewhat more rarely I'll see mustaches on actual people.

At some point in the recent past there was a cosmic event, an alignment of the planets, the shifting of ley lines to create a new nexus point, or a My Little Pony/Care Bears cross over that fundamentally altered the laws of nature and made mustaches cool. Whatever it was, I missed the memo.

I'm not saying all mustaches look bad, but it does take a certain kind of person to pull it off. The guys wandering around in v-neck shirts with the cuffs rolled, their legs squeezed into skinny jeans, and a pencil-thin handlebar mustache are patently not that kind of person. It looks fussy and pretentious. If it takes longer to style the hair on your upper lip than it takes your girlfriend to get dressed, it is no longer cool.

Speaking of the significant others. I can only attest to my own experience, but none of the girls that I have ever so much as kissed have been fans of the mustache. Most have hated it because it itches, causes them to break out, and looks bad anywhere but on one of the Village People, or in porn from the 1970's.

Of course, I can't grow a mustache. Every time I've tried I end up with a kind of anemic fu manchu. My prejudice might be envy.

San Diego Comic Con: Where Wonder Goes to Play

Those who know me even a little bit, even those who only know me through this blog, know that I'm a big fan of comic books. I have my favorites such as the Savage Dragon, and Fables, but I really like comic books as a story telling medium overall. For those of us who appreciate and collect Comic Books the San Diego Comic Con has been a kind of promised land. I've wanted to go to Comic Con for as long as I've been collecting comics, which started when I was in the seventh grade. It's funny, when I think about it, that was also the year I met the girl I'd marry ten years later. I guess I discovered the two great loves of my life in the seventh grade: comic books and Mildly Sensational. 

Every year since moving to Los Angeles I've intended to go to San Diego for the convention, and every year I've been stymied by something. Most of it good. Last year it fell on the same weekend my wife and I had already rented a cabin and planned a trip to Big Bear Lake for our anniversary. One time I didn't get to go because we'd already planned a trip to Denver so I could meet my nephew for the first time.  This time, my path to Comic Con was laid out well in advance. Tea Leaf has a professional registration with Comic Con International, and generously offered me his guest pass. It was enough in advance that I could start saving money to go, and my wife said her anniversary present this year would be that I would get to go to Comic Con. 

After months of waiting, pinching pennies, and planning I woke Wednesday the 17th with just one day separating me from my pilgrimage to the holy land. I spent Wednesday with my family, playing with my daughter, hanging out with my wife, and generally not worrying about the things that cause me stress on a daily basis. I packed, I made sure I had everything I would need, and I put my daughter to bed, which was the last time I would see her for four days.

Thursday morning my alarm went off at 3:45. My wife and I stayed in bed for a bit, just being together, then I got up, ate breakfast, we said our goodbyes, and I was out the door by 4:45 to pick up Tea Leaf, Celluloid Girl, and Lendell Prime. 

The drive to San Diego was uneventful, and moved really well. We didn't hit any of the major traffic snarls that would cause people to fully lose their minds later in the day. The highlight of the drive was probably the aircraft carrier that passed along the coast headed in the opposite direction. It could not have been more Top Gun if it had theme music.

Tea Leaf had secured a parking pass so when we arrived, we drove into the parking structure below the convention center itself. By the time we were parked it was only about 7:30 in the morning and we had an easy two hours to kill before the convention started officially.

Eventually the doors did open and the convention let the teaming throngs of people (not to be confused with the people's steaming thongs, I make that mistake all the time) into the exhibit hall. In no particular order here are my first impressions of the convention. 
  • Holy crap there are a lot of people here!
  • Wow, the people actually working the convention are really surly.
  • Holy crap there are a lot of people here.
The first panel I was planning to attend started pretty early at 11:00, so I had about an hour to walk the floor, and walk the floor I did. When the doors opened it was like being at Disneyland for the park to open. The gates part and you see the park and all the joys it offers. A piece of me that I have to stifle just to get through a day at work came to life and started weeping with pure delight.

I started out with Tea Leaf at Celluloid Girl, but we went our separate ways pretty early on, not before I had them take my picture with a life-size sculpture of Gollum. From there I meandered the floor taking pictures here and there, including the bust of a handsome devil with the serious orthodontic issues pictured to the right. 

It almost seemed like I'd barely arrived before it was time to go to the first panel of the convention. For me it was "The Witty Women of Steampunk." There are those who might read that and think, "why is this guy going to a girl's panel, did he leave his penis in his other pants?" Let me be clear on this, my favorite webcomic is Girl Genius my favorite action heroes are Ellen Ripley from Aliens and Sarah Conner from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. My favorite stories are those where the female characters aren't relegated to being set pieces that need to be saved by the male protagonist. This panel was dedicated to women who write compelling stories using the conventions (so to speak) of steampunk. 

This was a fun panel full of women writing stories in steampunk settings, but breaking away from strictly Anglo or Euro-centrist tropes. Among the panelists was Kaja Foglio who writes the Girl Genius stories. I was really going to the panel to see her, but ended up being engrossed by the other panelists as well. Kaja, meanwhile, was super caffeinated and talking about ninety miles an hour. She was gregarious, and animated, and funny and a lot of fun to watch. 

There was plenty more that I saw and plenty more that I did during the day, but it will have to wait until tomorrow as it is getting late, and this Normal Guy needs to sleep and recharge my batteries before work in the morning. 

More on my ComicCon adventures tomorrow.


  1. Replies
    1. Dude. You could so come out here and go to the convention next year, or the year after. It's totally doable. All I do for spending money for this thing is take $40 - $60 out in cash per paycheck and put it in an envelope. Then I pretend the cash doesn't exist. I'll admit to not being very good at that last part when things like groceries and daycare payments need to happen, but it's surprising how fast it builds up. After a year or two you'll have enough for your plane ticket, the hotel (especially if you're splitting it with a good friend who lives within driving distance of San Diego), and the convention.