Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Cynic: Jennifer de Guzman and More Wonder Con

De Guzman has a post about WonderCon that she label's "I'm so cynical", and after prowling the aisles myself, I can certainly see the side of things that are doing such a good job of bringing her down. Here is her most positive paragraph:
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!"
But lets be realistic. There will always be chicks in tight skirts and cleavage to draw attention to people's booths. I've been going to comic shows longer than she's been alive, and while I deplore the emergence of porn as a viable sales vehicle in the comics/collectibles biz, this is no different than the shift that has happened in the outside world. So after all these years of Cons, here's what I think: things are miles better than they were just 10 years ago in the long off age of 1997.
Yes, there is a disconnect between the folks that desperately want to be having a picture taken with the Adam West Batman (although the kitschy part of me thinks thats OK) and the Eddie Campbell, Gene Yang, Evan Dorkin fans, but that's OK. Hell, Evan might even go pose for a laugh.

For while our little comic get togethers like Wonder Con, San Diego, and (god help us) Wizard Con may be examples in geek excess, indeed almost any gathering of people devoted to one particular subject tends towards that, but in the real world, the aisles of Borders as opposed to Wonder Con, there is a much great relevance of Gene and Eddie's work than there is for the dreaded Spider Sperm saga.

This is a GOOD thing.

We're winning the battle, slowly but surely. And for every well done graphic novel by Slave Labor, Oni, NMB, Fantagraphics or any of the others, we increase the chances that our medium is taken seriously and rejuvenated as a popular media form.

So, jennifer, take a deep breath and relax. Your Monkey "scratch and sniff" shirt is in the mail.

1 comment:

RAB said...

The thing is, "booth babes" are a staple of every trade show and expo and auto show and boat show and Macworld and CES and what have you. I saw a few at NYCC -- not as many as you'd see at any auto show or dentistry conference -- and to my admittedly skewed perceptions, they seemed out of place and vaguely pathetic. It wasn't like there were crowds of guys ogling them all the time; in fact they seemed to be mostly ignored so far as I could tell.

The presence of booth babes is an unfortunate side-effect of comics publishing being recognized as a big money media content generator (for movies and video games and licensing, if not for actual comics) and this kind of stuff happens when you show up on the radar. I don't think it'll last forever; the exhibitors will eventually have to realize that what works in selling expensive dental drills or speedboats doesn't work in comics.

I totally agree with you: some historical perspective is needed here, and that perspective says that things have gotten better over the past decade...and shockingly better than I would have expected twenty or thirty years ago!