I don’t, as a rule, go to comics conventions.
Part of that is that I am quite recovered from the days when I was a raving comic book fanboy with a three-or-four hundred dollar a month habit, spread between following 20 or so series, buying graphic novels and toys, and occasionally scouring bins of lower-grade Silver age comics for damaged, but still deeply desirable, treasures.
Part of it is also that I have seen the glory that is Comic Market – and, after that, nothing else seems to compare. Seven football fields – and, understand for a moment, I am entirely unsure of the dimensions of a “football field”, but it is a description I have heard and one which I believe expresses the scale of the event even if one is, like me, not sure exactly how big that is – of nothing but fan-produced comics and assorted goods tends to dwarf any other event, even the venerable San Diego Comic Convention, an event which my wife and I attended for six years running, and an event which itself dwarfs the one which we wound up at this weekend.
To get back, then, to the point, an animal which has thus far eluded me, but which will now be brought, bloodily, to ground, a primitive stone implement lodged deeply within its vital organs, this last weekend was spent, with my wife and a pair of friends, in Seattle, specifically at the Emerald City Comic Con.
I think that, paradoxically, I enjoyed it more than previous events solely because I have largely freed myself from the days of worrying about the monthly trials and tribulations of spandex-clad avengers of justice. Put simply; whenever I try to catch up on the current status of the DC universe, I either buy a few graphic novels or download the latest Big Damned Event, read through them, and am cured of the urge for some while.
That isn’t to say that it wasn’t fun watching the enthusiasm that is still present among comic fans. It’s plain to see, from the number and quality of costumes present and the masses of fans crowding the aisles, that there are a lot of people still reading and appreciating the offerings of the comic book companies, and I am not about to discount their fandom.
But, for me, I’m pretty much done.
The occasional – and when I say occasional, they have actually been far more frequent then I have any right to expect – trip to Japan has also cured me of my need to buy anything and everything I see that is in any way related to favorite anime or video games. I found myself looking at toys, artbooks, and the like, comparing the prices on display to the prices I would expect to pay at Mandarake or K-books in Tokyo, and putting them back on the shelves.
So when I say I had fun, and this may be odd because a comics convention is, in very large part, about Buying Stuff, it comes even though – or perhaps even partially because – I didn’t buy a lot of stuff. I wound up buying the most recent Penny Arcade book and a shirt from their booth, a “Jenova’s Witness” shirt from a booth that may, or may not, have been a vgcats booth, but which certainly featured ample vgcats merchandise, and a T-shirt with the odd-but-appropriate description of “Cosmonaughty” which I will probably never find an excuse to wear but which sucked me in with the combination of WW2-Bomber-art-style-cheesecake and Soviet-Propaganda-Stylings.
Images of my new fashion statements follow:
And that was, basically, it.
Oh, I bought a small die-cast metal Cylon Raider, classic version of course.
It was a far cry from the glory days of going to Comic Con, but at the same time it meant that I wound up with a few things that will be read, worn, or enjoyed, not lost in a sea of Stuff I Bought At The Con.
I also found the Pink Godzilla booth. Now, Pink Godzilla is one of those halfway-legendary retro-import-general-good-stuff shops, and the booth attendees certainly seemed to know their stuff, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d been particularly needing until one of them tried to recommend me a PSP game, at which point I remembered that I had actually wanted to get one of the PC Engine Collections – the one with Sapphire, because I like shooters but I don’t like spending $400 on original PC Engine games – the last time I’d been in Japan but I had been unable to find it, and after you’re done digesting this particular run-on sentence, you may assume that I enquired after it.
The Pink Godzilla employee, to his credit, knew just what I was looking for, but was unable to locate me a copy. He did, however, provide me with their business card and thus their street address.
I don’t know Seattle, really, so I didn’t know how far it was from the con to the shop, but after leaving the con and stopping for refreshments, we enquired of a somewhat-surly barista and were assured that it was a mere 15 minutes walk away.
Now, my wife is familiar with the sort of death marches I tend to inflict upon people, but the friends who had suggested the whole thing and done most of the heavy lifting in getting us to the con were not as familiar and therefore offered no resistance when I asked them if we could all saunter over to this shop, a mere 15 minutes walk away.
It turned out that 15 minutes in barista-walking-speed was well over a half hour in human walking speed, but we eventually found the shop and it was quite a nice little affair – very obviously modeled after your typical Akihabara shop, and featuring an excellent selection of older titles – and the one I’d actually come for as well.
So, after scouring the best shops Akihabara and Den Den Town had to offer, I found the game I’d been looking for, a mere 200 miles from home, and for a mere 30 bucks + tax. Incidentally, it’s quite hard but was well worth the purchase price.
And now my friends are familiar not only with conventions, inasmuch as this was their first experience with such, but also with the kind of death marches I inflict on quite innocent souls. In this case, at least, it wasn’t my fault.
We celebrated with some Asian-inspired food at an eatery by the promising name of Wild Ginger, an experience which resulted in a general thumbs-up from all present, and then I retired to the hotel room for some down time while everyone else went off and had fun involving alcohol.
The evening ended – after I got some down time in and the party reassembled – with a well-spent couple of hours at the local Gameworks, which incidentally featured a truly godawful Saturn-era-Sega-Inspired mural, reproduced below for your pleasure.
I would go on at length about the events of the next day, because they were quite enjoyable and included ferry riding and crumpet munching, but honestly, there have to be limits to how long I can go on about myself and my doings.