I am in mourning. Before you send me flowers and condolence cards, it is not a loved one that I am mourning; it is the death of the spirit of Comic-Con.
I have never been a fan of comic books or graphics novels. I have never been a fan of Comic-Con, but I do go down year after year to see the artistic creations and stories that have come from some really creative minds.
As a kid who could not read I was forced to read comic books like LITTLE LULU, ARCHIE COMICS and other soft girly stories. These were the tools of the teachers and tutors that had the task of taking me from non-reader to reader in a short period of time. I enjoyed the images on the page and I could figure out the words from looking and reading. These were far more interesting then the “Dick and Jane” books that I was forced to use in school. Once I became a reader I dumped these picture books for the big girl books, rarely to look back.
Years later, working at Calico Entertainment, I met the most delightful humble man from the Philippines. Nestor Redondo was the most amazing artist. He could draw horses from his memory as a horse trainer for the US Army in the Philippines. His concept art was so realistic that you felt like you could jump right in. Year after year Nestor would go to Comic-Con and our bosses Tom and Claudia Burton would follow him down. And year after year Tom would come back amazed at the throngs of people wanting to meet Nestor.
Nestor had worked for DC Comics, Marvel and had his own publishing company. This made him famous, but what he was most proud of was his illustrated Bible comic book. As a kid I remembered seeing it.
The first time I went the Comic-Con, in 1994 I was amazed by the fervor over comic books. I got to see Nestor for a brief moment at Comic Con that year. For being so mild mannered and humble he was a superstar at Comic-Con. He died the next year.
I have been going on and off since ’94 and I have seen the change. Up to a few years ago, the Con, as it is now know, was the celebration of the comic book artist and writer. It celebrated a genre that had sustained since the turn of the last century. Then one day Kevin Sorbo (aka Hercules), a TV star, was on the floor and the throngs ran to him for autographs. I felt the tide turning at that moment. The next year DreamWorks has a 10 x 10 booth with no real plan, but they knew they had to be there, along with the other studios.
Then about four years ago, my neighbor and friend was invited to the Con to speak. As a costume designer, Shawna Trpcic has put her mark on the genre shows like ANGEL, FIREFLY, DR. HORRIBLE, those kinds of shows. That is when I knew the Con became a fan fest. Her panel was packed with fans of her work and of the shows. I was so pleased for her to get this recognition.
But it was this year, 2011, the I actually saw the death of comic book stars. At one booth in the publishers section of the exhibit floor was a “known” comic book artist. I was in a throng of people and couldn’t see who. A man was outside of the booth with a sign that read “End of Line,” but there was no line. The man was using the sign to hawk us to come over to get a signed picture. I was too much in a rush to stop to find out who the famous artist was, because I was running to some panel that had nothing to do with comic books. I regret not stopping to show my allegiance to comic books. If it weren’t comic books, I would not have been able to read that sign.