Fan Expo 2012
A fear washed over me. My forehead broke into a cold sweat. I checked blind spots repeatedly, made verbalization that made no sense that would confuse linguists. Indeed, I had made a left turn into a streetcar lane, which quickly became elevated. The street below felt like miles. Partially, I was in awe: I was driving where no man had gone before, where only streetcars had traversed before. Then reality hit as I checked my rear view mirror and saw a car directly behind me. Probably another tourist, who had followed me onto this railed path of madness. I wasn't entirely sure what to do, although there were very few options. The car following took the lead and leaped off the track onto the civilian road below. The only option had presented itself. I yelled for Cale to hold on, that this was going to happen and it played out just as expected. We hit the road below, bottoming out the car and hearing awful noises from below. But we were safe now. I can only imagine what the locals were thinking, and the only thing to do now was to drive past the shame.
Cale has done a good job of writing up the car incident, as well as the day we attended Fan Expo in 2011. He's right - although he throws in some fiction (I'll leave the what up to you to decide) - that I was flustered throughout the day. Something was off, but I couldn't quite pin what it was. Perhaps it was the crowds. 2012's Fan Expo this past weekend was no different. You have to fight your way through aisles of people to get anywhere; if you stand still for any period of time you were going to be knocked about and lost. And perhaps it was the mass consumerism that was taking place. In years gone by the crowds were less and the items more unique. Now, in today's market, you can find anything online and cheaper than anywhere on the show floor. All the colourful and unique merchandise fails to impress as its mass-produced and high availability reminds me of being in a supersized warehouse store of geek items that flashed the horror of going to Wal-Mart during the weekend across my face. The smell of many of the patrons certainly doesn't help the nauseating experience.
The show is changing; Cale and I have been going for quite a while now and quite frankly, it's becoming a big deal. They didn't used to have a lot of support from major companies, but now it's not uncommon to see a massive, official, DC Comics footprint and media extravaganzas for movies, television shows and video games. At this year's Expo, there was a gigantic Halo 4 area and major representation from Ubisoft. We saw the Wii U in play (and was floored by how big that controller was). The artist alley has shrunk, as has the celebrity signing area. All your favourite vendors are there peddling their goods, and even that becomes tired. Year after year they bring the same things, and the discounts do not run nearly as deep. Indeed, most can only offer "US cover price" which is not a deal at all. I can imagine the cost for them to be there is increasing, and less people would be buying as they spend more time at celebrity Q&A sessions, movie premieres and costume parties. Physically, space wise, the Fan Expo needs more. That could help the experience of browsing the floor that much better, I think.
Last year I bought a few comics (the Knightfall series) and practically had to force myself to make it happen. 2011 was the year that Fan Expo broke me, but 2012 I was better prepared. Actually I wasn't, in some respect. I wanted to go in with a list of comics to get - because there are still deals for comics - but just couldn't get around to it. I wanted to work towards a collection (for instance Amazing Spider-Man #300 to #400) but just didn't prepare myself beforehand. Having the list in the cloud on my Google Drive didn't help as we could barely get a cell signal - too many in a small area, I suppose. So it's my own fault, really. But this year I was mentally prepared for that, although the crowds still wore me down very quickly. I wanted more comic book vendors, but instead we got bombarded with large, corporate driven displays. I imagine "the" Comic-Con is very similar to this, where major things are being announced for Hollywood, and the day of the individual comic book draws near.
So I bought one thing: V for Vendetta (collected trade paperback of course) for less than anywhere I've seen before. I got excited, and am excited to read it, as it's been on "the list" for quite some time. But that's it, and I'm completely satisfied. Next year, perhaps, I will be better prepared and be able to pick up some comics to flesh out my collection. I'm sure you're thinking that I'm insane, as I've pretty much been slamming this event and just doing an about-face now to say I enjoyed it, but it's true. Last year I was caught off guard and was flustered, but this year I enjoyed taking in the madness. There was lots to see and experience, and the event has transcended the actual Expo itself. It's about the time before and after, the drive, the conversation and the time spent with a good friend. Where once it was just a day trip, it has turned into a weekend event (Cale and I no longer live in the same city).
This is annual pilgrimage that I've always been after; the tradition was not forced, it just happened. And I look forward to it every time.