I’ve been reading “Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture,” by Rob Salkowitz. It is the perfect companion for those who attempt to make sense of Comic-Con and see the big picture. Having settled into San Diego, survived the line to get my official badge, and had some precious time to organize my thoughts and schedule, I marched into Preview Night to get my first whiff of the big event. Just before going in, I took a moment to admire a banner ad on one of the massive tour buses. It was for Showtime’s “Homeland” and had a photo of a tough and perplexed-looking Clare Danes with the catch phrase, “Your Mission Starts Now.” The irony was not lost on me. Indeed, my mission was just starting.
I shouldn’t be too hard on the collectors and fans who descend upon Preview Night but the consumer orgy, as Yoda would say, “Is something upsetting, I found.” Sure, I would enjoy the gift of, perhaps, a Buffy The Vampire Slayer action figure but, it’s just not something I’ll go out of my way to get. I have no driving need to own any of the exclusive action figures and toys that become availabe beginning on Preview Night. I might even go so far as to say that the buying frenzy is a prime example of American consumerism gone bannas. I witnessed numerous jazzed up fans with huge boxes of merchandise. If Salkowitz is trying to get a bead on what the future looks like from Comic-Con, I suggest that most, if not all, American/Western consumers can be quite a self-indulgent lot and that’s not likely to ever change. But all is not lost because that is only one aspect to this event. Comic-Con will surprise you every time. Where else can you find a scholarly discussion on superheroes with members of the audience dressed up as the same superheroes. Only at Comic-Con.