The best part about conventions, for me, is that they that they transcend commerce and blow past marketing to blossom into big parties where you spend time with old friends and make new ones (who all share the same pop culture interests).
New York Comic Con was held virtually this past weekend. I was surprised how nostalgic so much of fandom and the industry was for “the good old days”. And I was surprised how much I missed it. Make no mistake, I had so much fun there for so many years, but I didn’t expect to be sappy about it. I thought the ache of my feet and the crush of the crowds was still fresh in my mind, but as time floats by we tend to forget all the crummy aspects of things and just remember all the cool parts.
Hats off to Reed Expo’s Mike Armstrong, Lance Fensterman, Larry Settembrini, Mark Fitch and their merry band who pulled this all together. This 2020 NYCC virtual convention, also branded as Find the Metaverse, had some very interesting parts. The exhibition floor was, by and large, a pretty straightforward conversion to an online version. Certain companies, like BlueFin, created incredible virtual booths where attendees could roam freely…and discover treasures.
Some of the panels were a lot of fun. The Boys panel had all the energy that you’d expect a white-hot genre cable series to have. The African animation panel was horizon-expanding. Heidi MacDonald shined the spotlight on several creators. And the Batman panel where Scott Snyder chatted with his protégé-now-peer James Tynion IV was fascinating.
The ah-hah moment, for me, was when Snyder explained that when writers get a chance to write a big character, like Batman, they first think, “Wow – I can now finally write a story with all those iconic moments that I’ve always dreamed of writing.” But soon, they find that what they must really do is create their own version, or at least imbue the character with their own vision.
I think there’s a lesson in there for all of us. Especially as we embrace the COVID reality of today during events like NYCC. All the we can do, and in fact the right thing for us to do, is to embrace the way things are and make it our own.
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Speaking of The Caped Crusader, I just enjoyed a nutty Golden Age Batman story. It was from 1945’s World’s Finest #17. In those days, Batman and Superman did not actually team-up for adventures, as they would for so many years. Each issue would have full adventures of each character, along with other characters like Green Arrow, Zatara, The Star-Spangled Kid, and The Boy Commandos.
In “Crime Goes To College” by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang, we meet an obscure Bat-villain, Dr. Dreemo. He is in reality Darby Deems, a brilliant oddball who goes to college with the explicit goal of becoming educated enough to become a successful criminal.
There’s so much to love in the story. Besides getting to meet the almost forgotten Dr. Dreemo, there are wonderful scenes of Gotham City College, Batman releasing a basketful of bats and a great bit about using dummies (!) to help keep Bruce Wayne’s secret identity a secret.
And most astounding, Batman embarks upon an unorthodox path to crack the case. “I’ve prepared a drugged gas that will make a person dream of the thing they fear the most!”, Batman explains to Robin.. Didn’t his arch foe, Scarecrow (who made his debut years before in World’s Finest #3) base his whole criminal career on this idea?
New York Comic Con’s cutting edge technologies and forward thinking focus on Geek Culture is impressive, but sometimes you just need a silly little Batman adventure to get you through the day, don’t you?