Thursday, June 7, 2007

Purchases of the Geek Elite

Went to the mall tonight and purchased:

1) An Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse,
2) Yet another book from the 33 1/3 series, this one on Steely Dan's Aja, and
3) A Star Trek: Deep Space Nine omnibus, collecting FIVE (count 'em) FIVE serialized DS9 novels.

I think those purchases right there pretty much outline what a lifelong geek I really am. I mean, I have a pretty mild case, as far as such things go. If I were really a hardcore geek, my purchases would have been:

1) Neon-lit coolant tubes for my maxed-out gaming PC (running Red Hat Linux with a Vista Emulator in a Firewall Shell),
2) A chart-sheet from the recording sessions for the Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin, and
3) The original Japanese version of Chobits, because available scanlations are too low-res for my tastes, and the official english translations cut out the nudity.

See? There are fine shadings to the geek world.

Case in point: Jim wants me to go with him to this year's Baltimore Comic Con. We went three years ago, with Pete and John, and I went and watched a couple of panels. BIlly West riffing for a half-hour, and Mark Waid and Kurst Busiek engaged in a trivia contest. What can I say? That was a lot of fun! I'd love to go again!


But I was alone the entire time, which is lame. The problem is that my idea of a good time was diametrically opposed to Jim, Pete and John's idea of a good time. They go to consume and spend, usually waiting on line all day for a 'convention sketch' or a completed page by someone on their list of top 200 favorite artists. I went to just breathe comics for a while.

I know I was the only person at the con that feels this way, but I don't really regard a page of comic production art as being much of anything. I only own two: a Joe Staton from some random issue of the Green Lantern
Corps that I bought when I was 15 or so (I think he was selling them for $25 or something - I hope he gets way more than that, now), and a page from Finder that I got at the convention as a deal when I bought a stack of trades.

The reason for this is pretty simple. While I worship comics as an art form - and a HIGH art form, at that - to me, the published book itself is the work, not the original page of production art. Moreso, now that the lettering isn't even on the page, anymore. Owning a page of art to me, while neat, doesn't really go to where I appreciate comics - as a storytelling art. Owning one page of a 24 page comic is like if someone took a Vermeer and chopped it up into little segments and sold them off as drink coasters.

Of course, I don't begrudge artists selling their pages (for some, it brings much needed income), and I'm thrilled that the major companies no longer indulge in the obnoxious practice of keeping the art. It's just that, well, I've blown some income, and now it's on my wall... and? Making note of little pencilled doodles or margin notes and their interesting histories aside, I've learned nothing more about the process of making comics, and I now can afford several dozen fewer comics as a result of having bought one single page.

Jim has an original page of Powers, by Michael Avon Oeming, and it's got two blank panels, becuase those were reproduced in a later stage to have 'beats.' Weird thing to have on your wall. A piece of Bristol board with big white spaces containing hastily scrawled notes saying 'repro. panel here.'

About the only argument for page buying to me is that it supports the artist instead of the corporation, but... anyway. Don't even ask where I place the 'convention sketch' in the order of things.

What it really boils down to is that I want to go to a Comicon and geek out with friends all day and have a good time hanging out and just existing in a fun little geek-world for a few hours. Instead, I'm reminded how alone and different I often am, even in the places and with the people where I should be most at home.

Is there a sadder image than a 33 (at the time) year old man sitting in a folding chair by himself in a crowd in an upstairs room at a city five hours drive from his home, listening to two grown men guess in what issue of All-Planet Adventure Funnies "Tin" from the Metal Men first was drawn with arm rivets?

I don't know. But I did feel pretty superior to those Giants fans lined up in costume outside Giants Stadium we passed on the way back home, Sunday afternoon. Now, those were some geeks.


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