Comic-Con 2017 Day Three, by David Bax

23 Jul

Since I’ve done so the last two days, let’s finish things out by starting with a complaint (yes, there are four days of Comic-Con; Sundays, though, are for margaritas and rejuvenation). This time, however, I’ll take my grain of salt. Over recent years, Comic-Con has taken measures to prevent people sneaking in or counterfeiting badges. Chief among these are the RFID badges (introduced at WonderCon 2016) that require the holder to scan themselves into and out of the convention. They haven’t stopped at the front doors, though; there are badge-scanning towers in other places, most notably a couple that appear as if they’ve sprung up like weeds in the corridors near panel rooms 1-6 and in and around the Sails Pavilion (the massive tent-like space that divides the two halves of the convention center’s upper floor and is the nexus of autograph-signing and various other Comic-Con sideshows). The effect of this, in addition to other measures like funneling cosplayers with fake weapons into one door to the exclusion of everyone else, is to turn the hallways and lobbies into nearly as frustrating a rat maze as the exhibit hall floor itself. Many of the time-saving paths I’ve developed over more than a decade are suddenly unavailable to me.

At least, when you do finally arrive where you were trying to go, it feels like more of an achievement. My first stop yesterday was the back half of a panel of comics writers talking about the legacy of Will Eisner. This year would have been Eisner’s 100th anniversary and so there are a number of panels like this going on. The talk was interesting and all but I was really in the room for what followed, the Archie Comics panel. This year’s presentation wasn’t quite as announcement-filled as last year’s but, for fans of Archie’s shockingly great horror comics imprint (seriously, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina might be the best comic going right now), there was the news that this year’s Jughead-as-a-werewolf one-shot would be turning into a series, entitled Jughead: The Hunger and featuring Betty Cooper, Werewolf Hunter.

My most anticipated panel of the day, though, especially after last year’s lively edition, was the Bold Voices of Contemporary Horror. While there are plenty of movies represented at Comic-Con, there’s very little in the way of truly independent cinema. For fans of new movies, it’s generally Hall H or bust. This panel flies in the face of all that, with its assemblage of talents like Carnage Park director Mickey Keating and Bitch director Marianna Palka. Not to sound highfalutin but, under the direction of moderator Amy Nicholson, the discussion took a very Battleship Pretension-like turn, encompassing major ideas like what horror cinema truly is and can be. The participants also took a substantial chunk of time to discuss their shared love of romantic comedies so, really, this panel hit a bunch of my buttons.

It was a great panel to end on. I will never trash talk what goes on in Hall H. In the years I’ve attended those events (a more fitting word than “panel”), I’ve been nothing but delighted by them. But panels like this one remind me that fandom is just another word for passion. And, with or without the bells and whistles of a major studio presentation, that kind of devotion is all the spectacle you need.

Speaking of devotion, I love you, Comic-Con, and I’ll see you again next year.

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