Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Long & Short of the NY Comiccon by Earl B Morris

I recently was an honored guest journalist at the NY Comiccon in NY (or New York to those in the know - also sometimes referred to as The Apple, or simply Appletown, by the Greeks and Armenians that frequent the food stalls and houses of ill-repute in nearby New Jersey).

A convention of the unconventional - comic collectors, cosplayers (people who dress as super-heroes or fruit), artists, writers, inkers, one letterer, filmmakers, actors, publishers, etc - The NY Comiccon was a colorful and interesting diversion from my current project, a delightful musical adaptation of Sophie's Choice to be produced at the Murlfeesboro, Tennessee Jazz players.

I also had the opportunity to meet two of the people on the staff at BBT Magazine with whom I had previously communicated only via the World Wide Internet (which I access on my compumax by mashing the buttons labeled with three W's, and waiting for my processing unit to begin screaming and making puffing sounds to another compumax which screams and puffs as well, at which point I know I'm connected), Lucien Spelman & Kennedy Smith. Both were delightful in "real life," and Lucien seemed clean and articulate. Kennedy I'm sure is a nice man outside of the stress of a comic book convention.

We were sitting at the bar high above the throng, peering down at the conventioneers when Kennedy began slurring remarks to female passersby, many of whom were costumed or in desperate need of a tan. In order to avoid the impending confrontation with a rather menacing looking version of Ms. Marvel, we made our way through the crowd to begin collecting interviews and/or hair samples.

Frankly I am a little behind the times, and haven't seen a film since 1965, and while I like funny books, once the cover price exceeded 20 cents I was forced to leave off the reading of those by my great aunt. With those things under consideration, I parted ways with Lucien & Kennedy, leaving them to do the majority of the interviews.

I wandered for awhile, sipping at a pineapple colada (which I'm certain did not have real pineapple juice in it and for some reason was made with red wine), and just as I was about to leave for the water closet, I spotted a small crowd around one of the tables at the far end of the room. As I got closer, I noticed a small fellow with dark skin, who at first glance appeared to be a child but on later inspection was revealed to be a very short man. A small notice in front of him declared him to be Gary Coleman, an actor, and I presumed super-hero funny book collector.

The small crowd left, and he resumed eating his salad. I fumbled with my recorder, and after changing reels (Kennedy had earlier been singing racy limericks at the top of his voice, and demanded I record him), I made my way over:

"How long will it take you to rid the world of evil?" I asked.
He begins to laugh, a delightful churlish sound, and clearing his eyes he said,"I don't know, a few lifetimes maybe,"
"Are you off to a good start?" I asked. I seemed to be picking up this journalist thing quite handily.
"No. I have not killed my quota yet this year," he said, still grinning.
The grin threw me for a moment. There was a slight menace to it, as though there were more to this man then there seemed. At a loss, but not wanting to waste the opportunity for further dialog, I scanned around the room for inspiration. I noticed a young man with a t-shirt bearing the word "fanboy" scrawled across his chest. Unable to think of anything better to say, I blurted out "Are you a fanboy?"
"Ahhh," he says, and raises his finger to his lips in a rather dynamic gesture. "What's a fanboy?"
"I believe it's someone who likes comic books." I said, a little unsure.
"I used to like Robotech" he said.
"Very good," I say, happy to be off the hook.
His smile fades a little, and we both falter for a moment. The uncomfortable moment of silence is broken by a man in his thirties who begins to pick through a small pile of autographed photos on the table. He chooses a seemingly odd image - in it are two black children, (One of them Mr. Coleman, the small fellow I'm speaking with), a pretty freckled girl, and an older white gentleman. Mr. Coleman is sitting on his knee, offering a sideways glance to the camera. The title below declares it to be a photo from The Different Strokes, an offputting title to be sure. Money is exchanged, a handshake offered across the table, and the man leaves poking his new photo into a plastic bag with a picture of a Japanese schoolgirl sitting atop a police car, and smoking a cigar in bold colors on either side.
Mr. Coleman turns back to me, expectant.
I'm at a loss for words for a moment, then:
"Anything new coming up?"
"Not really, no," he says, but I'll probably be at an upcoming... uh"
"Comic-book convention?" I offered.

I shook his hand and make my way back to the bar, hoping to find out from either Lucien or Kennedy the nature of the celebrity I had been speaking with, when I was struck by the fact that they seemed to be lining up the guests in this room by height, for a giant of a man with a long head of curly hair was at the far end of the wall from where the small dark fellow was sitting. I was also struck by the fact that he was reading the latest copy of our new publishing endeavor, BBT Magazine, and he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.

I snapped a photo for reference, and later on that evening I showed it to Lucien & Kennedy. Kennedy spat a series of impolite euphemisms at me, and said it was a man named Peter Mayhew, and told me he had played a gorilla or something in The Star Wars, a 30 year old space film. I left to let the two of them sober up a bit, as they were clearly upset about something. I looked him up on the Interweb, but all I could find was this page: www.petermayhew.com with you may also find by typing into your googlemax and mashing the buttons on your mice. Please be sure you wait for the computers to begin screaming at one another, however, to ensure connection.


Anonymous said...

OMG, I can't believe you got Chewbacca and Gary Coleman!

How do you guys do it?

Pete said...

Chloroform. Don't tell anyone. It's our magazine's trade secret.

Stay tuned! In future issues, we let Stephen King out of the basement and ask him questions in exchange for food!

ArsGeek said...

Gary cole in a Chewbacca suit. Now that would have been truly beyond amazing.

Oh, and I hate you all who got to go to this. I am green. GREEN WITH ENVY!