So the wife, kids, and I went to The Big E, "The Eastern States Exposition" held in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It's essentially a county fair, but what struck me about the whole thing was how similar it was to a comic book convention. It had mobs of sweaty people waiting in lines, dealers charging ridiculous prices for the most obscure items, and a general sense that you were always missing something going on just around the corner.
The thing about The Big E is that, other than the impressive selection of beef jerky (hell, all kinds of venison jerky too), it was booth after booth of the most horrible trash you ever laid eyes on. And unlike a comic book convention, this thing lasts for 17 consecutive days.
Who buys the baseball bats with their names airbrushed on the side? Who picks up the novelty mirrors shaped like Betty Boop or butterflies? Who rushes to this place to get the black t-shirts with the gigantic wolf/snowflake motif across the front? By my count, it seemed like a million people, because The Big E was absolutely packed all day.
The Big E does have some virtues that comic-cons might learn from. The sea lion show was popular, for example, and there's no reason that a panel on "Aquatic Heroes from the Golden Age" couldn't have animal trainers and a giant tank on hand. And one of the longest lines was for the cream puff/eclair pastry booth, and damn if comic book fans don't love their pastries. The beef jerky goes without saying.
If this post has any point, I guess it's this: why does anyone in the media (or elsewhere) jovially mock the nerds descending on San Diego (or wherever) each year when these absolutely terrible county fairs perpetrate the most garish artistic offenses on the world year in and year out and are somehow considered "quaint" and/or a "tradition"? Or maybe my point is that I should open a pastry stand in San Diego next year and make more off my eclairs than you'd ever make off your crappy small-press comic.
You'll recognize me by my stylish wolf/snowflake shirt and Betty Boop-mirror medallion.