|ComiCon 2006 - Meeting Q
(A Report from ComiCon 2006)
8/13/06 Kimberly Boyd
I'm sure I am not alone when I say have been a trekkie for many years. From drinking games in college (Make it so, Number One) to teaching my daughter of 5 the difference between Klingons and Romulins, Star Trek and all it's generations have always been a part of my generation. So imagine the thrill I felt when I ran into Q, the omniscient, mutable trickster of intergalactic space, at the 2006 ComiCon. There he was, right in front of me, and in one of my more loquacious moments, I blurted out, "Q!" He looked at me, down at me I should say, with a wince that clearly expressed a desire to be called by his real name, John de Lancie, for goodness sakes. I summoned another attempt at a connection, "Can I have my picture taken with you? I'm a huge fan." "No, I'm sorry I can't, but if you want a picture they're taking pictures over here but they will cost." At this point I am having a clash of impulses and emotions. Hearing Q's voice is surreal- a voice from my own fond memories of the many journeys taken into that imaginative space where no one has gone before, and I want to go there with it. Yet the voice is here, in this present day, over-stimulated crowd of strangers (albeit strangers with common sci-fi/fantasy tendencies), and the voice is not friendly or welcoming. The voice is not saying, "We are so glad you loved the show and that we were a part of your life!" The voice is saying, "First of all, I am not really Q, and second of all, if you still want to pretend that I am Q, it'll cost you a few bucks."
While this may seem like an unfortunate and unusual occurrence at the astonishingly popular, fantasy-driven, geek haven that is ComiCon, I am here to report that it completely encapsulated my experience of the convention. I had heard about ComiCon since the mid 90's, and I had regretted having not gone and met the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and later the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone look-alikes. Every July, it sat right there, an attainable, "behind-the-scenes" mecca of all that was wildly fantastic, rebellious, autonomous, and just plain cool. So this year, I forked over $30, and I found out for myself the reality behind the marketing of fantasy.
I sat in traffic on Front Street for an hour, fought my way into an overpriced parking spot, loaded the two-year old into a stroller that I soon found was way to cumbersome for the crowd we would face, and got in line. There were about 15 different lines, lines for those with pre-purchased tickets, lines for those without, lines for this auditorium where Kevin Smith would speak in four hours, lines for the elevator, lines for child identification tags, and double-layer lines within the cordoned-off area for those just wanting in. When the gates finally opened, we pressed into the (thankfully air-conditioned) exhibition hall . Rows of vender booths extended beyond my visual horizon, some rearing up with ceiling-high cobras, others hung with life-size spidermen. It was a sight to behold, and I began wandering through in an overwhelmed daze, whiplashing this way and that trying to take in all that was being hustled. In a matter of an hour, there were tens of thousands of us in this hall all on cell phones, with video cameras and microphones, and of course, many in costume.
There are very few places on earth where Wolverine, Darth Vadar, Snoopy, Captain Jack Sparrow, Guy Fawkes, and every manner of Japanese Manga character all can meander peacefully through the same mob. We were met with the surreal experience of fiction becoming reality, but with little patches of duct tape and smeared make-up that set things off a tad. As I looked at the creatures milling about, and at the items for sale, I sensed an initial interest, an, "Ooh, that's kind-of cool!" But after a second, my enthusiasm would slack just enough to be caught up by another spectacle
blowing by. As one would stop for a closer look, soon all oglers in the
surrounding area would swarm in to see what secret was being hawked, what prize given away (DARK HORSE KEY CHAINS!) or what was so damned fascinating.
For the price of my ticket, I got a blurry series of fleeting moments. There was a Punk Rock Rabbit promising, "puke in every issue!"
Then a porcine, scantily-clad belly dancer sidling up to an indeterminate ninja for a cellphone photo. Then a bunny-eared space vixen haggling with a scruffy video internet businessman over a "vintage" copy of Battlestar Galactica. In the midst of this, I met Q, and while my enthusiasm peaked with the recognition of such a familiar and beloved character, I found myself disappointed when the fantasy was not reciprocated. So passed several hours.
With backpacks full of free promotional trinkets, (all of which ended up in the garbage after remaining slumped in the bag on our living room floor for a week), we finally headed back to the car, sweat pooled on our backs and mouths agape from fatigue and speechlessness. We did not opt to sit outside the auditorium with the many devotees waiting to see the headline speaker. We did not wait for a turn at the Dungeons and Dragons tables, or wait for a seat in the Anime theater. We did not bring a portfolio of our own comic art and wait in line with the packs of pale-faced youth so that a professional could suggest ways to "improve" the countless, desperate hours worth of scribbling we offered. And we did not participate in the costume parade and competition. So in many ways, we did not get the full ComiCon experience. I experienced enough of ComiCon, however, to report that I have been to the mountain, and the view was clouded.
As a final note, I must add that we also met Dean Haglund, Mulder's blond hippie-computer hacker friend on the X-Files and The Lone
Gunmen, and he was surprisingly friendly and welcoming. Perhaps there is
hope for us outsider, liberally-minded freaks to find that bond of imagination that connects us. If so, then we must celebrate it. Next time, in a smaller, less commercial, less frantic venue, perhaps people can meet and cry out together, "Oh Q, where art thou?"