Comic Book Misconceptions

Being relatively new to comics, I’ve noticed several misconceptions that the general public seems to have about comic books.  While the reasons for these misconceptions vary from person to person, they really do the industry a disservice. Comics are often pushed to the fringes of pop culture because people who might otherwise be interested in the content are basing their opinions on bad information and missing out. I’d like to take a few minutes and address some of those and see if we can clear things up.

Misconception #1: Comic books are all about superheroes in tights and capes.

Not a cape to be found.

Not a cape to be found.

Some of my favorite comic books have absolutely nothing to do with superheroes. Sure, most of the books put out by Marvel and DC involve superheroes (though not all are wearing costumes), but those are not the only publishers of comics. Both Image and Vertigo are publishing great books that feature characters other than superheroes. In fact, Image has been driving a wonderful resurgence in the science fiction comic book. There is a comic book to fit every reader’s tastes; it’s just a matter of finding it.

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ECCC: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Although it’s been a couple of weeks since I attended (blame Game of Thrones), it’s time to present Emerald City Comicon: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

Well the most obvious good thing about this convention is Seattle itself. This place is a geek mecca. With Microsoft and Boeing just down the road, this is a city that embraces its geekyness. The downtown area reminded me a lot of Manhattan, only cleaner.

I was surprised by the size of the convention. I assumed it would be a mid-sized convention, like Phoenix or Baltimore, but it was about the same size as NYCC was a few years ago. As far as the types of guests and exhibitors were concerned, there was a nice mix. Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse all had some presence there, though neither Marvel nor DC had a booth. There were lots of small press and web-comic people, which is really fitting given Seattle’s image. I stopped by the booths of two of my favorite web-comic creators, Danielle Corsetto of Girls With Slingshots and Kris Straub of Starslip. It’s always nice to see people like them at these shows.

Speaking of seeing people, I was able to attend both Marvel Q&A panels. Speaking from experience, Q&A panels can go very badly, very quickly, but I was pleased that both of these panels went smoothly and had interesting content.

  • I was very happy to see Peter David fully recovered from his stroke and happily plugging All-New X-Factor and Spiderman 2099, as well as providing a humorous and historical perspective in the panel. Apparently, fans of Spiderwoman will be in for a treat later this year.
  • A new Runaways series seems to also be in the works, as soon as the right creative team can be found.
  • C.B. Cebulski also gave a few lucky fans the chance to read Original Sin #0 and #1 (in photocopied form). The chosen ones reported that both issues were pretty awesome, so I’m looking forward to reading them.

ECCC had the largest number of volunteers I’ve ever seen at a convention.  I could not turn around without seeing a green shirted “minion” doing something. From escorting the special guests to manning information booths and even directing the flow of traffic, they were absolutely everywhere. Minions were also responsible for enforcing a zero tolerance policy on harassment of cosplayers. More conventions need to take this proactive approach.  Harassment should not be tolerated.

Another great thing about the convention: there were some amazing cosplayers running around all three days. I was only able to get pictures of a few of them, but take a look below for some of my favorites.

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The Bad

ECCC was a smash hit. This is overall a great thing. The only downside lies in the fact that the show was a bigger hit than the show organizers were expecting. Line management was an issue at times, though the minions did their best to maintain order. ECCC employed a novel concept in which they limited lines for popular artists and writers by having a minion close them down for a period of time. This was likely due to space concerns, but it seemed to function pretty well.

Another issue that resulted from attendance was that there was limited space in some of the panels. While this is often the case at major conventions, I was surprised at the small size of many panel rooms. Even panels that one would expect to attract a sizeable audience were located in relatively small rooms. One panel I attempted to go to was standing room only a full thirty minutes before the panel started. Needless to say, I did not stick around for that one.

The Ugly

I honestly can’t think of anything truly ugly. The closest I can come to an ugly is pretty much un-fixable: the layout of the venue. The convention was spread over four floors of two buildings that were only connected via a skyway on the fourth floor. Not all the areas in the center are easily accessible from all other areas so I really had to plan my route in order to get from one point to another. While I wasn’t thrilled that the gaming area was in the hotel across the street, there was just no room for it otherwise, and the space it ended up in actually worked out pretty well.

While I don’t plan to do so any time soon, Emerald City Comicon is definitely on my list of return destinations. Seattle is a great city and they put on a fantastic event.

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Winning Science April 16, 2014

The Cassini spacecraft has discovered what appears to be a new moon being formed in the rings of Saturn. The new moon, named Peggy, is being formed from the ice that makes up Saturn’s rings. While this baby moon is still currently too small to see, the gravitational effects on the rings are visible. Peggy joins the 62 other moons that Saturn has, both official and provisional.

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The moon might be named after a real person, but all I can think about is the guy from the Capital One commercial.

Leave it to the folks at MIT to determine that our furniture is too lazy. They seem to think it should be doing more for us. The Transform projects created a table-ish structure that moves and responds to people. The system senses when a person is nearby using a Kinect (from an Xbox). The table uses 1,152 plastic pins to provide motion. There is also a fantastic video of the table rolling a ball around. Yes, you just read that right, the surface is moving a ball around, in a controlled and complex manner.

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Maybe it won’t be too long until we have hospital beds like Yashida’s in The Wolverine. Seems like it could be comfy.

Scientists in Russia have successfully grown a new esophagus and implanted it in a rat.  What is an esophagus? When you drink something and you start coughing because it went “down the wrong pipe,” it should have gone down the esophagus. It’s the part of the body that takes food and liquids (e.g. beer) from the mouth to the stomach. The Russian scientists were able to accomplish this by using a scaffold of existing cells and then allowing stem cells to develop around that scaffold. Not only is this a fascinating advance, but an interesting technique for doing it as well.

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I’m pretty partial to my own esophagus because of the whole loving beer and food thing.

 

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Random Thought Generator Episode 3, Feat. Pete Newcomb of Borderless Comics

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On this episode Tracy got the opportunity to sit down and chat with Pete Newcomb of Borderless Comics.  Pete is a fascinating storyteller, and the tale of how he became a comic book store owner is unique and very interesting.  Besides sharing his personal journey, Pete also provided some insight into the workings of a comic book store.  Borderless is unusual in that it is a read store–meaning that the owners encourage customers to read comics in the store. If you think this sounds like an insane idea, you’re not alone, but Pete has some compelling reasons for believing that this is a solid business model.

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