Last year my wife and I attended the inaugural Indiana Comic Con in our hometown of Indianapolis, a decent-sized Midwest city whose Indiana Convention Center went from merely one geek gathering every year (Gen Con, always a fave) to no less than five such shindigs in 2014. ICC was first up to bat that year but had issues, which I covered at length here and here. We figured it would take a lot of nerve for Imaginarium, ICC’s out-of-state showrunners, to return and try again.
We considered shunning ICC forever until they added a pair of irresistible names to this year’s guest list. Even then, our decision to forgive and relive wasn’t made lightly. To improve our chances of deriving some unblemished enjoyment from the experience, we took a different approach: instead of attending only on Saturday (the most crowded day of every con ever), we anted up for full weekend passes and burned through most of our to-do list today, Friday the 13th, in hopes that a Friday would be tough for any convention to screw up.
I have no idea what tomorrow will bring (other than much longer lines), but today for me was a winner.
I’ll admit to some early skepticism when we arrived and learned there was no official line where we were supposed to wait for the exhibit hall to open. Whether out of optimism or oversight, ICC let everyone hang out in the main concourse wherever they pleased. At a Wizard World show such anarchy would lead to a chaotic stampede and possibly gang fights between warring geek factions. Fortunately this was just Friday and everyone was cool.
We also overheard a conversation between a high-ranking showrunner type, some volunteers, and at least one manager-of-volunteers that sounded a little more tense than we’re used to seeing out in the open. And then you have more worrisome, literal signs like this…
…which made more sense when my wife reminded me ICC is sharing the Convention Center with a cheerleader competition. The sign was meant to oppress their joie de vivre, not ours.
The rest of the day was — as the poet Wilson once put it — fun, fun, fun. Stuff we saw:
We had time to attend two panels back-to-back in the same room. First was “Social Issues Through Comic Books”, which was largely a great vehicle for special guest Denny O’Neil to talk about the classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow run in which he and artist Neal Adams brought topicality and relevance to the previously wacky ‘n’ whimsical world of DC super-heroes. Addiction was the primary focus, but other topics were brought up throughout the discussion such as racism, mental illness, personal information as 21st-century currency, and, for value-added context, Seduction of the Innocent and the 1950s War on Juvenile Delinquency.
(One disappointment from today, not the con’s fault: missing out on the chance to meet O’Neil at his Artists Alley table. On our first walk-by, we were a few seconds too slow and found ourselves in line behind a guy who’d brought over two dozen items to have signed. We decided to come back later, but over the course of three or four tries, O’Neil wasn’t there. I regret the timing problem.)
The other panel we attended: Gender and Diversity in Star Wars. I thought it might be an interesting topic, and not only for myself. My wife is a longtime, dedicated, encyclopedic fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe and has been fuming at this week’s international sensationalist headline STAR WARS FINALLY ADDS GAY CHARACTER AND IT’S ABOUT TIME BECAUSE THAT’S TOTALLY NEVER EVER HAPPENED BEFORE when she can rattle off at least four or five names (besides the tired C3PO jokes) from various EU novels that this nation’s corporate media empires are pretending never existed. To weasel out of acknowledging their intentional oversight, the headline is technically footnoted “* IN CANON, WE MEAN”, which is a blasé dismissal of thirty-seven years’ worth of not-movie works that were supported by millions of fans even during Star Wars’ darkest times when no new movies or shows were being filmed or animated for the benefit of Star Wars fans who apparently hate reading.
So, um, attending a panel where the rejection of the Expanded Universe was upheld posed some problems. That wasn’t the only topic at hand — gender issues were at the forefront, all told. We had other thoughts on other things that came up throughout the hour, but those are off-topic essays better suited for other venues. Regardless: ’twas an interesting and engaging and largely peaceful talk, and there was a fine moment when the perfect question gave me an excuse to shout out in public, “ICE CREAM MAKER GUY!” as a reasonable, on-topic response and not just as a non sequitur to frighten or worry other people.
If you’re looking for costume photos, yep, we took some, but not a lot yet. We figured we’d concentrate on cosplay pics more on Saturday, Lord willing. But we snapped a few.
My favorite photo of the day: us with Roxy the Rancor, 700 pounds of ferocious Star Wars sculpture making her Indianapolis debut.
In the realm of personal victories, our hunts through the dealers’ back-issue boxes yielded the greatest want-list results I’ve had at any con in years . With the assistance of my wife and one unusual dealer, I finally completed my runs of The Liberty Project and Grimjack, and made unbelievable progress in my quest to hoard more issues of Quasar, Steel, Alien Legion, and The Ray. All of these are obscure or unpopular series that dealers almost never bring to conventions because only weirdos like me would be interested. One dealer dared to be different, and for that bold move was rewarded with lots of my money.
We also met famed artist Bob McLeod, who co-created Marvel’s New Mutants but is best known as an inker whose style I recognized back in the day on classic ’80s Marvel stories such as “Kraven’s Last Hunt” and “The Death of Jean De Wolff”. We caught up with one of our friends working at one of the two competing Doctor Who booths. We bought a worthy gourmet lunch from Serendipity, one of several food trucks brave enough to disregard the all-day rains and hang around outside anyway.
That was our Friday. We haven’t meet any actors yet because the names we’re anticipating won’t be in town till Saturday. Much of the vast autograph area looked like this.
We don’t expect Saturday to look this serene. At all.
To be continued! Be sure to check out the other chapters in this four-part MCC miniseries. Thanks for reading!