Où Sont Les Cons D'Antan?


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That means ‘where are the Cons of yesteryear’ in French, by the way, in case you weren’t yet in awe of my brilliance. Last night, as sometimes happens, I dreamed I was at a comics convention.

It wasn’t quite at a place I’d ever been--the convention center had a big glass ceiling that displayed various weather patterns a la Harry Potter, and if I wandered even a foot from my table these insidious indie hipster types would edge in and try to take over. (This is probably an apt metaphor on any number of levels...) Nevertheless, I woke up feeling kind of nostalgic for conventions, those two- and three-day jaunts into a parallel dimension of niche overload during which no normal food is consumed and no normal conversations are had. It’s all metaphysics and weird hotel fruit salad.

The first con I attended as a pro was SDCC 07, less than a month after moving back to the US from Egypt. Being totally unprepared for culture shock (who expects that coming back to her own country?), I was in the throes of some serious sociological toxicity. Walking into a supermarket and seeing a dairy aisle half a block long made me dizzy with existential dread. So I was in no shape to meet famous literary pop icons, an activity that requires all your wits on a good day.

When I wandered into the DC greenroom and saw Grant Morrison drinking coffee at a table I just sort of sat down in a corner and pondered the infinite, too exhausted to be anything but politely unobtrusive. A few minutes later an editor came over and plunked down next to me with a twinkle in his eye, remarking “You know that’s Grant Morrison, right?” I said yes. “Would you like me to introduce you?” Well, yeah, of course.

So he did and we chatted for a few minutes. AIR had just become a legal reality but wasn’t yet public knowledge, so when Grant asked me what I was working on I said I wasn’t supposed to talk about it. The editor sort of gave me this kindly exasperated glance and said , in effect, this is Grant Freaking Morrison, you can tell him what you’re working on. (What can I say, I am nothing if not dogmatic and a literalist.)

I gave Grant a brief lowdown, after which he told me about a curious incident in an unnamed European airport, where he was interrogated while traveling with a well-known Muslim scholar. (I didn’t ask. Apparently the world is much smaller than I thought.) A frustrated security official barked at Grant to “stop speaking Islamic” when he couldn’t understand his trademark Scottish accent.

It’s at moments like this when I think “only at ComicCon” and also “I wish I wore my Swans tour shirt so I would be at least half as awesome as the past five minutes”. What I mean to illustrate by all this, dear readers, is that though we slag American comics conventions as hives of social disease and morbid obesity, they are some of the most consistently serendipitous events I’ve ever been to. You never know who you might meet and what strange luck might arise from those chance encounters. Though I inevitably come back from these things sick with alien flus and half-poisoned by too many continental breakfasts, I never regret going. Let the haters hate. I’ll be back next year.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Feb 2, 2010 at 3:47am

    'I'm not supposed to talk about it' LOL! great anecdote!

  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Feb 2, 2010 at 4:03am


    what a great dream!
    And what a great anecdote indeed "A frustrated security official barked at Grant to ?stop speaking Islamic? when he couldn?t understand his trademark Scottish accent."


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