Thursday, August 29, 2013


Anyone who’s been around comics fans knows about obsessions.  We
know about fans who continue buying comics series they don’t enjoy
just to keep their runs complete.  At this weekend’s garage sale, I
heard a fan sigh with relief that he had found the one issue of a
comic he needed to complete his run and then admit he didn’t like
the series. 

I’m no stranger to obsession, though, for the most part, I think I
have my own infatuations under control.  For example: I buy a lot
of Pez dispensers.  I don’t collect them.  I buy them and give them
to other people.  Sometimes I include them with gifts.  Sometimes
I put them in my garage sale mystery boxes.  People get a kick out
of Pez dispensers and I get a kick out of seeing the child-like joy
on their faces when they get them. 

When I started holding garage sales, I started buying long folding
tables whenever I spotted them at a good price.  At any given time,
I have three or four more tables than I need.  Because they always
come in handy.  Family and friends borrow them.  I find a place for
them somewhere in the house.  At the end of my garage sale season,
I hope to rearrange the boxes in my Fortress of Storage to allow me
to put one of these tables in said Fortress.  Perhaps my buying of
tables is an obsession, but it’s a useful obsession.

Even among comics fans, there are manifestly unhealthy obsessions.
I still shudder at the memory of one scary guy who was over the top
for the Marvel villain Nightshade.  He would commission artists to
draw erotic pictures of Nightshade.  He would add his own crude and
disturbing drawings to his scrapbook and show the scrapbook to any
unlucky soul he could corner.  He would talk wistfully about how he
would do anything for Nightshade...even murder a pregnant woman for
her.  I have no idea where that one came from.  The last time I saw
him he was being refused admission to a comics convention where, in
previous years, he’d seriously creeped out several fans and guests.
I haven’t heard of him since and would really like to keep it that
way.  Shudder.


In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m continuing to blog off
random notes I made during last weekend’s garage sale.  One of the
big topics of discussion among my customers was the casting of Ben
Affleck as Batman in several upcoming movies.  I noted with great
amusement the naysayers among my customers because, ancient fellow
that I am, I recall similar naysaying when Michael Keaton was cast
in the role.  I’m not at all concerned about Affleck playing Bats
for a number of reasons.

1. I don’t care.  I won’t spend a dime to see any DC Comics-based
movie.  I’ll see it when I can see it for free via my local library
system.  If Affleck does a great job or a lousy job, it won’t cost
me anything but the time I spending watching the films.

2. Many of you think Christian Bale was a good Batman in his last
two wretched outings as the character.  If he’s your standard for
Bat-actors, Affleck can’t possible be worse.

3. The Daredevil movie wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t very good, but
it was no worse than the afore-mentioned wretched Batman outings.

4. If Matt Damon isn’t Robin, what’s the point?


Getting back to obsessions or, more precisely, the lack thereof, I
never google my name.  I figure I’m visible in a number of online
venues and that if anyone has anything to say about or to me, they
can find me easily.  If they are saying unkind things about me and
aren’t brave enough to say them to my “face,” it makes absolutely
no sense for me to seek out their comments.  They have no effect on
my gloriously happy and productive life...and thus they are easily

My attitude about this sort of thing doesn’t prevent people, some
of them well-meaning, from bringing some comments to my attention.
They don’t have to do this.  I wish they wouldn’t do this.  But it
happens.  If they are well-intentioned, I thank them and tell them
they need not have bothered.  If they are hoping to lure me into an
online fight, they will be disappointed.

One such well-intentioned person told me some comics professional
was having a fit over my negative comments about Dragon*Con, which
I consider a sordidly sleazy convention.  My opinion of this event
improved somewhat when Dragon*Con legally divorced itself from co-
founder and alleged child molester Ed Kramer.  For something like
a decade, the other owners had claimed this was impossible...which
it clearly wasn’t.  These owners also fail to mention that some of
them had spoken on Kramer’s behalf at hearings which allowed him to
delay his day in court for 13 years.  So, yeah, they get points for
finally doing what they could and should have done a long time ago.
Just not a lot of points.

Dragon*Con also gets points for adopting a harassment policy that
will hopefully reduce the incidents of harassment and worse which
have often accompanied a show that sells itself as a kind of fetish
fair for fans who haven’t a prayer of getting laid anywhere else in
the world.  The policy’s long overdue, but I applaud it’s being put
into place and hope it will be enforced rigorously.

Even with these developments - and the welcome news Kramer’s trial
is set for December - I still find Dragon*Con sleazy.  I’m far from
alone in that.  One blogger, who, admittedly had an issue with the
convention denying him press credentials, wrote:

“The whole Dragon*Con climate at night makes one feel down-right
icky just to be there.”

While adults certainly have the right to engage in legal activities
in the privacy of their Dragon*Con hotel rooms, there are a great
many credible reports of intimate activities taking place in public
places.  The phrase “get a room” leaps immediately to mind.

Dragon*Con has such a reputation for this stuff that people go on
the CraigsList personals to arrange convention hook-ups.  This is
perfectly legal, but it’s still icky.

Sidebar. I was going to link to a Bleeding Cool article discussing
the above and offering examples of the personals, but the article
seems to have disappeared from Rich Johnston’s website.  You’d have
to ask Johnston why.  End sidebar.

I’d like to see Dragon*Con shake its sleazy reputation.  It doesn’t
reflect well on fandom in its current state.  But I fear the “ick”
factor might be ingrained in its makeup and the makeup of the fans
and pros who like it just the way it is.

In summation...

1. I don’t google myself.  I use the lower-case “google” on account
of the word has become a synonym for online searching. 

2. While I appreciate the good intentions of those who tell me that
people are posting mean things about me somewhere online, it’s not
something they need to do and it’s not something that concerns me.

3. I’m not interested in going to other venues if people post mean
things about me there.  If I have anything to post about a subject,
I post it in my own venues.

4. Complaining about my negative view of Dragon*Con isn’t likely to
change my negative view of Dragon*Con.  I admit I’m not sure what
could change my negative view of the convention. I sincerely wish
that something would.

I’m still on the first of two pages of random notes I made during
last weekend’s garage sale.  This means I’ll be back tomorrow with
more of this kind of stuff. See you then.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. Just to remind would-be posters...

    After my initial Dragon*Con comments several months ago, I gave everyone a chance to post their views, opposing or otherwise. Following what I considered a reasonable period of time, I stopped approving any Dragon*Con comments. That policy is still in effect.

    My original Dragon*Con blog has received more views than any other blog entry I've done here. People revisit it, link to it and, in some cases, are reading it for the first time. That's fine, but it doesn't change my stated policy.

    If you have something you absolutely must say to me about the convention, you can email me or send me a private message on Facebook. I won't be changing my Dragon*Con comment policy.

  2. Your comments regarding the Nightshade 'fan' reminds me of someone I knew years ago through an apa. This guy had a similar fixation with actress Adrienne Barbeau. He drew a lot of fannish art and wrote a lot of fan-fic where she or a character "based" on her would appear. Fortunately, if he wrote or drew anything of a pornographic nature he was kind enough not to share, but from what he told me in letters and over the phone I would not be surprised if he had created something of the sort. I do know he was approaching other fan artists to draw his "character" as well.

    One of those guys who really was living in his parent's basement and mostly unemployed.