In 1933, a small printing company in Waterbury, Connecticut known as Eastern Color Printing began publishing what would later become the first modern comic book, Funnies on Parade. The company began by reprinting newspaper “funny pages” in collected editions to be given out in promotional campaigns by large companies such as Shell Oil. Recognizing the advertising opportunities the company began producing its own original comics featuring characters like Mutt and Jeff and Buck Rogers.
Also in Connecticut, but approximately fifty years later, a somewhat nerdy kid found a way to combine his love of reading with his love of Saturday morning cartoons. Many of those early superhero comics are still hanging around, bagged and boxed, joined by thousands more of every possible genre. Horror, science fiction, war stories, sword and sorcery. I’ve got them all.
San Diego Comic-Con has been on my bucket list for a while, but like golfing in Ireland or attending a Super Bowl, it’s unlikely I’ll make it out there anytime soon. This year the Connecticut convention was held at the Mohegan Sun Casino thirty minutes from home, so I grabbed the teenager, threw on my Batman T-shirt and headed off.
We had a lot of fun. Kayla has been my movie-going partner for years now, but has always enjoyed her YA novels more than comics. I think she was a little disappointed that the focus really seemed to be on comic books and not as television and movie related as some of the bigger conventions seem to be. People watching is always a big draw, and I think we were both somewhat relieved that although there were plenty of cos-players in attendance, we didn’t stand out by not being in full costume. There were enough cool displays like a replica TARDIS and an original 1960’s Batmobile to keep her occupied while I browsed the memorabilia.
I think that it’s probably good that we were leaving for vacation the following day or I might have spent a lot of money on things that I may have later regretted.
A highlight for myself was all the creators that were available for signings and question and answer panels. Louise Simonson, Mike Carlin, Carl Potts, and Scott Hanna are just a few of the artists and writers that I have been enjoying for the past thirty years. To shake their hands and put a face to the people behind the work was pretty cool.
My favorite was an hour long session with Roy Thomas, the man who succeeded Stan Lee as editor in chief at Marvel and first brought Robert E Howard’s Conan to comics. I really enjoyed hearing his first hand stories about the early days at the company and wished that it had been longer.
Next year the convention will be returning to Mohegan Sun and I already have the dates saved. I think that it may be time to break out the face paint and bring these two out of retirement.