Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Morrisoncon: Comics, Booze, & The Upcoming Apocalypse

So first off, I apologize for this being a week late. However shortly after the con I picked up a pretty nasty demon masquerading as a cold that settled in my sinuses and kept me from thinking straight for the better part of the week. 

Morrisoncon was one of those things I heard about and immediately bought tickets for. Vegas? Comics? Gran Morrison? All being put together by the folks behind the famous Isotope Comics? It was something that guaranteed to be a unique experience. And it was.

So there was this Thing Called Morrisoncon 
Sweet, sweet hardcover
So if you’ve heard about the convention, you’ve probably heard about the pricetag. It was one of the major issues people had, with the tickets ranged from $700 to $800 dollars. That does seems steep for a convention; however the price included two nights at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, entry into the convention, your swag (a gorgeous hard cover program that had sketch pages, art prints and a special thank you pages with all of the attendees names stood out as the best thing in the bag of goodies), access to two parties and a Sunday morning Hangover Breakfast. The entire package is fairly cheap once you consider the cost of getting a hotel for Comic Con on top of the badge price.

And It All Began In This Club
The spoken word 
The convention itself had registration open for for the better part of Friday, before fully kicking off that night at Hard Rock’s unlisted and underground club The Body English. It was a surreal night for myself as I hung out with my roommate and met fellow attendees while drinking far too much (the con was very pro-booze, but more on that later) before Grant Morrison took the stage and with Gerard Way and began a 45 minute spoken word performance that was accompanied by music. We watched, melded into the leather seats of our balcony booth as Morrison’s spoken word at times felt like a poetry slam. As it ended with a standing ovation and the DJs took over, everyone mingled or danced the night away.

And it wasn’t the only party at The Body English, there was another on Saturday night where we all returned to meet new friends, drink, talk comics, and for the brave, dance. They were honestly the best convention parties I had ever attended (and I've done a few). There were far more fun moments than awkward "oh my god no one is talking to me and I'm just standing here" ones. At one point I lost my voice and spent the rest of the con sounding like a retired phone sex operator. 

And Then There Was The Actual Convention
Waking up and traveling over to the con wasn’t the problem I had found myself in at previous cons where I'd have to walk or call a cab or get lost on unfamiliar public transportation. It was all in the same building. The hotel rooms were right down the hall from the convention center, with a cafe on the way where breakfast foodstuffs and caffeine was readily available. That one morning I had to wear my sunglasses inside aside, it was an easy commute.

The convention itself was set up more like a conference. All of the panels were held in one room, keeping the stress of having to decide between panels and lining up ahead of time away from the experience. Across the hall was a lounge where you could take a break and relax. Tables were set up in the main section of the lounge, with a theatre room in playing Grant Morrson’s favorite movies, an art gallery where you could buy prints and original artwork of all of the guest artists (starting at hundred bucks and going up to a few thousand for some J.H. Williams double page spreads or Frank Quietly covers) both in the back, and a signing room towards the front.

Oh, and there were also bars in the lounge and in the hall that opened at 10 A.M. Because if you’re going to party like a nerd rock star and buy comics people drinks, you’re going to do it right

Max Landis being Max Landis IRL
The panels themselves ranged from the standard comics industry panels, to the entertainment industry panels, to the anything goes “ask Grant Morrison what are good beginner books on practicing magic” types of things. There was never a dull moment. With the guests seated up on stage on big black couches; highlights included the artists doing drawing demos in attendees books, to Pax Americana artwork being debuted, to Max Landis (Chronicle, The Death and Return of Superman) passionately arguing with James Gunn (Slither, Super) and going into a 20 minute speech about The Boys, to a very hungover Grant Morrison explaining the fifth dimension at ten in the morning before any of us had had proper coffee. It was an environment no other convention could come close to replicating. With no publishers sponsoring, the guests were off their leashes with some even talking freely about how they felt Marvel and DC treated talent (Robert Kirkman suggested that one use working at the big two to gain an wider audience, but then leave before they essentially drained you dry).

Then There Were The Autographs
People who signed up early enough were given priority choice on what were billed as intimate, one on one signings. And they were. Instead of there being a long table where hundreds of attendees went down the line conveyor belt style, there were small round tables with two chairs. The autograph sessions ranged from a few minutes to several as you sat down with your writer or artist of choice, and you actually got to talk to them as they sketches or signed things. It was a refreshing take on fan and creator dynamic, and the creators seemed to enjoy it as well. I'm pretty sure someone brought Jason Aaron a giant jug of beer at one point and he was sharing it. 

Everyone Is Having A Good Time (No, Seriously)
My Angry!Damien sketch by Chris Burnham
It was the one question I asked everyone. "How’s the con treating you?" Previous experiences at conventions usually garnered some positive answers, several disgruntled attendees, and a good deal of exhausted badge wearers who don’t quite feel accomplished in buying/panel viewing/event attending/ect. But everyone I talked to was happy and enjoying themselves. There were no complaints, only positive experiences and genuine friendliness as those in charge encouraged networking and having fun from the get go.

And this was also the reaction from the special guests of the convention. More often than not I see tired, stressed out professionals who are rushing between booths and panels. Morrisoncon however allowed them to be amongst us. Creators were frequently hanging out and talking to fans in the hall, lounge, and The Body English. With a few artists like Chris Burnham and Derrick Roberts sitting in the lounge and hammering out sketches in anyone’s book who wanted one. Every single one I talked to was enjoying themselves and wanted to return if there was another one. It was fun for all of us.

And We End With The Apocalypse
As the con wound down the last panel featured DJ Akira the Don and Grant Morrison talking about the upcoming apocalypse. The conversation spanned the various ways the apocalypse may take shape, to the possible avenues humanity had for survival, to a free for all discussion on the many conspiracy theories around the world. 

For a con that promised, and delivered comics, rock and roll and magic, it was a fitting way to close with the end of the world. And if the world doesn't end and they put another one on, I'll be there.

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