Saturday, July 30, 2011

Nerds of a Feather

I've been remiss in not posting this year about the San Diego Comic-Con International (motto: "Now With 33% More Obese Superheroes").  So let's take care of that.  First, a look back over five reasons why this year's Con was the best ever:

1. Sock networking
I brought Marcheline, my princess puppet best known for her work in The Golden Stoat (see photo below).  This was an excellent career move (for both of us) in the sense that she has great mass appeal, by which I mean "mega-honkin' pom-pom bosoms."  This sort of thing is extremely de rigueur* at the Comic-Con, where there are more x-treme bosoms than you can shake a stick at, although we're not sure why you would want to.  At any rate, Marcheline fit right in, and we even had chance encounters with several other itinerant puppeteers, who were also strolling with their puppets.  Our puppets had loud conversations, during which people came by and took pictures of the occasion.  That's right.  Comic-Con photographers took time out to photograph puppets chatting.  I like to think that, while this was going on, streams of major celebrities were passing by behind the photographers. 

2. We sold all the Pibgorn books 
That's right.  If you want any of the five titles sold by the esteemed Pib Press, you are going to have to order them online at  We sold every single copy we brought with us, sometimes - this was my favorite part - to people who had never even heard of the strip.  These were generally guys, whose rationale for purchasing was something like:

* They were keen to discover a heretofore unfamiliar artistic oeuvre featuring hot babe fairy demon succubi.
* Also, I, the salesperson, had smiled at them a lot.

One eager dude was so charmed by my sales prowess he actually went so far as having me sign the book (alongside my dad's signature), even though I warned him this could devalue it.

3. The Doofenshmirtz Blimp

Regrettably, this picture sucks, but I hope it at least gives you an idea of the glory that was the Phineas and Ferb booth.  It also featured a large vehicle shaped like a platypus and called "Perry the Platy-bus."

4. The Screaming Booth
This is a real thing, and I observed it for an extended period of time.  It's one of those things from which you can't turn away, like a bloody gory car wreck, or American Idol.  Here is how the Screaming Booth works: it's a booth, and you get in and scream.  You try to scream as loudly as you possibly can, so as to beat the score of the last person who screamed.  As long as I watched, I don't think anybody ever got past 8.79 ("Nuclear Test"), but the scale went all the way up to 11 ("Gilbert Gottfried").

I would have been extremely wary to participate, for fear of busting a vocal cord, but here is the thing: there were HORDES of people lined up to scream in the booth.**  There was a perky female Scream Booth Spokesperson with a microphone, and she would call out "Who's next?" and hands would wave wildly, as if these people were competing for a vacation to beautiful Puerto Vallarta on The Price is Right, instead of a chance to scream real loud.  Then microphone girl would choose someone, and ask them, "So, Mark,*** tell me something that makes you really mad," and Mark would go, "Um, my brother," and he'd get in the booth and close the door and YAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH the little sensor on the Scream-o-Tron would crawl up maybe to 8.5, causing the crowd to give hearty cheers of encouragement ("Yeeeaaaa") and maybe get some more popcorn.  And perky microphone girl would note that the score to beat was still 8.79, but, "Good try!"

As a college graduate who has been rigorously trained to "wind up" by finding the subtext in a topic, I feel compelled to say this taught us about humanity, because, what the heck.

(Actually, as I understand it, this booth was intended as a tie-in with some movie about rage, but seriously, who even cared? My life was full as I watched, any way you look at it.)

5. The Flarp (and the Cake)

I cannot be exaggerating when I say that this item is the second-most seminal creation in the history of mankind, ranking right up there with fire, gravity, the wheel, the transmission, the power seats and that half-pretzel half-cracker thingie I once inhaled a boxful of on the way home from Shaw's supermarket. 

Here is what the Flarp does: it makes flarping noises.  Several of them, in fact.  Designated by a series of cheerfully colored buttons, they are called "Ripper," "Power," "Uptight," "Juicy," "Nervous," and of course "Classic."  These sounds must be heard to be believed, although I'm sure you can go something of the distance in imagining them.  Go on, try.

I found this unparalleled item precisely where you'd expect, namely the clearance rack at Ralph's, an extremely enchanting grocery store that does not exist on the East coast.  Hence I had to discover it in CA, where suffice it to say I immediately developed a deep and obsessive infatuation with it.  My father says I am the only person he knows who has uttered the phrase "Bow-chicka-wow-wowww" about a supermarket.  I say there have to be others.

You'll understand after seeing this image, courtesy of Ralph's bakery:

This almost totally made up for the fact that I did not see my favorite Mythbuster, Grant Imahara, anywhere at the Comic-Con this time around (although his co-star Kari Byron and I did pass each other outside the convention center.  Maybe I am fated to sight just one Mythbuster a year). 

Actually, my brush with the famous this year came when actor Anthony Head, formerly of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, came by the National Cartoonists Society booth (where I was stationed to dispense Pib Press merch and smiles as needed).  I had a nice chat with Head and his publicist, who were buying T-shirts, although shamefully I didn't place who the former was until, like, 2 minutes into the conversation, even though he was wearing a name tag (my excuse is I never watched enough Buffy episodes).  There's just no way to go, all of a sudden like that, "Ah, yes! Now I know who you are! I dimly recall your work!" Awwwwkward.  He seemed like a very nice guy.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and I certainly hope to return before too long.  If you don't see me at the Comic Con (hint: look for the puppet), you'll be able to hear me over the din of the crowd.  "What's that sound?" you'll muse.  That, my friend, is the call of the Flarp.

* French; literally, "mega-honkin'"
** 1 horde = 2.56 scads = 18.723 scabs = .05 euro
*** Even if the person's name was Caitlin.