Sunday, January 30, 2005

Looking To The Stars: The Best Laid Plans...

had been planning to write about the Batman: The Animated Series Season 2 and Superman: The Animated Series DVD sets that came out this week. But since I ordered them as I was ordering textbooks for the new semester and since UPS apparently refuses to honor my request to leave deliveries with my apartment's office manager because I'm at work until 8pm most nights... well, to belatedly cut a long story short, I have no DVDs to watch and then write about for your amusement.

Thankfully, I am not without opinions or news to write upon. But then, when am I ever?

1. Of Pros and Cons

My hometown of Dallas has been, until recently, Con deficient. Conventions for any geeky interest were few and far between. Imagine my shock on Wednesday when my comic shop got flyers to hand out for not one but TWO conventions. Both are in February, one right after the other. Sadly, it appears that one con has a whole lot more to offer than the other. Ironically enough, it does this by offering less.

All-Con appears to be setting out to prove the truism that by trying to make something for everyone, that nobody will be happy. By creating a Con for everyone, everyone will get shafted. But ignoring this philosophy, this Con has other obvious problems. For one thing, has no one considered the potential riot likely to be caused by cramming all the various elements of Fandom into one hotel?

Take it from a guy who works in a comic book and gaming store. You think your parents give you a hard time? There is nobody, but NOBODY less tolerant of a geek obsessed with a hobby than another geek obsessed with a different hobby. The Trekkers toss insults in Klingon at the Jedi. The card gamers are hated by the d20 players. The D&D players are mocked by the Vampire LARPers. The Vampires are hunted down by the good ol' boy war miniature gamers. And everyone stays far away from the Furries.

And let's look at the events list for this Con. Stand-up comedians, martial arts demonstrations, Tai Chi demonstrations, a Rocky Horror Picture Show showing, a Moulin Rouge with live actors ala Rocky Horror, a Super Bowl party on Sunday, a masquerade ball, a Miss Star Wars contest and a belated Mardi Gras party.

Even Igor from Dork Tower would think this all a bit much. About the only thing they don't have is dancing girls, Shriners and bears driving little cars. And it wouldn't surprise me if that's just not on the website.

The Dallas Comic Con by contrast, is much simpler. While named as a comic convention, it boasts a lot more, hosting the usual hodge-podge of retailers, writers, comics, artists and actors. Not as showy, but a lot more focused and likely a lot more enjoyable for the comics enthusiast.

And the final test of a good con: guests.The Dallas Comic Con boasts as its' big celebrity guests: Thomas Jane (Frank Castle in The Punisher), Sean Astin (Sam in Lord of the Rings) and Patricia Arquette. All-Con's biggest guests of honor are the guy who was one of the space squids in Return of the Jedi and the woman who was one of the background bar patrons in the cantina in A New Hope. There is a slight disparity in the level of quality there.

Of course this is all moot to me anyway as I have to work weekends. But it is amusing to me none the less. Still, if you live in the North Texas area and are looking for a good convention this month, remember that less is more.

2. Web Comics Galore!

One of my favorite web comics is coming to an end soon. I've reviewed it in the past, but if you haven't had a chance to read the wonder that is Queen of Wands yet, do yourself a favor and click the link to go to the very beginning.

Two people in my gaming group recently introduced me to a strip called The Order of the Stick. The comic, centering around a group of medieval adventurers, is one of the few strips devoted to mocking D&D style gaming that actually is funny. Art lovers will want to look elsewhere; the title refers to the fact that all the characters in this are stick-figures. Still, while some of the comics are a little in-jokey and depend upon a basic knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons (i.e. how the dice-rolling system can cause you to be unable to see or hear the obvious in front of you) others are just downright hilarious and can be enjoyed by a more general audience. Still, if you're a roleplayer, you'll likely love Order of the Stick.

More enjoyable for a general audience is a new comic, titled Punks and Nerds. It is, as you may guess from the title, about a bunch of punks and nerds. The humor is sophomoric and old-school gamer, but enjoyable to anyone who remembers having to blow into an old Nintendo cartridge to get a game to work properly or any geek grrl who knows the pains of dealing with guys at Cons.

That's all I've got. Tune in next week when, hopefully, I will have my DVD goodness.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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