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Comic Riffs
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Posted at 11:40 PM ET, 07/17/2012

COMIC-CON 2012 REVIEW: 7 Personal Highlights from San Diego convention floor

SMASHING SUCCESS: Hulk’s presence loomed large at Comic-Con 2012, where collectibles and games enticed people to part happily with their hard-earned green. (TOM RACINE / special to The Washington Post)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Comic Riffs contributor and Tall Tale Radio podcaster Tom Racine powered through some long days at San Diego Comic-Con2012, fueled by his love of comics, his passion for Star Wars and his quest for Hobbit sightings. Here are his Top Seven Attractions from five days in the shire.

— M.C.

1. The Newspaper Comic Strip Panels. 

Some years, it seemed you had to hang out at the National Cartoonist sSociety booth to see any/many newspaper cartoonists of note. But in recent years, the syndicates have made great strides in having a presence at the Con.  This year, there were several major panel discussions. Bill Amend of "FoxTrot" filled a large room with die-hard fans. Dan Piraro of “Bizarro” worked the room like the professional stand-up comedian he is. Greg Evans of "Luann" talked about his career and art. And the still amazingly effervescent Lynn Johnston of "For Better or for Worse" gave a talk on her career that was funny, touching, intensely personal and a drawing lesson all at the same time. Let’s hope this bodes well for even greater visibility of top newspaper cartoonists at the Con.

2. The Old Comic Art. 

One of the great joys for me as a cartoonist and illustrator is to see so much comic book art on display and for sale from such legends as Kirby, Ditko, Romita and Buscema. Pages from comics I remember as a kid, pages that inspired me to draw. To look at the legends’ pencil lines and ink work is as moving to me as standing in front of a Caravaggio or a Picasso.


(TOM RACINE / special to The Washington Post)

3. The New Comic Art. 

Between the booths of art by legends and rock stars and semi-stars can be exciting work by people you’d never heard of — until that magic moment when you see something and become an instant fan. Comic-Con is rich in those experiences.


(TOM RACINE / special to The Washington Post)
4. Toyland

I don't really collect figure and models, but I sure covet them as if I'm 12 years old.  I could spend hours at places like Sideshow Collectibles and the WETA booth.  I look at the new Marvel and DC figures, wondering how much is left on my credit card. I admire the swords I see, and ponder what it'd be like to actually buy that 4-foot-high statue of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I'm sure it'd make a great hat rack ... that's practical, right?

5. The Cosplayers

The wildly costumed have become the stereotypical face (and often bodies) of the Con, but there is no denying their passion. I spoke with one girl from Maryland who attends all four days and dresses up in a different elaborate costume each day. That is dedication.

6. William Shatner 

Growing up with five older brothers, watching "Star Trek" in syndication with them was a rite of passage. This year, star William Shatner promoted his new documentary, “Get a Life.” As I listened to “Captain Kirk,” I felt like I had been absorbed by Landru and was dancing wildly at Festival. (If you don't get that reference, then you're in the wrong column.)


(TOM RACINE / special to The Washington Post)

7. Family Day

I attending Sunday's Family Day with my daughters, ages 7 and 4, two budding nerds dressed as Luke Skywalker from "Return of the Jedi" (she was very specific about that), and a Thor-helmeted Wonder Woman, respectively. The crowds can be intense and the stimulation levels are on overload, but when your kids get to meet the Winx Club fairies in person, or get their books signed by artists from "Phineas and Ferb," or when they see real live Stormtroopers and's magical.  They're still in the “wonder” stage of life, and all the glitz and complaints about how “Hollywood” the Con has gotten just fall away. We’re here, together, in a universe of imagination and pure joy.



(TOM RACINE / special to The Washington Post)

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By  |  11:40 PM ET, 07/17/2012

Tags:  san diego comic-con, willian shatner, the hobbit, bill amend, dan piraro, greg evans, lynn johnston

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