Sunday, May 17, 2009

A pop-culture gem in San Jose

I was at the Super-Con event in San Jose Saturday (on a press credential, to be clear), and it exceeded my expectations for a combination of friendly little-con ambience and big-time collectible opportunities.

A couple of specifics: A number of the dealers had merchandise that was out of the ordinary -- unusual, or older and harder to find, or even unique in some way. In other words, far from the typical inventories of recent comics and toys, anything and everything manga and anime and reams of import and sub-culture DVDs. My purchase -- I'll get into this more in future posts -- was the illustrated, uninstalled glass back from (I think) a 1978 Bally pinball machine with a "Star Trek'' theme.

Also, that ambience I mentioned was conspicuous in numerous ways. One highlight: A local video-game store was hosting a "Street Fighter 4'' tournament with a cute incentive: beat the employees and win store credit.

The crowd (during late morning and early afternoon) was big enough to lead to lines of about 10 deep for well-recognized comics artists who were doing sketches (for a price). But it wasn't as if the panel discussions were anywhere close to filling up (at least not the three I checked on), and the sidwalks around the convention weren't bustling. The upshot: This is nearly the perfect convention eah year to attend if you're a knowledgeable fan who knows how to take advantage of all the up-close-and-personal sociality of a still-growing event. But sure, it lacks a bit of energy and excitement at times.

One asterisk: It's difficult to know what to say about the aging, fading, minor and less-than-minor TV and movie celebrities who charge to be photographed with fans. People pay, so there's a market. But it varies, with some "celebrities" looking awfully lonely much of the time. Tackiness overwhelms nostalgia. And the behavior of some of these marginal personalities can be offputting. I'll deal with it in a later post.

My wish: That Super-Con keeps growing, but not too much.

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