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I believe myself to be a hard core San Diego Comic Con vet. I’ve been going to the convention since 1996. I remember my feelings entering that place for the first time. It’s that special weekend where you can go full tilt into your obsession and feel at home. It’s a place where costumes are cool, where your artistic heroes are right in front of you ready for you to talk to them, where you get a glimpse of the next great thing and much more.
It’s an amazing place, and one I always look forward every year. So how the HELL do you try to encompass that feeling in 88 minutes?
Well director Morgan Spurlock (along with producers Stan Lee, Joss Whedon and Harry Knowles) decided to go start with in the most logical (and obvious) place…the fans.
The film follows five people, as they each have a huge goal they need to accomplish that weekend in San Diego.
We follow two aspiring comic book artist; family man and solider Eric and fanboy bartender Skip, as they hope to be discovered this year at the con. Along with them we also follow Holly; an aspiring costume designer who hopes to impress with her Mass Effect costumes, Chuck; the founder of the famous comics dealer, Mile High Comics, and James; a young fan who plans on proposing to his girlfriend at the big event.
I had some concerns at first with the idea of following two aspiring comic book artist, but thankfully each guy gave a different perspective. With Eric being a family man, we get to see him do this hoping to make his wife and kids proud. With Skip we see the ultimate fanboy come in to the Convention with bounds of energy and enthusiasm only to soon meet the harsh reality of the business.
Holly’s story may have been the one with the least drama, but it’s a fun enough story and a great place to showcase her enthusiasm and her skills. The Mass Effect costumes that Holly made with her friends are amazing, the most impressive being Grunt, and seeing the hard work that they put into it shows what makes fandom so great in the first place. It’s about talented people getting the chance to showcase their skills to the people who will care in the first place.
Of all the stories, the one I surprisingly invested in the most was Chucks. He’s been at the convention for over three decades and the man is at his happiest selling and owning comics. But this year he comes into some heavy debt. He now has decided to sell some of his rarest of comics to sell at the convention year. Not just any comics, comics that are priced at the lowest $500,000! Chuck represents the old guard of comics. He knows that the industry is changing and he knows he has to find ways to adjust and adapt to a world that may not want to own physical comics any more. It was a nice way to address the change of focus at Comic Con with out hammering in the head the good and bad things about that change.
The film bounces back and forth between the main cast and interview segments with celebrities. The celebrities jobs in the film is simply to explain the appeal of going to the Convention, and I found them to be funny, and somewhat necessary. I understand, this movie wasn’t made exclusively for the guys who’ve gone to comic con for years (I.E. Me) it was made everyone, so I understood the need to include these segments. That being said, I’m sure there could have been a way to deliver the same information without Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith telling me (thought I’m a fan of both!)
That’s where my general feelings of the movie come from. I feel it’s a fun and really entertaining documentary, but it’s hardly the definitive film on the subject. It tries to be both a film about exploring the fans and their dreams that they hope Comic Con can grant, while also being a crash course on Convention going. One story, this one about a Toy Collector, was over before it began, which made me wonder why bother putting it in the film in the first place.
I truly felt that this movie only scratched the surface on Con. I think it would be great to make this into a series of film. Follow different people (maybe some professional artist next time) and get different perspectives. But as it stands, this is a strong movie. I truly cared about what was going to happen with our subjects.
It’s at it’s strongest when it’s following the fans, and for a documentary about Comic Con, that couldn’t be a more appropriate.