Friday, October 10, 2014

Conventions of Contemporaneity: An Anxiety Dream

I had a dream last night that I attended a current San Diego Comicon (in reality I have not attended the biggest comic book convention in the world since 1996, and by all accounts it is now almost ten times bigger than it then was). Upon entering, one was completely overwhelmed by an island of booths containing a Wonder Bread display, of all things (simulated loaves of Wonder Bread stood as pillars holding up a canopy over the space), followed by islands that were fully-furnished convenience stores so that attendees would not have to go outside the hall and out into downtown San Diego to shop for necessities. (No doubt this symbolized how commercial and insular comic book conventions have become -- you don't even get to experience the wonderful city you are visiting at all.) With my portfolio, I finally found my way to artist's alley (I had not bothered to reserve a space in advance); I did not recognize any of the younger people there, and nobody recognized me, although only a few artists had set up this early in the show.

Patrick Daugherty, director of the Frank L. Melaga Art Museum, pondering the placement of my work yesterday. Some of Frank L. Melaga's paintings from the permanent collection are on the facing walls, while my works are on the floor waiting to be hung and in the showcase in the background.

I saw a group of artists seated on a raised podium, about eight or ten young people, mostly male but some female, all dressed remarkably alike in black with ball caps or berets like a paramilitary volunteer police militia, and thought I spotted Billy Tucci among them, but he kept disappearing behind the heads of other people. This group must have been his entourage, although they all seemed to be sketching or autographing, although no fans were yet present.
 
Pages from Alan Moore's "In Pictopia," which I drew in 1986, and two Megaton Man splash pages, one from 1989 and 1999.

I finally ended up in an internet cafe somewhere in the dealer's room, populated mostly by young Asian men, who were all buzzing about their laptops. (I suppose mobile device now dominate comic book conventions as they do everything else, although this had not been the case the last time I was at the San Diego Comicon). For some reason I was table hopping -- I'm not sure if I was giving advice, showing my work, explaining how to find my stuff online, or just trying to get connected myself. When I finally sat down to get online myself, I realized my laptop was missing. I looked everywhere for it, and came to the realization that it had been stolen. (Why would any of these people with their much slicker devices steal my old clumsy thing with nothing on it?) Then I woke up.

The showcase is a mixture of artists and comics that influenced me as well as some of my own art, including "Batman Upgrade 2.0" from DC's Bizarro World (2005).


No doubt this dream came to me because I had been helping to hang my gallery exhibit of old and new cartooning and life drawings last night, and had attended a small comic book show in Youngstown last weekend. I have been doing a great deal more cartooning since this past spring than I have in many a year, since I returned to college and earned my PhD. I don't think of any of this as a "comeback," in part because I have little idea what I would be coming back to. Am I being sucked back into the scary world of comics, and is this dream a portent of what it will be like? Anxiety!

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