It seems nearly impossible to go to a comic book convention and not come back without at least one person you attended with coming down with “Con Plague.” I was one of those lucky individuals at MorrisonCon, but I’m pretending the phlegm in my chest is actually a magic mirror trying to find it’s way out through my mouth, nose, and eyes. I’m pleased to report, however, that “Con Plague” is one of the only things MorrisonCon has in common with a traditional comic book convention.
To call MorrisonCon a convention actually seems to betray the spirit of the event. I wasn’t at a con, I was spending a weekend at a house party with more than 400 wickedly smart people who were also spitfire conversationalists in topics of my interest. We’d all hangout in the living room with various people coming and going and as they came and went the conversation would fluidly shift based on the personalities in the room.
Are the couches full of artists? The conversation shifts to art. Some folks who dabble in film are in the room? The conversation shifts to film. So on and so forth.
What never happened was a boring moment in any of those conversations. Tangents were not only welcome but encouraged.
Due to how casual the panels were at MorrisonCon and the seeming willingness of attendees to allow the creators to riff and not stick to subjects it felt much more personal. I wasn’t asking questions or directly involved with the discussions, just watching, but I somehow felt more engaged than I typically do at conventions.
There was also a great deal of respect, not only between the creators who took the stage, but also between those creators and the audience, and those creators and others in the industry who weren’t there. It was amazingly positive, which is a credit to the personalities we were there to see. It also pierced the veil of the alleged egoism of comic book creators.
The one time the conversation could have turned negative was when an attendee brought up Rob Liefeld, often the brunt of jokes in spite of what he’s done for the industry, but aside from Darick Robertson making a friendly comment about Liefeld stealing “tiny feet” from him the moderator quickly shut down and shifted the direction of the topic.
It’s easy for comic fans, especially in this day of age, to get caught up in the celebrity of comics and the rumormongers who feed on drama. Jim Lee, for example, has been made out to be a bad guy in some circles for taking the gamble of relaunching the DC Universe. If you read comic forums he comes off as a conniving figure who only cares about dollar signs and not the books.
Jim Lee cares about the industry and he cares about the fans. Even though his adorable baby girl and wife were waiting for him he spent three hours signing books and drawing sketches for fans even if they weren’t on the advance list for signing.
I used my opportunity across the table from Lee to thank him for the relaunch and what it’s meant for the industry as a whole. Comic book sales have been on the rise, especially in comparison to where the numbers were a decade ago. There are many factors for the increase (especially so much talent), but I can’t help but credit DC’s relaunch for playing an important role. Whether one likes the relaunch or not the company managed to make comics a big topic in the country for a few months and, I believe, got more people in the stores to see all of the other great titles coming out from indie publishers.
It was that access to these individuals who have been important in creating the culture I love that was the second best part of MorrisonCon. Each attendee was only offered two guaranteed signing slots, but it didn’t really matter, because creators were constantly just hanging out in the hallway, convention lounge, and art gallery. I went home with autographs or sketches from every special guest except for Max Landis and James Gunn. They were approachable and friendly.
I wrote that the access to special guests was the second best part because the first best part was the attendees. I love those people. They seemed to hold comics to a higher standard than I’ve seen at some cons. While we could get the signatures from everybody it didn’t really seem like the goal. It also didn’t seem to matter that the only exclusive announcement we heard was about Multiversity. We weren’t at MorrisonCon for scoops or to be able to yell “FIRST!” over getting something on Twitter .00001 seconds before anyone else at the con.
This was a celebration of everything we love about comics without the long lines and bureaucracy of bigger conventions. I felt like it was designed specifically for me with Morrison and the other creators putting it together as an opportunity to thank us for supporting them. It may have been called MorrisonCon, but I came out of it feeling like it was FanCon.
Speed. Madness. Flying saucers.
This post originally appeared on October 5, 2012, on my long-defunct tumblr: earth-1.tumblr.com.