Today is the end of the annual San Diego Comic Con. An immense gathering of people interested in all things science fiction and fantasy. When it started 43 years ago it centred on graphic storytelling as the title suggests but now it is also a platform for the big Hollywood studios to launch their film and TV releases. This year there were Q&A panels on Captain America 2, Thor 2, X-Men, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Three years ago Morgan Spurlock, director of Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, made a documentary about about the Con and the film has only now, this month, surfaced in the UK for disc purchase and download.
I’m making it sound like I have been long anticipating the release of this film but that is because I have. As a film fan I have always followed the news coming out of festivals like Cannes and Sundance but for all my geeky sins it is the Comic Con I would most want to go to. My favourite films of each year may end up being things like Drive, Black Swan, Tyrannosaur and Rust & Bone but The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers is the stuff I really really anticipate. I would love to be there in California catching the early snippets of this stuff with the other fanboys. The convention was featured at the beginning of the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost film Paul but only now has it been possible to get a really good idea of what it is like to be there without having to actually be there.
Comic Con has a reputation for attracting real dweebs who only drag themselves away from their computer screens and emerge from their houses once a year for this event. While Morgan Spurlock doesn’t shy away from featuring the nerds, he shows them as the passionate and talented people they often are. The film follows a selection of people attending the con and while they are all card carrying geeks they are all on genuinely moving journeys.
First we have a successful businessman there to shift a few comics. He is hoping that a good four days at the convention will help his currently shaky financial situation and in particular is aiming to sell that one copy of a really rare comic that is going for several tens of thousands of dollars.
Then there is the girl who is preparing to kit out herself and a group of friends as characters from a computer game ready for the costume parade. These people that dress up are considered the nerdiest of the nerds but this young lady is clearly an incredibly skilled costume designer making the most incredible animatronic outfits in her garage. She doesn’t really want to be a space marine, what she really wants is to showcase her work and get a foothold in the industry.
We also have two amateur comic book artists bringing portfolios of their drawings to show to the big publishers. These are not saddos but people with great talents and dreams to use them in service of the films and books that they love.
Admittedly I am someone who wanted a window into this world but I found Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope to be an interesting portrait of the people who live and work toward this weekend conference every year. It shows their obsession but it doesn’t poke fun at them. If like me you have ever felt the need to slightly play down your love of Doctor Who, Star Wars, Buffy or all things caped and Lycraed to fit in to normal society then this is a documentary for you. If you’ve ever been sniffy about this stuff then perhaps you should watch it too.