| SAN DIEGO
SAN DIEGO They came, they bought, they stood in
long lines and as the sprawling comic book convention Comic-Con
drew to a close on Sunday, capes dragged, makeup ran, and
thousands of previously chipper superheroes looked a little
Over the past four days, the San Diego convention center
has been a mecca for 125,000 fans who came from around the
world -- many dressed as their favorite superheroes -- in
search of all manner of comics-related books, movies, games,
toys, information and free products.
They packed screenings of movies with names like "Hamlet 2"
and saw promotional trailers for other titles such as "The
Spirit." They stood in lines that snaked around the building --
sometimes for hours -- to glimpse movie stars including Kiefer
Sutherland, Keanu Reeves and Carmen Electra.
By many accounts, sales of toys, video games, T-shirts and
other memorabilia were brisk, though less so than in recent
years due to the current economic downturn, vendors said.
Daryl Graham, 37, an animation student from San Diego, said
he found the latest super power action figures in just the
right sizes to add to a collection he has been building since
junior high school.
"As a collector, you want all your action figures to be
even when you display them. You don't want your Batman an inch
taller than your Spider-Man," Graham said.
But others expressed disappointment with what they see as
the increasing commercialism of Comic-Con. They say the
convention, devoted to celebrating comic book art, has been
co-opted in recent years by large companies and Hollywood
studios generating buzz for new movies and related products.
This year, scores of films were promoted ranging in genre
from sci-fi and horror to comedy. Screenings and promotional
trailers were shown, free items were handed out, and fans were
drawn into scores of special exhibits.
"I only come for the comics and I think what has happened
here is sad," said Robert Farrell, who has attended Comic-Con
since 1975. He noted most traditional comics dealers appeared
to be relegated to the edges of the cavernous exhibit hall. "I
won't be coming back next year," he said.
Dale Roberts of Kentucky, who has sold vintage comic books
at Comic-Con for the last 12 years, said traditional comic book
fans and vendors "are feeling marginalized."
"Comic-Con will tell you that what we have is a perception
problem and that comics have not been diminished in any way,
they have just changed form," said a third vendor, Chuck
Rozanski. He has been coming to Comic-Con since 1973 and says
he has sold more than $100 million in comic books.
"We built this house and suddenly we're finding our
furniture on the lawn. We let these rich relatives in and
suddenly we're not good enough to live here anymore," he said.
A spokeswoman for Comic-Con was not immediately available
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Todd Eastham)