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article imageOp-Ed: Comic book fans in San Francisco wish they could go to Comic Con Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Mar 16, 2012 in Entertainment
San Francisco - It might be four months away, but believe it or not tickets have already been sold out for the annual Comic Con event in San Diego this July 12 through 15.
"Me and my girlfriend Nahaila are going to try and head down to San Diego to attend," said William Mitchell. "I am not sure if we will be able to attend because tickets sold out immediately," said Mitchell a 27-year-old 3D VFX artist. He lives and works in San Francisco's Sunset District.
During the day, Mitchell works at Sunset Gym only two blocks from Amazing Fantasy comics on Irving Street not far from the trendy 9th Ave and Irving area commonly referred to as the inner-Sunset. On his time off he strives to follow his dream of working in the burgeoning field of computer animation and graphics.
Frank McGinn, the owner of Amazing Fantasy on Irving, really knows a lot about comics," said Mitchell. "He is also a really nice guy and likes to help people find what they are looking for," said Mitchell.
Mitchell's affinity for all things artistic, especially animated is filled with enthusiasm that often he conveys at work, amid the daily routine. He had mentioned to this reporter how much he wanted to go and "what a disappointment" that the tickets for the four day event sold out as soon as they were available to buy.
Yes, that is correct," said Michael Stoltz, speaking on behalf of David Glanzer the PR director for Comic-Con International. "Passes are sold out," he noted. "In record time."
I have never been to Comic-Con and always wanted to go, said Mitchell, because Comic Con is the metropolis of comic book conventions," said he. When Mitchell has a break from his duties at Sunset Gym, he goes over to Amazing Fantasy.
Like Mitchell, Bo Cross who works at Amazing Fantasy on Irving Street, wants to go. "Yes, I would go yet I know tickets/passes are sold out," he said. Cross mentioned that "every once in awhile there are comp passes," but that is unlikely. "Last year we had about 130,000 people at Comic-Con, said Stoltz, and we expect the same amount again this year," he said.
The door to the Amazing Fantasy shop was wide open as people wandered in from the drizzling rain that had changed San Francisco's unusually early spring-like weather to windy and wet for March.
Bart Pantoja bought a few comic books and said to this reporter that he too would like to go to Comic-Con yet with the pass/ticket price of about $150.00 and the price of gas for the drive down to San Diego, it is not in his budget, right now. "The little bit of purchasing of comics from time to time, I do for myself," said Pantoja.
He enjoys it as an art form and the drama within each comic book series. Pantoja remembers reading old comics that his father had kept from his youth and it is something people really don't outgrow.
"With comic books I was always interested I would say around at the age of nine or 10," said Mitchell, a transplant to San Francisco, originally from Hawaii.
"My Grandmother use to pick me up some comic books in Hawaii, he said, on her way back home from work at the 7-Eleven." "I use to draw them (my favorite comic book characters) and that is really how I sharpened my skills," said Mitchell.
"Jim Lee has always been my favorite comic book illustrator when he worked on The X-Men. I use to try and copy what he drew around that age. Then I did portraits of family and so on," Mitchell said.
Cross too has been a fan of comics since an early age. "I have been working in comic books since I was about 11, growing up in San Jose," he said. Cross used to hang around asking the shop owners if he could just help out so he could earn a comic book or two for a day's work.
He moved to San Francisco about four years ago, and began working at Amazing Fantasy six months ago. "I have been to Comic-Con," he said that was about two years ago." he described the experience as "all your favorite holidays rolled into one event," said Cross.
Founded as the Golden State Comic Book Convention back in 1970, by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger and Mike Towry. The local event evolved into Comic-Con International. Since that time over the decades the event has grown to include a larger range of comics and pop culture elements, such as toys, games and video games, etc.
"I am not surprised they sold out in record time," said Cross. "When I was there (two years ago) the event can be intense, overwhelming." Cross said he went everyday during the four-day convention despite the mobs of people. "Saturday is usually the craziest, with the heaviest amount of crowds and Sunday is a more like a stroller day with lots of families," he said.
Cross noted that with its ever expanding attendance, "it goes to show that comics are for everyone, regardless of age or background; that's why they are sold-out successful," he said.
This reporter mentioned the popular TV show "Big Bang Theory" and how the main characters of Lenard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj are so enthralled by comics they go to the local comic books store each week. "I have seen the show only a few times," said Cross. "Yet despite their character's status as PhD genius they still love comics, that does not surprise me," said Cross. "I am age 30 and I think I will always love comics," there is something about them," he said.
Pantoja agreed as he said, "comic books are like reading classic mythology all over again." He enjoys seeing comic book stories and characters come to life on the big screen and yes, he watched the TV version of Batman as a kid, who didn't?
Cross noted that movies and TV shows based on comic books help the popularity of comic books. "Right now the big seller is "Walking Dead," he said. Of course, classic comic books like those from DC Comics and Marvel are always in demand and reach high figures for collectors, "I think the very first 'Spider-man' comic book sold for 1 million," said Cross.
Yet even without a movie or a TV series, comic books have such a wide audience and can be about any genre or cultural milieu. And, there is a new movie or TV show premiering based upon some comic book series.
But Pantoja noted, "there is something more fulfilling in reading the comic books, than in the movies or TV series," said Pantoja. The detail in a comic book is a work of art, he noted. Batman and others are on that scale of a major epic. "The TV show from the 1960's is more comical yet when you read the actual comic book series, it is gritty, more like film noir, realistic," he said.
Pantoja noted that comic book stories tend to look at "gray areas in life, it is not so simplistic," he said. The villain may be tearing down the city or about to take over the entire world, but can the super hero make the right decision to save the entire world or just the city? "Or maybe for that episode he has to choose between saving the entire city or his girlfriend," said Pantoja.
The appeal of comic books is endless, inclusive, universal and yes enduring.
There will be a comic book convention this coming weekend March 16 to 18 at the Anaheim Convention Center. For more information about WonderCon and the upcoming Comic-Con International this summer visit the Comic-Con 2012 web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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