Sometimes, when I see an man or woman with an especially striking face, one whose uniqueness is considered compelling or beautiful in the adult world, I try to imagine what he or she may have looked like as a child or a teen. Virtually all babies and toddlers are cute, but as kids grow into their pre-teen and teen years, those with very unique or unusual features–very prominent cheekbones, an unusual eye shape or color, a strong jaw, a large forehead or, for people of color, exceptionally dark or an exceptionally light skin–are ridiculed and marginalized by their more ordinary looking peers. For those who find themselves the brunt of such taunting, it is probably difficult to know that one day these same features will very likely attract the attention of another set of peers–college classmates, co-workers, modeling scouts, potential romantic partners–but for a very different reason, because in the world of adults, their unique features will be seen as beautiful, valuable, and rare.
From the Comic-Con Sketchbook: This drawing depicts three friends I spotted waiting in line for the Guild Wars panel. If you are unfamiliar with Guild Wars (as I was) it is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game or MMORPG that–unlike its competitors–does not charge its subscription fees. Consequently, it has developed a deeply loyal fan base, including the three men in this picture.
In today’s post I’m returning to my 2011 Comic-Con sketchbook. This drawing depicts one of the many hopefuls I noticed each day as I walked past the waiting area for the annual portfolio review. I always marvel (no pun intended) at the commitment and optimism of these folks, who spend a significant chunk of their Comic-Con weekend waiting in line to have their sketches reviewed by a comic book company editor,all in the hope that they will be picked up as an illustrator.
Some Comic-Con attendees express their love for comic books, fantasy, animation, and sci-fi through their fanatical participation in role-playing games, others through dressing up like their characters, and still others through their encyclopedic knowledge of every aspect of the fantasy world in which their favorite characters live. The men and women who sat waiting patiently for a portfolio review represent still another type of fan, the kind whose love for the medium or genre has driven them to develop skill and expertise in the creation of their preferred art form. Such is the case, I’m sure, with other fan gatherings, like the various Atlanta’s A3C, and Austin’s South By Southwest. While many of the aspirants to hip-hop, rock, and country music stardom desire to take center stage, though, Comic-Con’s legions of aspiring comic book artists, costumer designers, animators, and production designers prefer to work behind the scenes to create the imaginary figures and landscapes that shape others’ fantasies and dreams.
I spent this afternoon at the 2011 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. When I entered the conference hall, I saw people everywhere. Everywhere there were conference attendees chatting, thumbing through their programs, and rushing to the next session. There were a few islands of seating and those were the only places where the pace seemed to slow. That was where people went to take a break from the bustling all around them. And then there was this guy, leaning against the wall near the elevators to the mezzanine, standing quite still, and with his eyes closed. I could tell he was not asleep, but I was intrigued by his curious choice to take a standing time out. He was there for at least 15 minutes, because I saw him there on my way to the free coffee station, and on my way back; and he seemed incredibly trusting. His laptop bag was on the floor at his feet, but he did not seem at all concerned with the possibility that his computer might get stolen. Nor did he seem to care that someone like me just might stand and stare at him for a while, with the intention of drawing him later. For that I am grateful.
MacArthur Bart station, 4pm, standing in line at the hotdog stand.