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Top Ten: Our Favorite “Comic-Cons” in Pop Culture

Top Ten: Our Favorite “Comic-Cons” in Pop Culture

We’re just days away from Comic-Con International, and to get us pumped for the pure joy that is San Diego during the con of cons, we thought of our ten favorite “Comic-Cons” from movies and TV:

Wonder Woman

In “Spaced Out,” the third season episode of the old Wonder Woman television series from 1979, Diana Prince goes undercover to recover some stolen crystals from a jewel thief at a Science Fiction Convention at a Los Angeles hotel. The con in this episode is as stereotypical as it gets regarding how America views geek culture, especially back then; all the conventioneers are your typical “Revenge of the Nerds” style dorks with pocket protectors and giant thick rimmed glasses who slobber all over Lynda Carter as if she’s the first female they’d ever seen. OK, in fairness, it was Lynda Carter.

There are some funny bits about “Paragon Studios” reviving their old series “Space Quest,” an obvious nod to how Paramount was filming Star Trek: The Motion Picture at the time this was made. Ironically, the guy who played the jewel thief in this episode was Rene Auberjonois, who some fifteen years later played Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet makes an appearance, and for some reason there are tons of references to Logan’s Run. Wonder Woman herself seems none too amused by all these nerds and their wacky sci-fi love, as if she herself didn’t come from an island of Amazons who are immortal and make invisible planes.

Smallville

On one of the lighter episodes of the soapy WB/CW series Smallville, Warrior takes Clark and Lois undercover at a Comic Book Convention to try to stop a kid from becoming a villain after he’s magically turned into Warrior Angel, Clark’s favorite comic book character. While the con in the show isn’t much to write home about, the episode does feature Erica Durance as both a Storm Trooper and a Wonder Woman-inspired “Amazonian Princess.”

Smallville_9x13_warrior_131

Chasing Amy

Kevin Smith knows a thing or two about Comic Cons, being not only a lover and connoisseur of all things geeky, but a writer of some notable comics himself, like Marvel’s Daredevil. Before he did that, however, he gave us a big screen portrayal of a comic book convention in his romantic comedy Chasing Amy, a movie which begins and end at a Comic Con, somewhere in New York City. Ben Affleck plays Holden McNeil, creator and artist of Bluntman and Chronic, which is co-owned by writing partner Banky Edwards, who is also his inker. The movie starts out with a surly fan who apparently waited a good long while in a line at a Comic Con just to berate Banky for being a “tracer.” Some people criticize Chasing Amy for its “lesbian meets and falls in love with a man” storyline;  we find the idea of a comic book fan not knowing what an inker does more unbelievable.

The Simpsons

Simpsons

There really isn’t any piece of Americana that the Simpsons hasn’t parodied in some form at this point, and the Sci-Fi/Comic Con got an early treatment from Matt Groening and company in the second season episode “Three Men and a Comic Book,” first aired back in 1991. In the episode, Bart sees the very first issue of his favorite superhero Radioactive Man for sale at a comic con, so he, Martin, and Milhouse pool their money together to buy it, only to lose it due to their inability to share it, which leads to it getting destroyed by the Simpsons’ dog, Santa’s Little Helper.

This episode is notable for introducing us to Comic Book Guy, owner of the Android’s Dungeon Comic Book and Baseball Card Shop, the epitome of every negative stereotype about comic book and sci-fans there is. (He is also 100% accurate.) The episode also introduces us to Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy, a character who would provide the name for a pop punk band years later.

Batman: Brave & The Bold

The episode “Legends of the Dark Mite,” which featured the 5th dimensional imp Bat-Mite, had a straight up parody of San Diego Comic-Con, in which it was called “the annual comic book, science fiction, fantasy, horror, animation, anime, gaming, action figure, vintage toy, collectable card game, pop culture, & tiddlywinks convention.” In the episode, Bat-Mite moderates a Batman panel at a convention in the 5th Dimension over the validity of some of the sillier aspects of the Brave & the Bold. One annoying know-it-all fan (cons are full of these, by the way) starts going on about how his Batman is a dark crime detective and this is not his Batman, yadda yadda yadda. The panel agrees upon a reply for Bat-Mite to read, where he says this: “Batman’s rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it’s certainly no less valid and true to the character’s roots as the tortured avenger crying out for mommy and daddy.” Bat-mite owned that dude.

Galaxy Quest

When the cast of a short lived TV show is kidnapped by an alien race that used their program as an example of how to live their lives, the stars must band together to remember what made being TV sci-fi heroes great. At the end of the film, the crew must crash land their space ship by being guided into a con’s parking lot by their fans to make for the most spectacular entrance in con history. By Grabthar’s hammer indeed.

Psych

The boys from Psych get psyched when a missing persons investigation leads them to TriCon, a comic convention Gus really wants to attend. The pair of private eyes end up being George Takei’s handlers and leverage his appearance at the con to draw out the perpetrator of the crime they’re investigating.

Paul

In the opening scenes of Paul, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost recreated Comic-Con to show their love for the con with no equal. The two Brits continue on from San Diego to meet an alien friend named Paul and go on a cross-country road trip to keep him safe. While their time at the con is short, when they revisit Comic-Con at the end of the film, we’re treated to Kristen Wiig in Boushh cosplay.

Film Title: PAUL

Fanboys

Kyle Newman’s love letter to Star Wars and its fans had one of the most tumultuous experiences getting from inception to screen, but that’s nothing compared to the scenes of our Star Wars-loving heroes fighting their way out of enemy territory at a Trek-Con in Vegas. While we don’t get to see much of the con itself, we certainly appreciate getting to see Seth Rogen take on a dozen Trekkers, including himself.

Entourage

The power of Comic-Con to excite a fanbase has been Hollywood’s excuse for traveling a few hundred miles south every summer. Entourage looks at the annual trip from the stars’ perspective and it’s not entirely wholesome. With his Aquaman movie in danger of getting awful publicity from a notorious blogger, Vincent Chase and company have to try to woo him by any means necessary. The highlight of the episode, though, comes when Drama connects with a former co-star whose spin-off show outlasted his own Viking Quest. “Victory!”

Got a favorite Comic-Con moment from movies or TV we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter or Google + pages.

Co-Written with Eric Diaz

Comments

  1. George says:

    I’ll second the nod to Supernatural. Not a comic-con, but the episode where they unknowingly walk into a con based on them? Hilarious!

  2. Lucy says:

    Definitely going to reiterate how awesome the Phineas and Ferb episode is. Ducky Momo is my friend!

  3. Brian Walton says:

    Lex and Clark bonded over their mutual love of the character Warrior Angel. Lex loved it more, but Clark was a fan too.

  4. liz says:

    Echoing the “Phineas and Ferb” love, that’s a funny episode.

    Also, Supernatural skewered cons (though admittedly single fandom cons, not really Comic-Con) in “The Real Ghostbusters”. Some fans find it too mocking, but I found it pretty true in its depiction of some elements of fandom.

    ]I remember a rather delightful scene with nerd-hacker Garcia going to a con in an episode of Criminal Minds. It wasn’t the focus of the episode, just something Garcia was doing before the plot kicked in, but there was Doctor Who cosplay and it was cute. It was nice to see something like that played as an ordinary part of a main character’s life, no different than going to a baseball game.

  5. Bill Boozer says:

    The Shatner SNL bit is classic, but the one that came to mind for me was from the brief run of the show Breaking In where the gang was hired to protect the only existing copy of The Goonies 2 movie. The movie was going to screen at ComicCon, but is in danger of being stolen by a super obsessed fan. Ex-Lex Luthor Michael Rosenbaum has one of the funniest food allergy reactions ever which transforms him into Sloth from the original Goonies.

  6. Seconded for “Borded to Death” episode only because they went the extra mile and got about a dozen REAL Brooklyn cartoonists (including me!) to “exhibit” at the show!
    http://robotchao.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/bored-to-death/
    http://ryandunlavey.tumblr.com/post/1581570988
    I got free food, everyone from the lowliest crew member up to the star actors were all SUPER nice, got paid for both myself and my artwork to be in the episode and I sat around drawing whatever the hell I wanted for 2 days. Easily the best convention I ever did.

  7. alex says:

    Um, regarding the Smallville blurb, I believe it was Lex Luthor that loved Warrior Angel, not Clark.

  8. Matt says:

    There was the Inspector-Con episode of Community, the full Comic-Con season of The Guild, and my favorite, the comic-con episode of Mission Hill, where the actor who played Ewok Villager #2 talks about how they would dance and clap until “Mr. Lucas blew the whistle.”

  9. Jim Sheridan says:

    Petunia-con from “Cerebus” or GTFO.

  10. Robin says:

    There was a great episode of Castle this year set at a Con – cameo from Jonathan Frakes and lots of Firefly references.

  11. Peter David says:

    “3rd Rock From the Sun.” The best moment was Jane Curtin looking at a Conehead.

  12. Gary Bravender says:

    What about Futurama? When Lrrr ruler of the planet Omacron Persei 8 shows up at Comic Con.When he gets there everyone thinks he’s just a fan dressed up for the costume contest..I wonder if Comic Con will still exist in 3010? Probably,Here’s hoping!
    http://www.comicvine.com/articles/futurama-attends-comic-con-3010/1100-141966/

  13. lynn laakso says:

    How about the Futurama episode “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences.
    It mentions Joss Whedon and has a great comment on FOX and cancellations.

  14. Gotta’ give a shout-out to the “Super Ray is Mortal” episode of the HBO series, “Bored To Death”, if only because I had the pleasure of being an extra on the scene. It features the “Brooklyn Comic-Con” in which Zach Galifianakis’ character is stabbed with an X-acto knife. It was a fun shoot as well as a good episode of a somewhat underrated series. If nothing else, I got to show the very handsome & always happy Ted Danson some of my work & I got a sketch from Dean Haspiel who was also a hecka’ nice guy indeed. Woo-hoo!

  15. Mari says:

    Best Dexter’s Laboratory episode: Dexter and two of his buddies get dropped off at a convention center that’s hosting a con for their favorite sci-fi show. However, they accidentally enter the wrong con and are trapped in the middle of a doll convention. They treat the experience as if they’re exploring an alien planet and hilarity ensues.

  16. Audrey says:

    There is also an episode of Numb3rs that takes place at a comic book convention. It guest stars Wil Wheaton and Christopher Lloyd. :)

  17. Alex L says:

    Castle’s comic convention episode directed by Jonathan Frakes!

  18. Autumn says:

    Not a fan of the Cleveland Show, but in the only episode I watch we are treated to an amazing depiction of SDCC where the true nerds battle against the studio execs for clogging the convention with non-nerd properties such as “Schwim Team”. A must see for any fan of conventions.

  19. Rebecca says:

    What about the episode of Castle where Nathan Fillion helped solve a murder at a Sci-fi con?

  20. Audrey says:

    William Shatner years ago on Saturday Night Live did a sci fi con parody. Still very funny. He made fun of himself (and his fans.)

  21. Three Toes of Fury says:

    .
    Great idea and great list!

    Here’s some others that jump to mind:

    * The classic SNL sketch with William Shatner (“get a life!”). Its brutal, brilliant, and probably the earliest ComicCon reference in pop culture.

    * Phineas & Ferb episode “Nerds of a Feather”. A hilarious cartoon which, like all amazing cartoons, transcends being ‘just for kids’ and throws in alot of adult appreciated humor. This episode is a great example as it centers around uber fandom and a battle between the fantasy nerds and the sci-fi nerds.

    * nothing specific jumps to mind but im sure there’s some good stuff from the Big Bang Theory. It should get at least an honorable mention for Sheldons back story of why Will Wheaton is his mortal enemy.

    Peace & Cosplay

    3ToF

  22. Aaron Davidson says:

    The chick in Chasing Amy wasn’t a lesbian, she was bisexual. She made that quite explicit during the film. I think it was when her and Affleck were on the swings and she said she always wanted to keep her options open when it comes to who to date. Maybe I’m wrong, and she refers to herself as a lesbian at some point, but by my recollection she’s supposed to be bisexual.

    Good list though!