In a recent article on the comic-book witch hunts of the 1950s, The New Yorker’s Louis Menand labeled the classic 1950s comic book The Vault of Horror “just dumb.” If the Pulitzer Prize winner dares to show his mug at the New York Comic Con this weekend, he can match wits with guest of honor Grant Morrison, whose sprawling oeuvre includes deeply moving tales of animal exploitation (WE3, Animal Man) and entertaining mindfucks (Seaguy, The Invisibles) that stretch the boundaries of characterization and narrative in ways even the most erudite essayist might appreciate. Comic books are still under siege from the puritans, so Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fame) will do a benefit reading for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (which is currently representing a Georgia retailer who inadvertently provided minors with a history comic containing nude images of Picasso). And with hundreds of exhibitors offering pop-cult wares, there will be plenty of those “dumb” comics available, too.

April 18-20, 2008