STORY SEPARATION: There are many mash-ups and unlikely meetings in the fictional worlds of books and films and comics and music, but there remains a certain school of thought that particular areas of literature and specific concentrations are over in this one corner, while loopier, more outlandish flights of fancies is across the hallway, totally separate. Thank goodness that the people at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas and the organizers of the Salinas Valley Comic Con aren't into putting different disciplines in distinct trays, trays that are strangely far from one another. In fact the Comic Con, which would imply, by its very name, a wide smorgasbord of storytelling styles, has landed at the scholarly gem of an author-focused center for its 2014 outing. Date is Friday, Feb. 7, and that's the evening time, making this a petite but pow-packing night of speakers, ideas, fun, and, yep, some unlikely mash-ups.
SUCH AS... a panel called From "The Grapes of Wrath" to "Wrath of Khan" -- How Literature Has Influenced Pop Culture. Neato, yes? Yes. That's tying it into place, which you've got to applaud. You also should probably applaud the tricked-out DeLorean set to stop by the convention. Yep, it is a "Back to the Future" replica and, yep, it comes with a flux capacitor (though you probably don't want to leave Feb. 7 or Salinas, since you'll be having too good of a time). Comic book companies and a few speakers will speak and there shall be artists and writers about and all of those traditional pop-y things you find at a comic-focused gathering. But two things to note: This is a single night, which we rather like. Totally doable, done, enjoyed in full. And number two? It is free. Hoo boy, now that is some sweet news. Yep, you can make a donation of five bucks, if you like, but that's optional. A night at the Steinbeck, hobnobbing with other comic enthusiasts and talking lit, too? If only there were other free, one-day-only comic conventions about. More, more, more of those, please.