This was my first Comic-Con. I was excited because, like most American kids, I grew up reading comic books. My parents gave me an allowance that I would save up for a once-a-month trip to the largest city within an hour from us, where one of the stops was a used bookstore. It had that familiar old bookstore smell — somewhere between parchment and mildew. In the front of the store, underneath a few tables set up to display new books, were cardboard boxes filled with comic books. They weren’t arranged in any discernible order, so you had to sort through every single book to find that one gem. I would run over to those boxes and spend an hour on the floor hunting for hidden treasures, for the comic books I wanted to spend my allowance on.
As a side-note: I’m starting to feel like that’s a feeling from a fading era. To be a collector in the yester-years, you had to put in the work to go out and search for gems. You had to dig. Nowadays, it seems like you can just order anything you want on eBay. Digging is an art that takes patience in an era of impatience. Wow, I feel old writing that.
Anyway, I amassed a decent collection; though certainly nothing to brag about. Just lots of X-men, Spiderman, Cloak and Dagger, What If, Secret Wars, Punisher, etc. (In case you’re wondering, Punisher is my favorite comic.) But then I got older. I moved on from Lee and Kirby, to Tolkien and L’Engle, and by the time I’d gotten to Asimov I guess I’d forgotten all about my childhood comic book obsession. That is, until the Marvel resurgence of the last decade, spurred on by the mega-blockbusters.
My childhood came rushing back to me when I found out my wife had secured me tickets for Comic-Con. My experience can be summed up in two words: my people!
I’ve almost never been so happy as I was at Comic-Con! I didn’t get half of the references around me, and I didn’t see even half of what was going on around me, but I’ve never felt so at home at the mecca of Nerd Culture.
Nerd Culture is all about being obsessively passionate about something obscure; and then finding people who share that same passion. Comic-Con is like the meeting of the minds for obscure passions. You know that feeling of awe you get, being around someone who’s truly
passionate about something? That’s all of Comic-Con.
A bit of it feels like a utopia — like what society should be.
Just people being themselves, engaging with each other over shared interests, and dressing like their favorite superheroes. I’ve felt this way every time I’ve been around cosplayers. I don’t cosplay,
myself, but I can see the appeal; and it just looks so fun and free and awesome!
Cosplay is dressing like a character. Some people just wear some Mickey Mouse ears or an Infinity Gauntlet, and that’s fine. But some people get really into it. They perfect every nuance of a character’s outfit. But more than that, they practice being that character! They work on poses, and they work hard at getting it right. Then when you see someone and you love their costume, you can ask them for a picture! And they get so into it!! You don’t just snap a picture — you give them a moment to get their costume together and strike their pose! Oh, it’s so awesome. I was just jumping around on cloud 9 the entire time, admiring the costumes.
Why can’t society be like that? Why can’t we all just wear anything we want, whenever we want, without all the societal pressure to blend in? I mean, why can’t I just go to work dressed as Doctor Doom all the time?
Also at Comic-Con, I was constantly around celebrities; though, admittedly, I have very little to say about the experience.
I’ve never been one to be star-struck, or even star-interested for that matter. When I was 7’ish, at the height of the popularity of the TV show Blossom, I stood in line to meet Joey Lawrence and I got him to sign a little autograph book I had. I thought I was going to be meeting tons of celebrities, so I’d need to keep all their autographs in one place, so I had this little book for all of them.
Spoiler alert: Joey Lawrence is the only autograph I ever got in the book.
Anyway, when he signed it, he gave me this look of like … “why is a 7-year-old boy getting an autograph from Joey Lawrence?” I don’t know why, Joey Lawrence. I don’t know.
Ever since that moment, I’ve just not been into the whole celeb thing. I have no idea what’s going on with the Kardashians; with any band I listen to, I have zero idea what the members look like; and even if I recognize an A-lister, I probably don’t know their name. (No offense,
A-listers that are reading this. It’s not you; it’s me.)
That being said, at Comic-Con I was constantly looking for Adam Savage! Of course, Adam Savage is known for his elaborate cosplay costumes at Comic-Cons; and I spent days, literally days, just hoping to see his costume this year. I thought I spotted him a few times; but
each time turned out to be bogus. Each time I played it really cool, though. I wasn’t going to give it away and ruin the fun for him. I got’cha back, Adam. I’m not even sure if he was there this year. Sigh. Maybe next year?
For more on Comic-Con check out Cici’s take on the whole experience in her article “Lessons From my First Comic-Con”.
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