I think that, if the world was a bit more like Comic-Con, we’d all be a little happier. – Matt Smith
Let me preface this article by saying that I, quite ashamedly, never really enjoyed comics until on into adulthood. My parents were not geeky folk, and not many people I was associated with in school were into comics. I never went to our comic shop, as we usually had one rotate in and out of town. All that I knew of some of my now most favorite characters I picked up from Saturday morning cartoons or film. It was past college when I first actually picked up a collection of comics, and found story, characters, and heartache of a totally new level that I had never been able to experience before. These characters, whether it be Marvel or DC, god or human, Autobot or Decepticon – these characters have molded our lives, and shaped our own stories.
I experienced my first proper comic convention earlier this year, and was fortunate enough to have a great experience with con-goers, staff, talent, and our own tech crew alike. I’m fairly certain I had been to a smallish convention as a middle-schooler, and then a con of sorts before with the original Geeks, but the experience I had at my first proper convention was one like no other. The excitement you get as you pour into a crowded convention hall full of cosplayers, celebrities, and regular people is one that cannot be reproduced anywhere else; not even a sporting event. It’s almost like Geek Christmas for those that wait and wait for the opportunity to go and meet their favorite celebrities or find those childhood toys you lost years ago. These fests of fandom highlight and celebrate each and every single person that walks through the gate; these are safe places for those looking to express themselves in ways the outside world doesn’t understand. Cascades of Storm Troopers, real Ghostbusters, and Power Rangers of every shape and size know that their presence is wanted, expected, and desired.
We’ve been fortunate enough to connect with some great people at conventions: Adam Prince, who has the best Batsuit I’ve ever seen, some of our childhood heroes, and a few podcast friends or two. It doesn’t seem like it’s mattered where people have come from, what their day job was, or what they were super passionate about, the general feeling is that of acceptance.
In a perfect world, every convention is a safe haven for all con-goers, but as lots of people discovered this past weekend, that isn’t always the case. One of our convention friends Natasha – the Kentucky Geek Girl, released an article earlier this week highlighting a convention gone horribly wrong. Conventions are a HUGE undertaking, and it takes a lot of work to pull off a great one, so the last setback the geek community needs are conventions crumbling before a ticketholder’s eyes, and watching themselves and the talent getting the blame for bad organization and planning.
The Geek community needs more conventions; yes, more. Not horribly done, poorly organized cons, but ones that entice and encourage all forms of geeks to come out from behind their monitors and cosplay, line-ride, and geek out together. The geek culture is growing and spreading like Wildfire so it’s time that one of the most beloved shared interests of all of our collected fandoms respond with it. Millions, yes millions, of people will walk through gates at Wizard World conventions all over the country this year, not to mention SDCC is growing larger each and every year. It’s time for the larger, regional areas of our country to stand up for geeks and comic and toy conventions, and do them properly; celebrate geekdom for what it is.
By this time next year I will have been and reported to all of you JUGheads from SDCC 2014; my own personal “geek-cation”. We’ll scrimp and save all year long just to go, report back, and say we were there. We’ll have done several other local and regional conventions by then as well. I tell the other Geeks quite often that conventions are “where the people are”, our fans, JUGheads-in-waiting, and where the lifeblood of our geek culture shows up all across the country weekend after weekend.
The geek culture is alive and well. No matter what sort of convention experience you have had in the past, recent or not, now is the time to stand together as geeks, nerds, cosplayers, and regular folks, and support comic conventions. I encourage you find a local convention and support it as best you can. Take time to build your own favorite superhero costume, show up, and experience the geek community for all it has to offer. Give feedback as to how you can make conventions better to those that run them. Help make your geeky communities around the county, and the world, a growing and thriving community, one convention at a time.