Geeks Gone Wild: Comic Con Recap

Written By: Dawn - Jul• 30•14

Given all the sadness and violence in the world right now, I was happy to escape to, literally, another universe last week when I attended San Diego Comic Con International (aka Geek Mecca).

Geeks and nerds are enjoying a renaissance period right now due in part to technology integrating everyone’s lives, the popularity of The Big Bang Theory and the latest British invasion, BBC’s iconic Dr. Who. It’s cool to be a geek right now. Normally this would make me happy, but being on trend isn’t exactly what Geekdom is about.

Geeks are used to being a minority in their passions and are not prone to attracting attention (we are not Kardashian fans for frak’s sake). What we love most is sharing our love-fascination-obessseion-frustration and deeper exploration of comics, books, film, art and TV within the SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal genres (just to name the Holy Trinity). It’s not merely that lightsabers are awesome (they are, I own one) but how these genres tell stories we humans can relate to about life, loss, love and facing adversity. That the costumes, weapons and spaceships are badass is a bonus.

People like to poke fun of those of us who cosplay (dress in costumes within a particular franchise) as crazy freaks who need a life. Hmm… would any of those folks be daring enough to say that out loud in Oakland at a Raider game while standing in the middle of Raider Nation? And what about the girl who has had multiple  cosmetic surgeries in order to look exactly like Kim Kardashian? I dress up like a Jedi for a day and move on! (Okay, I move on to another costume but still…)

At the end of the day it’s all about celebrating stories and characters, which is something as a reader, writer and librarian (as well as a Star Wars fan) I can get behind.

This year’s Comic Con marked the most challenging year ever to be a fan in attendance. (In fact, someone surmised that sneaking into the Oscars would be easier than acquiring a pass to the con- not an exaggeration at all I’m afraid.) The event has become so big and so well publicized that the Muggles (my less-than-affectionate borrowed term for non-geeks) now turn out in droves. Several of the panels I attended this year addressed this issue. How do we bring in new fandom and still create a great fan experience?

I’m not sure you can. As the off-site programing continues to spread through San Diego’s Gaslamp District, it’s becoming increasing harder for anyone to do anything. Lines, crowds and congestion are consuming the convention and leading to all kinds of nasty talk about how the event has changed. (Thanks Hollywood!)

In my own five years of attending I’ve seen crowds grow, cosplay participation go down and more and more families from Kansas wandering around in downtown San Diego with frightened looks on their faces. When an event becomes “the place” to be for any and all, can it retain its uniqueness?

I can’t help but wonder if Comic Con is suffering from the same one-size-fits-all PC inclusion syndrome that we see with kids’ sports (trophy for being on the team), the demise of off-color humor (can’t offend anyone) and the never ending desire to feed positive self-esteem messages down everyone’s throat (That’s the best drawing ever son!).

And of course this leads to the next question. Is the geek community exclusive or inclusive?

Sounds like a trick question doesn’t it? But it’s the question we’re all asking ourselves while standing in line for 3 hours for an opportunity to sit on the throne chair from Game of Thrones. (Sadly I didn’t make it in time for that line.)

I guess I wouldn’t mind sharing the space with non or newer geeks if I felt like any of this mainstreaming improved people’s opinion of the geek community. I’m not sure it does though. It’s just too easy to overlook meeting new people or discovering a new comic book series when A-list celebrities are around and HBO will give out swag to all attendees in its panels.

So why go at all? Well, despite the craziness and crowds, there is nothing quite like Comic Con. There are experiences you can only have at SDCC and not at a smaller, regional con. (Like my hometown Phoenix Comic Con which is fabulous without all the fuss.)

Like this-

I really shouldn't be smiling when I'm this close to a White Walker.

I really shouldn’t be smiling when I’m this close to a White Walker.

 

and this-

The Headless Horseman can't tell that I'm smiling.

The Headless Horseman can’t tell that I’m smiling.

 

Defeating one of the Walking Dead zombies does call for celebration.

Defeating one of the Walking Dead zombies does call for celebration.

 

Running into Azog is no laughing matter!

Running into Azog is no laughing matter!

 

So what’s my takeaway? In my perfect world I’d only like people to come to Comic Con who want to experience it, not those who just want to “see what all the fuss is about.”

So if you can’t name at least one of the four houses at Hogwarts or you don’t have a character in a RPG or you have no idea what a Mandalorian is, you might want to stay home.

Even Godzilla knows there are limits to where he can go.

Notice You Must be as Tall as This Sign to Attack the City, The Far Side

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2 Comments

  1. BFF says:

    It’s too bad that it’s losing a bit of it’s charm. But being able to defeat a Walking Dead zombie would seriously be cool for anyone!

  2. Dawn Simon says:

    Nicely written post–super interesting to ponder. I’ve only been to our local comic con (Emerald City Comicon), but I’d love to go to THE comic con in San Diego. (I went to school down there, btw, and grew up in LA County, so it’s crazy that I’ve never been.) I love your pics! 🙂

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