Kris Kramer, Alistair McIntyre and myself just had a very successful weekend at the Dallas Comic Con. Not successful in that we’re all now super famous and can quit our day jobs, but we all left feeling incredibly positive about the whole thing. But I don’t want to write about our personal experiences at the Con, I want to write about what really happens there.
Every time there’s one of these big comic book conventions, various late night talk shows or radio programs always try to make fun of the nerds that dress up and pretend to be the characters they love. Now, I’m not bashing that, because they’re usually pretty funny; but they miss the point of why these people do it. They don’t do it to feel like they’re a super hero, they genuinely do it to entertain other people. Most of them take great joy in it.
When you see a whole family dressed up like the Super-family (and I mean they went all-out on the costumes) and having to stop every five feet so someone else can take their picture, they’re doing that for other people. They’re trying to get to another booth to check out the vendor’s wares, but they happily indulge every stranger that comes up to them. Another little girl, that couldn’t be more than four and dressed like Supergirl, was striking her pose as soon as someone got their phone out. I’m sure they like the attention, but they also know that most everybody there actually appreciates their efforts.
There’s a sense of happy camaraderie at these things that I don’t think you can find at any other kind of convention. Political conventions are often tainted with angry extremists from either side, and seem to be brought together only to stand against the other side. Literary conventions get split into groups, and there’s always a few folks there that think their tastes are somehow more refined than yours. But comic book conventions are a different breed. Even the Star Wars and Star Trek fans get along. The steampunk cosplayers seem to have no problems at all with the zombie crowds. It’s a menagerie of classes co-existing on a level unheard of by any sociologist out there.
I mean that, you’ve got literature fans of every genre that don’t look down their nose at you if you happen to like dragons and magic over Tom Clancy. And right behind them comes someone that wouldn’t even read a free book. There goes a big buff dude in a Call of Duty t-shirt beside a scrawny kid with a pair of hobbit feet. What’s this, the Picard supporter is having a good-natured debate with a Kirk man? And a hot chick is smiling at every awkward dude there?!
It’s all about where they are. It’s the comic book convention. You’re going to see some folks that haven’t left their house in a while, and right by those is the soldier having a good time with his family before he ships out in a month. But they’re all drawn together by their love of worlds that exist apart from our own. Worlds of heroes, where the good guy always wins. Worlds where every woman is beautiful and every man backs his words with action. And everyone gets along because they walk down the aisles and can see that there’s room enough, even in a convention center packed with people, for everyone’s beliefs. And the angriest guy there is the one that wore an eyepatch because Nathan Fillion canceled due to pinkeye. And even he seemed to be having fun.