I’ve just returned from the northern metropolis that is Spokane, Washington. The hard streets of Spokane needed a hero; someone to fight evil and stand up as a shining beacon of strength and decency. Maybe not the hero they deserved, but at least one they needed. I was not that person. I drove up in my so-normal-it’s-nearly-invisible Honda Civic, set up my table, made polite and unassuming conversation, and then quietly left at the end of the day. But at the end of that day, I knew I had made a difference to the city of Spokane. Because I paid $10 to park there and that money goes to the city. Unless that garage was privately owned, in which case I made no difference whatsoever.
Also when I left I had to drive around a bit because I couldn’t find the highway onramp. I feel like that’s not something heroes do. It’s not even something moderately-competent people do. But there we are.
I was there for one thing and one thing only: The 10th Anniversary Lilac City Comicon. More specifically, I attended said comicon to hock my wares like a sullen, crooked-toothed Brit selling pewter teapots on Portobello Road (it should be noted that my only experience with said road and market is from the movie “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”, but I remember the song being pretty good and I’ll watch anything with Angela Lansbury in it).
Here’s what my table looked like:
I had never been to a comicon before yesterday, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. My preconceived notions pretty much all came from TV and movie stereotypes of comicons; unwashed hordes of overweight, fishbelly-pale single men shuffling around, pushing up coke bottle glasses and debating through excess-spittle lisps about whether DC or Marvel has better comics. And, to be fair, there were a few of those in attendance.
But mostly, there were people of just about every stripe, excited to be around their tribe. Some of them were super hip-looking, attractive, and looked like they spent a lot of time in the gym. I was not one of those, either. If I wanted to break out into a sweat and feel bad about myself, I’d just re-file my tax return.
I have a confession: I know you probably think I’m the coolest guy in the entire world. I know I do. But it turns out I’m closer to the TV stereotype of a comicon goer than I am to the suave, debonair, James Bond-like image I’m sure you have of me. I’d be a dead ringer for James Bond if James Bond never killed, punched, or insulted anyone, if he slouched and dressed a little dumpy, and if he were played by Don Knotts.
But there’s at least one place where I walk with confidence and even bravado: Nerdville. The Nerdosphere can sometimes (unfortunately) be more snobbish and exclusive than a country club run by Robin Leach. Fortunately, I carry my nerd credentials around with me at all times, like a scarlet letter made of useless pop-culture references and obscure trivia. Don’t believe me?
-I can quote eight seasons’ worth of episodes of “The Simpsons”. Almost verbatim.
-I get genuinely excited about Ken Burns documentaries.
-I have seen every single episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.
-I used to go to Star Trek conventions. In costume.
-I have a Lieutenant Worf Commemorative plate.
-Oh, also I spent nine years writing and illustrating this dorky book called “Saturday”. That one’s a duesy.
Hold on a sec, I have to fend off ladies with a pointy stick.
So, in spite of having never been to this specific area code of Nerdville, I’ve lived in the city limits my whole life. Here are my observations of this particular corner:
-It’s hard to feel out of place at a comicon.
-Not knowing a lot of the cos-play characters made me feel old, like going to the grocery store and no longer recognizing any of the celebrities on the covers of gossip magazines. But the costumes were, for the most part, RAD. My favorite was the person dressed as Barf from “Spaceballs” (again, because I’m old). You can see a bunch of the costumes here:
-There are TON of talented people in the world.
-Sometimes I wasn’t sure if a person was in costume or not.
I’m not sure I’ll be a regular at comicons. I don’t know if “Saturday” fits there or not. But I was happy to sit at my table amongst a sea of tables full of cool stuff made by interesting people; the evidence of their strange and wonderful excitement and myopic pursuit of the stuff they love. Surrounded by people similarly disposed to love weird and obscure things. Some of them dressed to the nines and looking for all the world like a very large group of misfits who have shed the polo shirts and khaki pants of their mild-mannered, normal person disguises and donned their freak flags.
It was neat-o. That’s all I’m saying.