Conventions, and most notably San Diego Comic-Con, have become very popular in the last few years with some form of a con popping up in most every major city. The popularity in comic book based movies have driven a lot of this (and the subsequent rising popularity of comics) but for the diehard geeks, cons have been on the radar for a long time now. As a kid, I remember seeing advertisements for San Diego Comic-Con in my comics and dying to go, but trying to convince my parents to spend our family vacation on a comic convention just wasn’t happening.
Ten years ago I had the privilege to attend SDCC and I instantly fell in love with it. I have gone every year since then. One of the things I love to write about is con culture and how it has taken off. But more important to me then the popularity issue is the bigger picture behind it all. Why do cons matter? I’ve narrowed it down to three main reasons.
The first is not celebrating pop culture, but celebrating the creators of said culture. Honoring the man or woman behind the man or woman, if you will. For every Marvel movie, there has been a slew of writers, artists, inkers and pencilers working for years behind the scenes creating the stories we loved to read long before they were movies, TV shows or video games. Obviously, it is a great opportunity for fans to meet their creative heroes, get autographs and tell them how much we love their work. But it is more than that. The fan-creator relationship is a special and unique one. The love goes both ways and for creators it is a great chance to connect with those that make their art possible. It is a chance for creators to so thank you to their fans. Being a creator can be a lonely endeavor and con’s often give them the encouragement and inspiration to keep creating.
Which brings me to my second point. Inspiration. I find attending cons to be one of the most inspirational things I can do. I love the culture, the art, the costumes, the writers and panels that go into the making of a con. For me, it is about getting in touch with my roots. The things I dreamed about as a kid. It’s Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and a seemingly infinite host of other worlds I read about and played with when I was young. It is a creative recharge that brings me in touch with the magic and energy I grew up loving so much. It is my childhood.
Finally, and most importantly, cons equal community. While being a nerd is pretty fashionable these days it wasn’t always the case. Many of us grew up feeling completely misunderstood, unappreciated and overlooked (and often bullied in the process). We felt that nobody really “got us”. A con is the one place we can all come together and it doesn’t matter who you are, what your fandom is or where you’re from. The playing field is level and everyone there gets it. It is the one place where we can be ourselves, be accepted for who we are and make cool friends in the process. As I have begun attending as many cons as I can, my favorite part now is the people I meet and I look forward to seeing them every year. True community is so hard to find these days and the geek community is a truly special one and for me, that is what makes cons great. Why they matter. To know we are not alone. So, if you are reading this I am pleased to meet you and look forward to meeting you in person at one of these things. Until then, rock your fandom with pride. I know I will.
Why do cons matter to you? Leave a comment below to let us know. You can follow me @nerdsinrecovery.