How do you like your comics conventions? Comic-cons, anime conventions, book cons, “that thing where everyone dresses funny” – call them what you will, but there are several shared experiences among many attendees that I would like to highlight. Maybe some of these convention feelings come from my own neuroses, but the five following scenarios embody the sort of thought patterns that are often expressed in spur-of-the-moment tweets and could use some reflection here. If you have never been to a con and are looking for a Convention Survival 101 guide, allow me to direct you to Kristina Pino’s excellent advice.
Let’s take a look at some of the thoughts that may go through a con attendee’s head at various points in a show.
- No one in line cared as much as I did
I brought my favorite Wonder Woman trade for George Perez to sign and was at risk of spontaneous combustion from excitement for the past two hours of waiting! The folks in front of me in line brought entire longboxes of comics to get signed; okay, they’re hardcore collectors, that’s cool, even if they said Perez’s autograph will fetch a pretty penny on eBay. The person behind me grabbed a wrinkled $1 Teen Titans comic to get signed for a friend but said they’ve never heard of the Titans beyond their cartoon show. Was there anyone in this line I could actually geek out with? Was I the only person excited to actually meet the writer and artist?!
- I was not ready to actually meet my idol
My brain steadily sped up the closer I got to my favorite writer/artist/actor/personality. My Congressional Committee of Brain Cells put a hundred different questions, compliments, and anecdotes to a vote and decided on one of each to fit into the two minutes I’d have with my idol. Except in the moment of truth, I froze up and just declared my universal love like some sort of wedding proposal! Ugh I am a creepy little nerd and now my favorite creator knows it!
- I recognized everyone else’s cosplay but no one knew mine
Holy frijoles, check out that nine-foot-tall Iron Man armor! How is it moving?! I totally photobombed the lineup of gender-swapped Sailor Scouts, hairy legs and all. Then I got held up by the 501st Legion of stormtroopers, who were way goofier than I thought an imperial gang would be. I really liked having all these cosplayers around, but… it also would have been nice if someone called me out for matching their costume, or asked for a photo. This outfit took hours to put together and get all the details right, and I felt like a faceless fan in the crowd among all these A-list outfits.
- I was in the middle of nerd utopia and suddenly wanted to be far away from there
Every booth I passed featured a pair of hungry eyes waiting to make a sale, and everyone around me was hustling on their way to someplace else. My schedule looked so reasonable this morning, but I’ve only barely been to two things before lunch. Outside those convention windows looked like a sunny day. The con was fun for a while, but I I’d rather go do my own thing and get some fresh air.
- I’ve returned to work Monday morning and wish it was first day of the con again
My signed comics are in their boxes, the posters are in their tubes and frames, and my photos are uploaded to an online gallery to be revisited forever. Now I’m back to work like nothing happened! How am I supposed to talk to normal people like I didn’t meet my idol, take group photos with friendly and talented cosplayers, see sides of the city I’d never explored before, and fulfill all the geeky sectors of my mind that three days could fit. How will I contain my stories and truths around these boring normies?
Maybe the fangirls and fanboys at the con were all navigating these thoughts in their own way.
Maybe my idol was grateful to still have fans who visit.
Maybe the people who noticed my cosplay enjoyed seeing it and had to rush to catch a panel.
Maybe I should organize an outdoor event/meetup for the next show, for people who feel like I did.
Maybe there is no normal, only passing for normal, and everyone has a story to share.
What do you worry about in the middle of a convention? Have you ever felt your spirit flagging during an event you waited and prepared for months in advance? How did you manage your expectations versus reality? For example, did you grow/shrink your schedule, organize a meetup, take sanity breaks, or skip the usual bustle in favor of Hammock-Con?
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