With no pictures, because those are in my camera and I’m only half awake. Also in my camera are dorky (trust me) pictures of younger son and husband in the time-traveling delorian and since they paid to pose with that, if I accidentally delete them I’ll NEVER be forgiven, not even after I die.
So, this was my first comicon. I’ve been aware it was going on, but you guys know what the last 5 (10) years have been health wise, so I kept losing track of where/when it was, and didn’t go.
As I was trying to collect my thoughts, I ran across a facebook post from my son who said that the difference between this and cons he’d attended before is not one of scale, but one of intrinsic makeup.
That is, comicon isn’t worldcon, or world fantasy, or a local con scaled up. Comicon is its own animal, a different creature entirely.
Now, I spent most of the time inside the Wordfire booth (it’s where my publisher wanted me to be and I take that seriously) but I saw a lot of the con go by, and I got reports from the boys as they came to check in/see if I needed anything/escort me to panels.
Imagine a typical science fiction con. Most of the people who attend those are habitués. Science fiction and fantasy are at the center of their entertainment choices. They either have attended a con before, or have wanted to. They are part of a relatively small and incestuous community that means they probably know three or four writers by first name, and that meeting writers is not an earth-shaking event.
Comicon is… different. It’s like taking that small con, and then throwing open the doors and inviting the world in. It’s the equivalent of shouting “If you even read a couple of sf/f books, or play a couple of sf/f games, or love a couple of sf/f movies/series a year, come on in, we love you.”
The most common answer when someone came to the Wordfire booth looking for something to read and we asked “What do you like to read?” was “Everything.”
It’s been said that SF/F won the culture wars and the vast masses are all geeks now. This is not… Precisely true. More accurate would be saying that due to tech jobs and other perks of an increasingly technological society, it’s hard to despise those who make it work and, unbelievably and often sideways, a certain patina of cool has associated to geek pursuits. This means people have integrated some of SF/F geekdom into the potentials for their amusement. They are not SF/F geeks as the ones who used to attend conventions are. This is not their life and heart. It is just something they enjoy. That means they might also enjoy mystery or romance or even stuff that’s unclassifiable.
I realize this is at the heart of the trufan/not trufan controversy, but here’s my take: for some of those people, over time, SF/F MIGHT become the favored means of entertainment. And even if it doesn’t, it will be one of their means of entertainment. Which means the field, including books, games and shows, will be wide and healthier and more diverse (in the real sense of appealing to a multitude of tastes) and therefore attract better writers and game designers and producers, which means for those who are trufen there will be better and more varied fare and you might not be looked at quite so askance for your geekdom obsession.
Is that enough justification to let the great unwashed in? Rolls eyes. They’re not asking your – or even mine, which is good, since I don’t care – permission to come in. They are in. And it doesn’t matter how much you love something, you can’t demand someone love it as much in order to share it. That is a kindergarten dispute, and you should have got over those feelings of possessiveness over your toys around the time you were potty trained.
Like them or not, the people who are only part-time sf fans are in. You can sit in your corner with your hands over your ears saying “lalalalalalala” or you can get to know them. Having spent the weekend hanging out with them, I can tell you they’re fun.
And now a quick and incomplete summary, before I shower and go paint walls.
Diversity: if you’re looking for the only type of diversity you can track visually, this is possibly the most diverse con I ever attended. My skin tone when normal (right now I’m sort of pale, the result of illness and WAY too much time indoors) tracked around medium, I think.
Denver is not an incredibly racially diverse city, and I think that Comicon was MORE diverse than the city.
Acceptance: Okay, so Comicon had more normal people, more of what our forebears in fandom would call “mundanes” even if in costume, but our calm acceptance of the odd and the very odd remained. I saw more same-sex couples holding hands there than anywhere else I’ve been. And no one really gave a d*mn. And mixed-fandom couples too. (I’m still trying to get over Thor and zombie nurse holding hands.)
Youth: I felt old. No. I mean that, and not only because I’ve been so busy running between houses that I haven’t had time to color my hair, (it’s been gray since I turned 28.) No. My kids in their twenties tracked median age for that con. There were any number of kids wearing the “adult” pass who probably had to be driven there, due to being too young.
Readers: This surprised me. I expected a lot less enthusiasm for reading/books/literary track. As is, I’d say about half the people there were avid readers. (This is judging not just by interest at the booth, but by conversations overheard.) What this means is that outside the hard-core of SF/F dedicated readers there’s a MASS of readers wanting to find SOME SF/F works to read.
As someone who reads everything, including the back of cereal boxes and instructions for machines she never owned, I don’t care what else they read if they read my books. It’s not my job to police other people’s lives.
The bad is mostly personal. I found out that in these years when I’ve been ill and not doing cons as much I’ve become a true introvert. Being around people just beat the ever loving tar out of me. I’d get back to the hotel room and feel like I’d run a marathon. I think painting walls and sanding floors is less tiring. I don’t remember being that tired since I came back from Portugal with younger son and due to delays and reroutings was up for almost 48h straight.
This bad is of course a solvable problem and I’m ALMOST recovered. (Instead of showering, I might head back to bed after this post.)
Panels are angled differently -This was harder for my sons to adjust to. The how-to-write and how-to-do-art panels were far more …. Amateur oriented. I had to explain to them that anyone going to one of those at worldcon and world fantasy is “committed.” They’ve probably read how to books, might have attended other panels/workshops/etc. A lot of the people attending these at Comicon are just attending to see if they had an interest. Of course not just the level but the thrust will be different.
Accessibility – You’d think with that many people attending, the artists and writers would be less willing to spend time talking to you. However, this was the opposite, and Robert got a very nice art lesson from a professional illustrators. She took time to show him how to merge the forms to draw a tiger-girl construct.
The energy – It’s very fast, all the time. Which is probably why I’m so beat.
Quickpass – being newbies we didn’t know about these, which meant younger son couldn’t get into the stuff he really liked.
They had a “Diversity” track. Yes, I realize this is a fad. You have to talk about the lack of diversity to be diverse, or something. (Rolls eyes.) This was probably the most diverse con I’d ever seen, (not just in terms of skin shades, but in terms of who the attendees were) and it boggles my mind that anyone would feel a need to go talk about how things needed to be more “diverse” (by which they mean mostly external characteristics) and microaggressions and stuff. However, whatever floats your boat. The con seemed very accepting of different fandoms, and I guess fans of racial/gender/other grievance are welcome also. I don’t know if there were enough of them to justify a whole track, but whatever.
Writers were stars – I got more of the “I am never going to wash the hand you shook” treatment there than anywhere else I’ve attended. It startles me more than a little, first because I’m not that big, and second because eh. I’m just a chick who writes stuff.
On the good side I got to meet any number of you. Sean Golden for some reason kept ducking under my radar and I forgot who he was from one time to the next. And I don’t remember the names of every Hun I met, mostly because see how the whole thing was exhausting, but I remember Byron and his little daughter cosplaying Murphy in Dresden files.
Those who identified themselves as blog readers got carped. There will be more of this at Liberty con. (Wicked grin.)
Big Enough to Distort business for miles around – I loved all the signs that said “welcome geeks” or “Denver is nerdtown” or whatever.
My Son – No, seriously. Apparently my older son is weird. He escorted me into the con yesterday morning. (Because if you send me in alone you’ll never see me again, unless you happen to cross my path as I’m completely lost, living off fountain water and dropped snacks for months.) He was wearing his normal attire: button down, dark pants, tie, fedora and trenchcoat. I was wearing a t-shirt with a vest embroidered on it (last day of con and trying to be comfortable.)
As a car slowed down for the crosswalk near us, someone looked out the window and said, “Oh, yeah, comicon is this weekend.”
And that was the unkindest cut of all, because we were wearing what we might have worn any other weekend in Denver.
Perhaps one of Robert’s former teachers was right and we ARE comic book characters.