AISLE SEAT 2.0.65
By Marc Mason
By this time next week, Comicon 2011 will have been in full swing for a couple of days. On a personal level, my feet will be hurting. A lot. I will be wildly short on sleep. My hostility level towards my fellow geeks will be at a 12 on a 10-point scale.
And I’ll be loving every minute of it.
This will be my 12th consecutive San Diego and 13th overall. Every year at the show brings something different- a different dynamic, some new friends as the circle expands, a change in the attitude revolving around the show itself. No matter how many times you go, there’s a freshness to the experience, which is one of the reasons why everyone who considers themselves a geek or nerd should try and go at least once.
However, that isn’t really why you should go to Comicon. It certainly isn’t why I go to the show.
When people ask me why I go, my immediate answer is “to see my friends.” Our little group is spread out across the country- Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona, Washington, California. It takes a special occasion to bring us together, and generally that occasion is Comicon. A perfectly legit reason to head over to the show. If pressed further, I will discuss my love of the city of San Diego. If I could live anywhere in our fine nation, it would be in San Diego. I’ve loved it since the first time I visited there in 1991. I love the weather, I love the ocean, I love the downtown area, I love Mission Beach… I could go on and on. Really, if you’re going to Comicon, you should make time to explore the city itself. It has a ton to offer. But at the heart of why I go to Comicon, and why I recommend the experience to others, is the comics themselves.
Sure, the last few years of the con have been dominated by the Hollywood studios. I’ve certainly done plenty of press events for those sorts of things. Many geeks fear that comics are being “pushed out” of Comicon, and while I can see their point, I don’t fully agree with it. There are still tons of comics to be found at the show, whether through publishers, retailers, or individual artists, and let me tell you, I bust my ass to find them. Finding a new, good comic is something worth the effort to do, if only because of what comics can do for a reader.
As a young child, I read a lot of comics. Did they capture my imagination? You bet? But those comics, the ones I read in my formative years, did so much more than that.
Comics, you see, made me want to better myself.
Maybe it was a word I didn’t understand. The writers didn’t dumb down the books, which meant I was occasionally sent to the dictionary to learn something. In turn, my vocabulary grew, something I still get remarks about to this very day. Maybe it was the way that comics presented a clear sense of right and wrong; whenever I found myself wavering on such issues as a boy, comics were a guidepost reminding me of the proper way to comport myself. My best pal was the kindest, most honest and forthright guy I knew and he still is- a product of his parents for sure, but the steady diet of Superman comics didn’t hurt, either.
Or maybe it was just in how comics gave me characters I could relate to. The X-Men were mutants- outcasts that didn’t fit in with everyone else. As I sat in our class for gifted and talented students, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to see the similarity. We were different. We did have powers and abilities that set us apart from our fellows, and plenty of them sneered at us for it. But all I needed to do was crack open a comic and I could read about characters just like us. It helped. That much I can tell you.
I’ve never forgotten what comics did for me as a kid. My relationship with the medium is far different at this point in my life, but the spark of those early years remains alive. So I prowl the floor at Comicon, looking, ever searching, for that next great comic. Not just for myself to read, but that I can stand on my soapbox here at CWR and tell the world that they should to. Because you never know who is reading- the next kid who needs the inspiration and comfort the medium provides is only a click away.
See you at the show.