What draws people to comic book/sci-fi/anime/horror/whatever conventions? Is it the deals? The cosplay? The meeting people who are just like you? The body odour? Or, is it the celebrities?
Personally, I go mainly for deals on comic books, and the selection. I mean, when one place has all the comic book stores in the city it’s a lot easier to check them out there than subwaying around looking for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #42 at six different locations. But, I know other people who go to cons for camaraderie and seeing friends they don’t otherwise get to see. I have to admit, I sort of envy them and the sense of community they get from it. I mean, they have paid for the privilege of that feeling, but on the other hand I paid for the opportunity to dig through hundreds of dusty, dirty, smelly long boxes which is a significantly more solitary endeavour. For instance, while they discuss what’s new in the world of Anime the most I say to anyone is an annoyed grunt as a bypass a box that’s already occupied.
What really makes me curious, though, are the people who go for the chance to meet their favorite stars. I consider that a nice bonus, but there are very few people who I would go to a con for. Sure, I’ve shaken hands with Darth Vader and The Incredible Hulk. I’ve had comic books signed by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, and Tim Sale. I’ve said hello to Adam West, brushed past Michael Dorn, and cast chaste but meaningful glances at Morena Baccarin. But, those were never things that drove me to the con. On the other hand, I’ve given up on a line to meet an artist when I realize that the guy in front of me has a stack of 75 individual comics that he wants signed.
How much does an autograph really affect something? To be honest, I don’t even know why I bothered getting the autographs that I did. I guess it was just an excuse to spend a bit more time chatting with them. That’s really the more meaningful interaction. Talking to a person and telling them how much you appreciate their work seems to me to be a more powerful gesture.
Okay, now my exceptions. A couple of paragraphs ago I mentioned that there are very few people I would go to a con for. One of them is Stan Lee. He is the founder of the Marvel Universe as we know it. He was involved in the creation of some of the most iconic comic books of all time. He is a living legend who had a powerful impact on a medium that I am quite fond of. I was willing to shell out big bucks for a meet and greet with him when he came to Toronto a few years ago but those tickets sold out faster than I could pull out my credit card. I did go to a Q n’ A that he did, and that alone had me as giddy as McLovin at the Playboy mansion.
Another exception that is taunting me is coming up in a couple of weeks. It’s an onstage reunion of the principal cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That show is almost single handedly responsible for my all consuming nerdiness. I’ve seen every episode multiple times and it propelled me into a vast world of sci-fi and fantasy. I would love to go and watch them banter onstage for an hour or two as they bask in the adulation of me and a few hundred others. The only thing holding me back is that it’s in Calgary. For the non-Canadians reading, that’s on the other side of the country. Canada being the second biggest country in the world, that’s not exactly a daytrip (although, I’m sure the more wealthy amongst us have done it). But, I am seriously thinking about going. It’s burning a hold in my brain.
If you happen to be a benevolent millionaire and would like to make Graham Becksted happy he will do many unseemly things for airfare and a decent hotel. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 51st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.