Nearly forty years ago I went to my first comic book convention.
It was fun, and quite small.
Next I would attend a Robotech convention, it was fun, and even smaller.
A few years later I went to my very first San Diego Comic-Con.
At the time it was held in the old San Diego Convention Center downtown, I’m not old enough to have attended in the hotel where it first began. But that year, it was quite an amazing experience for the kid who had his hopes set on becoming a comic book artist.
Two things stand out in my memories of my first Comic-Con. Getting inking lessons from Dick Giordano, (especially how to create ‘Kirby Dots’) and hoping to meet one of my favorite writers. Unfortunately, he missed his panel, afterwards a few of us attempted to have him paged, but he never showed.
Many years later I spotted him across the lobby of one of the San Diego Comic-Con hotels and I rushed across to talk with him. I told him how much his comics, his writing, his research, influenced the young boy that I was and the man I am. That was probably one of the best experiences of all my Comic-Con visits.
The year of my first San Diego Comic-Con the attendance was 5,000.
That sounded like a massive amount of people at the time, but it is nothing compared to the 120,000 to 160,000 that have attended each year over the last decade or so. Many more who hang out in the Gaslamp District.
In over 30 years I only missed San Diego one time.
I’ve always been a loner geek, and in a massive con crowd even more so. I’d have to find someone to go with me.
With in weeks of when the woman who would become my wife moved to Southern California, I took to her to her first convention. To the San Diego Comic-Con. She’d later say I should have started her off small, but she enjoyed it all the same, and has gone with me every year since. Both of us with Pro-Badges now.
This year things are different, for all of us. Convention season hasn’t been canceled; it has gone virtual. The Convention Center, Exhibit Hall, The Masquerade, the Panels, they all exist in The Cloud right now. On YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and more.
For San Diego Comic-Con they are now Comic-Con@Home. Wednesday, July 22nd. to Sunday, July 26.
It’s disappointing, but it’s not gone.
As for the future, no one really knows yet. Conventions will probably never be that large again, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s time that our love for comics, movies, video games, science fiction, and fantasy returns to being more intimate. Where a small group of fans can enjoy their shared love for a comic book, or good naturedly argue over how a movie didn’t quite get their favorite character just right, and not be crowded out and have to shout over one another. Where Disney Princesses and Transformers don’t have to worry about thousands of feet tramping on their costumes.
The Cons are about us, the fans, and our love of stories that exist in four-color comics, books, celluloid film, digital pixels, computer screens, smart phones, and much more.
Speaking of that love, and of our fandoms, I’d like to recommend something:
ONCE UPON A CON
As I write this blog I am finishing reading a book for the third time. It seemed to be the right book to read in the midst of this Con Season.
This book is a love song to comic and science fiction conventions, to comics and science fiction television, to fans and fandom, to just plain being a geek no matter who you are. Are you an actor, a writer, an artist, a blogger, or just a good old fan of an old TV series, you exist inside the impossible universe of Geekeralla.
While not being able to go to a con and need something to pull on your convention heartstrings, this book will do it.
Your Inner-Geek will thank you.