By Karina Castillo
In 1970 the first Comic Con, then called the Golden-State Comic Con, was held at the U.S. Grant hotel in San Diego. Over the span of three days the convention had over 300 attendees. This year’ ComicCon was held in the San Diego convention center over 5 days, Comic Con drew crowds of just over 130,000 people. All tickets were sold out within 93 minutes.
Last week I attended Comic Con Convention for the second year in a row. Even though I grew up with comic books I have to admit I was never truly a nerd about them. Sure, I liked them. I owned quite a few Betty & Veronica in my day, but was I a nerd? Not really. So why was I going to Comic Con? I was outsider.
Before the invasion of big brother Hollywood, ComicCon was a place for die -hard, know it all comic book fans to frolic in the fields of nerd-dom. People of all ages went because each one of them had a special place in their heart for not only comic books, but also anything and everything nerd-culture related. There were people who had seen every episode of Star Trek, who knew the exact date of the first appearance of Batman (and how much that issue was worth), and even the name of Frank Miller’s dogs (I’m assuming). This was a time where Hall H (the place where the big movie reveals happen) wasn’t even open to ComicCon. And although many elements of the original convention still stand strong, others seem to have permanently evolved the convention into a bloated multi-genre event, much to the OG nerds’ chagrin.
Now, although I can try and blame the massive growth of Comic Con on the whole “It’s hip to be a nerd” phenomenon, or the opening of Twilight which ushered in a hoard of Hollywood agents and preteen girls, the truth is: I’m the problem. People like me who don’t know the first thing about geek/nerd culture, other than having watched Power Rangers as a kid and enjoying the movie Sin City, invading like locusts to get a piece of the action. I didn’t know what the difference between a Comic Book and a Graphic Novel was. Yes I was a Batman fan from birth, but come on. Who isn’t? And still, I decided that I wanted to see what it was all about. So, last year, wide eyed and bushy tailed, I decided to tag along with my boyfriend who had attended the event for 11 years. And, I decided that because I was traveling with a veteran I would look like less of a poser.
Arriving in San Diego during Comic Con is…overwhelming. The sea of people stretching over the entire downtown area envelops you as you struggle to move inch by inch across street to the even more concentrated crowd in front of the convention center. You wait in line to grab your lanyard that you must keep around your neck at all times, and you’re on your way to the floor where thousands of booths sell books, memorabilia, t-shirts, and more. Down every aisle comic book and cartoon characters come to life with their swag bags draped over their shoulders and childlike smiles plastered across their faces. It is Disneyland for adults after all. I mean, where else can you hang out with celebs like Orlando Jones, Edward James Olmos, and Michelle Rodriguez while being dressed as Orlando Jones, Edward James Olmos, and Michelle Rodriguez?
This year the BF and I decided to go for two days instead of one because the truth is that although one day makes a bit of difference, one couldn’t possibly see everything at ComicCon in a week, let alone a day. And although by now I was a repeat offender, I still needed more schooling on this wonderful world of geek-dom. I was initiated, but not fully integrated into their world. I still felt like an outsider.
But something happens to you when you’re at ComicCon. Something fascinating, and a bit perplexing. As you walk down those fluorescently lit halls, bumping and bouncing off each stranger around you, you suddenly find yourself…geeking out. I took a picture with Sauron and squealed like a schoolgirl at the new Batman Arkham Origins preview. I drooled over the guy dressed as Wolverine and waited in line to see the Cyanide and Happiness creators. I bought a comic book! And I realized, amidst all the people I thought would see right through my pseudo-nerd persona, that I truly was a Nerd!
Ok ok, so I’m not a real, honest to goodness nerd. I don’t speak Klingon and I can’t tell you how many iterations of Superman there have been. But what I can do is tell you that I truly enjoy these artists’ work. And that’s what Comic Con is about. Aside from the Hollywood influence and geek-chic culture, ComicCon is about people from all walks of life who support magnificent content by incredible artists, that aren’t always given the respect they deserve. I realized that I wasn’t the one who was an outsider. We all were, together.
So, after two exciting and exhausting days we packed up our swag bags and headed home. On the train ride I revisited pictures I had taken and one in particular caught my eye. It was a ‘selfie’ of my boyfriend and I, walking amidst the very busy floor of the convention center, smiling our butts off. He’s got his lanyard around his neck and I’ve got a makeshift cape flowing behind me, and we’re having so much fun. I knew then why I, never one to claim the nerd moniker, go to Comic Con.
The answer is: I go to have fun.