Before attending the 2011 Montreal Comic Con last weekend, I had never attended a fan convention of any kind. Not a comic con, an SF con, a Star Trek con, a Star Wars con, heck, not even a plumber or storm-door salesmen convention.
|Look, 25,000 geeky guys who all live in their parent's basements!|
Despite all my quintessentially geeky interests, I tended to avoid cons. Even when was I playing William Shatner in three hit productions of Star Trek: On Stage (and the occasional Trek themed improv show) back in the 90's, I would say, "Hey, I draw the line at conventions". That somehow made sense in my mind at the time; conventions were my own personal demarcation point between being a fan and being a totally obsessive nerdy fanboy with "no life".
|I'm not sure what was up with the whole Garfield thing.|
Sure, I have (both then and now) a wall full of movies and TV shows, an office populated with action figures and I regularly host soirées known as Geek Night...but...hey, hey, hey....let's not carried away here, okay?
Then something just clicked. When I saw the line-up for this year's con: Adam West, Burt Ward, Stan Lee and the most kitschy post-modern ironic guest of all, Gil Gerard (it's a Gen X thing, don't ask), I started giving the idea of attending some serious thought.
|He's the 70's Buck Rogers, for those of you under 40|
Around that time my blogging and article writing started showing some upward movement. My stuff was getting picked up by major national publications and some of the better known websites The path was obvious: I would attend the con to write about it. It was a plan that was productive and that would satisfy my long sneaking curiosity about what goes on at these things.
Once I landed my media accreditation, I decided on an angle for an article that was near and dear to my heart. The piece has not run yet so I'll stay mum on its contents for the moment. In addition, I could report on the activities of the likes of Stan Lee, Adam West and (if anybody cared) Gil Gerard.
I dunno what took me so long. The 2011 Montreal Comic Con was a blast.
In the course of my research, I got to talk to a many of my fellow attendees (though, really with an estimated 25,000 people attending, it was just a relative handful). I talked to more people at the con then I ever would have under other circumstances. I met met fans of age ranges, professions and cultural backgrounds that I doubt would have ever encountered in my own social circles, even the "geeky" ones.
What I came away with was, that like any group of people, you can not apply just one standard to comic and SF fans. Some there were comic book fans, some were into manga, there were the horror fans, the fantasy buffs, the Trek fans, the Star Wars fans, gamers, there were also fans of stuff I had never even heard of, some were fans of the superhero movies but had never read a single comic book (Mind.Blown.) and one guy I talked to who was there just to see the 1966 Batmobile.
|Holy cliched references, Batman!|
Many fans were in costumes (some more detailed or more obscure than others) but, overall, the majority of the crowd looked like any large group of people you might see in a mall on a Saturday afternoon (probably around Christmas time, given the size of the crowd).
At a time when previously obscure superheroes like Iron Man have become household names, when SF series actually win Emmy's and when the same writers and directors who worked on The Sopranos apply their talents to bringing the fantasy genre to HBO, this stuff has suddenly become pretty mainstream. The old geek cliches just don't stand anymore.
Another thing I got from fans (both the big ones and the more casual ones) was a strong sense of confidence and pride in their interests. Let`s face it, comic book and SF fandom is often negatively stigmatized in our society. I've never understood it personally. We live in a society obsessed with a bunch of guys hitting a piece of rubber around ice with a stick but I'm weird 'cause I'm into Star Trek?
|Security was pretty tight.|
And, yeah, there were some fans that were a tad more hardcore. Like, for instance, the 501st Legion, a Star Wars costume fan club that meets regularly to dress up as Jedis and Stormtroopers (just as an aside, I don't how anybody could spend two eight hour plus days in Place Bonaventure wearing a Chewbacca costume and not collapse but I digress). The incredibly detailed accuracy of their costumes is both stunning and, at times, a bit disturbing. To keep it in perspective, though, the 501st Legion does a great deal of community and charity work. I don't much of that so who am I to judge?
|Comic con attendees dressed up as comic con attendees|
After my experience at the 2011 Montreal Comic Con, one thing is for sure. It`s not gonna be another 47 years before I attend another con.
May the Force live long and prosper with you!
|At 88, this guy can still work an audience with the best of 'em.|