I have attended many conventions in my life (albeit, work-related), but never a comic book convention. Prior to the popular guest spots of Vanessa G from Girls-Gone-Geek.com on the podcast, I always just assumed that comic book conventions were only for nerds, geeks and people obsessed with fictional characters.
After attending my first of one such convention – MegaCon – I have now learned that they are for, well…nerds, geeks and people obsessed with fictional characters…and that I am one of them!
The following is my account as a comic book convention virgin…so, please be gentle, it’s my first time.
First off, I feel the need to dispel a few preconceived notions about comic book conventions and the types of people that attend them. Contrary to popular belief, they are not – well, not entirely – attended by:
- Men who live in their parent’s basement and have never seen a woman’s…um, “Batcave”
- Social outcasts who lack the ability to interact in the real world
- Pimply prepubescent teens with masking tape holding their glasses together, sporting a pocket-protector
Despite the caricature popularized by John Hughes’ films in the 80’s, today’s nerds and geeks are easily the most sought-after demographic across multiple industries. This is evidenced by the many other huge “Cons” – such as ComicCon, SxSW and CES – which directly appeal to geek culture and help to dictate the direction of everything from electronics, movies, television and the entertainment industry as a whole. You see, the thing about nerds and geeks (of which I consider myself to be the latter), is that we are a highly vocal, passionate, committed and creative bunch…with disposable income.
‘Gerds’ (or if you prefer, ‘Neeks’) are almost always the first adopters of new technology and media. We are the most vocal in our support or disdain for something through our blogs, podcasts and Twitter / social media feeds; thereby driving popular perception and opinion. Not to mention being the most likely to create the next ‘Big Thing’ that you – and/or society – cannot live without.
In Plainer Terms: We are likely going to be your future Overlords…so be nice. 😉
Cosplay – or “costume play” – is something that is more specific to comic book conventions and one of the most entertaining, impressive and fun aspects to experience or participate in.
As Vanessa G often says: it is the place to, “proudly let your geek flag fly”, as fans dress up as their favorite characters…whether from comic books, video games, movies or television. Shannon (my girlfriend) and I, both continually remarked at how much we admired the dedication and creativity that went into many of the costumes that we saw this year at MegaCon, held in Orlando.
What was so much fun about the cosplay that we saw, was how committed each person was to their character! Most of those who dress up spend all year (and I would imagine, quite a bit of money) working on their costumes. Many also team up with friends and other fans…therefore, Batman (a personal fav) will also be flanked by The Joker, Harley Quinn, Bain, The Riddler, Robin, Nightwing and others associated with the Batman DC Comic universe…while always staying in character. 🙂
Cosplay is such a huge part of any comic book convention, that is is easily one of the most looked forward to aspects of the show. Those who dress up – happily and proudly – spend most of their time posing for photographs with fellow attendees.
I have included a full gallery of MegaCon photographs that I took at the bottom of this page.
Panels, Panels & More Panels!
Another big draw for conventions are the panels. Usually – depending upon the kind of Con you are attending – the panels will be discussions with experts in the industry, actors | producers | directors on a popular television show or movie, artists, editors and others who may be associated with the field.
Since we were only going for a day, I chose a few panels (from over 80!) out of the MegaCon panel schedule that we were interested in attending:
DC Comics: The New 52
- Last year, DC Comics made a huge announcement (and game-changing decision) by essentially starting over at “Issue #1” with its New 52.
- In an attempt to attract a new audience who may have felt intimidated (myself included) by jumping into a particular comic at (for instance) “Issue #457” of a series…DC essentially hit the re-start button. The move was both hugely successful and controversial at the same time, as it did attract new fans (again, myself included)…but also angered many longtime fans.
- The panel included DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, Executive Editor Eddie Berganza, current Batman artist Greg Capullo and others. The discussion covered ‘The New 52’, along with a Q&A session in which the crowd could ask questions…including participation from yours truly.
- In one exchange – an older fan who had been reading DC Comics for nearly 50 years – expressed his utter disappointment with the New 52 move…to which DiDio and Berganza replied with the need for the industry to attract new readers in order to remain relevant and continue to thrive. It was at this moment that I was called upon by DiDio, wherein I said that I could attest to the success of the move, as it encouraged me to jump back into comics and that I have since picked up many of the New 52. My “testimony” elicited applause from the room and the panel, as I was a prime example of what the DC “re-do” was meant to achieve. Even Shannon was called upon and asked what she thought of my return to comics, to which she replied that she thought it was great and that it even got her interested…love that chick. 🙂
- I also had an opportunity to speak directly with both Dan DiDio and Greg Capullo after the panel, as we discussed some of the books that I am currently reading (including Capullo’s take on Batman) and the effect that the New 52 has had on the industry and whether they felt that Marvel would eventually follow suit.
- I’ll be discussing the panel, along with my MegaCon experience, on an upcoming episode of the podcast…so stay tuned!
Update: This episode has been recorded and you can listen here:
- As I mentioned previously, my girlfriend Shannon also attended the conference with me. Prior to the show, she jokingly made fun of me for wanting to go…until she (gleefully) learned that there was also a “Vampire Diaries” panel…which officially made her a geek alongside me.
- Revealing this to her (our shared geekitude), must have been what Darth Vader felt like when he told Luke that he was his father.
- In attendance were: Joseph Morgan, Lauren Cohan (currently on AMC’s The Walking Dead) and David Anders.
- Judging from the mostly all-girl audience and their reaction to the male actors…I can say with confidence that fangirls are far more rabid than fanboys!
Q&A with Stan Lee
- The creator and co-creator of some of comics’ greatest characters discussed his career and answered questions from the (packed) audience in attendance.
- It was an entertaining session and primarily paid homage to his legendary status within the comic book community. It was particularly fun seeing so many kids in the audience – fully dressed as their favorite Marvel character – running to the front of the room to ask Mr. Lee questions. 🙂
- Mr. Lee also hinted that the upcoming Avengers movie was his favorite Marvel-based movie adaptation to date (woot!).
Nerd Mecca (aka: The Convention Floor)
As is the case with any convention, the floor is heavily populated with vendors who are exhibiting and selling their wares. At MegaCon, you could find vendors for just about anything comic book related. The floor was HUGE and chock full of a wide assortment of geeky goodies.
Whether you’re looking for a rare issue of Action Comics, or perhaps a hard-to-find collectible action figure…chances are you were going to find it on the MegaCon floor, which spanned over the course of 3 convention halls.
T-shirts, custom made costumes (I especially liked the Steampunk booths), favorite trades, custom made role-playing weapons, rare & current issues, artist autographs or hell, you could even buy your very own remote controlled R2D2!
Although it was packed, Shannon and I navigated the floor as best we could, trying to take everything in.
Truth be known, I was actually on the hunt for a specific discontinued Batman action figure, that I finally found after about the 20th booth we stopped at. 🙂
Beyond that, I remember remarking at how I fortunate I felt that I wasn’t a collector of comic books (I read mine through the Comixology app on my iPad…I know, I know, comic blasphemy). Judging from the massive amount of bins available at most vendor tables – in which you could find almost any issue you were searching for – I could see how simply looking through the bins could take an entire day by itself.
Of course, the floor was made even more entertaining by the many attendee’s who were engaged in cosplay…displaying some truly impressive costumes.
Comic Con Cherry Popped
All in all, we had a great time. It was a nice way to spend the day and for fans of people-watching, you couldn’t have picked a better venue!
I really admire the time, dedication and effort that people put into their costumes and the commitment they exhibited while playing the role of their favorite characters…whether from the world of comics, video games, movies or television.
Although MegaCon is a 3 day event (Fri-Sun), we only attended Saturday. However, beyond the panels and convention floor, the festivities continued well into the evening thanks to costume parties, video game tournaments and even a speed dating event for attendees who were looking for love in…*ahem*…Alderaan places. 😉
Although I consider myself to be a huge geek…I am no where near approaching the level that was on display this weekend…and that should not be considered a dig by any stretch of the imagination!
I have always been more of a tech-geek who just recently was re-introduced to the world of comics again, thanks in large part to DC Comic’s New 52 and the enthusiasm of people like Vanessa G and Erika P at Girls-Gone-Geek.com.
I used to read comics a lot as a kid and eventually strayed away, but I have always been a big video game, technology and superhero nerd for a long time…so the trip back was quite painless. I would also be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little giddy and childlike every time I saw some of my favorite Star Wars & Batman characters. 🙂
Now that my “cherry” has been popped…I will definitely be attending more Con’s as they make their way to Orlando. In fact, Shannon has already mentioned that we should start planning to attend next year’s (massive) ComicCon in California…looks like I’ve created a monster!
By: Dana Sciandra
Selecting a photo will bring up the full gallery: