Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Wrath of ComiCon

For months my three kids had been planning to attend the Salt Lake ComiCon with their father. So when we discovered, last-minute, that my ex would be unable to take them, Mr. Charming and I decided to go in his place.

I will never be the same.

For those of you who may not know, a comicon is an annual convention originally intended for comic book, sci-fi/fantasy fiction, television and movie fans which has long since expanded to include enthusiasts of any movie, sitcom, anime, video game, board or card game. Plainly put, if you like something a whole lot, can make your own character costume for it, and are willing to sweat it out in full regalia at a venue that defies fire regulations, you’re ComiCon’s intended demographic.

First of all, deciding to go was a no-brainer. My husband is a consummate nerd; the only dilemma was in attending ComiCon without a genius costume. People plan for these things weeks, if not months, in advance, and we were leaving for Salt Lake just hours after purchasing our tickets online. So—armed only with our Teefury shirts and a combined encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, My Little Pony and the world of HP Lovecraft—we set off.

Entering the Salt Palace Convention Center for ComiCon is like walking into the mosh pit of junior-high outcasts who had finally shed their alter egos, bad acne, and aversion to deodorant. Within ten minutes we saw (and photographed) 4 Doctor Whos, 2 Spidermen, all the Avengers, assembled—including Spiderman, who was never officially an Avenger but helped them out in a few issues, 2 Wonder Women, 1 Rainbow Dash, 2 post-apocalyptic cyber-guys, Russell from Up, the entire Hobbit cast, 1 dancing Wolverine, 2 Ghost Busters, and a weeping angel.


We spent our first three hours there gawking at all the elaborate costumes, and then, like giggling groupies, asking perfect strangers if we could take pictures with them.

My son, whose Doctor Who costume has become a daily uniform, had suddenly joined an army of 11th doctor clones. While ecstatic to happen upon so many Whovians, he was downcast at being one of the least originally dressed. This is where the more obscure your costume, the geekier—and thus, cooler—you and anyone who recognizes you becomes.

The absolute best part of ComiCon for us was a photo op with Stan Lee, 84-year old father of Marvel Comics and ultimate hero of my 9-year old boy. We stood in line for 3 hours to get one 8x10 of a frail Stan Lee with his arm slung casually over Zack’s shoulder.

While waiting, I noticed one woman in a DC comic shirt ahead of us in line. “The nerve,” I whispered to my husband. “Wearing a DC comic shirt at a Stan Lee photo-op.” If my sons had taught me anything, it was that Marvel and DC were rival comics, and you never aligned yourself with a DC superhero.

Mr. Charming looked at me in mock surprise and said, “Wow! Can’t we just all get along?” He then reminded me of a Coexist shirt we had seen with letters comprised of DC and Marvel superhero logos.

So, that warm and fuzzy feeling I had that weekend? It came from the realization that ComiCon is where all —regardless of race, creed, gender, political affiliations, life form, alternate reality, bond or free, Orc or Hobbit—are welcome and celebrated. So to all those who have ever been tormented, mocked or alienated for being a nerd, remember, it gets better.

And there is always ComiCon. 

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