This article originally started as a review of Wizard World, Chicago’s Comic-Con held August 7-8th. Due in no small part to my procrastination (bad writer! bad!), the time for reviewing has passed, and I find myself reflecting not just on my first fandom convention, but about a fundamental aspect my personality as well:
I am a geek. And I am not alone.
While this simple declaration may seem obvious, cliché, or even passé to some, I cannot hide from this part of my nature. No matter how hard I try to maintain a cool air of pretention through obscure music tastes, or by going to hipster bars, or even by (gasp!) shopping at Urban Outfitters, it is all in vain. I can’t hide from the evidence.
I am a ren faire-loving, genre fiction reading, Buffy the Vampire Slayer watching, cosplaying geek. Growing up on my block, someone had a 1950s ambulance as their car, and my family referred to it as “Ecto 2.” I had a crush on Jonathan Brandis in SeaQuest DSV. I have a stuffed Ewok I bought at Disneyland not once, but twice, and ten years apart. I have written papers on Buffy. It has been a long journey to get here, but this is also where I have been all along. Not every geek likes science or reads Wired, or even plays video games (I swear, I didn’t know what MMORPG stood for until last year), and I have just started to delve into using the interwebs for fun instead of research papers, but that’s okay. We also like Ghostbusters, vampires, cartoons, cylons, and each other’s company, no matter how late to the party you are.
Which brings me back to the con.
The Chicago Comic-Con is not nearly on the scale of San Diego, but to the uninitiated newcomer, it was just as exciting. Now, we didn’t go to any panels, nor did we pay to get Jake Busey, Emma Caulfield, Michael Hogan, or Edward James Olmos’s autographs. Nevertheless, much fun was had, and I came to a few startling, yet obvious realizations. In no particular order:
- Cosplaying is more fun, especially when more people are in costume than in street clothes. Take any opportunity you can to dress up.
- Old-school Doctor Who fans will give you the stink-eye if you are dressed up as the 9th or 10th Doctor, or any of his companions. Everyone else will think you are awesome.
- Yes, it is almost like a geek flea market, but where else are you going to be able to try on a pair of handmade brass goggles?
- Don’t get a tattoo there, you will regret it.
- Sometimes, if you just gush to someone about how much you love them, they might give you an autograph for free. **cough, cough, Lori Petty, cough**
- Bring cash. Plastic will only get you into trouble, and it is hard to justify buying a full-size replica Dalek in this economy, no matter how excited or into your costume you get.
- Billy Dee Williams has not aged well.
- Chicago has both Ghostbusters and Stormtrooper local chapters. I can’t decide which to be when I grow up.
- I don’t like babies, but they look really cute dressed as Yoda.
- You are not alone. Chances are there is someone sitting in their house, in your neighborhood, planning their costume for next year. Seek and ye shall find, for the fandom can unite nations.
I know now there is a big, bad world of fandom and geekitude waiting to be discovered that has really just been there all along. Sometimes one needs to connect in the real world to realize that the Hidden Realm of the Internet exists to connect us to each other, once the con is over and we put our costumes away to rejoin the Real World.