I’m not going to Comic-Con this weekend, and I do not regret this decision.
I used to love it. Nerds from all over America flocked to the San Diego Convention Center for an extra-long weekend of panels about new movies, booths selling plastic junk, and people in ill-fitting costumes. Seeing the full rabble of geeks at the Con reminded me that I was not alone in my geekdom, and that there were quite a few others who were much more geeky. But even then, I could only tolerate going for a single day. Too many people, and too much opportunity to blow my minimal levels of cash on useless pop culture ephemera. Friends who went for multiple days usually wound up with several hundred dollars worth of Spiderman action figures and video game soundtracks.
I’ll never forgot those times at the Con where I came face-to-face with legends.
The highlight of my first Comic Con, all the way back in 1999, was an autograph session at the WB Studio Store (remember those?) near the Con. I waited in line for at least an hour to see “Mark Hamill, voice of the Joker.” Star Wars Episode I had just come out, and the last thing WB wanted to do was associate with rival studio Fox’s film (in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t associated with it either). So Luke Skywalker couldn’t sign any Luke Skywalker stuff. But I still met the dude. Man, was he short.
By contrast, the highlight of my final Comic Con in 2006 was meeting Maddox, of The Best Page In The Universe fame. I was hoping to get a hold of new book “The Alphabet of Manliness,” but it was late enough in the day that all the copies of the book had run out. Nevertheless, he had managed to provide years of hilarity with just a Sharpie marker and an impromptu defacement of the badass samurai on the cover of that year’s program.
In the 7 years between Hamill and Maddox, I did everything from listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger pitch Terminator 3, to buying t-shirts that expressed just how much I liked Nintendo, to watching two dudes with dragon shirts face off in an epic game of Warhammer.
It was always a great time. But somehow, I just can’t do it anymore.
Maybe I’ve (gasp!) grown up. Maybe I’m too cheap to blow my money on this stuff anymore. Maybe I’ve finally gotten to the point where I see Comic Con for what it is – a celebration of the frivolous crap in the world that keeps so many of us distracted from the slew of problems beginning to chase us down faster than computer science majors chasing down the only kinda-cute girl in their C# class.
This weekend will be an experiment in seeing how close I can get to this Golden Horde of nerd culture without getting sucked back in. I’ll probably stay in my neighborhood and avoid touching downtown for fear of catching the geek fever, but I’m almost expecting to bump into a Con geek who somehow wandered off of the beaten path and into Bar Pink. He’ll wave his lightsaber at me, demand I pay the price for not showing proper respect to a Super Saiyan Level 3, and then continue to drink his 64-oz Mountain Dew the second I threaten him with physical force.
I just hope he doesn’t call in his friends for reinforcements.