The True Spirit of Comic Cons

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[Dre reflects on the attraction of comic cons and the emergence of “niche cons,” which invite devotees of particular genres and eras to come together. — the artblog editors]

Being in a safe and fuzzy bubble with friends and like-minded people for three days equals a comic con. There, people can geek out on their favorite fan culture and dress in homemade costumes when it isn’t even Halloween. They can leave their everyday problems behind as they dive head-first into a world of fantasy and imagination for the weekend.

Outsider outlets

Cosplayers
Pizzazz, Toxie, and 4th Doctor cosplay.

Comic cons represent an alternative to sports culture and other mainstream hobbies; they are a place where you can be happy and content to be considered an “outsider” of mainstream culture. The problems of the world are worsening and becoming more complex, but when you walk through the door of an event like a comic con, anime con, or niche con, those problems are shut out.

Cosplayers
“Ghostbusters” and Doctor Who cosplay at Retro Con.

Fans of geek culture are passionate, and will pursue their interests no matter what. A comic con is a place they can go to wear their fandom on their sleeve, and not feel ostracized for it.

The pros of cons

Cosplay
Pizzazz from Jem cosplay.

There are even more people attending different types of comic cons now than ever. This is mostly due to the fact that there have been numerous movies and TV shows based on comic books in the past decade, such as the Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men, and Avengers movies. Also, presently there are many sitcoms, like The Big Bang Theory, which portray being a geek in a fashionable light.

As Hollywood runs out of original ideas, comic cons gain audience members. Today, what was once known as comic book “geekdom” is now a growing part of mainstream culture.

Cosplay
Transformers and Doctor Who cosplay at Retro Con.

But as larger numbers of people join the sometimes-lengthy attendee lines, longtime dedicated fans are looking for conventions that are more niche-oriented (anime cons, sci-fi shows, video game shows, steampunk gatherings, etc). Niche conventions are more program- and lecture-oriented.

Cosplay
Randy “The Macho Man” Savage and Doctor Who cosplay at Retro Con.

A show like Retro Con–a nostalgic comic con held recently in Oaks, PA, in the countryside outside Philadelphia–focuses on 1980s cartoon nostalgia and antique toys. This show in particular will never be as big as a San Diego Comic Con, and it doesn’t want to be. It is run by a couple who are passionate about old cartoons and who decided to throw their own show.

The type of culture dedicated to the 1980s doesn’t have an established fandom quite yet. But as more people begin to feel nostalgic, the popularity of these cons will grow, and we will begin to see more and more of them. One reason is that a con is a constructed safety zone away from the world, taking attendees back to a time when their feelings and emotions were new and the problems of the world were worlds away.

Tags

arts & culture, comic con, conventions, cosplay, retro con

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