A nerd sanctuary – that might be the best way to describe it.
You see, I’ve been musing the best choice of words for an event of this scale. Sure, it’s an epic collection of frenzied fans, awash with elaborate costumes that have been given more care than personal hygiene.
It is the ultimate assemblage of all that is pop-culture, with less emphasis on the ‘popular’ part of that phrase. And it is like a comic book of revelations, as media companies from all spectrums unveil their plans for future projects.
But I have a problem with descriptions like that. Apart from the fact it sounds like I’m writing a melodrama, it doesn’t get to the heart of what Comic-Con is all about.
This is a place for the freaks, the outcasts, and the maligned of society to feel like they belong.
It’s a place free of judgement, welcoming in its geeky embrace, where being different from normal people means you’re the same as everyone else in the convention centre.
This is what’s at the heart of this event!
Geeks and nerds can have a pretty tough time when they’re young. (I’m assuming, that is. This comment is certainly not based on personal experience! Ahem.)
And it seems that they often take on a clichéd personality as a self-defence against the taunts of others and insecurities of their own.
I was at Comic-Con this year to produce some stories for The Morning Show with host Larry Emdur and all the people we interviewed had a bravado that seemed at odds with their place on the social hierarchy.
The acne-cursed, bespectacled boys all thought they were incredibly sexy, for instance. They told us how they were planning to go hunting for chicks as soon as they finished collecting their favourite comics or playing the new video games.
We mockingly giggled inside as they told us this – I mean, come on, just look at them! That was, at least, until we interviewed the founder of soulgeek.com, a dating website exclusively for geeks.
He told us tales of the couples who had met online, fallen in love and married. One pair even chose Comic-Con as their first face-to-face date after chatting online for months.
This year they came back for their first anniversary.
It was this moment that I stopped looking at this strange world through the frame of stereotypes.
It didn’t matter that these people were dressed up as obscure characters from videogames I had never heard of.
It didn’t matter that they had saved up all year so they could buy memorabilia that looked like it was meant for children.
It didn’t even matter that the aforementioned personal hygiene had been neglected. Because everyone here was among their people, and among their people they even found love.
And everyone loves a lover… even Darth Vader (or, at least, the guy in the Darth Vader costume who was hitting on Princess Leia.)