Friday, July 13, 2012

Comic Con's good old days

There was a time when the only people who attended the San Diego Comic Convention were the fans of comic book, sci-fi, fantasy; the only people featured there were the creators, publishers, and retailers of what those fans consumed. I know. I went a few times back in the late '80s, as I worked for a retail store selling comics and collectibles at the time. As such I could get in with a retailer badge for free (it was one of the few perks the job offered). There were creators of some small press titles who I enjoyed meeting, and they didn't have massive lines to wait in to do so.

(Let's be clear: I was never enough of a diehard fan to be inclined to actually pay to get in; I went because it was only an hour's drive, and as my mom lived down there at the time I turned it into a visit to her. I'm not putting down those who paid to get in [they were our customers, after all]; I'm merely clarifying that I was not in that category of nerd. The people who get all decked out in costumes are magnificent, and I dare not sully their efforts by conflating how I was with them.)

Back then, saying you were going to a comic book convention was looked down upon by "civilians"; the mainstream press would not report on it, or if the local press did mention it the story was buried on back pages.

In the mid-'90s I got an office job, and haven't read comics since. It's worth noting that I never considered myself to have outgrown them; frankly, it was working with them that largely wore off the novelty and excitement. But then, as already parenthetically established, I was never a proper nerd in that regard. Anyway, by the end I was barely reading any titles when I was still working there as it was, so when I was no longer working there it was not surprising that I'd drift away altogether.

As should go without saying, I've not been to Con in decades, so I cannot speak to how the event itself changed from year to year in the intervening time. But obviously these days nerd culture has not only been embraced by the mainstream, it has become the mainstream. Much as this seems like this is some sort of triumph of the nerds, a glance at the way the convention is not only covered by the media but it has been co-opted by every movie studio and TV network to promote their projects; it's that the mainstream figured out that this is a lucrative market to exploit.

I concede this is very much lamenting some sort of good ol' days that arguably were worse, from a grumpy old man these-kids-today standpoint, but still there at least seemed to be a certain purity to the lower key convention of yore that could not possibly be seen nowadays. As such, even if I could get in free, I'd stay the heck away; I face enough crowds and Hollywood nonsense where I live.

I suppose it's the fact eventually everything special will be ruined that grants us the thing we enjoy most in life: that combination of nostalgia and condescendence that makes our crappy youth seem like it was awesome compared to what the unappreciative youth have (and which they will, decades from now, lament in the same way).


Rest assured that mainstream culture will jettison Comic Con as soon as it's no longer profitable or buzz worthy. Admittedly that may be decades from now, but that will put things back to what everyone will eventually realize was the scenario with which we were all kind of more comfortable.

If nerds are popular, without the traditionally popular kids to have to one-up, how can they be inspired to become the innovators of tomorrow?

We're dooming the future.

1 comment:

  1. I agree... I quit watching NASCAR when it went mainstream. It's not interesting if EVERYONE likes it.


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