"One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them. "(Unlike my usual blog entries, if you are pressed for time, read the main blog entry, as the WHAT YOU CAN DO section is the longest section this time.)
I've been a science fiction buff for most of my life, and for well before it was considered 'cool' and part of pop-culture. I've read historical and foreign SF, like We. I've read more classical SF, like Brave New World. I've read 19th century SF, like Frankenstein. I have freely explored other genres, but I always seem to come back to Science Fiction. Not just in books, either. I have a love of TV and movies that focus on SF as well.
For years I savoured my SF in solitude, operating under the myth that very few of us existed, and that we certainly were not among main-stream fiction consumers. (Needless to say, I'm older than I look!) Then, magically it seems, there was an explosion of Science Fiction lovers. We slowly began to come out of the shadows, to collect in small groups which ventured out in public. Star Trek conventions began, and after that, Comic-cons. For over a decade I have wanted to attend, to enjoy the fellowship of other Science Fiction lovers, and to relax in a big room where I am actually part of the 'in' crowd. This year, I was finally able to do it.
Attending Comiccon may not seem like a natural fit to a blog about political and civic involvement, but I do think it's relevant. Being engaged and involved doesn't always have to be a huge political statement, or entail great organizational effort. Sometimes being involved can mean taking part in something fun for no other reason than fun. Your participation adds to the collective (a very 'Borg' statement, if you'll excuse the pun). Your attendance provides others with a chance to meet you and enjoy your views and excitement - as their attendance enhances your experience. Sometimes fellowship itself is a goal worthy of effort.
Science Fiction may not be 'your thing', but you can certainly find something that you are interested in, and that can be enhanced by the fellowship of other like-minded people. I encourage you to find that something, or if you already know what it is, to continue to engage with others who are share your interest. You can significantly add to their enjoyment and engagement, just by being you.
For those of you who have never been to a Comiccon, or Science Fiction/Comic Book convention, below are some of the things I wish someone had told be before I went. Hopefully, they will make your 'virginal voyage' more pleasant.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. If at all possible, buy the gold ticket. The line-ups are insane. I had considerable stress because there were panel sessions(really a glorified Q & A session with 'stars' from the comic book, SF world) that I desperately wanted to attend, and I didn't know if there would be space left by the time I got there. For instance, like most Buffy fans, I was dying (yes, Queen of the bad puns again!) to see James Marsters. Below is a picture of the line-up to see him when I arrived, two-and-a-half hours before his panel discussion.(The goofy looking guy with a black t-shirt on, waving, marks my spot in line.)
Gold ticket holders are guaranteed a seat in every panel they want, and don't have to wait in line.
2. Lines were, generally, insane, as you can see by this picture. This is the line is for those of us who bought our tickets the day before. We got there two hours before Comiccon was to open the doors, and the line is actually much longer than it looks here (and yes, this is one line that wraps around.) So....come prepared to be social, to talk to others in the line, and to learn. We learned more than we thought was possible from one line-neighbour who was a comic book fan. His discussion on DC vs. Marvel comics, and character changes under new management was fascinating.
Also, be prepared to bring something to keep yourself occupied during the waits. There will be many many lines, and while you will meet incredibly interesting people, and learn amazing things, there will be some time for you to just stand, too.
3. Look at the schedule of panelists, and do some research. On the first day, I asked Michael Dorn a question I thought was pretty good. I could tell from his answer that although he was incredibly polite (and gorgeous - my God, that man is beautiful!), he had been asked that question 1200 times before. I went home and researched the panelists I wanted to see the next day. I knew I was going to ask Adam West about Lookwell (if you haven't seen it, it's worth the effort to find it). I thought it would be really rude not to ask Burt Ward a question. Because I did my research, I was able to ask him about Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, the non-profit he started with his fourth wife. From his reaction, I gather it was a relatively new question, and it made the experience more fun for him, and for us.
5. Bring money. You are bound to find something that you want to take home as a souvenir, whether it be a t-shirt (like the one I bought, shown on the left), or a book, or a sword, etc...
Some of the t-shirt companies have brilliant sayings, printed out on cards that you can take home and put on the fridge, or frame. "Philosophy Majors - Blurring the line between 'artistic' and 'homeless' since 385 B.C." and "I was never actually a zombie. Just a lonely cannibal trying to fit in." are two of my favourites, by Rock Paper Cynic (rockpapercynic.com). Good, smart t-shirt makers deserve support.
There are also many comic/graphic novel artists there to gain a bit of publicity for their work. Take the time to browse a bit, and to ask questions. Many have on-line sites (daveswurld.wordpress.com, and heroesofthenorth.com).
6. If you're on a budget, be imaginative. Pack a lunch and snacks, and water. Keep an eye open for what can make a good souvenir. for instance, a ticket stub for a movie can be laminated. Used as a bookmark, it will not only be unique, but will bring you pleasure for years to come.
A business card card can also be laminated.
7. Most of all, just have fun, and enjoy the fellowship of others.