I don’t remember the existence of comicons when I was younger. I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation which historically has had its own brand of fandom known affectionately as Trekkies.
I loved Star Trek: TNG, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure if my admiration for it was enough to call me a “trekkie.” I had wanted to go to a Star Trek Convention when I was younger, but my interest didn’t go much further than curiosity. I hadn’t the remotest interest in learning Klingon or becoming a member of the artificial hierarchy of Starfleet. I would not break the barrier between science fiction and reality to the point where I’d be a member of an inter-galactic organization still pathetically earth-bound.
My best friend in fifth grade had recently developed a bizarre obsession with Star Trek – most notably Gates McFadden, the red-headed actress who portrayed Dr. Beverly Crusher. She and I began collecting and exchanging Star Trek trading cards. There didn’t seem to be anyone else interested in joining us, but we didn’t care. We followed our singular passion regardless of whether or not our other friends joined in.
Then, in almost no time flat, my family and I moved from Texas to Arizona. There, aside from the occasional Star Trek novel, I began to feel my interest waning. I still caught the newest films from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country to Star Trek: Generations, First Contact, and Insurrection. Catching the latest Star Trek film in theatres became a time-honored tradition.
In November of 1998, I’d been working part-time at B. Dalton’s bookstore in the mall when I began to develop a crush on my coworker. I sensed he felt something for me too. He loved books, particularly anything featuring a superhero or Tolkien-style fantasy. He was a gamer as well and could easily spend hours on end engaging in the quests and battles of the virtual realm.
In sum, I was falling for a bona fide geek and I knew it. Because I was well-aware of a chemistry between us, I began dropping not-so-subtle hints about how much I’d love to see Star Trek: Insurrection with him. He took the bait and in no time we were on our first date together.
This boy had “fanboy” written all over him. His bedroom was a tribute to every superhero from every comic book ever created, it seemed. He still played with his toys as well, willfully engaging in child-like fantasies. His imagination knew no bounds.
He was the one who introduced me to superhero comics. His favorite was Spiderman because Spidey was a tragic hero, morally driven to fight crime, yet perpetually misunderstood and hated by the very people he labored to protect.
Because of my fondness for this boy I’d been dating, I allowed him to guide me through his fantasy-world. Because he loved me, he allowed me to stand by his side despite my ignorance.
In the end, all our fantasies vanished and we were forced to see the reality of our incompatibility with one another. We broke up and never saw each other again. But I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how grateful I am for the things he taught me.
So my interests in comic books and science fiction have been mere flirtations or, at most, on-and-off-again romances. But beneath the multi-faceted surface of fandom are the hearts of people – people from all walks of life trying to make connections with one another and find validation for their own uniqueness.
That’s where I connect: in a sea of misfits, outcasts, freaks, and geeks, I feel a peculiar sense of camaraderie. I don’t need to bond over video games and comic books. I bond over being an odd-ball in this world and knowing I’m not the only one.
Perhaps the perfect “con” for me would be something about book-musicals or simply the art of story-telling through music. But my interests really cannot be confined into a single convention. Nonetheless, I have come to enjoy Comicon and will do my best to make it back next year.