Culture

Too old for Conventions? Huntsville comic-con

What's the age to stop going to conventions?

By: William.Punkfilms

    At what age does one stop going to conventions? Soaking in the atmosphere or the mecca of nerdom. Cosplayer’s walking about, meeting special guests, and buying more products for their collection. I know that I am personally getting to the age where it all seems a bit elusive to enjoy. Though this may be a personal battle with the idea of boredom after a few hours and having seen everything so quickly that it just feels like a redundant hall of merchants and vendors. Comic conventions have changed throughout the years: starting out in small halls of the local Moose Clubs or VFWs in order for geeks to exchange rare paperbacks in their sleeves. Now it has become a massive ordeal with costume contests and an array of modern culture socializing about the latest manga release. The Multiverse powerhouse and DC heroes are on the backburner of those dressed up. Now Inuyasha and One Piece characters start marching in behind the My-Hero-Academia Chojuro wielding foam weapons. 

    Comic-cons are not just for fans of the books anymore, but an all around monstrosity of people just enjoying their subculture and weeaboo lives. The idea is seemingly sound and maybe I am just cynical. But, at what age do some of us stop playing pretend and make believe? Wandering the halls of Lowe Mill during Huntsville’s second comic con this year, I found myself really wondering this. Every poster you could ever imagine was for sale. Sporting pop-culture references with flair. Digital media prints at over-priced value. Any one person can be a digital content creator in these modern times. Action figures were for sale ranging from an array of Lord of The Rings to Who Framed Roger Rabbit hung upon metal grates on the walls. Random t-shirts with every backwards design available for purchase. The extended Star Wars graphic novels laid about like a hidden treasure. A never-ending array of Squishmallows topped one table. Thanks to the internet all these things are available to ship to our homes. But yet, these patrons still find themselves seeking entertainment in these events. 

    I don’t really understand much about life, but I know that comic-conventions take the leading forefront of things I certainly do not understand. One thing that plaques me is how people dress up as Furries and venture around unbeknownst to others inside their giant animal suits. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a wonderful expression of freedom. Just a little offsetting for those misunderstanding. Furries standing next to a fully costumed Deadpool, who took off his mask revealing a face tattooed forty-something bald male with piercings all the way up his earlobe. This is what had me wondering the most as he walked around in costume snapping pictures with strangers and handing out high-fives. Was he seeking reassurance in his fellow fandom? Or just enjoying being Deadpool for the day? The old wooden floors of the Mill creaked with footsteps of people pursuing the unsold merchandise. The weather was perfect outside for this time of year. Music was played on a makeshift platform stage as the elder generation sat on the grassy lawn ignoring the convention inside. 

    Guests, such as Butter Bean (an ex-boxer) and Patrica Patts (the voice of Patti in Charlie Brown) sat and awaited fans to engage. Even the bicycle girl from The Walking Dead, a person only the truest of hardcore deep fandom would know. The atmosphere was light and filled with great vibrancy. People seemed to forget about life, if only for a little while, and walk around in a culture they love.  There are an infinite number  of conventions across the country throughout the year. Huntsville is no stranger to these sort of  events. Lowe Mill brought it’s own flair to the con style. 

  One parent dressed their child as Charles Lee Ray to kick off the celebratory spooky season in fashion. I kept thinking to myself, “Why do I dislike this so much?” These types of people have been the backbone of my friendships throughout life and although I have become such a socially introverted person that I tend to cower behind my notebook to cover the circus and carnival in some journalistic sense. I still felt odd. Social aversion kept me from fraternizing with anyone that wasn’t a vendor or salesperson. But I found the enjoyment of others so amusing. I do believe I am getting too old to enjoy these types of festivities. As the Cosplay Contest kicked off Saturday evening, I purchased my first ever Squishmallow in order to feel a part of the modern era of nerdom: a white fluffy fox with a golden tail. Seriously, what the fuck is the appeal?

    While I couldn’t conjure up the rationale of why this entire thing is worth visiting, I did realize that the vendors have some of the most difficult settings in these situations. Sitting behind a table all day awaiting hard earned dollars and someone just to communicate with. The distance between the downstairs vendors and the upstairs tables seemed so great that most people clung to their wallets. Some sales success for digital prints of Batman French kissing Robin. But mostly it seemed the word around the vendors’ whispers slyly said, “Why are we upstairs?” I think everyone selling content upstairs felt a bit left out. But thankfully due to the panel room being on the second floor, and the coffee shop nearby, some casual strollers got to see great art. Just seemingly spent their money downstairs on Squishmallows. 

Lowe Mill is like a maze for creation but not the ideal spot for an indoor convention. Almost every convention I have ever been to makes it easy to navigate through just a few pathways with everything on display. The coordinator of this event had to juggle the idea that the maze just runs a few floors deeper than usual. One of the most interesting things to happen was how sociable people were while visiting booths. A friend of mine had a woman randomly come and stand for twenty minutes spouting her life story. Her son this, and his friends that all the while her daughter pulls her away from the table. It seemed like ‘Karen’ (as I will refer to her, keeping with the parlance of the times) had one too many free tastes of corn wine offered in the Lowe Mill whiskey brewery. 

    Leaving the con each evening, the smell of bat shit stuck to my clothes. I couldn’t help but remain awestruck at the idea that this was the new era of fandom. A formula that entertains and grabs people’s attention. I am thankful for those that put on this event, especially considering it was little-too-no cost at all. Rounding out the weekend’s attractions, I had a wonderful moment in a bathroom downstairs. As I approached the stall, voices were heard hidden by the walls. “You have to suck on it and blow it out.” A giant cloud of vape smoke wafted the air above. A man cleared his throat loudly before a few plops splashed water. I reached the sink to wash my hands and there stood Eric Esch himself washing his hands. Some teenage looking kids left after experimenting with their vape. There I stood looking in the mirror washing my hands while trying not to make eye contact with Butterbean. He knew he had just defecated. At least he was courteous enough to wash his hands before going back to shaking them. Ah…conventions. Maybe I am getting too old for this shit. 

But, Lav sure makes great popsicles.

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