Say what you will about the world of nerds and geeks – we know how to have a good time. If you’ve never experienced the wonder that is San Diego Comic-Con, it’s hard to explain. Just think of the thing you are most passionate about – whether it’s cooking, Justin Bieber or video games – and then imagine an entire weekend, an entire city and all of your friends dedicated to the celebration of that thing.
In a nutshell, that’s what San Diego Comic-Con is for me.
There’s been quite a lot of criticism of it recently. “It’s gone to Hollywood” and “Where are the comic books that give it the name ‘Comic‘-Con?” are regular features of that conversation. In addition, I’ve read story after story about bullying, sexism and body shaming in relation to geek culture this year. I have hated it. And I don’t use those words lightly.
Obviously, my experience is not the experience that everyone has. I’ve been lucky enough to make wonderful friends who recognize my passions and my depth of knowledge, and who appreciate my willingness to ask questions and learn about new things all the time. I know that not all girls who love comics or video games have been so lucky. They are looked down upon. They are teased, quizzed and made to feel like they don’t belong or are doing something wrong just for loving what they love.
The reason I lay it all out like this is that San Diego Comic-Con this year has been an absolute joy and positive experience. Walking the floor everyday (for the uninitiated: the exhibit hall where toys and art can be purchased, games tried out and autographs acquired is about a half mile long and packed with hundreds of thousands of people at any one time), I have been surrounded by passionate cosplayers of all shapes and sizes, families enjoying geekery together and a lot of people having a great time.
“You look amazing.”
“Wow, that costume is detailed. Nice job!”
“Can I get a picture with you?”
These are the things I have heard back and forth between perfect strangers. Everyone seems so incredibly happy to just be here. They’re excited to camp out in line for events in Hall H (where the biggest and most popular panel presentations take place like the cast of Game of Thrones and Shield) even if it means staying out overnight. They share snacks, pillows and lawn chairs and talk about how cool it’s going to be just to be in the room with a show or movie they love and the people who make it.
Despite the naysayers who have been Negative Nellys about the propagation of movies and TV shows that are distinctly not traditionally nerdy, there have also been incredible panels that are totally nerdy and completely fun. Professionals in comics, writing, movies, TV and more have sat down and talked about how they got started, where they think the entertainment industry is going, and answered personal questions put to them by an eager audience of hundreds. I even got advice on writing query letters – a skill I definitely need to work on.
I love it. I have loved everything about this weekend. It’s like everyone who came to San Diego decided to take a magic chill pill and follow the advice of the great Wil Wheaton: Don’t be a dick.
Now if it could just be Comic Con all the time.
Feature Image via Pat Loika. Check out his whole flickr stream for more Comic Con awesomeness.