While I've always been a geek -- I wore out two sets of VHS tapes of the original "Star Wars" trilogy and went to my local comic book store several times a month as a kid -- I've never actually been to a con. That's despite growing up in Los Angeles, a quick dragon's ride away from the biggest comic convention in the world, Comic-Con International in San Diego, which draws about 130,000 attendees a year.
This past Saturday, I decided the time had come to move past imagining what such a gathering might be like, and actually experience one. After all, I spend my days writing about "," " " and some , and now more than ever, I felt the urge to be among my people.
Still, despite what I like to think of as my impeccable geek credentials (I have officially been named Wizard World Comic Con, I immediately felt out of place.), when I first walked through the doors of the Minneapolis Convention Center for
Dressed in my shorts and Star Wars 3D glasses T-shirt (this one, for what it's worth), with people all around me elaborately dressed as their favorite characters, I felt like I wasn't nerdy enough to be there. But despite actually considering turning around and heading back to my car to go home, I pressed on. After all, I told myself, geeky conventions are supposed to be welcoming to all people, even more mainstream, non-cosplaying geeks like me, right?
What lay beyond the security guards was, to me, the great geeky unknown. Would there be tons of people having sword and lightsaber battles in a big open room? Would famous people sit alongside us norms talking about superheroes?
When I flashed my wristband to security and walked onto the convention floor past Stormtroopers, several Deadpools and a Harley Quinn, I was surprised to see rows and rows of booths all trying to get me to buy things. Things like bags, coffee mugs and smartphone cases emblazoned with characters from the Marvel, DC, "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and literally all of the other geeky universes out there. And tons of action figures and T-shirts (oh my gosh, the T-shirts).
It wasn't until I walked to the back of the show floor that I got to the good stuff I thought would greet me right away. There were artists selling their wares -- paintings and prints of popular sci-fi and fantasy franchises -- and in the very last row, famous people signing autographs for adoring fans.
The headliners of this show were Michael Rooker from "The Walking Dead," Karl Urban from "Lord of the Rings" and the new "Star Trek" movies, and Gillian Anderson, who played Dana Scully in "The X-Files." A couple of Weasleys were there as well, as were the Bella Twins from the WWE. There were literally hundreds of people lined up to see, and take selfies with, their favorite sci-fi and fantasy stars.
That part seemed fun, though I didn't really want to spend $50 or more to get an autograph, so I decided to take in a few panels. First up was a Q&A with Karl Urban, who was pretty sarcastic but funny as he answered questions about who he would have rather played in "Lord of the Rings" than Eomer and whether we'd ever see a "Dredd 2."
Then came a panel with Michael Rooker and Jason Mewes, "Mallrats" alums who were officially there to talk about "Mallrats 2," but ended up spending a ton of time talking about hot tubs (which is how Mewes and Rooker met during the original "Mallrats"); what a great guy Merle was on "The Walking Dead" (sarcastically of course); and "Guardians of the Galaxy." At one point Rooker called "Guardians" director James Gunn and asked him if Mewes could be in "Guardians of the Galaxy 2." He would make a good Ravager, Rooker figured. That was pretty awesome, actually, and you can watch the video for yourself here.
Then came the hottest panel of the day -- actress Gillian Anderson.
I was most excited to hear what she had to say about the, but left with little more knowledge than what we already had. It turns out she doesn't really know what's coming in the show's six-episode run in 2016 (or so she says). She said she initially said no to the project, and it took some strong-arming from David Duchovny to convince her to do the show. There were some funny moments in the panel, however, as Anderson revealed she didn't know people could see "X-Files" gag reels, and was aghast at the embarrassing moments her fans had seen in DVD extras and the like.
After the panel, I walked the show floor once more, bought some awesome "Star Wars" and "Doctor Who" prints for the office (the latter with a Dalek ready to exterminate any work-related issues I may have), then stormed out of the convention center and onto my landspeeder to head home.
This being my first comics convention, I made some mistakes, like not dressing up, and though I never quite got over feeling a bit out of place, I'll definitely make my way back again next year, though I'll likely bring some friends and family along to geek out with. Heck, I may even get a Chewbacca costume, as I've been known to randomly let out a Wookiee-esque roar.
But it will probably be a year or two before I muster up enough courage to hit the International Comic-Con in San Diego. I'm still a newbie, and that place just looks like madness.
Do you have any memories of your first geeky convention? Share it with me in the comments section.