A long time ago, in this very galaxy, nerds, freaks and geeks were the embodiment of the uncool, but those days are but a misty memory. We now live in a world ruled by geeks, a world where Ironman 3’s three week gross rivals small countries‘ GNP and Yahoo pays $1.1 billion for Tumblr.
So perhaps that’s why it was with such great pride that thousands of Houstonians lined up at the George R. Brown Convention Center this weekend to let their nerdy freak fly at Comicpalooza.
The annual comic book and Sci-fi convention was bigger than ever, not the least of which because it partnered up with GalactiCon the once-every-five-year official Battlestar Galactica convention. With a philosophy of double your Sci-fi, double your fun, Houston suddenly had Patrick Stewart, Michelle Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell all in the same place.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a Con, but I found that besides being exhaustive fun, like a good science fiction tale, it can still teach me valuable life lessons. So here’s a few of those lessons from Comicpalooza 2013.
Let ye without a weird fandom cast the first stone.
I confess I don’t get the Bronies — adult (the majority of whom are heterosexual males) fans of My Little Pony. Maybe it’s because I’m allergic to horse dander. Still, I respect the hell out of the Bronies' devotion and enthusiasm for those pretty pastel ponies and their stories.
The Houston Bronies were everywhere at Comicpalooza this year, recruiting new members to the pony club, presenting a documentary on the fans and phenomenon, and discussing the links between MLP and Aristotelian and Hegelian philosophies.
More power to you, guys. Keep fighting the good pony fight.
Sometimes size does matter when it comes to fandoms.
My friend Lisa, an always poised, learned librarian, couldn’t tell an X-wing from the X-Men, but she’s a dedicated devotee of the show Spartacus. I don’t know if it’s the hilarious historical inaccuracies, the blood, the gore, or the glistening gladiators (it’s probably the glistening gladiators) but Spartacus is her show. When I informed her that actor Craig Parker, who played a Roman Praetor on Spartacus and an elf in Lord of the Rings, would be at Comicpalooza, she was set to go, even though she had no idea what Comicpalooza is.
Hoist your girls up to your chin, ladies. I’m sure Jules Verne would have wanted it that way.
With about a 100 attendees at his Q&A session “This is Spartacus,” Parker told riotous stories about life as a New Zealand actor, and afterwards back at autograph alley, he had time to chat with and charm the steady, but never overwhelming, flow of visitors to his signing/photo table.
Having been yelled at earlier in the day by either Comicpalooza security or a Patrick Stewart assistant — I was never sure which — for simply attempting to to get a photo of the line in front of Sir Patrick Stewart’s table, not of the knight himself, and after being elbowed a few times at the standing-room-only Stewart panel, I realized sometimes having a obscure fandom all your own is to be treasured.
Fantasy, futuristic and alternate reality fashion trends come and go, but boobies are forever in style.
Superheroes, Vikings, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica uniforms were definitely in for the summer 2013 cosplay season but Steampunk was the It fashion. Steampunk is a term that covers a lot of medium: Art, jewelry, movies and certainly some fantastic fiction.
Yet for many men, dressing Steampunk appeared to be a great excuse to put on a top hat and antique driving goggles and for women, it was a chance to wear a corset out in public. So hoist your girls up to your chin, ladies. I’m sure Jules Verne would have wanted it that way.
Above all, be your own No. 1 fan.
Earlier this month, I had a chance to talk to comic and literary coordinator Vijay Kale, who emphasized that since its inception Comicpalooza has never been just about celebrity autographs. Sci-fi stars might bring the people in, but the majority of the programming urges fans to unleash their own creativity.
From a workshop on designing tentacle jewelry to a panel on the ongoing repairs to the Battleship Texas, the convention provided something for almost every obsession. My own fave was not a celebrity talk or a film screening, but the Classical Theatre Company’s presentation of two scenes from the play Bard Fiction, a rendering of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction as if it had been written by Shakespeare.
During our talk, Kale had cited the Menil Community Arts and Indie Book Festival as inspiration for Comicpalooza’s literary offerings. And those offerings were pretty wondrous.
Science fiction and fantasy writing royalty such as Kevin J. Anderson, Alan Dean Foster and Jacqueline Carey, and award-winning, genre-bending literary writers like Benjamin Percy and Houston’s own Mat Johnson, led workshops and spent the weekend talking with individual readers. I found the panel “Writing the Apocalypse,” which Percy spoke at to be as good as any graduate lit seminar I’d attended.
Finally, the artist alley and the dealer rows gave Texas artists and writers the chance to make their own fans and inspire others to take up brush, needle and thread, pen and keyboard themselves.
Can’t wait for next year’s inspiration, Comicpalooza.