See...right there. One of three things just happened. Either:
1) You said, probably aloud, "Oh boy! He's going to talk about the HeroesCon! Let me put my role playing dice away and see what he has to say!"
or, 2) You leaned over and said to your wife/husband, "Hey, this guy went to that Comic Book Convention in Charlotte." And they responded with, "Didn't your weird cousin go to that?"
or, 3) You got as far as the words "comic book convention" before your eyes glazed over and the rest of the words ran together like the last three Mission:Impossible movies.
Keep reading. I promise you two things: Insight and jokes. What do you have to lose?
So, let me be honest with my original opinion of a Comic Book Convention. I've never been to a comic book convention in my life. They have come and gone and I have had little desire to be surrounded by losers who have no real lives and have immersed themselves so deeply into comic books that they want to be surrounded by other losers who have no real lives and have immersed themselves deeply into comic books. Hey, to each their own, but you went a step too far when you decided to dress like a Wookie...in the Summer!
|He might look like this on the outside...|
|...but he's THIS on the inside!|
Then, I got an invite to go to the HeroesCon with Godson and his father, Captain Poker. Hey, I love comics. I love super heroes. I think that the Batman is one of the greatest characters in all of literature. I had to wonder if my shunning of the comic book conventions of past years was some sort of self image thing. Besides, I love my godson, and Captain Poker has a bigger place in my heart than damned near anyone in this world. How could they both be wrong???
Upon entering on Saturday, I was stunned at the number of people there. It was like the NC Fair, but everyone was jammed into the first three floors of the Charlotte Convention Center. If you don't like people, you would have flipped your nut just entering this place!
But I noticed something else.
These people were polite. Incredibly polite. It was like being surrounded by an entire Who village. They made space for you to pass. They said excuse me. They walked in lines. They were friendly. At the fair, you're lucky if you don't get stabbed, much less pushed or shoved. I wasn't jostled once! People smiled at me and made eye contact and compared stories and shared where the shortest lines were. They laughed with each other. They were in good humor despite standing in lines for an hour or longer.
Here's an experiment: When the fair comes to town, choose a line that is moderately long. Maybe it'll take you 15 minutes to get to the ride you want. Now listen to the people around you, the people who are also waiting. If you don't hear about 20 people whinning about the wait I will buy you a zepplin!*
And there were, of course, costumed folk.
A couple of days ago I would have said that anyone in a super hero costume at a comic book convention is just trying to claim their 15 minutes of fame. But get this: These people don't get paid. They don't get fame. They don't hand out business cards trying to solicit stand-in work or work at birthday parties or stage work. They just walk around and let people take pictures with them and hold babies and pose together. And did I mention that these people create their own costumes? And they still have to pay to get into the convention? And that, while they want to enjoy the convention as well, if you want a picture with Batman or Superman or The Wonder Twins they will stop whatever they are doing, smile and shake your hand, and then strike a pose with you??? AND NOT CHARGE YOU A DAMNED NICKEL!?!? Did I mention that my sister was one of these costumed freaks?
|Lady Deadpool, why can't I quit you?|
I watched my godson walk around and talk to grown ups. He got people to do sketches for him. He interacted with adults in a way no tween buried nose deep in their smartphone could. I was proud of him. And, as an artist, watching him talk to and admire other artists did me proud.
I'd seen some of the most amazing art, done at incredible speeds. I'd seen the most gracious people. I'd seen writers and actors and admin people working together to make the most hassle-free event I may have ever seen. I watched Mark Brooks paint this, which later sold at an auction for more then $9000!
|It took him TWO DAYS!!! I have got to get faster!|
And then, there was Stan Lee.Then..We sat in a panel discussion and waited for Stan to appear. If you don't know who Stan Lee is then you probably haven't even bothered to read this far into this post. Even I think he's a demi-god and I was about to make fun of everyone here. But when he walked out onto that stage...
Captain Poker is a strong man. He's raised two amazing kids. No offense, other parents, but his two kids are 95% likely to be better than yours. He's lived through some crap and come out stronger. I'm proud to know him, but not so proud that I won't make fun of him when he deserves it. Stan Lee came out onto that stage and I watched Captain Poker's eyes light up like a kid on Christmas morning. Or a man in a strip club who just got a stack of singles from his wife to "do with as you will, my love."
There was no desire to make fun. There was no looking down on him. There was, strangely enough, pride. And a little envy. And Captain Poker was not alone. I looked around the room and listened to the questions people asked and the comments people made. No one gave Stan Lee god status. No one was over the top crazy with their adoration of him. No one acted like he was the second coming. But they did love him. And you could tell that he loved them all back. He gave advice and told stories and made jokes and people laughed and listened and a few even took notes. Stan, himself, was a curious combination of vain and humble that I can only dream of being able to pull off.
And by the time everything was over, and I was in my car on the two-hour drive back to Durham, I swore two things: I would never look down on by brothers-in-comics again, and I will DEFINITELY be going to next years HereosCon.
Hell, maybe I'll even dress up.
*Zepplin not included