Today I examine Geek Gatherings (also, I have no more questions. So give me some please):
Dear Mr. Dungeon Master,
What’s your opinion on ComicCon, DragonCon, and other Cons of that nature? Awesome? Silly? Useless?
Geeks have a long history of being ostracized and shunned. Cultural histories of nearly any minority group in the world tell us that ostracism by the masses leads to a tighter community among the shunned. This is of course less true today than it was in the 80’s and 90’s now that Geek culture has been infiltrated by filthy Hipsters and everyone thinks it’s cool. But the foundation of Geekdom was built upon intolerance. (On a side note, I’m not angry that Geek culture is accepted now, I’m just angry that Hipsters try to turn everything I love and hold dear into fashion statements).
Taken from this place.
When a group of people has intolerance shoved in their face, it makes it difficult for them to find comradery around them. People hide who they are, don’t want to associate with other Geeks, or are just so socially inept (another hallmark of the Geek) that they can’t make friends. This holds all the more true for small towns where the sense of isolation only increases. So what’s a Geek to do when it becomes a challenge to find a community to be a part of? Create one.
The first conventions were intentional communities. They were a way for like-minded people to get together, share their love of gaming, comics and film, or even dressing up in furry animal suits. They could meet new people, learn about new ideas and trends in the community, see who was working on what, play some games, or just have good conversation with fellow Geeks.
One of the earliest Gaming conventions, Gen Con, was first hosted by Gary Gygax in 1968. It cost Gary all of 50 bucks to put on and attracted about 100 people. The point was to get together, play some games, meet people and talk. This is where he met Dave Arneson, one of the co-creators of Dungeons & Dragons. Now Gen Con is owned by Wizards of the Coast and it’s just another way for them to self-promote their own crap.
Hipsters playing wargames!?? Oh wait… it’s just Gary Gygax in the 70’s.
Then there was the Detroit Triple Fan Fair, a sci-fi/fantasy/comic book convention, often being credited as the very first comic book convention and the precursor to the San Diego Comic-Con (having both been run by at some point by Shel Dorf). DTFF was started as a way for fans and artists to get together, network, and have a good time. It eventually collapsed under the pressure of other for-profit endeavours.
The point I’m getting at here is that Conventions just ain’t what they used to be. They’re multi-million dollar enterprises whose main goal seems to be money and advertising. You may reasonably argue that the San Diego Comic-Con is a non-profit entity, but with tables priced at $850 and booths at $2500, they’re certainly not expecting local starving artists to snatch these up, so I’m not sure who’s profiting off of their endeavour other than giant corporations.
Comic-Con has become another way for Marvel and DC to advertise their latest comics, or Paramount to hype up their new movie adaptation, or yet another way for women to exploit themselves by wearing as little clothing as possible. It’s got money and marketing oozing out of every crevice and corner. Sure it’s fun. But it’s not for the fans. Not really. It’s there to take advantage of a niche. It’s there to attract guests any way it possibly can. Anyone go see the Twilight panel last year? If you did, you’ve helped destroy Comic-Con. Thanks a lot.
Why Comic-Con? Why?
I’m not saying Conventions suck (or even San Diego Comic-Con for that matter). I think Conventions are awesome when they’re tasteful and actually there for the fans and artists. Smaller Conventions are my favorite. There’s the real intimacy you expect from a community-focused event, and unknown artists actually have a real chance of purchasing a table. So I guess all I’m saying is this: Conventions are fun, even San Diego, but if you’re interested in a genuine community go to the small Conventions, or better yet, go have a chat with the regulars in your local Comic Book store.
And now I sound like a god-damned Hipster. I hate you Hipsters. I hate you so much.
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