I’m a nerd. If that’s news to you, your powers of observation are not likely to earn you a place at Scotland Yard. Also, not astoundingly, Jason and I attended FanX, a smaller version of Salt Lake Comic Con, last month.
Frankly, we’ve been to so many geeky cons that they feel more like the familiar cling of spandex than the uncharted regions of the Delta Quadrant but that doesn’t mean we don’t make new discoveries at each one. Here are a few of our findings from FanX this year:
1. Weird Al’s hair is naturally curly. Sorry ladies and gentlemen, he can’t provide sweet perm advice.
I tried making a Weird Al face for this picture but, instead, it was just a weird face.
2. Zachary Levi gives great hugs and leads great panels. Honestly, he put on one of the best con panels I’ve been to and I’m not even a serious Zachary Levi fan.
Who shot first?
3. John Rhys-Davies is a storyteller and a gentleman but he’s not best buddies with Legolas. Apparently, wearing dwarf parts influences the inner grouch. (The skin-stripping adhesives holding on those parts might also.)
The largest room at FanX seats thousands and fills up regularly.
4. Bonnie Wright does not appreciate bucking broomsticks, Nimbus 2000 or otherwise.
We got to spend some time with our niece at FanX wandering the exhibit hall and recounting our con experiences over dinner.
5. Cary Elwes is adorable with kids. During the Princess Bride panel, which featured both him and Chris Sarandon, he shared hugs, kissed hands, and brought youngsters up on stage.
I felt like a traitor without my Starfleet uniform in this picture.
6. “Fangirl neck” is a real phenomenon and should be taken seriously. Just look at my picture with Zachary Levi for proof. If you are taking a picture with a gorgeous star, I can guarantee that you will not look gorgeous; this is one of the unchangeable laws of the universe.
This is a truly terrible picture of me. It’s included here to prove two things. One, I did get a hug from Zachary Levi. Two, fangirl is not a flattering look.
Even if you’ve been to more comic cons than Stan Lee, there will always be countless con mysteries yet to be revealed. You may still uncover ways to win Snakes and Foxes, reach Jareth’s castle in Goblin City, or duplicate Weird Al’s hairdo.
Comic cons have a reputation. You know of what I speak. They suffer from the misconception that their attendees are all social outcasts that fill their elaborate costumes with the overpowering stench of their rancid BO and couldn’t find a date even if their cousin were a Habsburg.
While these stereotypes aren’t entirely undeserved, they are at least largely inaccurate. Since I have been asked several times lately, in a condescending manner, what one does at a comic con and with whom, I feel like I should set the record straight. Yes, mostly because I love telling people how wrong they are.
Below you will find the most common comic con myths I have encountered and the reasons for their erroneousness.
Myth #1: You will detect no hints of hygienic products at comic cons.
Incorrect. While you will come across an attendee now and then that is little too ripe in their Batsuit, most smell at least tolerable. Honestly, that’s about the best you can hope for anywhere.
Pikachu is one of the most adored anime characters of all time.
Myth #2: Unless you wear a Wolverine costume to bed every night, you aren’t a serious enough fan to enjoy a comic con.
Not true. There is a little something for every type and level of fan at comic cons. And, frankly, it’s fun just to observe the rampant enthusiasm of others.
Arthur Darvill played one of my favorite Doctor Who characters.
Myth #3: If you tell your associates that you went to a comic con they will think less of you as a human being.
False. Apart from those that suffer from what I call “too-cool syndrome,” you will find that most of your acquaintances are either envious of your attendance or have been to a comic con themselves. As for the too-cool kids, they are in fact the most uncool people you will ever meet because they care too much about what others think of their interests to pursue hobbies out of their comfort zone. You are already cooler than them.
I got a Spock tattoo. No, not a permanent one. Would you want your illogicalness constantly judged by those Vulcan eyebrows for the rest of your life?
Myth #4: If you don’t have a shrine for your life-size Asuna doll built in your closet, you will have nothing in common with the patrons at comic cons.
Wrong. Most of the people at comic cons are just regular folks. Well, regular folks that like to wear spandex or collect functional lightsabers. Don’t worry, if you do have a shrine in your closet, you can find friends at comic cons too.
Han Solos? An oxymoron or just a couple of morons?
Myth #5: Your friends wouldn’t be caught dead at a comic con.
Bogus. I’ve seen your friends at comic cons. And, need I mention the obvious, I’m your friend and I’m at comic cons. We see so many of our buddies at comic cons that we regularly set up lunch or dinner dates with them during these events to catch up and discuss our fondest con experiences. It’s one of my favorite parts of these conventions.
Mark Hamill filled nearly all of the Vivint Smart Home Arena’s 20,000 seats, his largest audience to date.
Myth #6: A star panel couldn’t possibly be interesting unless you are so obsessed with the celebrity that you named your oldest and second-oldest kids after them.
Untrue. While celebrities are hardly heroes, they are entertaining people with amusing stories about things you will find fascinating and funny. You don’t have to be a hardcore stalker to appreciate a captivating talker. (Yup, I just made that up.)
Resistance is fun!
Myth #7: The types of people that go to comic cons have no social skills and are therefore impossible to mingle with.
Wrong. We’ve met many intriguing and outgoing people at comic cons. Troy, how’s it going buddy?
We had a great time at Salt Lake Comic Con this fall. We listened to Mark Hamill, Will Shatner, Arthur Darvill, and Evanna Lynch. We learned about the ways sci-fi has addressed society’s woes. I even got the face of a green-blooded Vulcan tattooed on my arm. And, of course, we grabbed a meal or two with friends that we hadn’t seen in months. It was an entertaining event.
You must let go of your preconceptions, pride, dignity, ego, and “coolness” to experience the true power of comic cons. Will you meet an occasional fan that is eager to slither back to their mother’s basement to practice Parseltongue on their boa constrictor? Probably. But hey, who wouldn’t want to have an elegant conversation with their snakey? Just go with it.
Science fiction is my favorite entertainment genre, which is why I gobble up good sci-fi faster than the Crystalline Entity chomps organic life. Therefore, it should shock no one that Jason and I are Firefly fans, tasty sci-fi to be sure, and count ourselves among the rough and nerdy followers of that series commonly referred to as “Browncoats.” Also not surprisingly, we opted to attend the Browncoat Ball in Salt Lake City this fall like others with similar tastes in outerwear.
Although we were the only ones in our rail group to do so, Jason and I wore attire befitting the ‘Verse.
It was fun to see a different side of Deer Creek Reservoir.
The Browncoats put on a national shindig annually that happened to be in Utah this year. Even though I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from this event, I signed us up. After all, sci-fi is all about going daringly into the unknown and I am nothing if not daring… except when it comes to small places, high places, germs, swift water, sun exposure, meat, insects, crooked lines, movie gore, and so forth.
I love this picture of Jason except his oddly-placed arm.
Not only did we decide to attend the actual ball, a black-tie evening full of great food, singing, heists, auctions, and dancing, we also opted to do a day activity with some of the Browncoat crew, a three-hour outing on the Heber Creeper. Yes, clearly a reference to “The Train Job.”
The Heber Creeper stopped at Vivian Park to switch the position of its engine.
We enjoyed chatting with this bunch of fan strangers while our train ambled down the track.
The Heber Valley Railroad, AKA Heber Creeper, runs from Heber to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon primarily on the power of steam locomotives over 100 years old. We had never gone through Provo Canyon on these bygone tracks before so we thought we might as well give it a whirl with some Firefly friends.
Because of the Asian influences in Firefly, I chose to purchase my dress for the ball from India. Claustrophobics of the world take note, Indian dresses do not have zippers. You have to wiggle your way out of them.
The Heber Creeper has been accurately named, in case you are wondering. Our train definitely crawled unhurriedly but the scenery we passed was pretty and we had a shiny time chatting with a group of people, most of them out-of-towners, with whom we had an instant commonality.
We did both old-school and run-of-the-mill dancing at the ball.
I’m glad that exploring unusual pursuits with strangers does not intimidate me. Perhaps I am ready now to journey to the stars or tackle touching food without washing my hands.
Spring is the perfect season to suck in stale air, to sit in the shadows, to gorge on Funyuns while strategizing how to take over the world… it’s the perfect time for RowleyCon. Coincidentally, spring is also the perfect time for graduate school to ruin the perfect time for RowleyCon.*
I decided to take some gritty pirate pictures in our basement.
This April, our friend Jeremy again hosted a weekend-long tribute to all things geek. Videogames, board games, anime, cosplay, and nerdy crafts all had a rightful place at this affair, as did I. However, school, the enemy of free time, inhibited my undivided appreciation of the chaotic masterpiece that is RowleyCon. Drat my needy education!
All is fair in love letters and war.
Jason and I won the costume contests at RowleyCon again this year but no one else dressed up so it would have been literally impossible for us not to. Yippee! We achieved first place… and last. Yet, assembling different sets of costumes both Friday and Saturday was kind of an accomplishment in of itself.
With his resin weapons and manly arrrs, Jason was ready for some steam-powered piracy.
My buccaneer’s hat was handmade by Captain Jeff MacKay.
For college claims most of my innovative energies these days, leaving little oomph for other original endeavors. My brain still has a few tricks up its nodes though, tricks to bypass school’s creativity tax. I thought of a new steampunk-pirate-ensemble idea as I was drifting off to sleep the night before RowleyCon, something with a little Middle Eastern panache that incorporated harem pants and Moroccan jewelry. Sometimes I think my noodle pulls fast ones on me during my waking hours and saves all of its good stuff for sleepy time.
I dig dramatic lighting but not drama queens. Go figure.
Jason and I have enough costume parts and accessories to create new outfits from nothing new.
Jason and I didn’t play too many games at RowleyCon. (Did you somehow miss all of those whiney comments about school?) We did undertake a little 7 Wonders and learned how to build Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Jeremy, of course, underestimated the amount of time needed to play Castles of Mad King Ludwig by about 5000% so we weren’t able to finish constructing our royal residences before the lateness of the night ended our stronghold struggles. (Only a crazy person would think they could erect a castle in half an hour.)
Virginia fashioned a very fashionable gnome.
We also made meeples, which are personalized players’ tokens that can be used for just about any board game. This was probably the highlight of the con for Jason and me. I sculpted one meeple strutting the exact outfit I was currently wearing, which happened to be a Starfleet uniform. I also molded a slave Leia version of myself to go with the Han Solo that Jason crafted. I’m pretty sure my Leia could eat his Han for dinner and still have room for a Hutt; like me, she has a big head. Drew and Simone organized the meeple animation so thanks Drew and Simone!
The meeples ranged from animal to alien and spanned beyond legend, space, and sense.
And thanks Jeremy for putting up with a bunch of messy, kid infested, ungrateful gamers for an entire weekend. Despite my presence at RowleyCon, I’m afraid I’ll never achieve my 8th-level potential. As carefully constructed as my schemes to take over the world are, I think school’s plot is much more liable to succeed. For graduate school is like a prestigious and unstoppable doomsday machine that sucks the energy out of the universe one assignment at a time. Funyuns anyone?
*I actually love school. But I also love a whole lot of other things too and school makes enjoying those other things nearly impossible.
Why, school? Why do you get in the way of me being a first-rate nerd? Aren’t you supposed to further my betterment? How can you stand for progress while hindering my cultural education?
I encountered a green-blooded giant.
Salt Lake FanXperience 2016 happened in March. I love having fantastic fan conventions in my quadrant. Normally, I’m engrossed in these things longer than the USS Bozeman was stuck in that time loop but I was mid-semester during this one so I couldn’t completely nerd out. Still, despite school being a downer, Jason and I condensed FanX rather effectively.
Holy Doctors, Batman!
Hearing Buzz Aldrin speak was a privilege.
We went to a special presentation given by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Hearing from someone who’d been to real space instead of plywood space was fascinating. We got a picture with Matt Smith and Alex Kingston while wearing full bowtie, attended some intriguing feminist panels, and went to a session on male cosplay so Jason could get a few tips on how to perform better. Data showed him how it’s done.
You never know when you might come across a Catbus or Dogvan.
This happened in a galaxy really ridiculously far away.
We attended the Doctor Who Ultimate FanXperience, which featured the Fifth Doctor, Seventh Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, and River Song this year. It was over an hour and a half of Doctors jabbing each other on their weird wardrobe choices and reminiscing about aliens. It was quite entertaining. We also witnessed our first FanX cosplay contest. This wasn’t trick-or-treating; it was the big leagues baby!
Carbonite. Why did it have to be carbonite?
Moreover, something truly momentous happened at FanX this year. I acquired the last autograph for my ST:TNG cast poster. That’s right, LeVar Burton’s signature made my cast collection complete. I have arrived!
A guy in spandex with multiple mouths… that’s pretty scary.
Hmmm… after some consideration, it would appear that I am still a first-rate nerd even if my master’s courses made it impossible for me to immerse myself in FanX like the Joker immersed himself in that vat of chemicals. Hey, I wore a Darth Vader dress and lightsaber earrings to one of my graduate classes just so I would be properly arrayed for FanX. That took some serious nerd balls; you know I’ve got big ones.