So, what did we learn from Comic-Con International 2013?
It is almost a full month after the event, which is plenty of time to put it in perspective. (However, it’s not plenty of time to ditch this lingering cough. One of these years I will pretend to be a germophobe and refuse to shake anyone’s hand. Fist bumps all around.)
Naturally, SDCC is the very definition of a “your mileage may vary” event: Everyone goes to the Gaslamp looking for something different. For me, as a writer, here’s what I took away from Comic-Con:
Writers, for the most part, are solitary creatures. While, yes, the actual process of writing doesn’t always involve fingers on keys, eyes glued to a screen, we usually need to be alone with our brains to do it. Our work is done, usually, without any other people involved. We don’t work in offices. We don’t have cubicle-mates. It is just us and the story. What’s more, since there are so few other people who do this work, it’s impossible to really share any details of it with anyone else who might understand, in a meaningful way, what’s going on. So to find yourself spending a long weekend with, basically, everyone else in your chosen profession is refreshing. We’ve all spilled the same blood in the same mud. We’re all veterans of the same war against the blinking cursor. It’s good to renew those bonds of fellowship, even for a little while, before going back to the front lines. Because no one knows writers like a writer.
I spoke about this a bit on the Toucan panel at SDCC, but one of the most incredible things I’ve seen at any convention was running into three deaf teenagers in the Convention Center’s lobby. Grinning ear to ear. Signing excitedly. They had found their tribe. Watching their sheer joy at making it to Comic-Con with friends to share it with made my San Diego.
Because Comic-Con is different for everyone. My convention experience was different from yours as yours was different from everyone else’s. And it’s easy—especially if you’re a pro or press—to become ornery about the ways navigating a convention of this size can be difficult. Yes, making it to your signings can be a pain the rear because of all of these people who came to love all the things. Yes, spending the night in line to get into Hall H to share a unique experience can be a bit extreme. Of course, not being able to hit all the awesome parties you were invited to can be frustrating. But all of those things are also wonderful. As my Dad says, they’re all high-class problems to have. And it’s worth taking the time out of every con to remember how incredibly lucky we all are to be able to do a convention like this at all.
Comic-Con affords so many of us the opportunity to meet people we would never, in the course of our normal lives, ever come in contact with. From celebrities to editors, from TV showrunners to fans of your work. Here’s the thing you need to remember: Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. Never be afraid to engage someone. In various times during SDCC, I found myself, through odd fortune and bizarre happenstance, in the middle of conversations with George R.R. Martin, Giancarlo Esposito, Zachary Levi, Jim Lee, Clark Gregg, Adam Savage, and Bear McCreary. (And a Joss Whedon dance party … I know, me and my crazy life.) And, at the end of the day, they’re just people. And you have as much a right to an equal conversational playing field as anyone. I know, you’re a writer. You might not be Captain Social. But if you keep a level head, and remember not to spray your “fan” all over the place, you’ll do fine.
Marc Bernardin’s Devourer of Words appears the third Tuesday of every month here on Toucan.