I’ve never been to the glorious San Diego Comic-Con, but I’ve been to plenty of regional comic book and anime conventions. If you’ve never been and are in to nerdly pursuits, I highly suggest you go to a convention. They’re fun and you get to mingle with people that enjoy the same stuff you do, people you never would have run in to otherwise. The panel discussions with the creators and/or stars of your favorite works of fiction; the over-priced merchandise sold by people that travel to so many comic book conventions that you’re pretty sure they don’t actually own a home of any kind; the girls that come dressed as the sexy cartoon character’s you always wanted to have sex with – it’s a pop-culture lover’s dream come true.
That’s not to say there aren’t downsides. There are plenty. None of these downsides ruin the experience, but they do add a slight tinge to what’s an otherwise great memory.
Costumes are an unforgiving bitch of a stench generator. There’s something about the combination polyester and plastics that acts as a kind of magnet that draws out smells from the human body that crime scene investigators can easily confuse for the stench given off by bloated pig corpses. And it’s not only the specific stench those costumes bring out of people, but the costumes themselves seem to act as a reverse filter, of sorts. Instead of lessening the otherworldly smells of the human body, the costume seems to magnify the smell by a significant degree. The heat generated by your body, the constant movement around the show floor, and the overall temperature of the convention center – all of these are factors that amalgamate and stew like a witches brew of filth and decay, all of which are made all the worse when you involve form-sitting, non-cotton materials that feel like they’re pressing the funk-juices out of your body, like wringing a moist bag of garbage through a rusty orange juice press.
And don’t you for a secondly think you’re immune to such funk phenomenon. You’re not. No amount of deodorant or aerosol body sprays will prepare you for the distinctive smell of nightmares you will give off if you show up in costume.
The Quality of Food
Before you show up to a convention, do yourself a huge favor and grab a bite to eat. Comic-Con is probably an exception to this rule, seeing as every major comic book publisher and Hollywood movie studio showing off their wares wants people to walk away feeling good and healthy and not completely ripped off by the food options available at the convention center. But if you’re going to a convention in a state or province that’s hundreds or thousands of miles away from anything even remotely “Hollywood”, you’ll be lucky if you even get food options that resemble the piles of stale gruel you see in prison movies, or movies where elementary school kids dread eating the horrid lunches served by wicked cafeteria ladies.
There’s a weird sense of demoralization that occurs when you pay $7.50 for a hot dog that has the same color and rubbery elasticity as a dog’s mangled chew toy. Even worse is when your friend purchases a sandwich of some kind that he claims is “pretty decent.” In an attempt to give yourself some sense of hope, that maybe there is such a thing as good food at a con, you take a bite of your friend’s supposedly edible sandwich. After a couple of chews you get really sad, because you’re only now realizing that your friend has been living his or her entire life without taste buds or any kind of texture-sensing nerve endings in their mouth. And because you realize you’re going to pass out in the very near future.
The People That Fit Every Stereotype of Nerd-dom
Stereotypes exist for a reason. A lot of us try hard to break free of the stereotypes of the cultures we were raised in or became a part of, but we all know those few people within those cultures that are walking examples of the kind of thing that culture gets mocked over. You will find this person by the dozen at whatever nerd convention you go to.
These are the people that, during panels, actually ask actors like Adam West, William Shatner, Billy Dee Williams, and Ernie Hudson, obscure technical questions about the technology behind the fictional doo-dads and whosiwhatsits featured on their respective shows and movies. By now, you’d think the stereotype of the person that asks a cast member a question about fictional technology would be so imprinted in to the brains of a convention goer that they’d have enough willpower to not make themselves look like a tool and, in the process of their self-toolage, embarrass the rest of us in attendance. It isn’t. They have no idea such a stereotype even exists. It’s like if a cop got mad at you for laughing at him after you spotted him eating a donut. It’s a clichéd stereotype that he was bringing to life before your eyes.
These are also the people that, off in some dark corner of the convention, probably near the dank and musty hay-lined foam-sword battle ring, argue endlessly and fervently about fictitious bullshit. They argue so loudly and with so much passion that there’s no possible way they’re having fun at this event. You can’t be that mad at another person’s point of view without contemplating, silently plotting, their death. All of us nerds in attendance are passionate about our favorite shows, movies, and comics, but these people take their passion to such a height that you wonder why more attendees don’t get stabbed in the face with mechanical pencils, like at the 2010 Comic-Con.