Comic Con 2013: Get me to the ‘geeks’

The author pictured with a cosplayer dressed up as Rorschach, one of the main characters of the DC Comics series ‘Watchmen.’

The author pictured with a cosplayer dressed up as Rorschach, one of the main characters of the DC Comics series ‘Watchmen.’

By Wendell Gaa

Star Wars, Star Trek, Disney, Marvel & DC Comics, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and even Super Mario Bros., what do all of these entertainment franchises have in common?

For one weekend, they all united within one building, the Jacob Javits Convention Center during New York’s annual Comic Con this month in October.

Wearing my fedora hat with my business suit, and channeling the 1920s mobster drama “Boardwalk Empire,” this author joined a gathering of self-professed comics fans also branded by society as “geeks.” These are people who passionately love the stories and characters from these various franchises. They came to the convention dressed up as their favorite characters which they portray for one weekend.

I happen to be one of them, and proud to be so.

Now the term “geek” has not always implied respect or even tolerance for folk of my kind. Whether or not it is a lingering post-high school/college syndrome which seemingly encourages mockery of a certain class of people who do not conform to the “norm” of popular culture, such as sports, booze/rave parties, etc., an overbearing stereotype of geeks are that of people of any age who can’t seem to take part in anything else in life other than watching or reading TV/film or books about their favorite stories with their favorite characters of any genre, from science fiction, to fantasy, and to detective mystery.

These people who are classified as “different,” are according to a notorious juvenile phrase, “stuck in their basement.” Yes, I am aware of such things, because I’ve had the personal experiences to attest to the struggles of us “geeks” who are “different.”

Every nation on earth has drawn its cultural and moral inspiration from its mythology and folk tale. The Greeks have their Mt. Olympus gods, the Scandinavians their Norse gods, and in the Philippines we have our own folk heroes who have waged battle against our local mythological monsters such as the ‘Aswang’ and ‘Tikbalang.’

Now in our Hollywood-influenced Western society, we look to modern popular cinematic heroes such as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Batman and Superman, all superhero characters who have had films raking in billions of international box office grosses. Yes, these fictional characters draw box office money for entertainment purposes, but look at the bigger picture, and you realize that for more than just superficial commercial purposes, our modern film superheroes are the current generation’s role models for positively changing society for the better, much in the same way classic mythological heroes such as Hercules inspired the ancient Greeks to uphold the early democratic ideals of their growing civilization.

I felt right at home knowing that at New York Comic Con (NYCC), I could easily converse with plenty of visitors who more or less understood my line of thought. This was my third year in attendance, and I was pleased to observe that this was the biggest crowd which I’ve witnessed thus far.

While the first comic conventions may have exhibited relatively little more than just comic books, the Comic Cons of more recent years have surely reflected how much these gatherings have expanded widely in their scope of interest, offering something for everybody, from comic readers, to film/TV fans, and even to video game hobbyists. What I most remember though was seeing many visitors donning costumes of their favorite superhero/sci-fi/fantasy character.

The other most memorable experience for me was undoubtedly the opportunity to meet and see actors/celebrities/writers from the various entertainment franchises. NYCC has granted me the chance to personally meet big industry names like Mr. Stan Lee of Marvel Comics, and most recently the English actor Anthony Daniels, who portrays the droid character C-3PO on the “Star Wars” films. I was simply honored and starstrucked to meet these remarkable celebrities who have done their part well in spreading the mass influence of their respective franchises.

As I got to forge new friendships and expand my social network during NYCC 2013, I rediscovered that people attending this event know how to appreciate life and to look at the valuable lessons from superhero entertainment culture. In our times of stress or depression, our fictional heroes and role models help to keep us inspired, and for this alone, I am eagerly looking forward to attending NYCC 2014, where I hope to continue my mission of helping to open other people’s eyes to the power of “geekdom.”

With Batman and the Joker

With Batman and the Joker

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