In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
Last weekend I took a picture of The Boy sitting in front of a life-size Jabba the Hutt. Until then, I never thought I would write that sentence.
We went to the Boston Comic Con. It was the first Comic Con for both of us.
I’m told that the Uber Con is in San Diego; this is more of a regional one. But it was still pretty impressive, at least to a layperson.
I’m old enough to remember comic book stores as seedy little places presided over by vaguely disturbing men. If you’ve seen The Simpsons, you get the idea. (“Worst. Blog. Ever.”) And that demographic is very much still there.
But it’s a much more diverse and lively group now. The gender split was nowhere near as lopsided as I recall that world being, and it wasn’t lily-white, either. (Of course, in some costumes, who could tell?) But the real visual feast was the costuming.
We saw stormtroopers, and Spock ears, and Batmen (Batmans?). Characters from the cartoon Adventure Time were everywhere. Star Wars was fairly well-represented; my favorite was a toddler dressed as an Ewok. Several Lara Crofts strutted about. Spider-Man was large among the preschool set. One grown man even dressed as Waldo, from Where’s Waldo. And there was a host of costumes I didn’t recognize at all. Some of those looked zombie-ish, and some looked like manga come to life. Neither is really my style, but they were fun to see.
The Boy and I did a few laps around the exhibits, making sure to stop by and see a friend who was selling his artwork and generally just taking in the scene. TB took my picture with Frankenstein’s monster, and I took his with Jabba and, later, a pair of affable stormtroopers. (You don’t often see the word “affable” next to the word “stormtroopers,” but credit where credit is due.) We even had a brief discussion with a perfectly cordial man who came dressed as, and I’m guessing here, someone who had escaped after a zombie had taken a few good chomps. He really could not have been nicer.
The cordiality of it all really struck me. It didn’t have the clique-y, judgmental feel that I remember as a kid. It’s much improved.
After the novelty of the people-watching started to wear off, TB and I decided it was time to check out what was for sale. He was entranced by some of the Minecraft paraphernalia: foam rubber pickaxes shaped to look pixilated, that sort of thing. But it was a bit outside his price range, so he retreated instead to a bin full of old Mad magazines, eventually settling on a few.
Meanwhile, I flipped through a carton of miscellaneous stuff from the seventies, getting a fresh look at stuff I dimly recalled from childhood. The real find was a copy of Us Weekly in which the cover story was a profile of Lorne Greene as the reluctant authority figure on Battlestar Galactica. The same issue featured a full-page, black-and-white ad for the Dodge Omni. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about America in the seventies.
“Nerdvana” might be overstating a little, but it was heartening to see so many people let their geek flags fly. The Boy doesn’t see a contradiction in being simultaneously smart, nerdy, sociable, and confident. It didn’t strike him as weird that a collection of the wounded undead would be diverse, chatty, and welcoming.
And it shouldn’t. I hope it never does.
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