Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Friday, October 18, 2013

7-20-13 RMB Comic Con Day One

7-20-13 RMB Comic Con Day One
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
Today is the first day of the San Diego International Comic Convention. I help buy tickets for my niece and sister every year, along with a friend or cousin, whomever can join. Years ago, it was her older brother that I took to the “Con”, before that I went with friends and before that I helped the staff.
That first year I was sixteen and drove my old blue ’66 Mustang. I sat in on meetings to take notes when the secretary couldn’t make it, I ran errands and during the convention I was sent to stores for supplies… markers, tickets (the kind numbered with a matching tear off piece), tape, you name it. I bought a pin from one of the booths that said “I don’t work here.” I wore it proudly, but still ran the errands.
Some friends of a friend had started the convention about 7 years before I came on board as unofficial gopher #18 (I just made that number up. There were others, but I don’t recall how many). The “Con” consisted of panels on drawing comics, the history of comics, the business of comics, comics on television, cartoons, etc. The trading floor was a sea of comic books in long cardboard boxes, table after table of them, a comic book fan’s paradise.
Today’s con is a behemoth compared to those early days. Now it consists of more video media than comics, more stars, than comic illustrators and artists. It was a place where it was not only okay to be different, but expected. I am glad that aspect of it remains.
If ever there was a place where the unique few “different” swayed the many “normals”, it is here. In this place, being a bit weird is cool. Being very strange is acceptable. And friendly is fun, even if you don’t know the person standing next to you for hours in line, by the time you reach your destination, you do.
I don’t go because there is anything in particular I have to see or get. But when I go, I do come away with something kin to the Pride Festival experience. I enjoy the variety of people, their acceptance of one another, visiting with my family and the feeling of nostalgia for the days 30 year’s ago, when we were counting tickets sold to see if the convention would make into the black, while trying to sell more tickets. About 5,000 attended then. Badges were typed on typewriters at check-in.
It has sold out several years in a row now. Over 130,000 attend and thousands more flock the streets for events happening in the surrounding hotels and establishments.
My best friend…remember the one I followed, she was the on the staff. I was her personal gopher, constantly on loan to others. She must have figured, ‘If she’s going to follow me around, might as well put her to work.’ The skirt chasing president had a huge crush on her, but then he seemed to have a crush on anything female. They warned me about him. “No, he’s really nice” I said. That day he made a pass at me…well he did do it in a nice way, but still.
Fast forward 20 years, I no longer followed her. We had long since become good friends. He was coming into town for a special “Honor the past presidents Con.” They re-connected and she found his crush was for real and the torch still shone brightly for her. They married a year later and have been together almost ten years now. Sweet.
May the force be with you,

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