Growing up, being called a "geek" was either a badge of honor or the end of your popularity. Recently though, thanks to a rise of popular interest in genres associated with geek culture (video games, superheroes, wizards, vampires – yes, even vampires), it’s cool to be a geek.
Last year around this time I wrote a preview of New Orleans’ first Comic Con. While last year’s con was impressive (especially for the first year of such a large event), this year’s topped it in many ways.
If you’ve gotten this far, you might be wondering two things: 1) What in the world is a Comic Con and/or 2) What does any of this has to do with “Uptown Life?”
First thing's first. As Gareb Shamus, Chief Executive Officer of Wizard World Inc. – the publicly traded company that produces the Comic Con tour as well as their digital Wizard World magazine – told me last year, “Comic Con ('con' is short for convention) is a 2-day event celebrating pop culture from celebrities to games to music to art to movies to television – anything that’s pop culture is a part of our shows.”
Secondly, what I saw at this year’s Con leads me to believe that many of you “Uptowners” were there with me! From the subtle (superhero-themed T-shirt) to the sublime (this little Zelda and Link brother-and-sister combo, who’s mother turned out to be a friend of my friend – only in small-town New Orleans), whether in costume or not, New Orleans turned out.
Maybe it was that the con was sandwiched between the World of Wheels and a jewelry and gifts convention, maybe it was this year’s headliners (Stan Lee and William Shatner), about whom even non-geeks know, or maybe the word is out: Geeks are cool, approachable and sell really pretty things.
There were meet-and-greets, photo ops, Jedi lightsaber classes, film screenings, parties, a masquerade ball, drawing classes, “Sci-Fi Jeopardy,” costuming classes, kid and adult costume contests (that I swear I’ll enter next year) and more. Even with all of this, you can spend both days almost exclusively in Q&A’s with famous (and some not-as-famous) actors, directors, artists and creators (I heard that James Marsters, who played Spike in "Buffy" and "Angel," and Adam Baldwin, who played Jayne in "Firefly" and Serenity and Animal Mother in Full Metal Jacket, gave great answers).
You could also spend two full days wandering the aisles and buying art (I loved Sara Richard, Alain Viesca and the adult-themed art of Pat Carlucci), figurines, corsets, comic books and even hand-painted “Kaylee” parasols straight out of "Firefly" (thanks Firefly Cargo Bay), while looking at all of the costumes wandering the aisles with you and lining up for autographs from people as varied as the “original Chewbacca” Peter Mayhew (such a nice man) to Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery (at whom I only swooned from afar) at the Boondock Saints “reunion” booth.
I look forward to next year’s Con and hope that some of the vendors that slacked in terms of their wares (or didn’t show up at all) rethink their stances, and that more of us living the Uptown Life can enjoy letting out our geekiness. I mean, if we can costume as well as we do for Mardi Gras and Halloween, we should be able to rock Comic Con 2013.