I just got back from the 202007 International Comicon, which is usually reported by some smirking news anchor saying, “Hundreds of thousands of nerds descended on San Diego this weekend to trade action figures, talk comic books and dress up like aliens.”
I’m not the least bit embarrassed or angry. It’s all true.
On the non-Suns side of my life, I write, among other things, comic books for one of the major publishers. I also write television animation, and that’s a big deal at Comicon as well. So I go to San Diego every summer for the show – It’s one of the major business networking events of my year.
And it’s a blast. I shmooze, I see old friends, I speak on a few panels, and spend some time sitting at the booth run by my publisher, ostensibly to sign autographs, but really just watching the artists that are there do sketches for fans, because fans aren’t likely to hang writers’ autographs on their walls.
As I’m sitting there, I tend to have a lot of time on my hands, so I talk to the fans in line. About anything, whether it’s a costume they happen to be wearing (WAY too many Pirates of the Caribbean this year), where they’re from, or what they’ve seen at the convention that they’ve enjoyed. The fans are very personable, very willing to chat and, best of all, very non-judgmental…which is a good thing, since there was a guy this year walking around in green briefs and nothing else, carrying a tinfoil trident and telling people he was the Prince of Atlantis.
As it happened, when I arrived at the convention center last Wednesday night, I was wearing a Suns shirt. I didn’t think twice about it…until, as I was watching my neighboring artist sketch away, I heard a voice ask, “So, is Grant Hill gonna help you guys?”
I looked up, and there was Superman.
Okay, not Superman, but a (rather portly) fan dressed as Superman, asking me, with dead seriousness, a basketball question. So we talked for about ten minutes, a perfectly enjoyable conversation about pro hoops with a surprisingly well-educated fellow fan.
In a convention filled with unexpected sights, sounds and, in some cases, smells, it was maybe the last thing I expected.
And it got weirder. And more fun. I wore my Suns watch all weekend long, and at least three people a day noticed it and asked me basketball questions. They ranged from everyday comics fans in Batman t-shirts and Spiderman hats (“Do you think Boris and Amare should have been suspended for that playoff game?”), to editors from various comic companies (“I love Alando Tucker; I saw him play in college.”), to Klingons (“Steve Nash will never burn out…He’s a machine!”). So I spent the weekend talking about my two favorite things: basketball and comics.
And it turns out I’m not the only geek in the Suns family. Suns VP Jeramie McPeek showed up with his son in tow (or perhaps it was the other way around), and fellow Suns.com blogger Brad Faye stopped by to say hi and drop off the rather excellent comic book he wrote himself…and he was wearing a Leandro Barbosa jersey to boot.
Sometimes I get self-conscious about my interests. The intensity of my fanhood (Is that a word or a super-villain? “The Fearsome Fan-Hood!”) for the Suns can cause even the biggest of basketball fans among my friends to occasionally back away slowly, smiling nervously like they would at a suspected axe murderer. And my job writing comics, which I love…Well, let’s just say it tends to be a conversation-stopper when I’m at a dinner party with lawyers and doctors, and someone asks me what I do. I’m usually asked to move to the “kids’ table” (I have a better time there anyway).
But the San Diego Comicon pretty much has it all for a guy like me. It’s a place where I can feel good about what I do and what I’m into, because chances are, there’s a lot of people there just like me. I knew going in I’d find fellow comics fans, but finding as many Suns fans as I did – among the faux Dark Knights, the ersatz Wonder Women, and the ever-present Imperial Storm Troopers — that was a thrill.
Next year, I’m going back, of course. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and new, and talking Suns roundball and superheroes. And I’ll be prouder than ever.
But not so proud that I’ll wear green briefs and carry a tinfoil trident, don’t worry.