When most people think of comic, sci-fi or themed conventions, they usually synonymize it with a bunch of freaks, geeks and trekies! …not to say that these wacky conventioneers don’t exist, but the large number of comic and sci-fi convention fans are regular people like you and I who happen to like a strange genre of storylines, shows and movies that seem to have some sort of pop culture following.
My first experience with this unique group of individuals was at the 2012 Dallas ComicCon convention held at the Irving Convention Center in Irving, Texas. I like most newbies didn’t know what to expect. There there’s the decision of what to wear, should I go in regular street clothes, make a costume or weed through the racks of factory-made costumes at the local party store? Would it look like I was trying too hard by making some noticeably hand-crafted outfit that perhaps maybe be equally uncomfortable to wear as it was authentic and true to life. My motivation was hell bent on being a character that was unique, someone not many people would automatically choose to masquerade as, someone that I also identified with. That one person was none of other than Nightwing. Nightwing is a character in the Batman franchise, he is the first Robin, Dick Grayson now all grown-up who fights independently than the caped crusader and at other times as leader of the Teen Titans & an incarnation of the Justice League.
I have always felt a connection to Nightwing because of his backstory – a young loner who finds a sense of family with Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon (Batman & Batgirl) and despites his odds, excels. I have felt embraced by friends who have become my extended family and their love and support have helped me to excel and win despite the odds. So there I had it, the perfect character to bring to life. But who knew it would be so much hard work. My costume consisted of about 3 different rough drafts until its final glory reminiscent of the Young Justice version of Nightwing.
I was finally satisfied with the resulting costume as you can see in the lower footnote of this article and I was off to ComicCon in all my lycra, spandex, pleather and blue fleece glory! The convention itself was a smorgasbord of interesting personalities. Some friendly and eager to ask for or be asked for photo ops with characters in their storylines. While others seemed to take the convention more “seriously” and kept a respectful distance, even sometimes out rightly rejection interactions. Personally I was looking forward to my first battle scene and it didn’t take too long for me to manage the courage to approach someone. To my surprise I was only one of maybe 3 or 4 Nightwing’s who attended the convention, and not to toot my own horn but I was told on more than a few occasions I was the best Nightwing at the convention. My motivation was not that all, it was really to show my fandom for my character and to show that even us portly guys can rock spandex and lycra and not look a complete village idiot!
Along with meeting other conventioneers were the opportunity to meet comic legends, artists, writers and innovators. The highlight of this convention was of course the legendary Stan Lee. Unfortunately I spent close to $200 for my outfit, so my budget was already tapped, so I wasn’t able to pay the meager $50 fee for a photo op\autograph from Mr. Lee. I would like to add, he was actually one of the lowest price out of all the convention celebrities, which is crazy because its freakin’ Stan Lee, the father of everything awesome there is in the Marvel Universe!!! That just shows how gracious he is to his fans! For a lot of celebrities, both mainstream popular and known exclusively to cult followings, these conventions are opportunities to make a lot of money! On average the fee for a celebrity photo or autograph is roughly $75 – $100. Just think, the lines are at least 200 people deep at a minimum, could bring in $20,000, and that’s still a low figure! And that’s just at one convention, on one weekend!
There’s also opportunities to market and sell nostalgic, current and even some trash-to-treasure junk items to eager fans, which I happily made use of as I was able to score some very nice comics whose value may not be high but had awesome covers and also opened the opportunity to read the original storylines of some of my personal favorites. All-in-all my first ComicCon was an awesome experience. It was also kinda funny, it sort of felt like preparing for a wedding, running around to find the perfect outfit, making sure all your invited guests were going to make it and then the big day! LOL, ok let me wake up from my nerd fantasy speech and conclude by saying, ComicCon 2013 here I come! And just wait and see what I have in store next year – oh the decisions, decisions…