First of all, congrats! I bet your nerd boner is at full mast. I know mine was when I went a couple of months ago. So, from one first timer to another, I’d like to share my story of how comic con was both just as awesome and a lot weirder than I expected.
My first comic con was FanX17 in March in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had never really thought to go to a Con before because I don’t read comic books, so I thought I wasn’t “nerd enough” to fit in. I also thought that the famous people at the booths were all comic book writers and people I’d never heard of. However, thanks to the creepy fact that our phones listen to us when we’re talking (put your tin foil hats on, folks) I got one of the most pleasant surprises of my life.
Despite the impassioned debates Ethan and I usually have about ridiculous topics over dinner, making everyone in the restaurant glance over uncomfortably, one April we actually had a real discussion about what we wanted to do over our last spring break. After agreeing that we wanted to take a trip and some tentative dates to do so, the conversation naturally moved on. One topic that came up was one of our favorite shows, Psych. After dinner we went home and I casually browsed Instagram, not knowing the equal parts horror and excitement that would soon befall me. While scrolling through, a sponsored post appeared, letting me know that Dulé Hill, one of the stars of Psych, would be at Salt Lake Comic Con during our spring break (creepy, right?). The next morning, I looked into the event and found out there would be other people there we were excited about so I called my best friend Kendalyn (an equally enthusiastic Psych fan) and all of us promptly booked our tickets. I even had a shirt made!
The actual con was cool. But also strange. There was a ton of merch for all of the fandoms I proudly subscribe to like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and Supernatural. There were life-size replicas of props, people in intricate costumes, and some crazy food options!
By a freak coincidence that landed me in a seat next to one of the nicest people I’ve ever met during a Psych panel, my group and I got to do a photo op with the two guys from Psych, Dulé Hill and James Roday. Now here was the strange part: after the panel and all during the day I noticed a definite… blurring between fiction and reality for a lot of people there. The ones who were there for the panel would say thing like “James would never do this” or “Dulé is like that” — referring to them by their first names and talking as though they knew them personally. It was a strange vibe. I also realized that, while people liked to consider themselves pals with the celebrities there, they also kind of viewed them as objects. By the time that we got to our photo op late in the day, I felt a little icky for the Psych guys. They were running very far behind, so everyone only got about 10 seconds to take their picture, no poses or anything. We weren’t torn up about it; after all, we got the photo op as a gift and we thought it was cool just to meet them. However, as we approached (shortly behind a girl who literally screamed when she saw them. Yikes.) I saw how exhausted they seemed. James Roday literally sighed and Dulé Hill had been standing all day with his leg in a boot. It was sad. It made me realize that people didn’t really see them, or any of the other celebrities there, as people. They were seen like any other prop out on the con floor, except you had to pay over $100 to take a picture with them and afterward you could act like you’re best friends.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that those we look up to, especially those who we see on TV or in the movies, are people too. This was never more apparent than at comic con. In the end, we got our picture. I thanked James Roday and Dulé Hill for their time and told them I was sorry for how exhausting that must all be. They were kind and patient and nothing but sweet.
Overall, Comic Con was a fun and unique experience. I got to briefly meet two of my favorite actors from one of my favorite shows, eat cotton candy bigger than my head, meet the best (and weirdest!) of people, see some sweet ass costumes, and get in the TARDIS! It was definitely awesome and definitely worth it. Just keep in mind: it’s all fiction and if you want to pay a ton of money to meet people, remember to show respect and treat them like people, not novelties or possessions. They care enough about their fans to put themselves through a day or more of exhaustion, discomfort, and probably more than a few crazies. Just don’t be one of those crazies and enjoy your con!