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Comic Con, Bing Con not just for comic book lovers anymore


July 31, 2014

G. Michael Dobbs
news@thereminder.com

You probably noticed that Comic Con in San Diego, California, received a fair amount of attention in last week’s news. It was on the various entertainment news shows as well as even more mainstream outlets such as the ABC evening news broadcast.

It is one of the two largest pop culture events in the nation – the other being the New York Comic Con – and it’s a bit of a misconception to see it as just something relating to comic books and cartoonists.

Over the past decade, more and more movies and television shows have used Comic Con as their means of announcing various products. It is big business and a positive response from the core fans could mean success for a project.

Seeing the coverage of what started as a gathering of comic book fans sort of tickles me. What was once considered so outside of the mainstream is now embraced by the most corporate of suited executives.

Of course, the terms “nerd” and “geeks” are tossed about with abandon by the press as a means of still trying to define the people who go to such events as outsiders, something I find a little offensive.

Face it. The kids you bullied in school because they weren’t good at sports or were smaller or not as good looking had other skills and interests that have translated into innovation.

I think it is human nature to belong to a tribe – a group of people with shared interests. What is the second or third topic in a cocktail party conversation? We try to find out what the interests of a person are so we can find an easy topic of conversation.  We are generally overjoyed to find someone who speaks the same language.

Social organizations and clubs are tribes. Sports fans belong to a tribe. Veterans define themselves by their branch of the military.

The idea that a group of people who like comic books, horror, fantasy or science fiction novels, television shows and movies gathering together is no more unusual than sports fans who go to memorabilia shows or make pilgrimages to a revered ball field or sports hall of fame.

It’s all about expressing your interests with like-minded people.

This issue with the folks who go to events such as Comic Con – and our local pop culture gathering, Bing Con 2014, is scheduled for Aug. 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Asbury Hall of Trinity Methodist Church in Springfield – has been their interests have been deemed as juvenile in the past.

Following sports, collecting stamps and other such traditional interests are activities that can start in childhood and mature into adult pursuits. Reading science fiction novels, collecting comic books or chasing down obscure films have been seen as interests that should stop in high school at the latest.

And heaven help you if you were into making costumes based on pop culture characters, although I see no difference between cosplay – there is your vocabulary word for the week – and wearing your Red Sox T-shirts, socks and hats to work.  

That has changed and much of it has been with the emergence of the baby boomers in American society who had a keen interest in keeping their childhood interest or reviving them and sharing them with their kids.

How else could one explain the popularity of superhero films?  Comic books up until the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie were made into serials or B movies. After the success of “Superman” and “Star Wars,” the mainstream started paying closer attention to such properties.

God bless us, as most of us are “geeks” in one way or another. The “nerds” have won and that is a good thing.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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