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FORSGREN: Comic-Con newbie learns fandom is all about love

Arts & Entertainment

Share This reporter Natalia Hepworth and columnist Adam Forsgren

To the uninitiated, the idea of attending a comic convention can be intimidating. The phrase “comic convention” itself conjures images of rabid fanboys arguing, which comics character is the greatest and browbeating anyone they perceive to know less than them.

Raging throngs of snooty comics nerds trying to prove their nerdy superiority. Who would want to deal with that?

What people who’ve never attended a comics convention, or any similar fan event, don’t know is that these geeky shindigs are nothing more than massive gathering people sharing their love and passion about fandom. And with the first-ever Snake River Comic-Con rolling into Pocatello this weekend, I had the opportunity to help one comic-con newbie see this fact for herself.

I dragged reporter Natalia Hepworth to the SRCC Saturday, curious to see what would happen if I introduced someone who isn’t exactly the nerdy type. She voiced concerns that con attendees might not like her costume, and that people might be mean to her. I knew from past experiences that she was probably going to be surprised.

That surprise comes because most fans who come to out to conventions do so because of love. They love their favorite comic books, movies and TV shows. The people who don costumes do so because they love those characters and most of them love pouring their creativity and talents into putting together their costumes.

And most costumers love having their photos taken, because it’s a signal to them that their talents and efforts in putting their costumes together are being recognized.

Consider the members of the 501st Legion, a worldwide “Star Wars” costuming group. Many of them pour hundreds of hours and dollars into their costumes, constantly tweaking them and making improvements. One doesn’t put so much time, effort and resources into something one doesn’t love.

Courtesy photo

Natalia got to experience some costume love herself. At least half a dozen fans stopped her and asked to get a shot of her Red Queen costume. It was heart-warming to see her face light up when people asked her for a photo.

I got to feel some love, too. And right from the start. When Natalia and I went to pick up our passes, a woman I had never met gave me a big hug, simply because I was wearing a unicorn horn.

Although I was initially put on the defensive, as I’m not used to people I don’t know hugging me, I leaned into it and it actually gave that warm, fuzzy I-am-loved feeling.

But nothing made me feel love like when one of the comic book vendors offered me a chance to look a super-sized book of Jack Kirby “Fantastic Four” art work. Kirby, one of the greatest penciler in comic book art history, has had a huge impact on the way my imagination works, and leafing through that book gave me feelings I’ve not felt since I was regularly attending church. I’m surprised I didn’t cry.

And that is the essence of what the Snake River Comic-Con, and so many other events like it, is all about.

Courtesy photo

It’s fans getting together to geek out and share their mutual love for their favorite fandoms. And to see Natalia get to experience this for the first time as she met and talked to people who so love what they do, from costuming to writing to creating artwork and drawings, was so good for my soul.

I hope this is just the first of many fan events Natalia gets to go to. Because she sure seemed to have fun.

And as for myself, I got hugged by a pretty unicorn-lover, geeked out over Fantastic Four, and watch as my people accepted one of my good friends. Yeah, I’d say it was a pretty good day!