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April 16, 2014

I will not learn Klingon

I’ve admitted I’m a geek. After I broke down and attended my first con, I couldn’t deny it anymore. It has been a struggle. For years, seeing all of those weirdos speaking Klingon and dressing up in costumes was disconcerting. I didn’t understand because I hadn’t yet embraced what I was. I don’t speak Klingon, but I do know I feel at home surrounded by Daleks and people dressed in bowties or extra long scarves.

It seems Louisville is full of very geeky people, and every year during the several comic cons that happen, these same folks descend on one of the downtown hotels or convention spaces and celebrate their love for comic books, sci-fi and horror. There are geeks of all shapes and varying fur lengths at every convention. Some in costume and some like me, only brave enough to wear a T-shirt extolling the virtues of their particular nerdy attachment. I’ve simply not worked up enough nerve to do cosplay. I will. I just haven’t found the right one.

Last year, I wrote about my experience at Fandom Fest, which turned into a bit of a mess. Soon after that festival, Wizard World Comic Con was announced for Louisville.

Wizard World hosts comic cons in several cities throughout the United States. They are like most in that they offer several days of panels, markets and celebrity signings. Wizard World differs in that they travel and benefit from, in my experience, a well put together organization. I found their team not only knew what was going on but also were accessible when I needed information about most anything.

My first night, when leaving Wizard World after a panel by Karen Gillan (“Doctor Who”), I was standing at the street corner waiting for the light to change. A car came up to the light with Naughty by Nature’s “O.P.P.” at concert volume. As I shook my head, someone next to me made a comment. It was amusing and I laughed accordingly.

When I looked over at the person, I noticed it was the CEO of Wizard World who had just praised Gillan in the panel. I told him I’d like to speak with him about the convention and was just about to text his PR person. His response: “No need to do that. Come find me tomorrow.”

The next day when I returned with my husband, he was there. I decided he looked too busy and I didn’t need to speak with him to write this piece. It is nice to know that the man in charge was not only visible but also working alongside his staff. It was unique for such a large event.

Not all cons are as large, and people disagree about what they feel the experience should be. There are those who like the underground aspect of cons with more specific foci, like Kamikon Alpha and Omega, dedicated to anime and cosplay. Then there are those who like the celebrity-heavy monoliths like Wizard World or Fandom.

I understand the need for and attraction to things that are underground and lesser known. These types of special interests are precious to those who participate. It can be distracting and overwhelming when the crowd is too big and too focused on celebrities.

Personally, I feel larger crowds are comforting and, for me, educational. I’ve learned about many comics and shows I knew nothing about by attending the cons. I’ve also seen many costumes, most of them homemade, that feed my desire to try cosplay. I love Halloween. This seems a logical next step.

My latest discovery is the comic “Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan. It’s been out for a bit, but for some reason, I’ve just let it miss my radar. Situation remedied thanks to Wizard World and my husband, who got me the ebook versions.

Perhaps I’ll find my first cosplay in “Saga,” or maybe I’ll just keep going to conventions, learning more and wearing “Doctor Who” T-shirts because I’m still not brave enough to paint myself pink.

Either way, Wizard World was a welcome addition to Louisville this year. Fandom is still to come, and hopefully they’ve fixed the problems they had last year; I think they deserve a chance to prove themselves. I do know I’ll be waiting anxiously for next March when Wizard World returns.