Sam Maronies Entertainment Funhouse (Maronie Creative Services, LLC)


October 19, 2013


We’re now nearing the final gasp of the convention season. The behemoth known as Comicon San Diego has come and gone. Wizard World Chicago and Dragon Con Atlanta are coming up fast and promise to be huge fan conclaves.

The wild proliferation of these gargantuan events is a source of constant bemusement to me.

Back in the Paleolithic Era of comics fandom, in the early 1970s, the idea that such conventions would attract many thousands of fans would have been as fantastic a concept as the wildest comic-book plot. In the pre-Star Wars era, being a serious comic-book or science-fiction fan was tantamount to wearing an invisible Dunce Cap on your head. You were considered just a step above being mentally defective.

Comic-book and s-f conventions at this time were the only places we could go and physically be around others who were interested in the same things we loved. The world at large could criticize and make fun of us all they wanted, but these events afforded us the chance to be with fellow fans and know that we were really ok. It was the rest of society that was out of step with us.

But after Star Wars was released in 1977, the world changed. The huge popularity of the cinema space-opera ignited an explosion of interest in all things science-fiction, fantasy and comic-books. If you were passionate about these things, you were no longer considered the village idiot. Now it was cool!

There were more and more fantasy films being released every month; suddenly the number of genre books and comics increased dramatically. Prior to this time, believe it or not, it was quite possible to keep up with all the comics titles and all the s-f books quite easily; now the sheer weight of numbers made it impossible.

The genre became increasingly mainstream—which was a good thing! The medium’s popularity ushered in an onslaught of new fans, creative talent, and gave us lots of new product. These new fans began migrating to conventions, which caused these events to begin bursting at the seams.

Back in the day, comics conventions were comics conventions. There were few celebrity appearances, a negligible gaming presence and next to no one clad in home made costumes. There were some big-time comics dealers, but just as many were ordinary fans selling things from their collections to finance other purchases.

Well, as you know, its all different now. Most modern conventions are billed as ‘pop-culture’ shows. They now feature Hollywood stars hawking their autographs….gaming tournaments….art dealers….and the latest popular fad, Cosplay; relatively little has much to do with comics any more.

S’help me….I truly enjoy seeing all the creative costumes that now proliferate at conventions now, but some serious policing needs be put in place. I’ve had more than one near-miss with someone wearing a pointy costume who wasn’t watching where he or she was going in in close-pressed crowd. Cosplayers, I won’t be able to enjoy my funny books as much with an eye poked out.

I’ll be the first to tell you, I am a Cranky Old Fan. While I’m thrilled that these things we enjoy are now so welcomed with open arms, I still miss the days when it didn’t take a half-hour wait in line to get your ticket and you could walk the aisles without being trampled by the crowd.

As much as I would love to attend Comicon San Diego, I doubt if i have the sufficient patience–and physical stamina–for the incessant line-standing, waiting and walking to events. For me, sometimes bigger is not always better.

Whether or not you agree with the path conventions have taken, thousands of fans of these various interests now jam the convention halls. It’s great for the promoters and its a bonanza for the vendors. It’s moved beyond being purely fan-events. Now it’s Big Business.

So should I just stay home in my rocking chair and leave the convention experience to the young ‘uns? Some of you may say yes. But I’ll continue to attend these events while I still have a breath in me. Whatever inconveniences are there, its all forgotten when I step on that convention floor and feel the palpable excitement in the air. There’s still the kid in me from the 1970’s who is still thrilled to be around kindred spirits.







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