With all of the news and nerdy goodness coming from San Diego Comic Con last weekend, I’m reminded of the cons I’ve been to. I’ve only been to three, but I had a blast. So, did I ever tell you about my con experiences?
Now before you, “Pix or it didn’t happen!” me, there are pictures from at least one of the first two cons, and a video on VHS of the second. Unfortunately, it’s been a lot of years and a bunch of moves since the last time I saw them. I think they’re in storage. I’ve slowly been sorting through boxes and I swear on my autographed Marina Sirtis picture I will add them to the post when and if I find them!
The first two cons I attended were in Pittsburgh, PA in the early 90’s and had a heavy Star Trek slant. If memory serves they were staffed by a local Trek fan group and most of the guests were Trek related, but there folks from all sorts of shows and movies there. I was in my senior year of high school, and while I had been a HUGE fan of Trek and Star Wars and Buck Rogers and other show and movies, I was a little more under the impression geekiness was family thing. I talked about it with a couple of female friends who liked that kind of thing but not as much as I did, and I didn’t really know any guys who like any of the shows I liked. My cousins and extended family could be counted on for conversations, but most of the time it was just me and my brother talking about episodes of ST:NG and whatever other geeky thing he would decide to introduce me to next. (I should make a note here: Yes, I firmly place all blame for my geeky ways on my big brother Ron Gindlesperger. Thanks Bro!)
Going to my first con was a huge eye opener. We weren’t the only ones! Remember folks, this was the days before that big beautiful web was stretching around the wide world bringing geeks together and helping us find our tribes and reach our fandoms. This place was like another planet! People were in all kinds of costumes (we never even thought of that)! They were talking Klingon walking down the hall! The vendors’ room was filled with things we’d only seen in magazines or on TV. It was breath-taking!
My parents paid for the tickets for my brother and I to have the full experience, we could get into main hall for the presenters. I think that my parents and sister just had access to the vendors and other areas. It was something special for just us. Money was often tight, so this made it an even bigger deal that we drove all the way to Pittsburgh and got to do something as unnecessary like a Sci Fi convention and spent money on gas and food and tickets. It was pretty huge deal for me.
Marina Sirits was big name there that year and I can still remember some of what she talked about. Obviously it made a huge impression because 20+ years later and I still remember where we sat and where she stood and her talking to the crowd. We stood in line and I paid the extra $8 or $10 for an actual picture to get autographed (other wise I think it was free with the ticket purchase — my how those days have changed!) and I was so nervous. It was the first time I met a real life celebrity. Well one that I actually knew who it was (I met Jack Ham in our home town when I was a kid, but I didn’t know who he was then). It was amazing!
I went back the next year with a boyfriend, I think he paid for my ticket but my parents drove us and paid for my sister to come with. I took a video camera and mic from the school and said it was for a school video production class project and asked some people in costume questions…like I was trying to pass off to my parents that the only reason I went back was for an education experience. Don’t think they bought it. I had a lovely conversation a nice, albeit hairy, gentleman who told me he was Vincent’s cousin (from the popular TV show at the time Beauty and the Beast) who talked about being there because it was much nicer than the sewers, but it was a little odd for his taste and he didn’t care for the smell.
The wonderful George Takei was the big guest and he was a great speaker. What I remember most was that someone stole his running shoes. He came back from jogging and left them outside the door (I think they were muddy and he didn’t want to track it through the room). He went back out for them and they were gone. We were waiting in line for autographs and heard him say, “But who would want my old, stinky shoes? Whatever. I hope they enjoy them.” The line was cutoff before we could get to him for an autograph, but a good time was had by all.
Then life happened and I didn’t get back to a convention until this year when I got to take my two daughters and my husband to their first. The oldest daughter is nearly 16 and the youngest 9 (for my husband’s sake I’ll leave out how old he is). The girls cosplayed as Castiel and Lilith from Supernatural for Sci Fi Valley Con in Altoona, PA in June. It was a pretty small con by most standards, but it was enough to give the girls the bug to want to go to more. They’ve already started planning on costumes for next year. One of them may have already enlisted help of a grandparent on their handmade long bow….yeah they’re kind of serious about taking home a prize in the costume competition.
They had a lot of movie vehicles there. More recognizable vehicles than recognizable people, but hey they’re in their 3rd year and have more than doubled in size each year, so awesome for them! There were a lot of graphic artist there too – one of them was a guy I used to work with, it was kind of neat to see his work (even more amazing than I remember). There was still a lot to see and do, neat vendors and games and definitely doable in one day for us. It was also the day after our latest move (yeah us for putting together the cosplay costumes for the girls the day of a move so they could wear it the next morning!) so we were all tired and probably wouldn’t have been able to handle a huge event. This was the perfect place for their first con!
We went to a session about Geek Girls hosted by the awesome ladies at The Geek Girl Project (if you haven’t checked it out you should). It was full of great information on everything from ideas on where to get cosplaying costume ideas and materials to what it means to be a geek and to be a geek girl. And no, it’s not always easy to be a geek girl, but it’s ok because you’re not alone. Which is something I wish I would have know before I went to my first con.
I’d love to hear about your con experiences. I know mine are kind of tame, but I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. Feel free to share in the comments below!
I’ve got a lot more stories to tell. Tune in next week…Did I ever tell you about….