I don't know if any of my "esteemed" colleagues are as well traveled as I am, so I will not assume that they also have convention floor tales to beguile and bemuse you all with, but hey, if they have them, they can post them.
For the record, even after all of this, I will still go to conventions all the time. Just for your entertainment.
I am a masochist. I have a morbid curiosity that leads me to dark dens rested deep in the underbelly of every subculture and niche society has to offer. Bizarre pornography. Cock fights. The seediest, scummiest places you can imagine. I've been there. All of these things have a siren's song that I cannot ignore. Yet, the one thing that is more embarrassing than all of these fascinations, the one thing that actually can get my goat if brought up is this: I love me some comic books.
Well, not really, but it was such a good opening I had to use it. Seriously, when's the last time you got to say "get my goat"?
Sometimes it's downright depressing being a comic-book fan. First of all, when asked what I've been reading lately, the faces you get when you say Justice League of America make you feel as if you'd be better off saying the nutritional facts on the back of Count Chocula. Secondly, most other fans are just so batshit loco and vehemently aggressive about their favorite characters that being associated with them makes you feel like less of a human being for enjoying the adventures of Batman. But the worst part is the conventions. Oh god, the conventions. This is the story of one such convention. This is Wizard World: Philadelphia.
Now, one does not go to any event of rabid fandom without expecting to be at least a little bit mortified by those who take things far too seriously. That way lies madness. Beforehand, you must try to mentally prepare yourself for the abominations to both God and aesthetics that will surely roam the convention floor. You will try, but surely fail. There is no preparation
You think you've seen the worst scum to be scraped from the bottom of the barrel of nerdiness? My friend, you aint seen nothing. Don't believe me? Go to any fan convention you can find. I will visit you in the asylum.
This is not to say I view myself as a debonair and dastardly handsome young lad, but fuck, there are some things human eyes were not meant to view. If only it had the same effect as opening the Ark of the Covenant, because surely you will want to die after witnessing such horrors.
For starters, the line to get inside was being led by a very unattractive, very overweight man in drag. He was dressed up as a girl from Pokemon. Said girl wears a cut off shirt. So, as the line moved forward, I was pulled towards a sweaty sack of hairy man-fat reminiscent of the Death Star luring in the Millennium Falcon. I didn't want to walk towards it, but I had no choice. I had to meet some comic creators and Lou Ferrigno.
Having successfully navigated the abominable guardian of the line, it was time to take my place on the convention floor; it was as if stepping into another world. Inside the hall was...staggering. The pale, the pimpled, the scrawny, and those who could no longer walk under their own power mingled into an orgy of the socially retarded. My friend, you couldn't walk more than 3 feet without cringing. Just overhearing conversations on which comic book character's "jugs" were indeed the most perky, no less than three times, is mind-numbing, to say the least. (Psylocke won, by the way)And, that's not even taking into account the costumes.
The costumes were awful. Most of them were half-assed. A five-minute make-up job does not The Joker make. I have never seen so many cardboard robots that were not in television specials about kids who were too poor to afford costumes, but learned the spirit of family somehow at the end of it all.
Now, I am not adverse to people dressing up in costume -- if it looks good. No, my aversion is to sloppy costumes not meant for your weight. Now, I am fat myself, so I cannot scold those whose favorite thing is too many pancakes, but man I don't walk around showing my sweet man cleavage to the unwashed masses. I cover my shame. These people did not.
I could harp endlessly on the platoon of Stormtroopers who almost shook the convention room floor as they walked. I could go on about the 400 pound (I asked) Scarecrow. But the worst offender, by far, was a 500+ pound gelatinous mass of obscured gender sporting a hair lip and out-of-control mutton chops at least 30-years-old dressed as the Batman character Harley Quinn.
For those not in the know, Harley is a bombshell character in a skintight red costume. Where this, and I struggle to use the word, person, found the sheer amount of fabric to create this costume is a mystery lost to the cosmos. But...it...had it, and it would not leave me alone.
Yes, I spent the majority of my time at a comic book convention avoiding a sea cow in spandex. I go to a booth to get my picture taken with Lou Ferrigno (who was charging twenty bucks for a Polaroid, so I quickly dismissed that notion), and turn around to see it just smiling at me. I meet one of my favorite writers, Brian Michael Bendis, and tell him how rad he is, only to be greeted by muttonchops.
This game of cat and mouse continued for about 2 hours until I finally snapped. I ask what the hell it's doing following me around so much. I am not attracted to him...her...it, and at this point, its feelings are the last thing on my mind. I find out, it, indeed, is female, and she just wanted to tell me I have a nice shirt. For two hours. Working up the courage to tell me I have a nice shirt.
I almost would have been touched. This was a moment of human frailty right here. This creature was reaching out to me. Then, she tried to kiss me for some bizarre reason, and no one wants to see a hair lip that close. Apparently, acknowledging her existence is what really got her engine running.
Speaking of running, that was my cue to exit. I'd only been there three hours, but just the sheer overwhelming depression this haven of inept nerds desperately clinging to their funny books and Thor's Mjolnir replicas as some sort of pass out of real social interaction spewed forth like a poisonous gas and choked the air of the entire convention center.
Now, I know some of you. Your interest has been piqued. You are masochists, like myself. You must see these creatures first hand, like some sort of safari. Well, while the idea of a nerd safari is sound in theory, and you have much less of a chance of being mauled by a lion, don't. Just don't. If you value your sanity, please, for the love of god, download 2 Girls 1 Cup. Look up beasttube. The internet is enough. You do not want to see these people in person. There is not enough soap in the world to untarnish my poor eyes after what I saw in only three hours.
And, if you want to ignore my warnings, if you think you are more mentally sound than me, if you think I am exaggerating, feel free to try and prove me wrong. Though, when you stand in the shower for days upon end because one of them touched you, don't turn to me for sympathy.