Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Con Fever

From the wandering mind of Tamela Buhrke

This year, a fever hit me bad.

It transported me to a place where demon girls flirted with superheroes. Where Indiana Jones stepped out of the crowd to take a moment and light a cigarette. And where bike chariots shaped like iron thrones waited patiently for Jedi’s and Browncoats to hop on for a spin through the Gas Lamp District.

Was this just a mythical land born of a writer's fertile imagination?

Nope. This was San Diego Comic Con.

For those of you who have yet to experience it, Comic Con is hard to explain. What started as a conference for comic book lovers has grown into a movement. It is a movement of nerds. Nerds who love superheroes, video games and role playing. Nerds who love great stories–whether in books, television shows or movies. Nerds who long to live the magic, wear the cape and vanquish the evildoers.

...Or, at the very least, snag Princes Leia's phone number.

Crazy as it may sound, I actually went to San Diego without a ticket to Comic Con. You see, the conference has outgrown the San Diego convention center. This year, tickets sold out in a few hours, months in advance, and I was not one of the lucky ones. Fortunately, a little thing like a lack of tickets doesn't stop anybody from enjoying this con. The nerds have branched out. Events have started popping up all around the conference center—from pirate ship parties floating along the coast to zombie walks in the park, to Conan O'brien art galleries—the movement has far outgrown the con.

And that is how I ended up in San Diego, ticketless and happy. You see, a few months before SDCC, I learned about one of these soirees surrounding the con. It was an event sponsored by Zachary Levi, star of the hit show “Chuck” on NBC. He and his company ( managed to forge a team of friends, television stars, gaming companies and dedicated volunteers to create something he named the "NerdHQ."

Just a few hours into Nerd HQ and a nerd fever had infected my brain like a bad zombie movie. I spent my days clustered together with nerds of all shapes and sizes—in costume, in Nerd t-shirts, and in heaven. In heaven because NerdHQ was offering tickets to see our favorite stars from our favorite nerdy shows. The tickets for these “conversations for a cause” were only $20 each and the money went to Operation Smile, a charity that provides free operations for children with cleft palates and other facial deformities.

So we were able to do good, be the hero, while getting up-close and personal with the casts of Firefly, Supernatural, Heroes, Psyched, Lost and more. We asked questions. They shared plot lines and personal moments. Some even sang. Never was I more than 20 feet from the stage.

It. Was. Epic!

Pardon me while I SQUEEeee!

Ahem. Yet, none of these star-studded attractions compared to what I really got out of this event—meeting my peeps! My fellow Nerds! As a writer, I can honestly say that rarely do I find people who have more imagination, creativity and interest in... well... pretty much everything... than my fellow writers. But at SDCC and NerdHQ, I was surrounded by talented, fascinating people. People who made period-authentic movie costumes. People who could argue plot points on my favorite fantasy novels. Several times I even heard stars discussing their favorite books or graphic novels. Hazzah!

Then, believe it or not, more magic happened.

I will not explain how this happened (for obvious reasons), but I managed to score a one day pass into Comic Con. *Cue soundtrack to favorite nerdy movie of your choice.*

Armed with my new Nerd t-shirt, I passed through the doors of the main hall. My eyes lit with the sparkling lights of a thousand vendors. I gaped at Star Wars exhibits. I longed for Walking Dead t-shirts. I marveled at a Cowboys and Aliens display that lit the room and... wait, was that a Shark Week tote bag?!

Then I passed into writer nirvana. Row upon row of book venders. Urban fantasy, horror, science fiction, fairy tale, steam punk and paranormal books danced before my eyes. I also discovered that many of my favorite writers were speaking at the con, giving talks about their genre, their books and their writing tips. Oh, mama, I was home.

So the fever has forever altered my genetic code.

I am a Con girl—now, and forever. Who's with me?


Giles Hash said...

I've talked about this many times: Nerds are the Alpha Consumers! I think Transformers was an utter failure (not financially, but overall) because the directer all but refused to cater to the nerds. You know, the biggest fans who would have gone to see it a dozen times if the movies hadn't been so mediocre.

ComicCon is awesome, and I wish I could have gone. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Book Lady said...

OMG! I love the pick of Jewel, Adam, and (Droool) Nathan! :) You lucky lucky person you! I am jealous!

Tamela Buhrke said...

Giles - Nerds are the best people on the planet! Best consumers. Best kind of people. Even better, they are our readers. I love that!

Book Lady - Yeah, that sooo didn't suck. I have pictures with Alan Tudyk too. What a cutie he is! I even got to hang out with Adam Baldwin for a little bit. Somehow, I had become friends with some people who knew him. Nice guy! Big. But nice.

Hillary Seidl said...

I went to a Supernatural Con last year and I have to say that it has been so hard not to buy tickets! Awesome pics, thanks for sharing!

Tamela Buhrke said...

Cons are addictive. Plus, there are more of them each year! For locals to Colorado, Mile Hi Con is in October. Next summer we will add Denver Con to the list.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I've only been to mystery cons so far, but Comic Con sounds amazing. Your good fortune in snagging that one day pass makes the story even better. Maybe I need to expand my horizons, at least as far as the next Denver event.

j. a. kazimer said...

Pics of the firefly crew!!!! Adam and Nathan are looking gooooodddd.

I'm so jealous!

Tamela Buhrke said...

Pat - I highly recommend it. But I think you probably got that from the post. LOL!

Julie - It's awesome discovering who of my friends are Browncoats and I didn't even know it. I'll show you all my Firefly pics at the Gold Conference. I have a whomping crush on Alan Tudyk from that experience. What a cutie he is. Smart men. Mmmm... yummy.

Unknown said...

Awesome article, but you honestly left out so many of the magic moments that I witness to, and I was only with you a fraction of the time you were there! Yes, it was an awesome adventure, and I can't believe how similar our stories are (except I'm lucky if I write a post it note now and again!). heh. It was awesome meeting you, and helping a bit with that infection in your your creative soul. Sorry, and you're welcome. hehe.

Marlena Cassidy said...

Comic Con NYC will forever be my con. I went there for the first time last year, and it was amazing and I want to again. I'm glad you enjoyed the San Diego Con!