To The Wonder(con), by Tyler Smith
There was a moment at this year’s Wondercon in which I was walking the exhibit floor, looking for Riddler action figures, when I realized that a panel I was interested in attending was going to start in the next few minutes. I quickly made my way to the exit of the exhibit floor. Before I left, though, I gave a quick look back, for no particular reason. And, in the moment, I wish I had taken a photo.
The reason for this is because, in the split second that I looked back at the crowded floor, I was struck by something I saw. What I saw was black people, white people, Asian people, and latino people. I saw both men and women. I saw good-looking people and average-looking people. Old and young.
In other words, I saw a genuine cross section of humanity in one quick mental snapshot, and it made me so happy that it almost brought a tear to my eye. But that happiness slowly gave way to a deep frustration. Because I remembered hearing a recent conversation perpetuating the stereotype of the white 30-something male virgin, living in his parents’ basement, trying to summon up the courage to talk to a real, human girl, and that comic conventions are just a collection of these people all thrown together.
This stereotype persists and, having attended multiple comic conventions, I must say I just don’t understand why. I saw more diversity at Wondercon this year than anywhere else in my life, including malls, workplaces, and even specifically non-offensive commercials. And the reason has nothing to do with shared backgrounds or philosophies. It doesn’t have to do with ethnicity or gender. The thing that brings these people together is simply passion.
Everybody is passionate about different things, to be sure. I saw fans of Marvel, DC, Star Trek, Star Wars, Disney, Dreamworks, Walking Dead, and more. And while out in the world some of these fans might take an antagonistic tone towards other artistic properties, there at Wondercon, everybody seemed to just be happy to be around other people that truly understood. You may ask what is it exactly that they understand. They understand what it is to be so moved by a piece of storytelling that you have to celebrate it. You have to talk to others about it. It becomes a part of you.
Anybody can have this reaction, from any walk of life. And to bring these people together to celebrate and share this passion is a really amazing thing. It was wonderful to be a part of it.