Convention Confessional

Leaving The Keystone State's Never Easy

by Andy Smith

3 May 2010

Wrapping up his coverage of the recent Pittsburgh Comic Convention, Andy Smith discovers something that puts the gathering into a different perspective.

It’s the third day of the Pittsburgh Comicon, and I feel like I’ve experienced it all.

I’ve scoured through back issues and held Amazing Fantasy #15 until the dealer started to appear nervous. I’ve high-fived every Star Wars character I’ve seen, including the lazy ones who simply donned a robe for Jedi Knighthood. I’ve had conversations with medium legends like Roy Thomas and Joe Sinnott. Most importantly, I capitalized on the booth giving away free energy drinks.

But as I walk by one particular booth, promoting Mark Mariano’s comicbook Happyloo and music act The Omatics, I notice a scene that puts the convention in a different perspective.
I see kids getting excited about comics.

Sure, there have been a few younger fanboys populating the network of retailer and creator stations this weekend. But today, deemed Kidz Day by the Pittsburgh Comicon, the demographic has been altered. And in a moment, it is captured—the curiosity, the excitement and the simplistic joy of having something entirely new in their hands.

A Second Generation: Mark Mariano displays the interiors of his kid-friendly comicbooks to convention-goers at the Pittsburgh Comicon.

A Second Generation: Mark Mariano displays the interiors of his kid-friendly comicbooks to convention-goers at the Pittsburgh Comicon.

For most of the weekend, I’ve observed how nearly every kind of convention-goer interacts with the medium except the one representing the actual roots of the comic book: kids. Since the inception of the form, children have represented the foundation of the medium’s influence. Yet, somehow, we tend to leave them out when we talk about comic book conventions.

Certainly, the core readership of comic books has aged over past decades. But it began, and will continue, with kids. Just as they are the roots of the form, their attitude toward the medium represents the reasons conventions are relevant endeavors.

Their curiosity is a model for what comic books should inspire when we drive miles to celebrate them. Their excitement should be felt by veteran collectors and newcomers visiting the convention with any number of intentions and motivations. And then, perhaps, we can feel that same simplistic joy when we finally find the thing we’re looking for at a con.

And as I set out to find out why people go to events like the Pittsburgh Comicon, I think I’ve found that thing.

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