Age of the Geek


Fun Size Conventions


     For the last decade, Comic-Con International has often been the best week of my year.

     Every time I go back it gets a little bigger. When I started attending, the convention had not yet managed to fill the San Diego Convention Center to its capacity and you could buy passes at the door. Now, not only has the convention broken out of the convention center and into downtown San Diego, but passes themselves have become real life versions of Willy Wanka's golden ticket.

     With 130,000 attendees today, it's hard to believe that the largest convention in the nation began with only 300 people in a single hotel.

     It was with that idea in mind that I spent my Saturday in Cedar Falls this weekend at the first Rod Library Mini Comic-Con.

     Not that I expect it to become the next big thing on the convention scene. It's unlikely that 100,000 people will ever flock to the UNI campus every year to celebrate super-heroes in spandex.

     But a convention is a convention.

     One would imagine there would be an incredible amount of contrast between a convention of a couple hundred people and a convention of 130,000, but the differences aren't as significant as you might think.

     While it certainly fit the "MiniCon" description, scattered across three floors of the library building, all the staples of a convention were there.

     There was an exhibition area filled with pushy dealers trying to get you to buy their independently made books or crafts. There were kids getting an extra use out of their Halloween costumes and skilled cosplayers posing for pictures in high traffic areas. There were panels and activities that turned out to be more interesting than they sounded, and others that turned out to sound more interesting than they were.

     It may have been a thousandth of the size, but many of the same rules and expectations applied.

     The mini comic-con didn't have celebrity signings or exclusive collectables. There was no breaking news or sneak peeks for upcoming projects. But that's okay. Sometimes smaller is better.

     Unlike the San Diego convention, you could wander around the Rod Library without the fear of joining a multi-hour line. In fact, I was able to do things at the library that I've never been able to do at Comic-Con, like spend an hour learning how to play a new board game.

     A simple half-day convention is a lot easier on the wallet as well. With free admission, the whole affair only set me back $15 for prints, a $10 book, a fast food dinner, and a half tank of gas.

     It was also close enough that I was able to bring my little sister along. She enjoyed her first convention, small as it was. I believe the highlight of her day was having her picture taken with Batman.

     All in all, it was a good day. No matter the size, all you really need for a successful convention is a group of people with a shared interest.

     I'm curious to see how this one grows.

     Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and wants to see a comic convention in Hampton. Or maybe just a gaming night.