I used to think that I was a nerd, especially in high school. I spent a lot of time watching C-SPAN, reading The New York Times and generally being awkward and ignoring the interests of my peers. I wasn't into sci-fi or Star Wars or Magic The Gathering, but I had plenty of boring and obscure interests. After my experience at Dallas Comic Con, though, I can never honestly call myself a nerd again. I am an insult to nerds everywhere.
See also: The Cosplay of Dallas Comic Con
And nerds were everywhere at Dallas Comic Con. Before I even walked into the Dallas Convention Center, I saw a family of Star Wars cosplayers, including a baby Yoda, in the parking lot. I stood beside Zoidberg from Futurama while looking at T-shirts and rode the escalator with a woman in head-to-toe grey body paint and a very elaborate hand-sewn God of War (which is apparently a Playstation game) costume.
The attention to detail that only cosplayers have is impressive. There were no bullshit Wal-Mart Halloween costumes at Dallas Comic Con, but there were stormtroopers who had microphones in their helmets, steampunks in hand-tooled corsets, and a Queen Amidala that could have swiped her costume straight from the movie set. Even the simpler costumes, like a Superman with built-in muscles, looked very expensive.
Every form of geekery and nerdom is represented with reverence at Comic Con, but as an outsider, I had underestimated exactly what that meant. I was surprised to see that Breaking Bad had a sizable representation of fans in cosplay, and an autographed photo of that guy from the TV show J.A.G. was going for a ridiculous $200. Clearly nerds have much more diversified interests than the rest of us.
The real surprise of the day was in the Artist Alley. Tons of independent painters, illustrators and graphic artists were peddling their wares, and some of them were awful, but many of the prints and paintings available were very good. Every artist was really excited to tell you about his work, but without the pushiness of your average salesperson. One booth offered up "the worst comic book in the world" for a dollar, and offered to refund your buck if you actually liked it, which is a tactic that is probably unique to comic book conventions.
I was also a little stunned at the cosplayers in all black, who looked like military dudes from Call of Duty or Halo. They stalked around the Dallas Convention Center "shooting" each other with realistic looking guns, which was unsettling if only because the presence of guns in a large crowd usually means that the shit is about to hit the fan. Then I saw the "weapons check," where each toy gun and sword is given a tag to make sure that everyone is staying safe.
Mario, Luigi and other unidentifiable Nintendo characters danced to "Thriller" in the lobby while a crowd of anime characters, superheroes and horror movie villains watched. The entire experience of Comic Con as someone who doesn't like anything enough for true fandom is surreal, especially when you see how much everyone cares about their geeky pursuits. It would be easy to make the jokes about being surrounded by virgins and neck-beards, but the people at Comic Con helped me have a good time, even though I had privately decided that the whole thing was going to be terrible.
Being in that kind of come-as-you-dork environment is enough for even my cold, black heart to get excited about a few things. I was pissed when I realized that only a few of the booths in the entire convention had any T-shirts or memorabilia from the BBC show Sherlock. I stalked a couple of different booths to find the best price on tiny little Game of Thrones figurines that I couldn't live without. For a few hours on Sunday, I became a nerd.
It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows at Dallas Comic Con, though. People who are mesmerized by shiny new dork gear and katanas don't always look where they're going, and a permanent deodorant booth wouldn't be a bad idea for Comic Cons. And none of that hippie crystal deodorant shit, either. Some of y'all need Speed Stick, extra strength, because poly-blend Boba Fett costumes don't breathe.
As I trekked back to my car all the way out in remote parking, though, I was three Game of Thrones figurines and two digitally-rendered prints closer to being an actual, real life nerd. I won't be dressing up as Doctor Who or watching any of their boring sci-fi movies, but I gained a brand new respect for dedicated nerds everywhere this past Sunday at Dallas Comic Con.