Skip to content

Tag: written content

Article: When Nerdy Gets Dirty

Our Washington DC correspondent David wrote in about 18+ panels, Nerdlesque shows, and the sexy & empowered side of Comic-con culture.  

transparent_25x25

When Nerdy Gets Dirty

     Three years ago I attended my first comic convention and, thankfully, had certain aspects of my worldview entirely obliterated. For one, I become acutely aware that nerds, geeks, and fandom freaks aren’t the socially awkward, reclusive, introverts that the vast majority of mainstream mentality assumes them to be. Instead, I discovered that they are a wildly social, inclusive, friendly, and often times incredibly risqué and naughty group of people (when set in the right environment). Three years and many conventions later, I find myself entirely captivated by how dirty nerdy can actually get and how open and accepting this subculture within a subculture really is.

During my first Con, I ventured into an 18+ panel around midnight on my groups second day at the convention. That panel was called the “Anything Goes Dating Show” and by “Anything Goes” they really meant Anything Goes. This panel dramatically changed how I felt about the comic convention scene for a number of reasons and continues to be one of my favorite convention memories. First of all, it made me more comfortable in my own skin and completely dashed out the discomfort I felt by being at a comic convention in the first place (at that time I hadn’t completely embraced my inner nerd). Secondly, it changed my opinion of everyone in the room and of comic convention culture in general. I no longer felt like I was sitting in a room full of introverts and recluses with weird comic obsessions. Instead, I saw this as a room full of incredibly confident extroverts who were amazingly vocal about their many kinks and fetishes. At the time, I found this experience completely shocking. Today, I still find it completely shocking but have a much better understanding that there is a vibrant subculture of dirty nerds within the subculture of traditional nerds (however you want to define traditional) and I find this totally fascinating.

Now, let’s get on to the good stuff. The “Anything Goes Dating Show” was structured exactly like the ABC television show The Dating Game. Three potential suitors were separated from their potential date by a thin visual barrier and were asked a series of questions until the date decided which of the three to meet face-to-face. Now, the difference between ABC’s The Dating Game and the comic convention’s Anything Goes Dating Show was that the questions, as well as the behavior, at the comic convention were excessively dirty. For example, one girl asked her group of suitors “if I were any type of food, what would I be and how would you eat me?” The question alone was obviously met with a roar of laughter from the audience but the answers were even better. One guy said “you would be an ice-cream cone and I would slowly lick you until you started to drip down my chin” and another guy said something disgusting about spaghetti and slurping and sucking until the bed was covered with sauce. Both answers were of course gut wrenchingly hilarious and, for me, entirely unexpected. Keep in mind this was in a room full of cosplaying nerds in the middle of a comic convention. As the show went on, the debauchery went much further than just dirty questions and answers. Eventually, the questions turned to actionable requests which were met, confidently and shamelessly, with actual action. One guy asked his line up of three women “will you strip for me?” and, sure enough, all three said yes. The panel moderators pulled a chair into the center of the room and each woman gave their best lap dance. Charizard was the first to give it a go and within moments she’d taken her top off. Several gyrations and grinds later, she dropped her panties to the floor, did a tushy exposing twirl, and dropped into a full split in the middle of this crowded room. The crowd was roaring. Next up was Michonne from the Walking Dead and again within moments, totally unprovoked, her top came off and the lap dance went on. I can’t remember what the third cosplayer was but I do remember that she too ended up topless and fully committed to giving the sexiest lap dance she could muster…amidst a room full of hooting and hollering nerds.

I like this story because it shows a completely different side of nerd culture. It shows the unashamed side of cosplay, it shows how comfortable and safe cosplayers can feel amongst their peers. From my point of view this wasn’t a simple peep show full of horny nerds looking to see a pair of breasts. This was direct testament to the culture of safety, understanding, acceptance, and inclusion found at comic conventions. Once you look past the obvious veneer of perversion, you see a celebration of body confidence, a lack of judgment, a total embrace of differences, and a deep respect for personal space and decision making. None of these women were forced to do anything they weren’t comfortable doing. They all chose to participate because they felt comfortable with their body image, they knew they were in a safe space free of judgement and harassment, and they knew at no point would they be putting their safety in jeopardy by engaging in this type of risqué behavior.

To further my point that nerdy can get dirty; we’ll fast forward to a different comic convention roughly a year later. After wandering around all morning, dropping oodles of cash at various vendors, marveling at the artist’s alley, snapping tons of pictures, and bouncing between panel discussions, the day bled into night and the 18+ panels took hold. “Joysticks and Button Mashing: Sex for Geeks” was of course a crowd pleaser but my favorite was “Nerdlesque: Bringing Fandom to the Burlesque Stage.” The nerdlesque panelists ranged from semiprofessionals to total amateurs and were a mix of both male and female. The discussion was incredible. Not only did they discuss the sexy side of nerdy dirty dancing but they all individually explored their reasons for pursuing nerdlesque as a creative outlet. Some discussed their previous body image issues and how nerdlesque helped them overcome those issues, others discussed how free they felt when they could let go of reality for a night and totally take on a character, and one even discussed the sense of community and belonging they found within the nerdlesque scene that they had never experienced anywhere else. Each panelist also discussed how empowering it was to take their favorite comic or fandom character and explore them in an entirely new way. They also all emphasized that to choreograph a burlesque show around a characters persona, ultimately ending with that character wearing nothing but pasties and panties, takes a huge amount of creativity, confidence, and skill to actually bring that show to stage. After going to this panel I was immediately interested in seeing an actual show and I’ve been to two separate nerdlesque shows since. The first was based entirely around Joss Whedon and his various works. It was very interesting to watch Buffy, Spike, Captain America, and Buzz Lightyear all get naked in the same evening. The second came during the height of the Pokémon Go frenzy. So, of course, Pikachu and Venusaur did some dirty dancing, Misty showed her jiggly puffs, and Ash exposed his pokéballs.

My third and final example of dirty nerds comes from my most recent convention. The panel was called “Intermediate Rope Bondage” and the scene was just like all the others. A room filled to the brim with cosplaying nerds all ready to get dirty. This panel, however, was particularly interesting because the panelists took volunteers to either play with some adult toys or be bound by rope. The various kinks in the room became very well-known and I, again, was shocked by the level of confidence and security that these nerds felt amongst their peers. Both men and women were throwing themselves at the opportunity to be bound by rope or teased with an electric sex toy in front of a fairly significant audience. Never in my non-convention life have I heard or seen such cavalier and nonchalant discussions and engagements of nerdy kinks and fetishes… even among my own group of incredibly nerdy and degenerate friends. This, in my opinion, simply goes to show how wonderful an environment a comic-convention actually is.

So, to conclude, I would like to emphasize a few things. (1) Regardless of what you may think, nerds can, and do, get dirty and likely have better sex lives than most “normal” people, (2) cosplay is not consent, obviously nothing you have just read gives you the permission to touch, photograph, speak to, or even look at a cosplayer in an inappropriate or sexual way without their consent, and (3) nerd culture, comic-convention culture, and the dirty nerd subculture are all incredible things. Convention goers, nerds, and dirty nerds know not to disrespect one another, they know not to judge or disparage one another, they openly embrace each other’s creative spin on their particular cosplay, and they often welcome you into their fold if you are legitimately interested in learning and asking questions. I’ve learned a lot about the dirty nerd subculture over the last few years. And I will say that I am in no way confident or comfortable enough with my own body image or sexuality to partake in a nerdlesque show, or openly discuss my kinks and fetishes in a crowded room, but I do truly respect and envoy those who are.

 

– David in legal

 

 

9 LIVES #1 REVIEW – Modesto Con

Out of all of the things that I find particularly enjoyable about going to any con is the fact that when it comes down to it, no amount of preparation can really get you completely ready for one.
As an example: It’s pretty much impossible to be 100% familiar with all of the guests booked for an event like this. No matter how much you know or research the industry there’s always someone who slips by.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if every convention went off perfectly without a hitch and we knew exactly who every creator was and what they’ve been involved with.
Modesto Con was a great deal smaller than Phoenix Comicon (no shit) but there was still people we didn’t know.

9 LIVES, a comic by Preston Tucker & Cassidy Morgan was introduced to me in one of my favorite little moments of Modesto Con. We’d barely slept the night before the convention and rolled out early. At some point the colorful art being held up by wire boxes at the 9 LIVES booth drew out my inner zombie and I shambled over. I like to imagine in this instance that I was all saliva and claws and teeth.

I hear someone tell me that I have “really good – awesome hair!”
I’m like “yo what? Uhh.” I look around and realize that the artist on the book is complimenting me. Before we even talk about the comic, we both discuss hair tips which is basically one way of catching my interest immediately because I am vain.
That may not give the best impression towards how I work on the floor, but believe it or not bizarre convention conversations can kill a lot of anxiety exchanged over a booth pretty quick, and just looking at the art the two had on display I was pretty keen about hearing about the comic they made.

I like to think that both of them knew I am exceptionally weak willed when meeting likable creators and that alone is generally enough for me to want to buy whatever comic it is that they’re selling. I walked away from that booth with a copy of the first issue of 9 LIVES signed and packed away in my bag.

imagejpeg_0
9 LIVES #1 is a Superhero comic. That is the most basic description I can use to let someone who’s never read it before know what kind of storytelling is held between the front and back cover. An origin story through and through, a good chunk of the book is dedicated to setting up the world it takes place in.
When I say that it’s about superheroes though I feel like 9 LIVES just from first impressions has loftier goals than being another indie cape comic book. There’s a sense in the first pages that the creators behind this book have put at least more than cursory thoughts into what kind of effects the people who fly would have on the world beyond simply stopping crime or dealing with supervillains.

We open to the most popular hero in the world being interviewed about his feelings towards having superpowers. The likely lantern-jawed Captain Fantastic lambastes over the airwaves that there’s no room in the world of crime-stopping for those without powers.
Our protagonist is a sort of unassuming and schlubby nerd who’s introduced being broken up with while he clutches a broken action figure. We’re meant to distinctly feel he’s a have-not being left someone that’s more of a have. This is a not a guy who has what it takes to ever be any more than exactly what he looks like at first glance.

Cassidy’s art brings a goofiness and expressiveness to him that other characters lack, though. That’s not a mark against the art – It works because the animated way he uses the protagonist  to  over emote in comparison to the other characters you get introduced to likely means you’ll take an immediate liking to him.
Yes he’s a loser, a slacker – a 100% grade a stereotypical dork but he’s also our surrogate into the world here and it works in a way that using a level-headed every-man probably wouldn’t.
Rounding out the supporting cast is a street samurai, pastel-lolita fashion girl and finally a business-suit wearing, eight foot tall anthropomorphic cat named Mr. Bixby. Sliding slowly into more fantastical elements like that works here because of our anchor to the world being such a dork.

It’s in that way that I’m reminded more reading this of Manga than it does something patterned more off of western superhero comics. A normal dude in the mix with such colorful supporting cast members is a pretty standard element in a lot of Manga and the way the opening narrative arc builds into all-out fantasy is more BLEACH than it is Spider-Man.

That’s not to say that the story arc at work here isn’t predictable. Being predictable isn’t always necessarily a reason all it’s own to dismiss a creative work. You can make up for it sometimes by just being fun to read. Some of the best superhero stories of all time are predictable, but they’re memorable and important because of how they have their own voice even in the midst of that, and I feel like I could say the same thing about 9 LIVES.

Kitschyness isn’t for everybody, and if you’re not the kind of person into a book with characters that are cyber ninjas or bald-headed super villains named Dr. Brain then it’s probably not going to grab you immediately like it would someone who’s waist deep in Squirrel-Girl.
9 LIVES still gets the Tales of the Con recommendation though, not just because I got asked about my hair, but because so many superhero comics these days attempt to be fun and few of them rarely are. Being a delight to read and having a little self-awareness can really go a long way. 



Dominic Davi Interview – Modestocon

 Skuba Steve and I were immediately interested in Dominic Davi’s booth at Modesto Con. His colorfully  designed apparel featuring the lead singer of Tsunami Bomb with Medusa hair, a standup portrait of the creature from the black lagoon and a foldout of prints of classic movie monsters recast with period-accurate actors interested us wholeheartedly. As did the comics on his table – Tales from a Punk Planet and Come Find Me. One was collaboration between himself and Joe Escalante of TOTC favorites The Vandals and the other was his own creation, the beginning of a story he sees himself working on for quite a few years.
  Only later would we find out that Tsunami Bomb was actually one of the favorite bands of our guest contributor for Modesto Con that made us keenly interested in Mr. Davi, so Skuba Steve and I figured that above anyone else that we’d absolutely have to make time to score an interview with him.

imagejpeg_0_4

GG: So for starters, tell us a little about yourself.

DD: I was born four score and seven years ago in a small log cabin in Illinois-

GG: Too far back!
DD: I’m an artist and writer. I just came out with a short story comic called come find me. I also illustrated a book called Fear of a Punk Planet with the bassist of The Vandals, Joe Escalante. I’m also the bassist for a band called Tsunami Bomb

GG: How long have you been with Tsunami Bomb?

DDI started the band in 1998. It’s kind of a punk band with a bit of a twist. We have two female singers and keyboards; there’s a really dark quality to the music. We originally came out of the northern California scene, based out of a town called Petaluma, California. Early on the bands like AFI and Tiger Army took us under their wings and helped us out a lot. Hunter, the bassist for AFI  even produced and put out our first solo 7”, but we had self released a split before that. So the band kind of has somewhat the same tone quality if you’ve never heard of those bands, that kind of dark and really catchy punk rock.

We were together for awhile, but even I left the band at one point. Though I had started it, I wasn’t on the last album they put out in 2004 and they broke up not long after that.

Fast forward to now, and Kung-Fu Records approached us about wanting to put out all of our early out of print stuff. They came up to us and were like “Hey…people still like you guys and they like your stuff! We’d like to put out all those EP’s that are out of print.” So all of the original members talked and we decided it was a good idea to have this stuff out. So we made this release and we called it, Trust No One, which is kind of a reference to all of us in the band actually letting the band itself down by letting it all fall apart.  After doing this, most of us were like…”Y’know, we would really like to play again…and be a band again. Why not?”

However our singer, the singer who was the second main vocalist in Tsunami Bomb, but the one most people know, Agent M (aka Emily Whitehurst) was like ‘Y’know I don’t wanna come back, I’ve got my own thing and I’m focused on that.”

So after really debating it for a long time, we decided we might call it something else and do something a new band, like Flag did with Black Flag and still kind of harking back to what we used to be, but then we just said, fuck it, we are who we are, and we were lucky enough to find somebody amazing. Her name’s Kate and she’s taken over as main vocals along with the return of Oobliette, who was one of the original vocalists. Now we’ve just been doing it one step at a time and playing a lot of shows, and getting people to really warm up to us. Next month we’ll be playing the last two dates of Warped Tour, and we’ve also got a festival coming up with MXPX, Sick Of It All, and The Vandals called Remember the Punks in San Antonio, Tx.

Y’know, we’re just taking it one day at a time and working on new material, we’re gonna put out a new album next year so we’re pretty excited.



GG: Are comics something you’ve been doing as long as you’ve been doing Tsunami Bomb, or are they something that just grew out of some of the same passions?

Cover-FOAPP-repenthouse

DD: It kind of predates the band because I’ve always drawn and I’ve always illustrated, and like any kid that reads comic you’re kind of like ‘I wanna do my own comic’ at some point and you wonder if you could pull off your own idea.

GG: Yeah every kid has that thought, like, ‘can I do this?’

DDYeah and like, I’ll tell anyone who’s thinking about it that it’s a real hassle. Comics take a lot of work! (laughter)

…but no finally one day a couple of years ago I started doing a webcomic called The Rock n’ Roll Palace of Love, a while back and it kind of got popular for a second and then sort of faded out. So that kind of warmed me up to saying fuck it, y’know I wanna put out something.  I started working on my own zine and then while randomly talking with Joe Escalante one time at a show he was like ‘Well I have a story, wanna do a comic?’ Of course I did, so we did theFear of a Punk Planet comic and it actually sold out! It’s totally awesome and you can find it digitally on Comixology right now. Between the Vandals and my Band there was enough interest generated to have us completely sell out in the first printing.

Then after that, I just kept going, I put out the Come Find Me short story and now I’m working on a graphic novel called Green Teeth, and it’s gonna be about a bunch of Punk Skater kids in my hometown of Petaluma. I’ve been taking a lot of real life elements and mixing them with some made up elements. It’s a horror story that’s sort of like…something terrible is in the river and these kids figure out what’s going on and they have to deal with it.



GG: When you’re doing something like that and incorporating these real life elements…would you consider something like Green Teeth to be sort of semi-autobiographical or just some of the elements from where you grew up?

DD: I would say actually both yeah. I’m kind of trying to take the way Stephen King approached his town of Derry, Maine, or how HP Lovecraft approached like…Providence and Arkham in Rhode Island. They made these worlds that were realistic but at the same time fictional, because they all had elements of streets and buildings and families that actually existed there and creating a fictional narrative within that setting. I’m kind of taking on the same thing. Y’know I grew up kind of skating around and hanging around the Phoenix Theatre, this punk venue in Petaluma. What these characters are doing is very much so connected to my experience and the experience of my friends. Come Find Me takes place in 2003 and Green Teeth takes place in 1993 but they reference each other very closely.
SS: Yeah I like some of the hidden context in Come Find Me. I read that last night at the Hotel.

DDYeah there’s definitely references in Come Find Me that call back to Green Teeth and vice-versa.

The Green Teeth incident that happened in ’93,  was very big deal that happened in the town, especially if you were a punk or a skater a squatter or homeless. The situation of the river and the creature that was in the river really affects everything. It made sense to me that there would be writing referencing what happened. There’s other clues in Come Find Me that will be really obvious when you read them together. I will have individual issues for Green Teeth, but I think that when I collect it as a graphic novel, Come Find Me will be in that same collection.


GG: Would you see yourself doing anything besides Green Teeth set in maybe the same world and setting along with that after you’re done, or will that be the entire story you have to tell?

DDNo there’s actually hidden references in Come Find Me to the next story after that. I don’t have a name for it yet, but like, I grew up kind of outside of town and there was this guy that was a neighbor of ours. He was this really lovable drunk farm boy guy who kind of helped everybody out. He sort of fascinated me as a character, and since I’m taking this world this town that I grew up in and the county around it and twisting it into a kind of horror theme…it kind of struck me as like, what if there was more to him than just being the kind of guy that would help you out at your ranch and fix your car? What if his family had a legacy as series of wardens that had to protect people in this area from these supernatural things? If things had fallen apart over time, where he’s now the only heir to that legacy, but he’s just this good-ol-boy drunk. I’m basing all of it off of real people I’ve met throughout my life, and I think in my head I’d like to see it as three short stories like Come Find Me and three long stories like Green Teeth. There will be like a trilogy essentially with each one having an intro with a short story. I’m hoping to be able to do a bunch of them. That when you read them all they call back and bounce back and forth, so you see different characters at different years.

SK: Could you ever see yourself collaborating with someone else like Joe Escalante again? Or is it something you’ve done now and mostly wanna focus on working by yourself?

DDNo I definitely would wanna collaborate. I’ve talked to Joe about doing more stuff because we were really happy with how Fear of a Punk Planet did. That’s just an obnoxious story about punk rock in the 90’s and his idea for the next issue is ridiculous. It continues to play upon the stereotypes of punk rock, but he’s also hit me up on another idea he’s had that would involve like…Mexico and vampires and the cartels. It was so completely insane that I was like ‘Yes I will totally draw this.’

It’s tough man, when you sign up for a comic like..I don’t do that full time. I have the band, I work as a professional artist. So it’s tough after a long day, I’ve already spent 8 hours illustrating and designing and then I’m like ‘now I have to work on a comic?’ so I think I’m a lot slower than a normal comic guy can be. I’m trying to force myself to stay on point and get it done.

I had to tell somebody today after they asked me if I wanted to collaborate. I’m like…hit me up after June 2017! I’m pretty much booked for awhile.

GG: It almost boosts that energy though.

what a great comic - Skuba Steve
Come Find Me


DD: Yeah I wanna get done! I wanna be available for some other ideas. There’s some really cool ideas out there, there’s some really cool visions that it would be fun to bring about. I have to be realistic though otherwise I’ll just be another flaky jerk artist. Which I already am!
GG: Aw
DD: (laughter) Naw they all are. Every artist is a jerk!

SK: -And I can imagine after being on the road touring and then having to sit down and illustrate a comic. That’s gotta be pretty difficult.

DD: It is really difficult! It’s like, when I was professionally touring and that’s all I did it was awesome. That was my job and it was all I did and when I came home I was just a fucking couch potato and I didn’t have to worry about much because we only toured. As anyone who’s in a band knows, or as anyone who does anything knows, like you guys do this – it’s really hard to change gears. You do this and you get in this mode and then you’re like…now I gotta go work.

GG: Yeah now I’ve gotta go sit behind a desk and be a faceless drone for eight hours a day until my next con.

DD: Yeah! It’s hard. Even after this convention you shift back to your real life and you’re like…’nobody’s talking to me nobody really cares
Especially comics because you’re by yourself for so much when you’re creating these worlds. You’re not hanging out doing it. It’s a solo experience. At least music when you do a show, like punk rock shows you have so many people.


GG: Even when you’re just jamming out at your house, you can have somebody else come over and knock a few beers back and come up with a song or something. But when you’re sitting there reading or making a comic…or you get to a point reading a really good comic and you’re like laughing, looking around your empty apartment like “Oh yeah there’s nobody here.”

DD: I’ve literally done that! I’ve been like “This is awesome! This is-“ (looks around) “There’s nobody to talk to about this….” I’ll be like “dude! Did you read the latest issue of like whatever” and they’ll go “Yeah I…didn’t really do that” At least with movies you have more people talk to about it. Creating them too, I’ll like laugh to myself and go “Haha, this is awesome…ahh, I’m stupid and by myself.” It’s definitely a head trip to change gears all the time. I kind of do that to myself, it’s something I try to be aware of and lessen the effect as much as possible. Of course I haven’t picked up a pen to work on my own comics since the two weeks I got back from tour. It took me like a week to get back into normal things and then get ready for this, so I haven’t even stopped to work on it. So there’s two weeks gone.

GG: Well Dominic, Thanks for talking to us. 

-GLAM GRIMFIRE

A Contributors First Con – ModestoCon 2016

 

I had heard for many years about the wonder that is Comic Con. Every year loads of my friends attend the Phoenix convention and as well as those in other locations such as San Diego, coming back with spectacular pictures of people in costumes, wild stories of awesome shenanigans or celebrity meetings. Tons of cool merchandise like artwork, stickers and comics.

With so many cool stories and things floating around at these places, who wouldn’t want to check it out for themselves? Thanks to my friend Skuba Steve at Tales of the Con I was able to finally attend one and see what all the talk was really about. Filling in as an independent contributor of coverage for Tales of the Con at ModestoCon, I rode with Tales’s Skuba Steve and Sam Kittrel from sunny Phoenix, Arizona to the sunny but much cooler Modesto, California. After an exhausting 11 hour drive we finally made it to our destination and couldn’t wait to get in.

Upon procuring our press bands and stepping onto the convention floor my head was spinning from the dizzying array of booths and items to gander and drool at. There’s something for everybody with everything from pins to handmade dolls and painted wooden boxes. There was artwork galore, watercolor, digital or pencil drawings, you saw it all. There were boxes and boxes of comic books for sale with titles like the well know Superman and Spiderman as well as the work of emerging artists like Dominic Davi’s “Come Find Me”. There was also a lot of anime, and I spent the entire convention keeping my eyes peeled for Dragon Ball Z merchandise of which I found plenty!

 

Although I was a little shy about asking people to take pictures of their costumes, I did spend plenty of time admiring them. There were orcs from Warcraft whose costumes were impressive, utilizing real animal furs and bones. There were tons of girls dressed as Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn, and just as many guys dressed as Deadpool. I saw a stunningly awesome Psylocke from Marvel’s X-Men, as well as Prince, Captain Jack Sparrow and even Barf from Space Balls! There were makeup artists to assist in fantastical transformations and I even saw a group which was volunteering to assist people with last minute emergency costume alterations.

The Mandalorian Mercs organization, whose members dress as bounty hunters from the Star Wars saga also made an appearance at the convention, with a booth where members discussed recruitment information, costume design instruction and the charity work which the group involves itself with in the community.

The energy at the con was very high, so high in fact that it would be hard to imagine that this was Modesto’s first Con. Despite its size it’s readily apparent that this is an event which will continue to grow. We spent two days covering everything and honestly, I don’t think we came close to seeing it all. One of my favorite finds was a kitschy t-shirt with a picture of Rocky Dennis from the movie Mask’s face superimposed onto Rocky Balboas face in a boxing ring.

I sat in on a couple of panels too, when my legs felt the need for a rest. There were professional cosplayer Q&A’s, motivational speeches regarding cosplay and con culture, artist and celebrity Q&A’s, and a costume contest with many great participants, including a father and his very young son dressed as two matching Green Arrow’s

When I was out and about it was quite easy to begin conversing with event attendees, artists and people working merch booths. Everyone was so eager to discuss their shared love of art and comics, or to show off the work they had put in to transform themselves into pop culture icons.

I spoke with a few artists like Christopher Johnson of Out of the Dust Designs, who is based out of Reno, Nevada. I loved his work, which was a decoupage of comic pages with a character theme glued to a board and a portrait of the subject character in the center.

I also had the opportunity to meet the previously mentioned Dominic Davi who is a comic book artist which creates stories of punk rock culture. An interesting side note about Dominic is that he is the bassist for the punk rock band Tsunami Bomb and designs their artwork.
Meeting him was a bit of a blast from the past, he was selling some of their merchandise and informed me that the band had recently reunited and began touring again. I listened to Tsunami Bomb back in high school, having been introduced to them by an ex-girlfriend so it was pretty cool to meet him.

I had an amazing time at ModestoCon and I will definitely be attending other events in the future, though hopefully with a little more money. Who knows, maybe I’ll even dress up one of these times. Maybe I could go as Jon Snow, but much like him I feel I really know nothing, but maybe with some time I could change that. My takeaway from my first convention is one of seeing people come together over their shared love of creativity. Pop culture brought me to my first con, but it was the people behind it that make me want to go to another.

By Jensen Chavez, Guest Contributor

Pokemon Go – Augmented Rural Reality

MAIN-Pokemon-Go

 

 

         Augmented reality games like Pokemon Go seem to be a new genre that are emerging and taking off. And it seems to be a wonderful thing. Get people up and moving. Maybe those playing a game at the same local landmark strike up a conversation, strangers who find they enjoy the same past times.

But what of those who live in rural or “country” areas? What if your “local” landmarks are a 20-40 minute car ride away and there’s nothing but fields near you?

Having grown up a farm kid and now living in a lower population area, these questions come to mind as Niantic Inc games are becoming a huge deal. Pokemon GO and Ingress are highly played games. And I’m sure if you are in a city, it’s easy to get to landmarks for supplies or battle areas. But for the kids, teens, and young adults who don’t live in highly populated areas this becomes a difficult task.

Growing up my nearest neighbor was a good half mile away, and that was mostly lane just to get from the road to my house. There were no exceptional landmarks or major building, unless you count the local pig farm. Thinking back on my childhood home and the surrounding areas, there’s absolutely no way I could have played an augmented reality game based on how they setup bases for importance. As a teenager, I probably would have been awful when it came to complaining about the lack of things around me. It was bad enough before smartphones with games.

Even as a grown adult, I live in a smaller town and there are few places that help with these games. Those landmark resupply places are few in this area making it harder to keep up with those that frequent areas with more population or more landmarks. So to be able to even continue to play I have had to spend real money to buy PokéCoins, the in game currency, to be able to buy something as simple as Pokéballs, which is needed to catch Pokemon (the whole point of the game). Without being able to catch Pokemon, you can’t level your character. Without being able to level, you don’t get the extra supplies to continue. It becomes a circle of sadness because what could be a great game is stuck until you can make it to a PokéStop and hope it drops things you need. Supposedly you are able to get Pokécoins while walking around. I have yet to see it, not that the amount of the currency it gave you be anywhere near enough what you need to purchase the store items. It’s a rather broken system in that regard. There needs to be better ways to accumulate the PokéCoins for those that cannot invest real money in the game and are not physically able to get to a PokéStop.

Maybe they will figure out someway just to use a pedometer and you can control which way your character goes while you walk on a treadmill or in your own house. That would be handy for those who may not live in areas where wandering around at all hours of the day is feasible. Maybe even team up with companies that already have external pedometer options to make it compatible. It would also give those who live in rural areas to “walk” to landmarks without having to actually walk miles one direction to get to one.

I have hope for augmented reality games. I think the concept is solid, but it needs work. There are a lot of risk factors and not a lot of help to get a reward.

–  Red

PhxCC 2016 – A tale of the con

Yo, this article contains spoilers for The Lion King.
At some point on Saturday, I don’t remember when, the Phoenix Convention center turned into a massive blur around me. Do you remember that scene from The Lion King where Scar is dangling Mufasa over the cliff, and he’s all spouting off his rhetoric about the proper place of leadership and succession? I felt like one of the rocks in the bottom of that valley, perfectly still while the crowd pushed around me in every direction, threatening to stampede over anyone who dared get in their way.

  I like to think that this moment was caused purely by the amount of exhaustion I’d managed to accrue in a short three days time before Saturday. At some point, my mind and my body just disconnected from each other for a long enough time for me to vibrate straight out of reality.
I am not The Flash though, and instead of falling through the floor and ending up on the other side of the Earth, I quickly snapped back to reality and tightened my fingers around my camera, and stepped in with the crowd. I’ve been covering Phoenix Comicon now for various outlets four years running, and pretty much each year I find myself surprised by something. Whether it’s who I end up striking up a random conversation with and staying on touch with years later, or just simply what happens to me.

   This year we ended up throwing back drinks with some of the staff from Fakku.net (uhhh NSFW) in a squalid, tightly packed hotel room late after the convention that same Saturday night that I seemed to slip out of reality – but that’s just an experience unique to some of us.Tales of the Con took nine journalists down to Phoenix this past weekend and each of us really ended up all covering something different. I was down in the exhibition hall, taking pictures with cosplayer and striking up conversation with creators. Of course I do what I do to see the recurring faces – I’ve hit it off with some simply amazing people through the years purely on a whim.

   What you came here for is some Tales of The Con though, and though maybe none of these are from Phoenix Comicon, this is for those people who’ve never really gone to see what a wild world conventions exist in, but these tales come from somewhere special. These aren’t just Tales of the Con, they’re stories from creators who drag themselves from convention to convention.Yeah– there’s only a handful, but part of our mission at Tales of the Con is also getting to know the people at the various places we travel to. How can we relate the stories we think are interesting if we don’t get to know the people behind them?

Nicky Soh (who has a very awesome comic!) tumblr_nztoabNyyC1uhglmqo1_1280

   NS: So the first time I had a table was with the school – with a bunch of us. Obviously I go to SCAD so it’s a college of Art and Design. The School actually had a table at Heroes Con which is in Charleton. The cool thing as a student if you help out you get two hours of table time. So you’re at the artist alley and you get to sell your stuff.
So this was the first time for us, but one guy came over who was not supposed to be on the table, which was a student – he sat on the table. He just drew there for three hours and he did commissions and blew us all away. What he did was put a jar there (on the table) and put a sign saying like, ‘pay me however much you want and the thing i’m going to draw is like Nicholas Cage in whatever action poses’ people came there in that three hours and were dropping like sixty dollars, fifty dollars.
He made probably I think around three-hundred bucks just in that three hours. It was the most insane story I ever had and it was my first con. I was like ‘no way!’ no way someone’s gonna draw       Nicholas Cage. I mean it didn’t even look like Nicholas Cage. It was so hilarious, he sat there the whole time. The pros were doing like seventy dollars, eighty dollars for a few drawings but this guy was just doing ‘pay me whatever you want’


  Jorge Corona and Morgan Beem
We_Are_Robin_Vol_1_1   MB: So I guess our someone what crazy Comicon story was back when we were just starting out in the Savannah School of Art and Design. We decided we were all gonna go up to New York Comicon to try and like network and get our stuff out, but we’re  grad students so we’re broke as hell. We’re all trying to figure out how to do this trip on like the tightest budget ever. Jen Hickman who’s also here was with us too – there was a number of us.
So we decide we’re gonna take the bus, this like ghetto Chinatown bus. It picks you up in a McDonalds parking lot, no bus terminal. It was 60$ round trip to get up to new york and it’s a fifteen and a half hour bus ride.
JC: Halfway through the ride, what was it like a McDonalds or a Denny’s or something?
MB: Yeah somewhere in South Carolina
JC: They made everyone like, step out of the bus. We were all in the middle of the street
MB: It’s like the middle of the night!
JC: We’re all thinking like maybe we’re going to meet but they were very specific about everyone getting off the bus. So we come out of the restroom and then the bus is gone
MB: Yeah people were like wanting to eat or use the bathroom – I’m telling the bus guy that I’m going to sleep so I want to stay and he’s like “no you have to get off.” and I’m literally standing there with my blanket just watching the bus drive away thinking “They’re never coming back.” but they did! They went off, did something – I dunno like Money Laundering. They came back around and picked us up and we were off to New York, but like, they did the same thing on the way back. So a long bus ride, and then we booked a hotel in Manhattan, is that where it was?
JC: Yeah, yeah.
MB: We were like, ‘we’re gonna book it for two people’ and you’re thinking y’know like where we’re from it’s gonna be two beds and kind of small but not too bad. We were gonna put seven people in it to keep the cost down…and we show up to this room…and it’s like a full bed, and the room is just…built around the bed.
JC: I didn’t even know how they got it in there.
MB: We literally stand there It’s Jen (Hickman) and I we’re like “This…isn’t going to work.” but the broke college student determination kicks in and we’re like “WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT WORK!” MBblogart
So we had seven people – two of which one is David Stoll down the way there who’s a sizeable dude. There was this other dude with us who was a huge dude – we slept liked L’d into the bathroom. So you had three people on the bed, two more wedged between the wall and the bed. David slept on the floor at the foot of the bed and the other guy slept like into the bathroom which was the only way he would fit. (laughter) So it was great! That was New York Comicon on a budget you know, we got up at 6 and did portfolio reviews, got lunch for people, schlept, went out and partied. Stayed out until like one or two and then tried to sleep and do it all again. Then sunday night caught the bus back down to Savannah.
JC: With the same stop on the way back! We thought like, maybe they were reloading something…but it was closer to Savannah than it was New York. Soo…on the way back it was the same spot. So it wasn’t like they were getting gas or anything – it was not like a middle point or anything. Something was happening there. Yeah…something was happening there.
So it was that – and then one of the nights we went out to drink and kind of went barhopping from the different placed in New York. That was my first time in New York and I was a very big like, Seinfeld fan. We ended up having food at the diner from Seinfeld and then I just spent like most of the night waking up my friends in Venezuela sending them the picture of the diner.
MB: and most of us were a little too drunk to realize where we were.
JC: And only one of my friends in Venezuela woke up to be like “good for you, now leave me alone” so it was a very good trip.

Kelly Sue MilanoLisa Weber | (http://hexcomix.com/)

HEX11-001-COVER_0f9c8acc-05b6-4006-b486-9e06da5c307d_grandeKSM: So, this would have been at Wondercon 2015, which takes place in Anaheim. We were exhibiting there and we only had what..the first three issues of Hex 11 out. We’d been in business as a comic book creation machine for less than a year
LW: Six months!
KSM: Yeah six months! We’re sitting there one day and there’s droves of people coming by the booth. All of the sudden we see this girl come by the booth and we’re like ‘man, she looks so familiar!’ and then…it hits me first. This is a fan cosplaying as our lead character from our book, Eleanor. I couldn’t even find like..words. I was like “Guys it’s….look at it…her…right there!” and Lisa’s like, “What am I looking at?” and I’m like “It’s her! She’s cosplaying as Eleanor!” and we freaked out. We were so excited!
LW: My eyes went completely wide and then were all crying.
KSM: We all cried. We all sat and cried and mobbed her. She’s so quiet and lovely. She wasn’t probably expecting us to really lose it like that. We were so excited we took a picture with her.
LW: We talked about it too, we were like “how cool will it be when we see our first cosplayer?” thinking it would be years down the road, and it’s six months after we debuted.
KSM: Gotta love those fans. We love em!
LW: It’s honestly the best part of the con. We meet the coolest, most awesome people.


IMG_20160603_202912059
Fakku.net (NSFW)
FA
: So a little while ago went to Yomacon in Detroit. Fun convention! It’s very fun – it’s in a good area of Detroit too. Awhile back they also hosted the uh, Gathering of the Juggalo’s. Not too far away from there, and y’know we made friends with some Canadian people it’s just right across the water. They said “hey! Come back to the hotel and hang out with us!” I went back there I believe Saturday night, Friday night was the last night of the Juggalo Gathering. They were staying at the same place the event was going on, and…they were all there. The ground was completely covered in syringes and empty C02 cans for whip-its. And when I say covered I mean it: there were like thousands of them across the ground.

I don’t care for Juggalo’s very much. The ones that I’ve met are okay, they’re not bad…but y’know, with most other groups of people in large numbers, bad things happen.
Y’know I wish I was there Friday because I’d love to see the overlap between anime fans and Juggalos. I’d love to y’know, just see a couple of huge Juggalo’s doing whip-its with a Sailor Moon Cosplayer.
GG: oh my god, I think that’s like – the next great American Photo album.

-Glam Grimfire 

Food Truck Review – PhxCC2016

 

  Being as it was my first ever Comicon to attend, I wasn’t quite sure what exactly I was going to be walking into. I’d figured that I was going to feel like a lost little kid in the middle of Time Square the entirety of the first day, and I wasn’t wrong. Preparing for this convention was quite overwhelming mentally, but I felt like it would be an even better first experience to get some coverage while I could. Aside from the hundreds of photos I took of cosplayers & the convention itself, I went ahead and took a stroll down ‘Food Truck Alley’ to try and cover the food trucks that leapt out at me. Out of all the amazing food I got to eat, there were three in particular that caught my attention as being especially stand out.  

Mustache Pretzels
2016-06-03 13.55.22

 The first truck that caught my eye was called Mustache Pretzels. Owned by Greg Golden, his truck originally roamed the streets of Philly before coming to Arizona a while back. Now based out of Scottsdale, his truck has attended Phoenix Comicon three years in a row. I got to speak with Greg and he seemed pretty excited about the prospect of attending for a fourth year. Greg also let me know that his truck was popular enough to have opened a physical location inside the actual Phoenix Convention center itself.

 The selection of Pretzels was pretty limited, but what the menu actually offered sounded fantastic by despite the lack of variety. I don’t know if it was the price of the convention center food or just the desert heat – but it also seemed pretty reasonable for what was being offered.

 I ordered the Original with Queso Cheese, which is a simple pretzel topped with sea salt. Of course with a name like Mustache Pretzel, you can figure that the pretzel was shaped into a mustache. Y’know, hence the name, but I still thought it was creative.

The Long Tradition Of Artistic Sandwich Boards
The Long Tradition Of Artistic Sandwich Boards

  When I took the first bite, it was like I had melted to the consistency of my queso cheese. It was great! Lots of love was definitely put into the making of this pretzel. The dough itself has a definite flavor and consistency of being homemade. The subtle flavor of the dough with the sea salt, mixing together with each bite washes over you while the dough comes apart in your mouth. Bottom line – If you don’t have the appetite of The Incredible Hulk and just need something to hold you over through the lines and panels in the afternoon, Mustache Pretzel is one of the best choices.

Cheese, Love and Hapiness

  Moving on to the next truck on my list: This truck was called Cheese, Love and Happiness. They’re based out of Scottsdale just like Mustache Pretzels, but unfortunately the owner “Sparrow” wasn’t around for me to meet him. From what I hear from his employees and the quality of the food they make, he’s a super groovy dude.

  I have to say that the only thing I didn’t like was the line, but going into something like this you can generally consider that if the line is large that the food is worth it. When I finally made it up to the front after my long queue, I find out that they’re out of their famous mac-n-cheese pulled pork sandwich! After coming all that way it’s not like an empty stomach is willing to give up, so I soldiered on and ordered the Flower Power. The sandwich had tomatoes, basil leaves, mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.  That’s obviously a classic ingredient combination; you really can’t go wrong with that, just by putting them together.

  Of course it was a little bit more than the pretzel truck, but the size of the sandwich was well worth it. The first bite was just as good as the last and had me wanting more the entire time. Even though I wasn’t able to get what I originally wanted, I was highly impressed with the entire experience.

  2016-06-04 14.20.18The girl I briefly spoke with told me it was the trucks first year at Comicon and they definitely planned to attend next year.

Queso Good

  The third and final food truck I would like to recommend is named Queso-Good. I had heard that this truck was owned by the same guy as Cheese, Love and Happiness, but after doing some mild research, the truck is a division of Ralph’s Snack Bar Mobile Food Trucks. I couldn’t find the other truck under a list of vendors on their website, so after a little quick footed investigating I managed to find out who was actually behind this truck. Getting back, I approached the truck and a smile quickly formed on my face when I saw that there was a great selection of Mexican Food.

  Chicken Fajitas jumped out at me immediately over anything else, so I was putting money on the counter and yelling my order over the noise of the crowd in the tightly packed alley. The price was good and the size of the plate was enough to fill. If I had to say a time estimation, by the time my plate hit the table I’d already scarfed the Fajitas down like nothing. Listen: I’ve never eaten Fajita’s as fast as the ones I got at Comicon. I’m a big Mexican food guy so maybe it was just seeing something immediately recognizable among all of the food trucks that made Queso Good my favorite, but out of all three I can definitely say they had the most solid offering.

Leaving Food Truck Alley was difficult because I wish I could enjoy all of them daily. I was also impressed with how much cash I left with. Conventions can be quite pricey, especially with food. But to whoever is reading and plans on attending Comicon next year , don’t stress too hard about where you’re going to eat and how much money you’re going to have to part with. Food Truck Alley is where it’s at, nerds! We’ll have more reviews next con.

-Scuba Steve out! Bloop Bloop.

 

TOTC covers “What can DC learn from Sci-Fi?”

Tales of the Con’s Washington DC correspondent David Campbell was in attendance for a panel titled “What can DC learn from Sc-Fi?”.  Here is his coverage:

 

What Can DC Learn from Sci-Fi?” this was the name of the panel covered by Tales of the Con (TOTC) on May 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. This panel was comprised of Kevin Bankston, Director of the Open Technology Institute at New America, Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst & Editor at the Free Future blog, and bestselling science-fiction author Charles Stross.

Within the first few words of Kevin Bankston’s introductory remarks it became remarkably clear why this was an important panel for TOTC to cover. His opening statements hit the nail of TOTC spirit square on the head:

In a very real way, I do what I do – working in the public interest to ensure that every community benefits equitably from advances in digital technology – because of science-fiction. Science-fiction is one of the things that inspired me to dedicate my career to technology policy and reading new science-fiction is what helps keep me inspired… and I’m not alone”

This is exactly the spirit of TOTC and what we hope to coax out of others. Using the inspiration one finds in fantasy, science-fiction, and counter-culture to propel oneself forward in a positive way is what TOTC is about. For Kevin Bankston, he harnessed that inspiration and focused it towards a career dedicated to the public interest and advances in technology. For the TOTC crew, a platform for social connectedness and a sense of community was established. For others, the opportunities and directions are endless. Bankston continued his opening remarks in a similar fashion to the previous quote and explained that so many of the people he has met in DC, White House staffers, think-tankers, policy advocates, analysts, and many others all find the inspiration and creative drive to do what they do, in large part, because of their interest in science-fiction. This was the important take away from the evening and is what leads us to the meat and potatoes of the actual question… “What can DC Learn from Sci-fi?”

The answer to this question is multifaceted and complex but, at the same time, invariably simple… A LOT! Many of the topics covered by the panel – space exploration and colonization, defiant artificial intelligence and singularity, a variety of dystopian futures, and many others – are topics that policy makers and academics the world over are scrambling to address as they rapidly emerge from the abstraction of fiction to the crushing reality of non-fiction. Though, science-fiction, comic-book, and nerd cultures have been thinking about these topics for years… and in grotesque detail! In fact, as discussed by the panel, many of the great moments in recent history were either prophesied or closely worked out by the science fiction novels that predated them. As Charles Stross quite clearly stated during the panel, “space exploration has always been science fiction, until in 1969 when it wasn’t” and this isn’t the only example. Consider the innumerable sci-fi gadgets that have flooded the market in recent years and earlier. Drones, 3D printers, video calls, oculus rift, the list goes on and on. We can harness the energy from the sun to electrify our cities; we are on the verge of widespread driverless cars; we can access the world’s entire archive of human knowledge with the device in our pockets; and privately funded citizens are launching their own spaceships. These are all things that were dreamt up as science-fiction just a few short years ago but are now positioned firmly in our everyday reality. So how has the policy world responded to this ever-expanding bridge between science-fiction and reality? I personally believe the trend is for policy folk to claw their way through the murk and the mire of ambiguity, uncertainty, fear, and confusion until they decide they understand the changing pace of the world and pass laws to restrict its expansion. In terms of solar technology and the laws governing drone use, I think our current policy folk are underwater in terms of how we adjust today’s reality to function properly with yesterday’s science-fiction.

Having a personal affinity toward Dungeons & Dragons, I can attest to the level of meticulous detail, planning, and forethought that goes into developing a fantasy world. When developing policy in DC, as with developing policy in the fantasy realm, considerations have to be made in regard to people, the environment, political structure, international governmental relations, and the serious wide-reaching implications of every decision made at every level of policy development. The strange part is how untapped, disregarded, and seemingly disrespected the sci-fi, comic-book, and nerd communities are in the mainstream… regardless of how vibrantly creative and deeply thoughtful the individuals who occupy these spaces actually are. Instead of tapping into the creative wealth that this sub-culture has to offer in terms of its real life potential for policy research, development, and implementation what you see instead is disconnection, suppression, and discouragement. In reality, you see legions of young freshly accredited academics march into Washington with the intention of influencing policy. These legions carry with them degrees from highly respected institutions that they wield like swords to cut their way into the policy world and they are often successful in chopping down their competition. Unfortunately, and in large numbers, the creative edge of that sword has been dulled by their adherence to the structure and rigor of mainstream academic success. They often lack the imaginative depth that our evolving policy world so desperately needs. As technology advances and the far-future of science fiction becomes the not-so-distant future of reality our policy designers and DC decision makers will continue to scramble and paw their way towards answers unless they tap into the well of experience that nerd-culture has to offer.

The call-to-arms that I felt boiling out of the panel, as well as what I am trying to put across in this article, is that those science-fiction authors, comic-book nerds, and all those who occupy the spaces outside of the mundane who are currently shunned from the mainstream need to be recognized for what they have to offer in this changing world. As we move towards the Mad Max style dystopia that Charles Stross prophesied during the panel, who is better suited to tackle the changing political, social, and environmental challenges than those who have been obsessively scrutinizing every detail of that scenario since before the 1980’s? Nerd culture has a special set of tools at its disposal that those outside of it lack – they have been deeply considering, analyzing, and logically answering the questions that will be and are currently baffling our nation’s leaders. So, what can DC learn from Sci-fi? Well, from this sub-culture of incredible intellectuals who are well versed in answering the questions of tomorrow and solving the problems that those questions bring, again, I say A LOT!

For more details of the panel discussion please visit: https://www.newamerica.org/oti/events/what-can-dc-learn-sci-fi/

Tabletop gaming – Tales of the Con

What IS National Tabletop Day, and why should you care? Why should anyone care – it’s another marketing holiday set up by people who wanted to sell something. Does Nerd Culture really prevail over Late Capitalism every year and succeed in bringing disparate people together over cardboard armies and laser-printed anime art forever etched onto plastic slates? Or is our fascination with media built to create yet another isolated social group focused more on products than ideas.

We’re nerds so by default we have to buy things to take part in our hobbies. This is really no different from anything else that involves any sort of large fan culture – but Tabletop Day can offer a day a year for a great deal of us to take part in some hobbies we can’t normally afford to participate in. There is an unfortunate gatekeeper to this culture so many of us want to represent, and that’s economics.

As Video Games become largely focus on the realm outside of physical space, they of course also largely sacrifice the feeling of playing games next to someone. Though this criticism is not as weighty as it would be if I were writing this in say, 2008, but it is still worth speaking up about. While it’s true there’s a part of the videogame world meant for couch co-op, it has largely been replaced by online interactions.

Sooner or later the rise of tabletop games had to happen. Social interaction is always valued even in the digital era, and tabletop games give us something to interact over.  The scene seems to expand exponentially every year. Especially when you put Kickstarter on top of it and the popularity culture of nerdom, getting a tabletop game launched is easier than ever, so every week it seems like there’s a new avenue for playing games face to face with people.

That popularity culture that brings us together means our interests are always keenly the same: Star Wars, H.P Lovecraft, epic fantasy, grimdark doom, and murderin’ Space Marines. Boardgames also explore areas covered by videogames too: Economic Simulators, City Building, and Travel – and expound upon it with things like subterfuge roleplaying games that pit players against each other in battles of lies.

If it fits these things – or adapts a genre favorite like Steampunk into a realm that allows us to play with it, there’s a very good chance that players at large will be interested and soon there will be the latest Steampunk Zombie H.P Lovecraft game delivered to your doorstep (if you back it on Kickstarter)

Is that the sole reason Tabletop games become popular – or do they also additionally strike up a balance between the physicality of these kinds of games as the medium vs. how abstract our possession of other things we covet has become lately? Even most comic books, long considered a brick and mortar ran industry propagated mostly by small comic shops can be largely replaced by digital subscriptions and online-only offerings (see: The Private Eye, recently released physical)

If this sounds a little bit cynical, it’s because when you talk about something organized around products purely, it helps to be. What is more interesting about National Tabletop Day is ideas that bring people together. We went to Cab Comics in Flagstaff, Arizona this last weekend to support one of our local favorites, Tom Filsinger of Filsinger games. Not because his product appeals to us (it does!) but because we like the kind of dude Tom is and how he turned his hobby and love of wrestling into something he could share with other people.

That sharing of ideas – whether it’s stories, techniques or even simply the act of moving pieces on a board and having to wait patiently while your opponent judges the tactics you’re trying to represent, is what we at TOTC think draws people the ever burgeoning tabletop world.

As expansive and confusing as that world can sometimes be, what National Tabletop Day also represents is another chance for someone who may not have the necessary time to learn a game they can play with their friends in a dark room pouring over rulebooks, to participate and feel welcome in the hobby.  These games create stories that people can tell to each other after the fact, who the hell doesn’t like keeping a record of every brutal defeat or that time everyone pulled together to accomplish a goal. It’s just, y’know, sometimes that goal is defeating an eldritch horror without going stark raving mad.

CAB Comics in Flagstaff had staff on hand for just that – they were waiting by for us to pick a game while Tom Filsinger and The Chief ran Champions of the Galaxy for the folk curious about it right next to us.
Really – it didn’t matter if The Offender and I had ended up rolling a TOTC house roleplaying table or playing Machi koro (surprise: we did both).

What mattered was that eventually, people saw what we were playing and that there were open seats, and came to join us. So we played cardboard strategies with people we didn’t know and got the chance to meet a few new faces. Was it the joy of tabletop that brought them over, or something else entirely? I don’t know – even after working the holiday like we did.

What I do know is that in the back of my head the thought has been burning a hole – which maybe it’s not really the tabletop games or the culture that brings people together, but the simple celebration of ideas that comes from any hobby that requires participants and creators both be creative.