Fan Expo – Nerd Christmas


There are a few different reasons I love this particular festival – one of them is the costumes one sees on proud display – ranging from the silly to the incredible – for nostalgia, hilarity and on-the-street cognitive dissonance, it’s among the photographic high points of the year.

Every time I go to Fan Expo, the visuals from this event send me straight back to Saturday morning childhood trips to Bakka Books in the mid 70s, when it was on the north side of Queen near Beverley – and seemed such an incredible wealthy and diverse empire of science fiction goodness as to be presumably immortal (really not – though it has since phoenixed into another interesting, totally different bookstore).  I also remember the very first week the Silver Snail opened up across the street – and how they decided to charge a nickel less than ‘cover’ for their new comics – and so lured-away the most desperately addicted youth like me, whose very limited money was measured mostly by how many regular titles we could collect (leaving a bit aside for special edition annuals and the odd one-off with a favourite character, who was never once to be missed).

I loved the Snail in it’s heyday – don’t get me wrong – and it’s owner did plenty to stimulate Toronto comics – even publishing a few of them himself. But – for the sake of nerd history, I feel bound to record that what Bakka was at it’s long-ago peak, before he outcompeted them on comics, was extraordinary – and part of what was unusual was that it brought comic-kids, early Star Trek devotees, and generally more elitist ‘hard’ SF intellectuals all into the same sweet temple (if you will) – something that happens less often now in a physical place – what with narrowcasting dominating both online and in retail. This is a big loss for all (geekdom does best when it holds and embraces many sub-tribes within it) and I say every time we see a great unifying meeting-place we ought to make a point of dropping a few bucks there, just to keep the doors open for all of those poor unfortunates who will one day desperately need that special solace to be found within.

dren a fo hguone tsuJ

And then stodgy old man me (sorry) bothers to get out of the house and get the dust blown off him and sees these wild vivid combinations from comic books, movies, video games and a broad array of one of a kind originals, too – all coexisting happily and recognizing common cause at this festival – very sweet stuff. Truly the culmination of an ancient nerd prophecy.  (And no-kidding, I’ll have far more serious positive extrapolations on this to follow, in a later post.)

Luigi in his glory

I did a few slow meandering circuits around the grounds, smiling and nodding and keeping my eye out for interesting sights, but I didn’t see anyone who was having a better time than this Luigi – who I ran into a couple of times – the guy had a totally genuine uncontainable smile – the kid and the Mrs look like they’ve had just about enough already – but if you ask me, Luigi here ain’t leaving the fair ’till they lock the gates!

These probably are the droids you’re looking for

What are you? What do you want to be? I love the freewheeling self-authoring on display most of all – more creative and inclusive than halloween by a long-shot, and far friendlier in tone as well (no mischief whatsoever on display – and everyone much enjoying one another’s efforts).

There is something very serious and important to be learned by us grouchier older folks, from the mutual support and extension of belief I’ve seen represented at this show for years now – for all the scorn heaped on them, the kids of today really are working on some social problems that previous generations never did quite get past. If only we could offer them something economically that looked better than a continually-imploding disaster, we might all have some cause to smile.  (Them, more positive incentive – and us, less guilt for our ever more clearly forsaken duty, to their future).

Whatever else you want to say, they are demonstrably kinder than we were – this shows up again and again – and they’ve managed that with only a tiny fraction of the hope-ration that we had. Nice!

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