“Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one.”
On Saturday, March 31st I was able to do something I’d always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity given to me quite so readily. I went to the Emerald City Comicon, but you probably already knew that on account of the title of this post…well played, young Jedi. The Thursday night before the convention my friend Rick (who doesn’t have a desire to be mentioned in this blog, even though he already made a cameo in “Fog City pt.6”, so—for reasons of respecting his privacy—will be called Ricker) (Slam-Dunk!) asked me if I wanted to go the “Con” as he called it, and continues to call it; he’s so into this stuff. I am not a huge sci-fi fan or a huge comic book fan, I love all of the “entry-level” stuff that has enjoyed commercial success: Star Wars, Star Trek, Star Blazers, and that nice Jewish kid who dresses up like a bug and fights crime: Toby Spiderman. I read a great deal of Spider-Man comics throughout my high-school years, actually, and I loved the Secret Wars series. Nonetheless, my level of commitment to the genre was called into question upon stepping on to the ferry in Bremerton, from where I hail, an hour and a half short of entering the “Con” (as Ricker calls it). We were standing in line in the galley of the ferry for coffee and snacks…when all of a sudden…BOOM! There was Mario, of Super Mario Brothers fame. He was a girl. Madness! Really I’ve gone off track here though…this is a post about the smells of Comicon from a semi-casual, and bemused observer.
The “Con” (as my friend Ricker calls it) is held inside the bowels of the Washington State Convention Center, bowels through which you’ve driven if ever you’ve found yourself headed through Seattle on Interstate 5. As such, there are smells native to this center. The main floor has stores, restaurants, and cafes. This floor had a very professional smell, a smell of copies, and faxes, and coffee, and power-lunches (the most powerful meal of them all). But, as we were all funneled into lines and up escalators, those smells dissipated and gave way to heavier, more impressive smells. Super smells, if you’ll allow it. Which is actually not true, the superness of these smells exists without regard to your allowances. Or mine.
Once crossing the sky-bridge that acted as a DMZ between the “Conies” and the “Normies”, there is a pervasive smell of musty comic books—a comforting smell—one that would be quite useful to bottle should one ever get caught up in the sport of nerd hunting. It is the smell of mother’s basement…a fantastical place where one can peruse the respective universes of Marvel and DC and all of the other less relevant comic houses who put out better comics than anyone could’ve imagined (except for the people who did imagine them…and me…and Ricker). It is a smell that says, ”Hey, don’t worry I won’t let anybody near you, you’re safe here buddy, and who knows maybe once you’re through reading some comic books, we might could find the things you’re going to need to make that pipe-bomb you’re always talking about”. It is the smell of solitude…fortress or otherwise. Ricker looked at me and said, “I haven’t smelled anything like this since last I went nerd hunting, a fine sport if ever there was one!” I looked warily at Ricker, and determined to be less enthusiastic about this affair, lest I become his next prey. “Yeah, me neither”, I chuckled nervously.
The next odor, in order of most to least prevalent, was the smell of cats. Not urine per-se or cat hair or kitty-litter or spray or cat-nip, but an ungodly hell-potpourri of them all. Cats are the most pensive and self absorbed of God’s creatures, save for comic-book nerds…and writers (all writers). It makes sense that the bulk of those in attendance at the “Con” (as my friend Ricker calls it) would own one or more cats. I personally love cats, I just can’t eat a whole one…ZING! (That joke works better for dogs, I could totally eat a whole cat…I would then have to go and purge it, my girlish figure doesn’t happen by accident, and certainly would not exist if I was given to eating whole cats whenever the thought tickled my fancy…or any other part of my hypothetical anatomy.) Great another parenthetical that wanders wildly from my point. My point being: you never see a cat at the “Con” (as my friend Ricker calls it) but their imprint is everywhere.
Finally, there were some scents that were drifting in and out fouling this hard-found nerd musk. Smells like that of concessions, in the form of pizza and hot dogs. But the most interesting of the fringe scents was that of purell. Many of the booths in the center were those of writers and artists. They were there signing various artifacts that attested to their existence, and as such, there needed to be a barrier of some sort, some invisible shield to protect the artists from whatever the events of the fan’s day prior to this meeting had held…private events. There seemed to be a direct correlation between the strength of purell odor around a given booth, and the aloof attitude coming from the occupants of said booth. It went like this: the stronger the purell scent, the nicer the booth occupants; it was as though they felt the purell was doing the heavy lifting, in terms of aloofness. The nicest people had, what smelled like, a thin layer coating every inch of their skin that wasn’t already covered by an ironic t-shirt or skinny jeans. Skinny jeans? Good stuff. Skinny jeans were about as scarce as fit Princess Leias, but that is another post all together. The summation of the smells had an insular quality about them, at least those chosen by the folks who wore them. They all had an air of protection, an air of comfort.