Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Ninth Comic-Conmandment: Thou Shalt Talk to Strangers

Because a number of comic fans, myself included, have led lives in which they've felt unaccepted or like an outsider, many, myself included, find themselves socially awkward.  The web series Awkward Embraces plays this social ineptitude for wonderful comic effect, but in real life, it can be a difficult obstacle to overcome.  Well, if you're going to overcome it anywhere, a comic convention is the place.  

Being among so many like-minded people provides the perfect opportunity to make new friends.  While for a lot of us, the Stranger Danger impulse keeps us away from others, at a comic convention that inhibition can be relaxed a bit.  Start out light.  You don't have to dive into your manifesto on how Sue Dibny should be the Spectre right out of the gate.  (Though, she should be, dammit!)  Instead, a simple bit of appreciation for a tee shirt or a comment about a shared situation like standing in a line can be the perfect icebreaker, and can lead to a memorable moment, if not a great friendship.

A few years ago in San Diego, I stood in the Hyatt bar wearing a blue lantern shirt that I had Zazzled up before DC started selling them in droves.  A fellow--I believe his name was Paul--came up to me, admired the shirt, and asked if I was the writer of Green Lantern.  While I wish I had a career path similar to that of Geoff Johns, I told the truth.  Still, this simple comment led to a ten minute conversation about the Green Lantern title and where we thought the story was heading.  While we neither traded info, nor become besties or anything, that brief conversation stuck with me, and was one of the highlights of that convention.

If you're looking for the best opportunities to meet people in San Diego, you'll find them in the hotel bars after the show.  That's pretty obvious.  Less obvious, and possibly even better, is the hidden cafeteria in the mezzanine area behind small press.  On more than one occasion I have met a new friend over lunch by sharing one of the few tables in this area.  Just make it clear that you have an open seat at your table, and you'll find someone to share it pretty quickly.  Possibly even me.

So when you return home, try to bring back not only clothes, books, and autographs, but a few great memories and perhaps a new friend as well.

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