Henry David Thoreau once wrote that he would “rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
Well, let’s put it mildly. He would hate Rhode Island Comic Con (at least on a Saturday).
For the last two years, I’ve frequented Terrificon in Connecticut. Held at Mohegan Sun, it’s small enough that it’s not intimidating. Yet it’s big enough to have a large selection of products and exhibits and attendees that it’s fun.
This year, I decided to kick things up a notch and visit my first ever Rhode Island Comic Con. It makes sense since I’m from RI and tend to like nerdy stuff.
There’s a catch. It’s more crowded than Disney World on school vacation week. People from Syracuse, New York to Delray Beach, Florida waddle on into the RI Convention Center and Dunkin Donuts Center looking to show their costumes, meet their favorite actor, or spend a few bucks on souvenirs.
Arrive a half-hour before it opens and you still need to wait in line for a full hour.
Even after you get in, and the hours pass by, it get MORE crowded. The sheer emission of body heat makes the temperature at least 80 degrees inside the building. For some reason, those who attend fail to apply enough deodorant. So the place begins to stink. How pleasant!
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, the convention features scores of B-list and C-List celebrities. And they’re all looking to capitalize on the most valuable commodity in America: fame. These celebrities leverage the affinity that their fans have against them and charge them anywhere from $40 to $180 for an autograph and a selfie.
Even if I wanted a photo with one of these leeches, my conscience precludes me from getting one. These people are all millionaires, or at least should be. They have plenty of money. They don’t need to leech off their fans.
Let’s say these people were doing this and donating the funds they gathered to charity? That would be a totally different story. I’d gladly pay a B-Lister 100 bucks for a photo if I knew the donation was going to help cure cancer or end homelessness.
But I’m not willing to pay some mediocre actor my hard-earned money so that they can take an extra lavish vacation or maybe hire an additional butler or score another Gucci outfit.
It’s not all bad. Despite the greedy celebrities, and the smell, heat and crowds, there are some fun aspects.
The fellow attendees are the best. They dress up in awesome costumes. You can tell they put plenty of time into their getups.
Then there are the vendors. Sure, there are some large, corporate vendors. But the vast majority of vendors are independent artists or mom-and-pop comic book stores. That’s where I enjoy spending my money.
I’ve bought several books from budding artists–and it’s invariably money well spent.
In any event, seeing the passion of the attendees is what makes the convention fun. Collectively, they’re what makes the event interesting. They’re the real A-listers.
The following photo essay should shed some light on the experience.