Likewise, a couple of years ago, we attended MegaCon – a giant convention for lovers of comics, anime, sci-fi and fantasy. It was full of people in bizarre costumes, exotic (often creepy) merchandise, and a pervasive spirit of fun and goodwill. We took my daughter, and she wandered the aisles with us, displaying nothing more than mild amusement.
When my wife’s acquaintance offered us tickets to this year’s MegaCon, we decided to go, because this year my daughter had an intense interest. She’s not interested in comics, anime, sci-fi or fantasy. Rather, she’s interested in sword fighting.
It seems that her boyfriend and a couple of other guys she knows are involved in a loose organization called Way of the Sword, and they meet twice a week at a local park to engage in practice sword battles using foam swords. There are different “clans” in the organization, who come together occasionally for a full day of games involving foam swords. I confess I have no interest in this activity, other than the fact that it’s free and it gets my daughter out of the house and provides her with some exercise. It’s almost entirely composed of geeky boys. My daughter’s clan was organized by a theater major who is actually skilled and knowledgeable at the use of swords, so they’re not just running around swatting wildly at each other. There’s actual training and discipline involved.
Way of the Sword had a booth at Megacon this year, and anyone who wanted to wait in line could duel with another person for a dollar. The booth was being run by the organizer of my daughter’s clan. This is him, I swear:
At one point, Darth Vader and Chewbacca engaged in a swordfight, to the delight of the crowd:
There’s a huge group of gamers who attend, because of the fantasy element found in so many console and board games. Here’s a group of gamers, watching transfixed as other gamers play:
There were at least four booths selling nothing but gaming dice, some made out of precious materials such as jade and silver. I can't imagine how hard it is to make a living selling dice.
Comics were everywhere, and lots of independent comic artists sat at tables trying to drum up interest in their products. I spoke to one of them, who said that distributors require you to have 3 complete issues of your comic ready before they’ll take you on, and if the first issue doesn’t generate at least $32,000 in sales, they drop you. It doesn’t sound like a good business for an artist, but there were dozens of guys trying to break in to the market.
In fantasy worlds, weapons are very popular. There were about a dozen vendors selling genuine swords with sharp, deadly blades. But there were only about three vendors selling Airsoft-type guns:
Because so many people attend in costume, there were loads of booths selling costumes and costume accessories. It was a strange kind of delayed gratification, where the attendees wore costumes they bought at last year’s convention, and shopped for costumes to wear next year. But wow, the costumes!
Some costumes were more successful (or perhaps just less weird) than others. This, for example, is a guy:
And this is a man who shouldn't remove his shirt under any circumstances, particularly when he's trying to look like some kind of Ninja superhero:
I asked this guy who he was supposed to be, and he told me that he was dressed as a character he had created himself. Apparently, there's a whole group of them who design their own fantasy/superhero characters and then spend months making costumes just so they can show up at this event:
But once again, despite the crappy economy, everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves: