What’s Missing at Comic Cons? Superheroes (no, really)

I’m heading up to Portland next week, to teach Superhero Basic Training at the Comic Con there. I’m excited, because IMHO there’s something missing at Comic Cons that I’m hoping to provide.

I’ve been to two Comic Cons previously, back when they were Wizard Worlds, one in Boston and one in Philadelphia. Perhaps things have changed in the six years since I’ve been to one, in which case I will eat my words, but I can sum up what’s missing:

  • People go to Comic Cons to dress like superheroes, to buy superhero stuff, to learn more about superheroes, to interact with actors who have played superheroes. But they don’t get to BE superheroes, and they don’t come out of the Con any more superheroic than they went in.

Maybe, you say, this is not a bug, it’s a feature. People don’t come to Comic Con to become superheroes, they come to be entertained! Perhaps, but I wonder if that’s because they don’t know that there’s any alternative? And what’s the alternative?

To BE a superhero rather than a viewer of superheroes.

I know, you say, this goes against the nature of us Americans: we’d rather watch sports than play them, complain about politicians rather than vote, watch porn rather than get into romantic relationships, and go to superhero movies to see extraordinary people accomplish extraordinary things rather than change the world.

But you know what? I don’t buy it. I think people are yearning to make a difference, to be extraordinary – especially those people going to a Comic Con. Thoughts?

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