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Comic Con is more than just men in tights

MY name is Chris and I'm a comic book geek.

No, I don't live in my parents' basement, I don't recite lines from my favourite sci-fi actioners (unless the moment calls for it), I do have a girlfriend and I don't wear masks.

A novelty T-shirt is as far as I'll go – and maybe a Batman logo belt.

But this weekend, the inaugural MCM (Movie Comic Media) Ireland Comic Con kicks off in the RDS, and I couldn't be more excited.

Why? Well, it's a two-day expo straight out of London and aimed at comic book, video game and sci-fi fans. It has special guests, interactive panels, retro gaming, retail stands and costume competitions.

Aside from last year's Dublin Comic Con, it's the first time a major event of this kind has touched down in the city. We should celebrate.

For too long now, my interest in comics has been laughed at and ridiculed. I remember once sharing my love of Batman with a colleague, only for him to question why a bloke my age (26) hadn't yet outgrown a fascination with superheroes.

"Well, I suppose it's good to have a hobby," he told me. That's nice. Music, film, sport, comics – it's all relative. We're all fans of something, and though my collection of comic books, movie merchandise and memorabilia may be small (it's an expensive hobby), I take pride in it.

The Simpsons taught us that sci-fi geeks have no lives outside of their fan fiction. Enter the stereotypical Comic Book Guy – a bearded, overweight collector, store-owner and fully-fledged member of the Klingon fan community.

True, there are real-life aficionados who have, on occasion, flown too close to the sun, converting their homes to look like the starship Enterprise.

But every pastime has its nutjobs – the rest of us are just fans.

SNOBBERY

The RDS will no doubt attract its fair share of oddball characters who will stop at nothing to ask special guest Warwick Davis what it was like filming Return of the Jedi.

These lads are no different to the blokes who push their way to the front at gigs so that their favourite musicians can sign their records.

There's nothing more annoying than those who look down on another person's interests. It's like literary snobbery, only in this case there are more men in tights.

You see, a good comic can make for just as satisfying an experience as a decent novel. For example, at the moment I'm flipping through Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son, and it's a cracking read.

Yes, there are pictures, but make no mistake, these things aren't just for kids. Hollywood's lucrative love affair with superheroes is at an all-time high, with the most recent Marvel Studios installment, Captain America: The Winter Soldier taking in $96m (€70m) on its US release.

Okay. The coming together of comic book geeks for a huge, arena-sized exhibition might raise a chuckle or two among the haters.

But if we can have music festivals, theatrical jaunts, horror fairs and literary jubilees, then why not comic expos? I plan to take my three-year-old nephew, Conor, to this weekend's convention. Kids his age are now taught that superheroes are cool. I wish I'd had that.


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