Anyone who has deployed will tell you about places they have visited where, without a doubt, they know they are in a strange and distant land. I had that kind of experience just last week.
I was there to judge cartoons for the National Cartoonists Society, but we finished early and had time to visit the Seattle version of a comic book convention, called the Emerald City Comicon (“…the largest comic book and pop culture convention in the pacific northwest!”).
The name fit, because I was definitely not in Kansas any more. Flying monkeys would have felt right at home. All that was missing was a yellow brick road and a village of munchkins.
The convention was more “pop culture” than “comic book convention”, and in blue jeans and a tee shirt I felt oddly out of place.
It was like the first time I ever visited Subic Bay as a hay seed midwesterner, back when Subic Bay was a notorious liberty port. Suddenly, your eyes are bigger than your brain’s capacity to digest what they are seeing.
(Image is blurry, but it wouldn’t look any better in focus)
I went outside for a breather and to get my feet back under me, and walked right into a gaggle of Imperial Stormtroopers. They would have looked out of place on the street were it not for the scores of other costumed conventioneers parading around in front of the building with them.
So I went back inside and found a quiet room, settling into a seat to hear about cartoon licensing from artists who work on some of the most famous animated cartoons in the business. It would be a legal discussion of copyrights and contracts. Certainly, I would be able to find a respite from the crazies.
And then I looked to my left.
Everyone has a niche, I guess, and the conventioneers were in theirs. One has to wonder how they decide which costumes to wear. One fellow, middle aged and a little more paunchy than he probably would have liked, decided to wear a skin tight Robin outfit (the old Robin from the Batman TV series).
Why not go as Batman? What inspired him to shoot for number 2? In my mind, if you are going to go to the trouble of buying and wearing a full replica outfit, you might as well go for the top spot.
I will never understand that, nor much of anything else about the convention at Emerald City. All I know is that when I got home, laid down on the couch and listened to the normal routine of my normal family, one thought came to mind.
There’s no place like home.