If you’ll indulge me, I find myself in a reflective mood on an unusually nerdy Monday afternoon following three unusually crazy days. It was a very good weekend to be a nerd, and I’m not just talking about The Avengers. In fact, I didn’t even get a chance to see it. I only made it to a fraction of the festivities on a weekend that also included Free Comic Book Day, Star Wars Day, and the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) and there are only so many spare hours in a day now that nerd is the new normal.
Take a step back, however, and that last sentence seems patently insane. I can now state without any hint of sarcasm or irony that Joss Whedon is responsible for the biggest box office smash in history ($600M and counting), a suggestion that would have been beyond impossible around the time that Fox was cancelling Firefly. I’m not complaining, but I can’t be the only one who thinks this is all a little absurd.
I’m not going to try figure out how we got here, but I’m thrilled that I’m able to ask the question. After a weekend that brought about such an incredible confluence of general geekery I feel that a brief retrospective is in order.
You see, I spent the majority of my weekend TCAF, which is odd because I’m not particularly invested in the indie comics scene. That’s mostly due to a lack of funds rather than a lack of interest, but I like conventions so I nonetheless found myself at the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor for a good chunk of Saturday and Sunday. I saw some stunning prints and picked up a few things for my collection, but I had even more fun catching up with old friends and making new acquaintances. Somewhere along the way, I realized that – more than anything else – I simply enjoy being a part of a crowd that frequents events like TCAF as eagerly as I do.
If you can stomach the occasionally cloying miasma of body odor (some stereotypes are unfortunately true), it’s truly amazing to be able to gather in a public place to share an appreciation for properties that exist outside of the cultural mainstream. TCAF is a showcase for art that wouldn’t otherwise get a lot of attention, but it’s also a place of acceptance, and that may be the weekend’s more enduring legacy.
From the cosplayers gathered outside the Silver Snail for Free Comic Book Day to the of the Comics vs. Games exhibit at the Magic Pony and TCAF, there was entertainment to be had regardless of your preferred flavor of nerd. We shouldn’t take that for granted. In high school I considered myself lucky to be able to play Magic: The Gathering without fear of being bullied, and there are still places in North America where people are ostracized for daring to like things other than football.
Knowing that, it’s doubly important to take a moment to appreciate what we have here in Toronto. Somewhere between play sessions of The Yawhg, my interview with Home creator Benjamin Rivers (coming soon to Dork Shelf), and my questionable attempt to sing “Under the Sea” in front of a room full of witnesses, I began to appreciate how much I love the community that I’ve found in this city. Being a nerd is awesome, but – contrary to the stereotypes of socially awkward loners – it’s even more awesome when we get to share the experience with other nerds.
So maybe I never did get a chance to see The Avengers. That’s a problem that I’m more than happy to address. The movie is still playing, and when a weekend is that crazy sometimes you just have to roll with it and see where life takes you. For me, that was a post-TCAF crowd at a Korean karaoke club on Bloor Street at 3 A.M. on Saturday morning, but the fact that such a day is even possible – that I have to sit down and figure out how to prioritize my nerd hours for any given weekend – is, to my mind, a cultural wealth of riches worth celebrating.
I only hope that I’ll be able to recover in time for another weekend of insanity. TOJam kicks off on Friday, and I can’t wait to sit down with a laptop to keep the party going.