Just a Convention Center Filled with Wild and Crazy Fans!

Advice for all of you that have recently been hired for a job. Do NOT go to a giant convention the weekend before you start the job. You will be tired. Your feet will hurt. Your voice will be a wreck. These will not lead to a dazzling first impression. Unless you are me. I am charming under almost all conditions. The rest of you will need to rise to the occasion.

Working in a new environment raises a set of unique questions. Do you let people know that you are into comics? What will they think of that? Are they reading this? Do they think that this is weird. What about this? Should I stop? I should stop.

Why do we fret about what people think of us? It is an instinctive response. It goes away almost immediately but it is still there. Lurking in the back of my mind. Peaking it’s head up every time I start to get too comfortable.

If they ask why I look tired I just go ahead and tell people that I was at a convention that past weekend. The same as when they notice my Flash glass on the desk. If a co-worker asks about comics, I will get into it with them. I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who throws their comic book fandom into the open. Aside from writing on a comics website and reading comics in public and wearing a Flash t-shirt around town and recording a podcast about comics for last five years. Other than that I am on the down low. I am not jamming comic books into people’s hands. Not every conversation I have has to end up about Teen Titans West. That probably hurts my evangelical credibility with a segment of fandom. My methodology has its own strengths. I am making new readers but not in the conventional sense.

To get an adult into comics you got to convince them that YOU are cool and therefore the stuff you like is also cool. This isn’t Fonzie cool. (I wish.) This is well put together adult cool. A person who has perused the world of entertainment and selected comics as a worthy venture. This is a man or woman who can talk about anything with anyone. They also happen to really dig comics. Most of you are already this type of cool.The best way to preach the power of comics is to preach the power of yourself…and mention that you like comics. It is actually pretty easy. You just have to sprinkle the comics into your interactions instead of wielding them like a fire hose.

The problem is that we have allowed ourselves to be Big Bang Theorized. Geek culture has come to the forefront and along with it is the trappings. People are desperate to be seen as geek outcasts or nerds. That all they do is sit and read comics, or watch Doctor Who, or read Manga about a Dragon bob sledding team. The paradox of course is that in the race to become an outsider they are all becoming insiders. Television hosts and movie stars trying to develop geek cred. I just felt a shiver go down my spine. Credibility is a topic of conversation for those that don’t have anything of substance to talk about.

I learned an important lesson regarding comics and music in my twenties. The vast majority of adults do not care at all about what you are reading or listening to. There are no roving gangs of men in suits walking up and down the train grabbing your books from you. They aren’t going to snag your copy of Thor and slap you. They are strangers. You are a stranger. Everyone just wants to get where they are going with the least amount of resistance. The only bully most of us face is ourselves. YOU ARE NOT AN OUTCAST. YOU ARE NOT A COMICS NERD. YOU ARE A PERSON WHO LIKES COMICS. If you feel lonely that is because being alive can be lonely.

We all need to get up. Grab our comics. Go to work. Go to school. Climb in our rocketship. Return from work release. Just live our lives and be people. Comics are a part of us, not all of us. They should never be all that we are. They are just the awesome flip side of some imaginative people.

I went to the New York Comic Con and I had dozens of lovely conversations with people from all over the country. None of them were weird outcasts who couldn’t function in society. They were all interesting and charming people. I talked about driving in Massachusetts, improv in Chicago, and the merits of eating fruit. I never walked away thinking, “I wonder what they think of Blackest Night.” Every single time I thought, “Comics are awesome and so are the fans.”

That is beauty of a convention. You are right in the eye of the storm. There is news about books that might come out in six months but you probably don’t hear anything about it there. Instead of anonymous internet avatars you get to see real live humans. They all have REAL names. No one was bitching about Spider-Man or Batman. We were too busy having a good time and laughing. I want to bottle up that feeling for later use. The next time a stranger asked me about comics I would break out my good vibes bottle and splash them in the eyes with burning comics fun.

Go forth my friends and multiply. Find new readers and charm them. Don’t just hand them Watchmen or Dark Knight. Make friends then make fans.


You all impressed Tom Katers. He wants to hang out agains.


  1. Tom. You’re the best. Seriously. Great article. I can’t wait to actually get out to a con and meet some of the awesome people in the comics community. Kinda warm fuzzies all around with this one and that’s anything but bad.

  2. "YOU ARE NOT AN OUTCAST. YOU ARE NOT A COMICS NERD. YOU ARE A PERSON WHO LIKES COMICS. If you feel lonely that is because being alive can be lonely."

    Truer words have rarely been spoken.

    I don’t know how I managed not to chat with Tom at NYCC, it makes me sad.

  3. Tom, Right on the money. This is my basic approach. I’ve been told I’m cool or a "hipster" on more than a few occasions, though I never really understand why.

     But my approach of ‘comics is just one cool thing I like,’ combined with ‘there are different kinds of comics for different kinds of people’ is how I ended up with a couple friends reading Ultimate Spider-Man in trades, others reading Iron Man, still others reading Buffy, and my gf begging me to go to the store so we can get the newest Fables, American Vampire, and Scalped. Six months ago she had never read a single comic issue. And now she wants to go to a con.

  4. Really is your best article so far, Tom.

  5. You can’t tell, but I’m doing the 80s movie slow-clap-that-turns-into-loud-applause.

  6. Page 1 of the Comic Manifesto…

    Seriously, that was a fantastic article, Tom.  Great to meet you and your wife last weekend. 


  7. This really makes me want to go to a big con.

    Thanks for the article, Tom.

  8. I shall tattoo this article to my inside thigh and make friends and comic fans of all I meet. Great stuff.

  9. Yes.

    And this line I love: "If you feel lonely that is because being alive can be lonely."

    I want it on a bumper sticker.

  10. Great Article Tom

  11. This is one damnhellass article, Tom. I especially enjoyed the emphatic use of bold and all-caps.

  12. "…I would break out my good vibes bottle and splash them in the eyes with burning comics fun."


  13. Your short and true declarative sentences light the way for all of us.

    Except, you didn’t meet anyone bitching about Batman or Spider-Man? Lucky.

  14. Dear Tom Katers,


    You are a MF’n comic book podcasting, blogging PHENOMENON.  


    One thing though: what did all those people you talked to think of BLACKEST NIGHT? I’m curious. Please get back to me on this.


    Yours truly,