I’ve never been a huge fan of big crowds. For me to participate to a concert, or a festival, or a sports match I have to be a lot involved in it, or it might quickly turn into a nightmarish experience. For me, and for the ones who happen to be with me and have to witness one of my lowest points in sociability.
This is why I didn’t suffer too much when Covid pandemic strongly limited festivals, meet-ups, and crowded events in general. In a certain sense, I think that being strongly encouraged (i.e. forced) to limit my social interactions made things even worse for me. But I knew that sooner or later I should have faced my inner anti-sociality, one way or another.
Every year at the beginning of November a huge event for comic books and tabletop games fans and cosplayers in general is held in a town approximately an hour away from my hometown, and before I got a day job I used to go. Of course, since my only option for going there is now going during the weekend I haven’t been there since 2017, because I’ve always feared that it was going to be too much for me.
Also, is there still a place for comic book fairs in the era of Amazon, e-readers and home deliveries? What is the point of spending an entire day in the middle of too many people only to buy comics and figures when I can just order them online and have them delivered? All these question might make you think that I was never going to such an event ever again, but instead this year I bought the tickets on a whim, and I bought them for Saturday 29th.
The final push came from my D&D party companions, who were all going. Not that I regretted my decision, but as the day approached I couldn’t help but feel a bit anxious about it. What will it feel like to be in a huge crowd after such a long time? Did I grow up in the last five years, or did I just grow grumpier? These questions haunted me, but they also motivated me to take the day as a personal challenge. Spending a good day with many other like-minded geeks was up to me after all, as it has always been.
As soon as I got there, I realised that no matter how grumpy I may become as I get older, comic books conventions will always have their fascination on me. The fact that I can spend an entire day nerding around while visiting a beautiful town in Tuscany, with its walls and little alleys. I’ve always said that I need an excuse to spend more time outside, and events like this are the classic occasion to do so.
And the best way to stimulate creativity is to do things you don’t usually do, changing your daily habits enough to encounter something new, right? I didn’t spend much time actually talking to strangers, but seeing a whole lot of likeminded people gathered to gather after such a long time was quite the experience.
To my surprise, I didn’t flip out because of the queue or the people gathering around the same stands I wanted to visit. It’s like I knew I needed it so much that I was able to let all my social awkwardness and need for tranquillity behind. And even though I ended up spending much more money than I planned to, and visiting less stands than I planned to, I’m glad I decided to go.
I could very well have bought all the comics and books I bought on Amazon, but it wouldn’t have been the same. The value of the purchase was also in the time I spent waiting in line, and the search for the right title at the stands, in being able to have some of the copies signed. Last but not least, in the not planned purchases: not only because I love surprises and hate planning, but also because it felt good to have a not reusable excuse to follow my gut and buy something.