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The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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Nerds in New England: My Experience at Rhode Island Comic Con

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Photo from Rhode Island Comic Con | Facebook.

Picture this: a massive building with multiple floors, connected by escalators and filled with art and merchandise showcasing various media such as anime, video games, and movies, and, of course, individuals wearing the most elaborate outfits imaginable. This is the experience of one attending Rhode Island Comic Con, an annual event that has been held since 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Personally, I have attended this convention two times, including the 2023 event that was held from Friday, November 3rd to Sunday, November 5th.

Lots of Comic Cons are held across the country all throughout the year. Many cities and states have area-specific conventions, some of the most popular being San Diego Comic Con in San Diego, California, and New York Comic Con in New York, New York. These conventions host hundreds of thousands of people each year, and while Rhode Island Comic Con only hosts tens of thousands, it often draws celebrities and personalities with a large cultural impact and accompanying fan base. This year, some of the largest draws of the convention were Anthony Daniels, the voice behind Star Wars’ C-3PO, the cast of FX’s drama Sons of Anarchy, the cast of the 1980’s classic The Breakfast Club, and The Addams Family’s Christina Ricci.

Many attendees of the convention mainly aim to receive autographs from and meet their preferred actors, writers, artists, and musicians, but in addition to photo ops and signatures, guests can attend a variety of panels. These panels offer the attendees a chance to ask questions of the stars, regarding various subjects. In years past, the panels have focused on a specific franchise, but due to the SAG-AFTRA Strike, actors were unable to publicly speak about the projects they’ve worked on, meaning the topics of the panels were extremely vague. 

The one panel I attended was no exception, for it was titled Stars of Sci-Fi, and the featured guests were actors Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Felicia Day, and Mary McDonnell, who despite playing roles in television shows such as Supernatural, iZombie, and Fall of the House of Usher, could not speak about them in any detail. This isn’t necessarily detrimental, though it does create difficulty when the connection to an actor exists solely due to their work on screen. At this panel, the aforementioned actors answered questions regarding themselves, their interests, and acting as a whole, and regardless of the circumstances, it was still an entertaining and interesting experience. 

Personally, I did not receive as many autographs and photo ops as most people do. This is partly due to indecisiveness, and partly caused by budget restrictions. As a college student with a part-time job, I have to save all the money I can, and these experiences are not only unnecessary, but they are typically quite expensive. The lowest amount of money someone can spend to meet one of their favorite celebrities is about $40, and with an autograph the fan receives one hand-signed item or photo of their choosing, and about a minute or so to talk to the celebrity. An autograph, for some of the more well-known celebrities, can cost more than $100, and while I absolutely believe entertainers should be compensated for their time and work, it’s important to acknowledge that the cost can be excessive. 

Most well-known, popular celebrities are multi-millionaires, so realistically it would not affect their income significantly if an autograph was $50, as opposed to $100. It’s a complex issue, though, and as I mentioned beforehand, an experience like this is a luxury, not a necessity needed to survive. It’s easy to oppose the $325 cost to take one photo with the cast of Sons of Anarchy, but realistically the only people who purchase these photo ops are people who can easily afford them, and regardless of the high cost, there will be fans interested in the experience. 

As for the experience of the convention, I can concretely state that I had a great time. Besides being able to explore a large city I don’t often visit, I was able to purchase unique and often handmade items, meet and interact with kind people who shared my interests, and appreciate the entertainment I have consumed and connected with. Oftentimes, interests such as music, art, and film are ridiculed, especially when these interests are held by young women and girls. Grown men have historically belittled young women for being excited about various art forms, while attending sports games and partaking in the exact same activities, just for athletics as opposed to a musical artist or similar. 

Any place where people are allowed to express their interests to their desired extent is a place that should be preserved. Some may like to make fun of those who attend Comic Con, but the fact of the matter is that these individuals are having an unexplainable amount of fun. What is so horrible about that, and why is it so cringeworthy to some?

As long as no one is being hurt or made uncomfortable, Comic Cons have a purpose and should absolutely continue to exist for as long as possible. What other place can you not only express your fascination with a 19-year-old horror movie and meet one of the main actors, but also feel completely normal and unphased about it? General society probably doesn’t understand my appreciation for Saw (2004), but the person behind me in line to meet one of its main actors (Cary Elwes), sporting a Billy the Puppet tattoo, definitely does.

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Angelina Clark, Web Editor

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