I am a recovering comic book addict that still likes to occasionally hurl himself off the flying wagon, preferably to be saved while assisting Batman foil an evil plan.
My sporadic comic book benders usually end each year by spending too much money at the Florida Supercon that takes place this weekend July 4-7. In some sense, shuffling through the miles of comic books at Supercon is the world’s way of telling me that the Batman of my childhood is still here in Miami. Through honing my crime fighting skills in the pages of various comic books, my 14-year-old self understood comics as a safe place. One where good and evil were covered in shiny things, and good usually prevailed.
I used to go to Bam Comics on West Dixie Highway, which is now closed. There was an old Asian guy with a bad haircut named Fred who worked there and once brought me all my favorite books when I had a tonsillectomy. I sometimes wonder what Fred is up to, if anything at all. But I know that the spirit of what he was doing all those years ago is still alive in Miami.
That spirit is at its greatest at the Florida Supercon. It is a place for locals to show off and guzzle up their interests in the various subcultures that surround comic books, such as anime, toys, games, costumes, music, science fiction TV and movies. Comic book conventions are safe places for proudly self-proclaimed nerds.
Mike Broder, director of the Florida Supercon, explains that in its eight-year existence, attendance has grown impressively every year. In its first year, there were 1,500 attendees. This year they are “expecting hopefully around 25,000.”
This could be because comics are continuing to grow in Florida, but Broder also explains that Supercon is important because, “people have the opportunity to meet those they want to meet, to get together, enjoy the community.”
This is really what comic book conventions are all about. Whatever pastime you go for, it is a place where you can embrace what you enjoy with no judgment.
As Elisa Melendez, lead singer for the South Florida rock band Crimson, who are performing for their fourth time in a row this Friday July 5th at 9:00 p.m., says, “We're a band of geeks in some form or another, so it's a natural fit. It's our best show of the year just because of the audience. These are OUR people.”
Melendez, who leads the rest of her Crimson band mates in dressing up like characters from the popular Game of Thrones series, is a Ph.D. student focusing on gender and gaming in the Global and Socio-cultural Studies program at Florida International University. Here they are performing dressed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles two years ago at Supercon, with Melendez as their front person, the yellow clad reporter April O’Neil.
As for the local importance of the convention, Melendez thinks that, “Supercon is HUGE for Florida. There's so much of a stigma attached to Miami--that we're nothing but fair weather bros and silicone chongas. People would think there's nothing in South Florida as far as geek culture goes, so we end up at other more established cons. Supercon is getting bigger every year, and I'm so proud to have a place of geek pride to call our own.”
Pride is important at Supercon. There are artists from TV, film, music and those who scrawl the comic book pages, all quite proud of what they do. And there are the shopkeepers, proud of their small business and being a part of Supercon.
I don’t know what ever happened to Fred from Bam Comics. If you do, drop a line. I do not know if he remained a hero but truly hope he did not somehow become a villain. He traded in heroes and villains, and he was a hero in that moment after my tonsillectomy, extending a hand to someone in the community that was in need.
Supercon, and all of its gleeful comic book inspired absurdity, is an outstretched hand to everyone in the South Florida community. I’ll be looking for detective stories and of course, Batman. What about you?