The Secret Lair

By | Friday, July 13, 2012 Leave a Comment
Your home is where you hang your hat. It's a bit of an oversimplification, but there's a truth there. Your "home" or "base" is where you've got a claim on some space that you can keep some of your stuff with at least a modicum of security. Your permanent residence serves that purpose most of the time, but other stations can work as smaller, temporary shelters of a sort. In the office, you might have your own cubicle where you can hang your coat and put up a picture of your significant other. It's not much, but it's your space where you can set down a pen or a soda, and be reasonably sure no one's going to walk off with it.

In the context of a comic convention, the only people who really have such a base are the ones with booths. Independent creators rent tables, and larger publishers sometimes bring enough curtains to section off something like a mini-warehouse for the folks manning the booth all day. If you've ever gone around a convention all day, carrying a bag full of stuff, trying to juggle what you need on the fly throughout the entire day, I'm sure you can appreciate the idea having a known place where you can drop your stuff off and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the con itself.

Some of the bigger folks, as I've alluded to, have a larger space set aside than a single table. An actual room set aside just for them. In the case of the larger conventions, they might bring their own structures and have them located like an island in the midst of the convention floor. Others rent out an extra meeting room just off the main floor. These often act as a sort of secret lair for the group, where they can physically remove themselves from the convention for a little while. Where they're not shoulder to shoulder with a hundred strangers. The picture here shows MTV Geek's video studio they set up in San Diego this year; I suspect they have another area set aside somewhere as well.

I first saw one of these rooms in 1999 when Gorilla Comics was launched. The creators had a meeting room set aside just for them, where they could step away from the huge lines of fans and take a break from signing autographs. It was just another innocuous door in the hotel, but I happened to catch a glimpse of Joe Casey going in and several of the other creators sitting around relaxing, chatting amongst themselves. I think I saw a cooler of bottled water. Nothing fancy, just a space for them.

I've always thought it would be cool to be a part of one of those groups. Whether as a professional or just as a friend of someone who was "in". I thought it would be great to just have a place where I could drop whatever I was carrying with me, and not have to haul it around over my shoulder all day. I think a lot of con-goers would appreciate that.

But as I think about it more, I realize that's not my main interest. Yeah, it would be nice to be able to drop stuff off like that, but that real draw is to be included in an exclusive group like that. They'll let anyone into the convention with an admission fee, but only a select group is allowed in the secret lair. It's not that you have a place to drop your stuff, it's that you've been given a place to drop your stuff. That you're liked and trusted enough to be a part of a group.

A lot of my book on fandom boils down to finding a sense of belonging in this world. And there's no reason why people wouldn't ALSO seek that same sense of belonging in the smaller microcosm of a convention as well.
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