My view from Saboten Con 2014 at Artist Alley booths

Connecting online and In Real Life

I’ve recently released my first graphic novel. I decided to go the self-publishing route with it from the beginning which also meant I had to figure out how to self-promote it. One of the best ways I’ve found to get it out to people so far has been to take the hardback book to sell at comic book conventions.

I live in Arizona where it turns out there are a bunch of comic-related conventions, which is surprising since just five or six years ago there was basically only one: Phoenix Comicon. Now Phoenix Comicon is huge, comparable to the size of any of the major comic conventions around the US with a bunch of smaller conventions throughout the year that are related to comics in some way. The last one I went to was actually geared primarily towards anime fans (a niche market of its own) who also enjoy comics. The point is, these conventions were essentially non-existent just a few years ago.

So what caused this sudden surge in comic conventions? Is it all these Marvel movies creating new comic fans? Maybe but the anime convention I was at hardly had anyone dressed in superhero cosplays. Sitting at my booth watching people walk by, I remembered growing up a fan of the Myst video game series and how I almost went to a convention/gathering of fans that was based solely around the game. It was the fans themselves that organized it, and they did it all online. And then they met in person, probably for the first time ever after chatting with each other on forums for years.

And that’s how these comic conventions along with other fan conventions work. People who interact online about their favorite movies, TV shows, video games, etc, now have a dedicated venue to meet IRL, in real life. And it’s social tools like Facebook that allows them to connect with each other. Before this year’s Phoenix Comicon, there was a Facebook Group dedicated to preparing for the convention and then meeting each other at the convention, each person wearing a blue ribbon so they would recognize each other in the massive crowd.

Despite the point of view that people are becoming less social because of the internet, the opposite appears to be true: people are more social, including in-person because the internet is allowing them to connect in easier ways than ever before. Make a connection online and then meet IRL. Connect IRL and then keep chatting online. The internet is just a tool for us to continue being the social creatures we’ve always been.