July 20, 2013— -- The audience went loco en la cabeza when I posted a pic to the internets of myself holding my super coveted badge of nerdian honor: my San Diego Comic-Con badge. It's like I came out of a comic book-filled closet. I am Lalo Alcaraz, professional geek.
We comic loving nerds used to be mocked and derided as losers living in the basement at our mama's house, as the terminally immature, lost in a world of make-believe. Now everyone wants a piece of comic books and art. Comic themed movies and TV shows confirm cartoon culture is hot. Nerds are admired everywhere. Wow. It does get better.
It's not like people didn't know that I am a daily newspaper comic strip cartoonist, or a longtime editorial cartoonist and general online agitator. But it's the fact that I am at Comic-Con, ground zero for much of today's American pop culture that finally gives me the street cred I SOOO deserve.
I have been coming to Comic-Con for years, so long that I remember when it used to be about comics! There were no giant movie company booths, or full blown but temporary theme-park level attractions surrounding the convention center promoting the newest upcoming summer blockbuster monster movie. There were no panels featuring the latest TV stars parading for adoring geeky audiences. There were no porn star level booth girls enticing chubby half shaven male attendees with their way too obvious superhero curves. I do not recall half naked cosplay attendees roaming the halls and offering to pose with anybody for photos.
No, it used to be a small convention center room filled with carpet lined cubicles, filled with pasty looking guys and their comic books that they actually drew by hand, who were trying to sell them to the pasty looking attendees. Or the occasional comic book seller with bins and bins of old comic books for you to dig through.
No, those days are gone! Que bueno! Today's Comic-Con is the pinnacle of taste-making cool, over-commercialized, hypersexualized spectacle, and I like it just fine. There's something for everybody, and finally what I have known for all these years is manifest: comics are for everyone.
As for my adventures at this year's Comic-Con, I posed with lots of scantily and unscantily costumed cosplay aficionados, submerged myself in looking at new comic books, old comic art from the last century and beyond, and peeped the upcoming comic book based movies that will continue to flood the theaters for time foreseeable.
I purchased lots of graphic novels for my kids, and even a bulk of my debut Bart Simpson comic books (Bart Simpson #84, hint hint, available at your local comic shop now). And yes, I get to do that most coveted thing at Comic-Con, which is to be one of the hard working cartoonists who gets to sign their swooping autograph on their work, and hand it to an appreciative fan. Work which thankfully, is finally getting some of the appreciation it deserves.