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For all the complaints people can haveRCCC-11 of comic conventions (long lines, big crowds, mounting expenses), there’s really nothing like the gatherings compared to other artistic mediums. For decades comics fans were reserved to neighborhood shops and early message boards, usually small, tight-knit groups who could name each of their fellow nerds or at least name their particular online handles.

Now that nerds rule the planet, comics are enjoying an unprecedented level of cultural cache. Blockbuster movies, high-minded academic discourse, and household name recognition of once obscure characters are now mainstream hallmarks of geek entertainment. So while the importance of being able to meet face-to-face with fellow low-brow connoisseurs isn’t as relevant as it was pre-web, seeing the sensory overload of a modern gathering like Rose City Comic Con is still welcoming for a number of reasons.

RCCC-5The first and foremost reason is that Portland is a geek utopia.With our abundance of creators, shops, and themed bars, Portland is probably only pushed out of the top global nerd spot by Tokyo. Second, the diversity of all things geek is immediately apparent, especially compared with the rather monotone audiences of the local music, art, and outdoors scene. People of all ages, body types, and skin colors flock to Rose City Comic Con. From grandmothers ready to school you on obtuse details from your favorite sci-fi show to off-hour strippers strutting their stuff in expertly made costumes, there’s no singular definition of a comics fan anymore. Sure, there’s an abundance of the stereotypical middle-age dudes, but even they are seemingly melding into the colorful soup that is a convention crowd.

It’s beautiful, and as someone who has spent the majority of my adult life working in both comics and music, I wish music had similar events. Sure, there are festivals, where we chug overpriced beer and struggle to see bands on large stages, but it’s not the same. You can’t walk up to just anyone at MusicfestNW and start chatting about the implications of The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” 1968 single being pulled following the Democratic National Convention. But at Rose City Comic Con, you can wander into a panel where five different people are discussing the unnecessary hyper-sexualization of Jean Grey and its comparison to the cannon of Smurfette.

Maybe neither of those things are your bag. For those of us who are uncontrollably obsessed with such pop-culture mind games, being reminded that there are thousands of us — and that we’re all pretty nice people to boot — feels like coming back to a home you almost forgot.