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Comic-Con, Wootstock & The Skeptical Community

I recently returned home from Comic-Con in San Diego and it was AMAZING!

Sorry to drop this on top of Chelsea’s Con envy AI post but yeah, Comic-Con was AWESOME!

Seriously, I had no idea what I was in for. I had never been to Comic-Con. I mean, I had friends like A.Real.Girl tell me it was the biggest convention of its kind in the country and that I should attend but I guess I didn’t fully grasp how completely freakin’ wild it was going to be. Comic-Con made every other convention I have been to fizzle when compared to the explosive-awsomeness of geekdom that I was exposed to! There is no way that I can give you a complete rundown of everything that happened over the 4 days of the con because the event itself was HUGE but I will give you a quick recap of what really was amazing to me.

train viewFirst of all, I left town on a train to San Diego all alone. I was feeling rather sad and disillusioned as of late. I have been exposed to a lot of unnecessary negativity online and in skeptical circles and I really felt a need to reevaluate what I was doing here. Was I making a posative impact? Did I want to stay? And if so what should I do next? So I packed my bag, I kissed the wonderful, Mr. Surly goodbye and hopped the ‘Surfliner’ train to San Diego to help clear my head.

The always lovely and charming, A.Real.Girl picked me up from the train station and the four day weekend began. Now, I am sorry to have to gloss over a lot of Comic-Con but the convention is literally SO GIGANTIC that one person could never experience every aspect of it. But if you have never been, essentially Comic-Con is a science-fiction and art extravaganza with over 100,000 people in attendance. Every cool or geeky TV show and movie from from Eureka to the new Tron has a panel or an exhibit with all of the stars in tow. tronAll the cool comic book artists are there as well selling stuff and signing autographs. For example, we saw Stan Lee just hanging out at the Marriott hotel. STAN LEE. He is like the freaking Hugh Hefner of comics! (Yes, because all the ladies love him.) But seriously, the guy is an icon of comic art. He might as well be a rock star and he was there and accessible to the likes of you and me! (Awesome!)

We attended a lot of panels. My favorite panel (no big surprise) was the MythBusters panel. It was moderated by the Nerdist, Mr. Chris Hardwick. Nerdist and Phil PlaitHe is funny, witty and charming and I was lucky enough to shake his hand! If you are not familiar with his work, do check him out!

Remember, I was on a soul searching mission. I was searching for purpose and direction in the land of the geek and something wonderful was said at the MythBuster’s panel that caught my attention. I am totally paraphrasing here but Chris Hardwick asked Adam Savage essentially how he felt about being a very popular scientific role model and how his show had become the best science show on television at this time and how he felt about that. Part of Adam’s response was along the lines of, ‘When you are naturally curious about stuff it ends up as science.’

That comment was very simple but encompassed a lot of why I am interested in science and skepticism today. I am not a scientist, nor am I an academic but I am naturally curious. In fact that curious nature is what led me here to Skepchick. A simple and honest curiosity about the world can lead to wonderful projects like television shows and art and blogs and more. And sometimes, if pursued with a genuine love for knowledge, the results of that curiosity can ripple outward and impact the world in wonderful ways. Yay MythBusters!

bart at comic-conWe walked the floor at Comic-Con. The ‘floor’ is a giant room filled with art and exhibits and items for sale and books and art and it was overwhelming and packed with people. It was so big and crowded that I never even made it to the booth that was selling some of my Surly jewelry. Seriously. But I did see a giant Bart.

There were a lot of giant things at the con. In fact giant bags were the big thing! (Thank you. I will be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress and no, I won’t quit my day job.)

Every production company had issued a giant bag that you could have for free. The SyFy Giant Bag vs Giant Backpack was very popular.

giant bag

I opted out of the giant bag craze but a certain astronomer friend of ours was seen gathering quite a few. :)

Find the astronomer!

All in all Comic-Con was very cool. But perhaps a bit ironically my very favorite part of the entire experience was a fringe event that I attended on the very first night. It was an event I was at the time unfamiliar with but now am officially a GIANT fan of. A little fringe event called Wootstock. Yes, Wootstock was my giant bag.

Wootstock was awesome

Wootstock is a concert event for geeks hosted by Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm and Adam Savage. Participants in this particular Wootstock also included, Phil Plait, Chris Hardwick, Molly Lewis, Marian Call, Comic book legend Matt Fraction, live art by Len Peralta, all the fellas from Rifftrax, Jamy Ian Swiss and more. Dudes. It. Was. AWESOME! You know the saying, the geek shall inherit the earth? Not only do I now believe that to be completely true, I now think that when it happens Wootstock will be our Sunday mass. At the very least it should be! I laughed almost the entire time except for when I almost cried during Matt Fraction’s presentation. Needless to say, I was inspired by the wonderful sense of community and by the amount of talent and the wonderful gracious geekiness of it all. If you are not familiar with the event please do search youtube for it. Wil Wheaton is better at explaining the event than I am so here is a a clip of his intro from that evening.

The rest of Wootstock (it lasted more than four hours) can be found on youtube thanks to the audience members who recorded it and for Wil Wheaton and others for allowing for it to be shared. And guys, I will be honest here. I never watched the Star Trek episodes he was in and I was not a Wil Wheaton fan before this event. I am now a fan. He is funny and smart and the fact that he has a hand in an event like Wootstock makes him cool as hell in my book.

So what is the moral of this story? What did I find while on my journey to the land of the geek?

I realized that there is a wonderful fringe community that is verging on the mainstream and we all, every single person who embraces curiosity, science or any of the geek-arts has a right to be a part of it. Regardless of what college degree you have or do not have, or what your job title is or what your qualifications are, if you have a talent or something positive to contribute to this community or simply a desire to learn more you should feel welcomed into it. This community that I self identify with encompasses much more than just skeptics. Skepticism is a part of it but that is simply one aspect of it. It is a collective that celebrates ideas and the sharing of empirical knowledge and science-based information. It is a world-view that I want to be a positive and productive part of.

So to all of the negative ninnies who have been squawking in the sidelines of my world as of late, I say sianara. I can no-longer hear you over the AWESOME that was Comic-Con and Wootstock!

Science is inspiring. Life is amazing. There is much information to share, much good to do and much to create. And we, all of us, have a lot to learn.

PS. Can I just say ONE more thing? Somehow, little surly-ol me ended up as a guest at a party where Jamy Ian Swiss was doing close up magic tricks for Wil Wheaton and the cast of the MythBusters. Seriously. Dudes. Wow. I really don’t know what else to say about that other than the fact that if a little art-geek like me can end up in a magical place like that, almost anything is possible. ;)

Magic Fun Time

Life is grand! I’m off to make my own tiny ripples.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. Wil Wheaton is indeed awesome. And I suspect, a Skeptic. Just a few clues here and there (like swearing to the FSM) that get dropped on Twitter. I think there is a lot of overlap between geek subculture and skeptics. The unofficial motto of our campus Reason and Science group is “If there was a God, it would be Joss Whedon.”

  2. Awww, I’m so glad you had such a great time! I did too. Loved w00tstock so much and was very proud of my Surly/Bad Astronomy pendant all weekend. Very excited about Phil’s new show, too, which I learned about from you!

  3. Oh, I”m so jealous! Wil Wheaton is a God (if there could be one).

    You should watch The Guild. He’s in season 3 & 4 and like totally rocks.

  4. Thanks Amy! I’ve never wanted to attend Comic-Con until I read this. Sadly it would boil down to Comic-Con or TAM until the offspring are fully sprung.

  5. Thank you!
    Your epiphany on curiosity being at the heart of it all just hit me in the gut.
    It is so true. I wonder if we all shifted our focus from “get critical thinking into schools and culture” to “get everyone more truly curious” whether we could get all of silliness solved.
    I think the Nonsense Peddlers win because people want a quick answer AND aren’t curious enough to notice when the quick answer doesn’t make sense.
    Thank you again.
    I’m glad you had such a marvelous time.

  6. straight up love the surfliner train, cruises right past over 1000 a class surf breaks. i’d rather be in the water at ocean beach or la jolla than comic con (or summer blockbuster movie con as it should be titled).

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