Baltimore Comic-Con, or, How I found Saga

This is not a confession – this is a statement made with pride: I love dressing up and making props. BUTALSOLETMEEXPLAIN.

I DEFINITELY don’t mean this in a creepy way (I hope), like this gem of a guy. Nor do I mean cocktails on the roof in whatever LBD works with my bra that day (not knocking it, love that too).

I’m talking about themed game nights and Sound of Music sing-a-longs. In a fun, I-will-build-you-a-Scooby-Doo-van-out-of-cardboard-I-conveniently-have-on-hand-and-I’ll-cut eyeholes-in-my-own-sheets-so-you-can-be-a-ghost way. If you’re thinking about hosting a murder mystery dinner party, chances are I’m already hiding in your closet with an old prom dress taped to my body, waiting for the cue to bust out and declare innocence. I also have a pretty substantial wig collection (admittedly less “wig” these days and more “gross hair-hat”) that I sometimes make my dog wear when I need a little serotonin boost from my instagram. This may be why she often prefers to hang out in a different room when I’m home and have that magical (wine-induced) glint in my eye.

Ok, so, now that you’re convinced – or at least willing to set aside reservations – that I mean no harm and just want to wear a little face paint every now and then, I’ll continue.

When I got my first chance to go to Comic-con in Baltimore, I was thrilled. I knew I had all the trappings of a bonafide geek, I’d just never found which kind of geek I wanted to be. I expected to see strange and wondrous things and experience something that could almost be considered a different culture with its own language and religion. What I didn’t expect was disappointment and a Comic-con possibly lacking in substance.

I say “possibly” because this is the only -Con I’ve been to in my whole entire life (plenty of time to make adjustments) so I don’t have a lot of data to back it up. This is the opinion of the newly initiated – doesn’t mean I don’t wish to attend more, I just happen to be located in a part of the country that makes San Diego an investment to get to. And, let me be quick to say, I had a massively good time with the people in Baltimore. I dressed as Totoro, from My Neighbor Totoro (a personal favorite of all Studio Ghibli endeavors), and my man-panion gussied up as the dude in blue from Mortal Kombat (current laziness prevents me from finding my phone in order to text a request for the name of said Kombatian. You understand). On par with what I was led to believe, the costumed-people watching (and participating, as I was subject to a few photo cameos myself) was an absolute delight. Highlight – the most legit Daenerys – with what I swear to you were three real baby dragons riding on her shoulders – consented to be photographed with my ridiculous, pedestrian, commoner anime self (she should have Dracarys‘d me for the presumption – I was wearing a homemade leaf hat and a kitchen apron) and my Mortal Kombat Konsort got in a FOR REAL* fight with another dude from Mortal Kombat!

*it was a fake** fight

**but still thrilling

The point: we had a silly, hilarious, judgement-free (sidebar: there was some idle judgement from the car to the convention center – there was also a Raven’s game that day and watching a Jedi Knight stroll down the sidewalk next to a guy clad in NFL purple may have been the actual highlight. More sidebar: the Jedi later turned out to be Deadpool) day of indulging in our nerdist pursuits.

It also felt grasping and greedy, like we had entered onto a platform more for profit and less for wonder and escapism. Our celebrity appearances were solidly C-list – we certainly weren’t expecting the likes of George R.R. Martin to sign our respective aprons (we all know he’s solely focused on writing right now…) – but our expectations were higher than booth after booth of superhero-themed socks and resume displays for professional cosplayers. Once the novelty had neutralized, it started to feel like I was wandering through a suburban shopping mall food court, but for a spectrum of comic-culture in lieu of Chinese food and Boardwalk Fries. There were pockets of handmade fan art and original crafts that were a pleasure to peruse and admire. I just wasn’t able to shake the feeling of commercial tackiness.

But, as an adult, I got to dress in a costume in public, and…


And I found Saga. I FOUND it. No one told me to look for it, no comic book savant put it in my grasping Totoro paws; I heard the siren call of the comic book that would bring me to comic books.

It was the end of our con-xperience and my man-panion (who I have have since confirmed via pocket computer was channeling Sub-Zero – as many of you die-hard and semi-hard MK fans probably guessed and a simple google search for “mortal kombat guy in blue” would have found) and I sent each other on a mission to find a gift worthy of the other’s regard (I’d like to acknowledge the irony of complaining about being targeted as a consumer and then going forth and consuming). Since my Sub-Zero was the true comic nerd of the two of us, my task was daunting. Would he prefer Deadpool suspenders or a Boba Fett beach towel? Possibly he already owned both?

Suspenders in hand, I wandered over to the oasis of a bookstore section of the food court. Like all bookstores, this area was quiet and restorative despite being centrally located in a convention center filled with unconventional people whose coworkers had no idea what they really did on weekends. New to the genre, I went against my principles and ruthlessly judged all the books by their covers until my gaze swept a depiction of a Firefly-esque young Beast (of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast) and a fucking punk rock badass of a woman with insect wings breast feeding an infant. Without taking my gaze from her defiant, “I dare you to tell me to get a room” glare, I dove in.

Saga begins with an explicit Alana (of the insect wings) giving birth to her interspecies daughter, Hazel, while her unsanctioned husband, Marko (young beast) catches the baby and gnaws the umbilical cord. It’s graphic (pun 100% intended), the art is gorgeous, and the story is endlessly compelling, emotional, and funny – featuring a cast of characters that range from adorably violent to bizarrely sexy.

Post-Baltimore Comic-con and seven volumes later, Sub-Zero and I are dyed in the wool fans. The most disgustingly nerd-mantic thing we’ve done to date is a side-by-side reading of Volume 6 while on a flight to New Hampshire. Yeah. Disgusting.

I had reservations about buying Volume 1 for my 13 year-old cousin, but she loved it and my “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom” aunt (no seriously, she’s super cool) made her send me an old fashioned Christmas-themed thank you card instead of burned pieces of comic book in a bag, so I can confidently say this Saga is for ages 13 and older and is unfettered by gender or conventional tastes in genre. Enjoy with abandon.

editor’s note: this is the actual link to Sub-Zero. The author is an architect and thinks appliance-based humor is hilarious.


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