March 18th-20th 2016 was the inaugural season of a new kind of comic convention. The Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC) was one of the most overwhelming (in a good way) con experiences I have ever experienced. The marketplace was typical; comics, old toys, tee shirts and stickers, the museum-esque presentation of beloved geek memorabilia was there in all of its sterile glory.
The lines to engage with celebrities new and old, and the food lines, were as long as any other con. Actually, these felt a little longer. But the lines to play around with new technology were the longest of them all.
SVCC is the creation of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. He is quoted as saying, “I love anything that’s interesting.” He wanted the energy of a comic convention, the tech of a traditional tech conference, but without the boredom, mostly tepid personalities and low-rent sales pitches. And he succeeded.
Virtual reality was everywhere. Little pockets of people sporting bulky goggles, holding all manner of hand controls, motioning at some unseen (by the onlookers) task dotted the landscape. Digital-DIY filmmaking starter kits, 3-D printing options—the sheer amount of technology was astonishing. Apps. Apps were as equally represented. Yaksee and Artrage were the products I found the most interesting.
I mean, hell, we were in Silicon Valley, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised. What I was surprised by was how seamlessly comic/geek culture and new-tech blended together in the same space. To recount how much science fiction/geek stuff has influenced real world technology would be trailing over well-worn territory. The Silicon Valley Comic Con has put other cons on notice. If you aren’t presenting the mutual influences of real world tech and comic/sci-fi tech speculation, you are a relic of a less enlightened time.
This will not be a typical review/recollection. I did not interview any celebrities, I did not attend any panels (save the one I and other fellow Nerds of Color were on), nor did I attend any of the themed experiences. And unlike every other con I’ve been to, I only went for one day.
I attended the second day of the Silicon Valley Comic Con. It is in the top three con experiences of my life.
When I first heard of SVCC, I was hesitant to pay it any attention on account of the following: I didn’t want to be around a legion of tech-bros, and I didn’t want to be the only chip on the cookie, if you get my meaning. The thing that many people forget (I sure did) is that San Jose is in Silicon Valley, and San Jose is one of the most diverse cities in California. And POC were out there. We were out there in glorious splendor. This is precisely why I cannot write a traditional review of my con experience.
I will get to that a little later.
My primary reason for attending the con was to be a part of this panel:
NOCers Valerie Greene and Julie Kang, and myself repped for The Nerds of Color, while filmmaker Henry Kim and Salim French from the podcast Blacker Than Black Times Infinity (who provided the audio of the panel) rounded out the squad. You can listen for yourself and make your own judgments, but I think we rocked it like a concert. I was afraid that we’d only have a handful of people in attendance, but we were near standing room only.
We were stuck in a little room on the opposite end of everything else at the con, except for the retro video games and board games space. But those who wanted to be there found us. A whole lot of people found us. More proof that this geek/nerd/sci fi stuff is ours.
Listen to the panel here.
Please permit me the following indulgence:
I want to dedicate this post to all of the people of color who came out and represented at SVCC. To those of you who took the time to speak to me, speak and smile to each other, who stood up and who stood out. I want to thank you for your cosplay, your laughter, your high fives, and to those who allowed me to snap a photograph. I am awed and honored that you claimed your space in the geeksphere. This stuff is ours. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Shine on, my beautiful nerds of color. Shine on.
Here is a photo journey of my day. Everyone presented in these photos were kind and gracious.
Thank you all.
A note: Fellas. You have to step up your cosplay. Women and women identified cosplayers are running the game.