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Comic book lovers, science fiction aficionados, and history buffs all share some characteristics, no matter how disparate their interests may seem on the surface: they are passionate about their pidgin, they plumb deeply into the lore of their fields, and they are all just a bit off-center from the rest of "normal" society.

Let's face it--it's 1961, and conformity is still the rule of the day. We're expected to wear suits and hats (though our new President seems to be a trendsetter in the "no hats" arena). We're supposed to abandon the frivoloties of youth and settle down to hard work and raising a family. Heaven forbid our interests should stray outside the socially acceptable pasttimes of sports, religion, politics, and cocktail parties.

But for those of us who refuse to "grow up", we still want to belong somewhere. We don't want to go it alone; we seek out others of our ilk. The weird ones. The creative ones.

The Fans.

So we form clubs, some associated with centers of learning, others with geographic districts. We create fan circles that put out fanzines. We form readers' groups to share our self-penned works.

And...we hold conventions.

These are generally smallish affairs compared to their business-oriented cousins, with attendance running into the hundreds. But for the fan who normally has a local community of just a few fellows (and perhaps many more as pen pals), going to a convention is like a pilgrimage to Mecca. One meets people with completely different experiences, different perspectives. There is the opportunity to get news from far and wide on exciting new projects, both fan and professional. And the carousing is second to none, both in the heights of enthusiasm and creativity.

Take a look at my newly developed roll of shots from "WonderCon", a sizeable affair held last weekend in Los Angeles. These are some dedicated fans, some fabulous costumes, and some terrific times!

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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No man is an island; but without conventions, the moat can be pretty broad.

Humans are social creatures. Most of us have a natural desire to share our passions with others. When we read (or watch) science fiction and fantasy, we are receiving a broadcast from an author, but the communication stops there. If we want to discuss the experience, we need to find fellow fans.

There are many ways to do this. You can take out an ad in the newspaper's personal columns. You can join a local fan group, either public or privately sponsored. These venues let you find nearby fans, and many clubs have become formidable associations.

But if you want to meet fans from all over, or change your relationship with your favorite authors from a one-way experience into a face-to-face dialogue, there is no substitute for the convention.

The father of all science fiction conventions is the annual World Science Fiction Convention, at which the Hugo awards are announced. This year, it will take place in Pittsburgh from September 3-5.

There are lots of smaller conventions, however. For instance, there recently was a small affair in Anaheim called "Wondercon" whose focus was comic books, science fiction, and animated films. Anaheim is very close to my home town of San Diego, so we decided to make a family weekend it.

It was a jolly time. Being a small convention, the folks were very energetic and creativity abounded. My daughter hawked mimeographed copies of her home-grown comic book, which the professional writers at DC purchased with gusto. My wife dressed as the Bat-Woman (of recent prominence in the Batman comics); she pulled it off quite well! I perused fanzines, expanded awareness of this column, vigorously discussed the ramifications of copyright and trademark laws, and gawked at the well-crafted costumes.

Genre great Robert Heinlein was not in attendance, but a fan circle devoted to him was there leading a blood drive. I also met up with the family of the late great Edgar Rice Burroughs, who fretted about the upcoming ACE paperback reprintings of the master's works. Apparently, ACE will not be paying royalties (the original works having fallen out of copright).

Without further ado, here is my slew of photographs from the convention. My apologies for the blurriness—it is my first time working with color film.

Attendees:

Rose Tyler



Peggy Carter



Amy Saunders (who is an excellent artist; contact her for some excellent comics-inspired and science fiction prints!)



As Anaheim is the home of Walt Disney's theme park, Disneyland, Disney costumes were popular:




Historical dress was also common:





Who doesn't like Captain America?




And, of course, Superman!



The Author, himself



By the way, the Wisconsin Democratic Primary is today. My bet is on Hubert Humphrey. After all, he is for all intents and purposes, the state's third Senator. I can't imagine an East Coast upstart like Jack Kennedy winning more than four of the ten delegates, no matter what the over-enthusiastic polls are predicting.

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