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Canby, Molalla editor finds that mixing with the comic con crowd offers a view into the potential we have as people

It has become extraordinarily clear that the nerds and geeks have it figured out. Not the whole meaning of life thing, but the day-to-day being happy part of it. At least, that's the vibe I get every time I attend a comic con event.

A week ago I spent two days at Portland's Convention Center to partake of another Wizard World Comic Con. And standing in the midst of booths, entertainment and an array of people from all ages and ethnic spectrums, I was struck by the amount of smiles and laughing I was surrounded by.

No, the old cliché of comic cons being just about "comics" is as empty as the peanut butter jar in my desk.

I attend 2-4 "cons" each year and have done so for the last 7-8 years. It has been not only an eye-opening experience, but one that has taught me a great deal about what makes and keeps me healthy mentally. Again, the geeks and nerds seem to know something the rest of society doesn't. Amidst the teasing and bullying, the sneering at the worth of comics and cosplay as a lifestyle, the folks who love it have found a safe place to find their healthy ground – comic cons.

Canby Herald/Molalla Pioneer editor John Baker finds plenty to enjoy at comic cons.

I know, because I'm one of them. And I have become completely convinced that simply letting yourself go and enjoy the colors, art, creativity and overall fun vibe of a comic con isn't simply about fun, but about something deeper, something healthy. I never feel better than I do in the aftermath of a comic con, which I thought was strange early on.

Now, it's like a drug that gives me a healthy perspective on the world around me and the people that are in it – even those that don't reside with me in the world of positivity. And I appreciate the refreshed perspective it gives me, particularly as I continue to do this job.

Let's face it, we live in a world now that encourages us to take the mental path of least resistance. We like things simple, easy to process and that support our own agendas and pre-conceived notions. I find that mindset reinforced nearly every day and shake my head in wonder at how constricting that kind of mentality truly is.

At Wizard World Comic Con I was reminded of the joys of complexity, the thrill of the unknown, and the emotional and physical enjoyment in discovering the out-of-the-box creations of others – be they a book, graphic novel, children dressed as Kylo Ren or someone doing a cosplay mash-up of two distinctively different comic/anime/movie genres.

JOHN BAKER - Cosplay of all kinds lends to the air of fun and inclusivity during Wizard World Comic Con in Portland.

It's a fun, creative, load-lifting environment that I've grown to enjoy just giving myself over to. It also recharges my mental batteries in a way that I don't recall anything else doing quite so well.

I got to hang out with Kato Kaelin multiple times – he and I are social media buddies; meet Emily Swallow who plays The Armorer on The Mandalorian; ran into Ross Marquand from The Walking Dead, and met people from all over the Pacific Northwest who were doing their own thing.

Comic Cons promote togetherness and inclusion in a way that we, as a society, simply don't have the skills or the desire to truly do. There's no care about skin color, religious persuasion, sexual orientation, economic standing among the throng. Skinny or heavy, blonde or red head, short or tall, Mormon or Muslim, the comic con doesn't care – it simply wants all who attend to enjoy and have fun.

It's here, among the geek and nerd brothers and sisters, that I see the potential of us on display in a way I don't see it anywhere else.

We talk inclusion, acceptance and love, but the roadblocks of practicing it seem too steep and often have agendas attached to them. In short, we don't want it bad enough.

That type of roadblock doesn't exist at Wizard World Comic Con.

So, it would seem that in this time of strife, divide and small-minded silliness, the nerds, geeks and pop culture fans have things figured pretty nicely. As it turns out, love and acceptance come with a nice little addendum – fun.


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