Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Geek on the Street: Reporting Back from Walker Stalker Con NY/NJ

The Official WSC Logo
Many of my fellow Geeks on the Street are Atlanta residents, so this one might be of particular interest: Walker Stalker Con, an event born in your city about a show that takes your hometown as its setting.  The Walking Dead, the primary fan property honored by WSC, has become so popular over its six seasons, that the convention has expanded its horizons, hosting events as far afield as in London and aboard a cruise ship from Miami to the Bahamas.  If you love TWD, then this is definitely a “don’t-miss” sort of an event.

I am going to use this convention to throw two very real aspects of the convention-going experience into relief: one positive and the other… less so.  I think this show is a perfect example of one of the truly amazing and unique experiences that only fan conventions can give while still serving as its own possible cautionary tale of the peril that can come with attending conventions. 

The Vampire Diaries Panel at WSC
THE POSITIVE!  Let’s start with the good stuff because, in truth, the positives of conventions will ALWAYS outweigh the negatives.  WSC offers something even a huge show like New York Comic Con cannot: multiple opportunities for autographs and photographs with top-name stars from the program being honored.  One of the key reasons that this show can do that is that its focus is tight: it is really only about The Walking Dead and maybe one or two other, horror-related, television programs (I was actually there to meet the stars of The Vampire Diaries).  Because the con does not need to cater to the fandoms of lots of different shows, it can attract many of the most desirable names associated with that show.  WSC makes the guests very accessible; they sign autographs for many hours at a time, have pre-scheduled photo sessions, and even give Q&A-style panels, to give attendees the chance to get their burning questions answered.  The prospect of shaking hands or having your picture taken with a favorite television character is really a treat and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience.

THE NEGATIVE!  Now, this may all sound amazing: I get to spend the weekend with my favorite
The crowd waiting for Photo Ops at WSC
stars from my favorite show.  Yet, remember, thousands of other “number-one-fans” of your “most favoritest” actor are thinking the same thing.  And this show definitely reflected that: IT WAS PACKED!  There were people everywhere and wait times, even for pre-paid and pre-scheduled appearances, could be quite long.  People definitely got antsy as the afternoon wore along and the crowds were often quite stressful to navigate.  It was certainly easy to give in to the temptation to get irritated and complain, even though, again, we were all there to do something truly incredible.

My point here, my fellow Geeks, is that we all need to remember our basic nerd etiquette.  Crowds are actually one of the keys to what makes cons so great: we want to share our most beloved properties with others who love them as much as we do.  So, what Walker Stalker Con reminded me is that the burden for creating a #GeekPositive experience at a convention rests firmly on our shoulders, as the attendees.  We need to be patient, we need to be kind to volunteers, and we need to be friendly, courteous, and mindful of our fellow geeks.  The outcome of the convention experience rests as squarely on our shoulders as it does on those of the show’s runners.  Remember, we are all there to have fun and everyone should get to have that special, unforgettable experience for which they have paid and traveled.

Awesome WSC Holiday Tree
I hope these reflections will be useful as you geeks hit the streets for your next celebrity meet-and-greet experience at a con. Until next time, this is your official Geek on the Street Dr. Kelly wishing you a Glorious Geek Day!

Article by Kelly I. Aliano, PhD