Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Invisible Crowd

After spending an incredible weekend at Comicon in Indy (March 14-16), I came away with more than a box full of cash.  I was humbled, grateful, excited, enlightened, and unfortunately saddened.

To begin, we were thankful and humbled by the response we received.  We sold out of books the middle of the second day of the convention.  Since our book had not been out for even a month, I didn't anticipate any response from someone who might have read it.  So you can image my surprise when one young man came up and told us his friend, who is an avid reader, said it was the best thing she read in six months.  We also had a few come up and ask that we either sign the book they purchased online, or sign a bookmark because they already had the Kindle version and loved it.

This was also our first convention of this kind.  We were excited to meet everyone and see all the beautiful and imaginative artwork and costumes displayed throughout the convention hall.  It was a memorable experience and one we hope to repeat in the near future.

But the one thing that impacted me the most, or should I say enlightened and saddened me at the same time, was what one perceptible and friendly comic book vendor (Andy) termed as; "The Invisible Crowd."  I won't mention the name of the vendors, but there were a few comic book vendors who had very few sales during the convention.  We were so busy that we could not eat but a few snacks the whole time the doors were open.  But for a few vendors I noticed that, with the amount of people that were present, very few stopped at their booth.

As I continued to watch and observe these vendors and their demeanor I noticed that they looked as if they despised being around a large gathering of what most would consider social outcasts.  One gentlemen, if we can call him that, continued to play with his phone, chew his gum, and seldom if ever said something so simple as; "Hi."

As Andy and I spoke at the end of the third day we talked about the crowd and how they are to most people, "invisible."   Outside of this convention, many of the attendees are just ignored by others.  I know that feeling.  When I was younger I was picked on by bullies, of all places, at church camp.  That one week of camp impacted me for many years to follow.

Years later, in my attempt to prevent that from happening again, I began working out.  Not to take revenge, but to hopefully prevent any further attempt from others who would want to push me around.  If you were to look at me now however, it would be abundantly clear, that I haven't seen a weight bench or squat rack in years.

For the many that attended the convention, it was a chance for them to be themselves without the concern of being ridiculed, demeaned, or bullied by others.  I believe those few vendors that did poorly were reminiscent of the ones from whom the attendees wanted to get away.

Years ago, my wife worked at numerous conventions as a sales and marketing representative.  As we talked with others she compared the difference between those conventions and this one.  She noticed that many of the vendors and attendees at Comicon were friendly, helpful, and excited for others to succeed.  In contrast, in her former role, the vendors were very competitive, standoffish, and not always willing to help.

I guess when you're invisible, you appreciate it when someone else can actually see you and acknowledge your existence and your value as a human being, even if you're overweight like me, or wearing a Batman, or Thor outfit.

So, here's to the invisible ones (hand moving upward with a mug) may we always be seen.

J.A. Davis

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