Mike Broder's Florida Supercon Brings Nerd Heaven to Miami
"I'm not always responsible," he says. "I try, but I'm flawed."
For "Supercon Mike" Broder, the fantastical world of comics, sci-fi, and cartoons has been a constant comfort. His mother introduced him to science fiction during his childhood in Brooklyn. When he was 10, he spent time helping at what he called "the comic store," a local book shop that happened to sell comics. It was Broder's first moment of belonging.
"When you're growing up in rough neighborhoods and you're a dorky kid, it's a form of escapism," he says. "The stories were always interesting and fun and exciting... much more so than what was going on outside."
Broder looks back on those moments fondly but admits the current generation of geeks has it better.
"People like to say, 'Oh, it was a golden age; it's never going to be as good,'?" he says. "You're out of your fuckin' mind."
Throughout his life, Broder watched as the underground world of geekdom exploded into the mainstream. The conventions of his youth were highly specialized and insignificant in comparison to those of today. Since he launched Supercon in 2005, the world of Marvel heroes and space explorers has become a summer box office staple. There's been explosive growth in his own time. He moved Supercon to the Miami Beach Convention Center in 2014, and he and his team welcomed more than 51,000 attendees to South Florida's geek heaven in 2015.
"It's so ridiculously big compared to what we had been doing," he says. "I saw this gigantic convention center [full of people]. I don't even know who's show it is. It doesn't seem like my show anymore."
What makes Supercon so successful is its range. It isn't just for gamers or anime fans or comic buffs or Star Wars nerds.
"I try to make it as inclusive as I can given the parameters of the showcase," Broder explains. "If you... get too specific or too exclusive, then you're not including everyone, and that's not my thing."
He contends this strategy is better for business. He's not afraid to hop on social media and speak openly to his 150,000 followers or pen a post on his blog. And he's gained a reputation for speaking his mind.
"There are some people who don't like me because I can't keep my mouth shut," he says. "But that's the way I was raised... It's my culture."
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