In traditional comic books, during any given story arc, there’s a winner and there’s a loser. In the long run, the winner is almost always the main hero. Batman, for example, triumphs more often than not. But he’s also taken quite a few lumps along the way, including a broken back, a murdered sidekick, and a paralyzed crime fighting friend and partner. (Of course, in the end, those weren’t permanent losses: Batman healed, the “dead” Robin returned as the pissed off Red Hood, and Barbara Gordon miraculously regained her ability to walk thanks to DC Comics executing a schoolyard do-over with everything ever.)
Anyway, much like the iconic characters they showcased throughout their event, last weekend's eleventh annual Florida Supercon also had plenty of wins, but also a few losses.
Winner: Food Court Upgrade
Eating lunch in a garish, concrete warehouse-like area feels a little depressing. That’s why it was such a smart move to place the food court this year in what was essentially a ballroom. It felt classier, had more ambiance, and allowed a more serene setting for people watching. There’s nothing like seeing John Stewart Green Lantern sadly eating alone while Nick Wilde, the con artist fox from Disney’s Zootopia, bounces towards the Papa John’s stand. Nothing here is real and yet all of it so very, very real.
Loser: Speed of Service
Jabba the Hut could spoon mac and cheese or stick a hot dog into a bun faster than the people working the food stands at Supercon. Yes, food service jobs can be the worst — but missing the chance to chat up William Shatner because of long lines at the food court threatened to send some attendees into a Hulk-style tantrum.
Winner: Super Geek Film Fest
Practically a fest unto itself, the Super Geek Film Fest is perhaps one of the more underrated aspects of Supercon. Animated shorts, fan films, panels with professional filmmakers, and the debut of indie genre films were sprinkled all throughout the four-day event. It may not be Cannes or roll out a red carpet, but it does have movies about redneck werewolves, alternate dimension doppelgängers, and of course, an Attack of the Killer Donuts (which won Best Film this year.)
Loser: Locked Bathrooms
This wasn’t by any means the fault of the folks behind Supercon (it was probably thanks to anyone who had the BBQ platter for lunch), but it was an issue nonetheless. Both the men's and women’s bathrooms on the main convention hall floor were broken and/or clogged up enough that staff had to lock the wrought iron security doors to keep everyone away from the foulness. It led to some long, but interesting lines, on the second floor. Witnessing Spock doing the peepee dance was almost worth the wait.
Considering all the dangerous, hateful bastards out in the world trying to ruin other people’s idea of a good time, checking bags and forbidding weapons from entering the con was a no-brainer. Then again, once you’re inside....
Supercon sells knives and swords, people. Yes, nearly every con does, but that’s not the point. The point is the inherent contradiction in not allowing weapons in, but making it totally possible to walk out with some big ass, anime saber. Ask anyone who’s ever been to a Supercon, and they’ll tell you they’ve never felt safer, especially with how warm and welcome everyone is. But it would be prudent to remain vigilant like Rorschach from Watchmen. You never know when you might have to snatch that Kill la Kill scissor blade and cut a fool.
Winner: Revenge of the Nerds Comedy Show, Pete and The Dude, Anything Comedy Related
Nerds take their nerdom seriously. There’s nothing wrong with that. Still, having a laugh at yourself or the silly worlds we so often get lost in is just as important. A staple of Supercon, the Revenge of the Nerds Comedy Show featured Miami comics such as Lisa Corrao and Paul Julmeus and treated nightly audiences to jokes about abortion, making kids cry, and pedophilia. In other words, bring the kids and all their friends. They gotta learn somehow. Panels such as Pete and The Dude allowed nerds to make like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons and argue over what’s the best or worst (insert comic, film, show, etc.) ever.
Loser: The Smell of Feet in the Conference Rooms
It’s either time for new carpet or to start handing out Febreeze and potpourri to every unwashed teenager that saunters throw the front door of Supercon.
Winner: Gender Fluid Cosplay
If there’s one thing that is universally unacceptable at a comic con, it’s any form of intolerance. The diversity of costumes and outfits at Supercon is the key charm of the entire event. With great joy, we witnessed a male Storm (the classic 70’s outfit), and female versions of Boba Fett, Captain Jack (Jill) Sparrow, and Hellboy (girl.) May Supercon always be a creative outlet for people to dress up however the hell they want.
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Winner: Late Night Dance Raves
Please never get rid of the raves, Supercon. The kids love this shit. They line up an hour in advance for it. And no, naysayers, it isn’t all middle school, girls on one side and boys on the other. They go for it. Sure, some of them have super awkward, spastic dance moves, but man, they couldn’t be happier doing it.
In the past, the food court, the main discussion panels, video games, and Saturday night’s grand costume contest all operated under one big roof in the same chaotic space of the exhibition hall. This year, each was neatly tucked into some far corner of the convention center, with its own private space. From a logistical standpoint, this makes sense and most likely eased a few burdens for event organizers. However, there was something lacking from all this clinical redistribution....
Loser: Space (no, not the final frontier)
Bigger is always better. Or at least that’s what many insecure men, plenty of bridezillas, and the state of Texas may have us believe. But fitting the biggest edition of Supercon to date into the Miami Beach Convention Center, which was restricted in size due to ongoing renovations, broke up the normally cohesive atmosphere. Saturday night’s crown jewel, the costume contest, was held in a separate building altogether at The Fillmore. And the aforementioned chaos of slamming everything together into one big smorgasbord of geekery had an appeal that was missing this year. In earlier editions, you couldn't help seeing so much going on, so much to discover, so much to cock your head and say, “what the hell is that?” This year, having attendees trudge from room to room, floor to floor, dispelled some of the magic. But like all heroes trying something new (Superman with a mullet in the 90’s anyone?), we’re sure Supercon will return to its former greatness once again.