By Steve “Captain” Kirk
My origin story began a long time ago in a 7-11 far, far away. It’s where my mom bought me my first comic book, Shogun Warriors #17. My dad would take me into work, sit me in front of a mainframe computer and say “Here, play with this for a while.” I quickly became a lifelong member of a global tribe. Being a nerd wasn’t always easy, but it has always been worth it.
One of the best parts of life is exploring your passion and being your true self around people that love what you’re into as much as you do. Unlike sports fans, it can be harder for geeks to find other members of our tribe and find spaces to be ourselves. I know this from experience.
Alongside many other fandoms, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. My garage proudly flies the Rebel flag. I host a Star Wars podcast in my spare time. I’ve been able to build a community of geeks who share my passion. With a last name of Kirk, it’s hard to hide my fandom. In high school, I could simply hand in homework as “Captain.” Not everyone is so lucky.
This is why fandom conventions are so important. When you hold back your enthusiasm for what you love, when you’re surrounded by people who might not understand you, a convention represents a rare opportunity for freedom and acceptance. Even though nerd-culture has risen in popularity, we still sometimes struggle to find places where we feel that sense of belonging. That sense of community is vital.
Big cons have become important to our culture. Sitting in a panel listening to the A-List Chris’s (Pratt, Hemsworth, Evans, or Pine) with several thousand other fans brings a real electricity to the air, but big cons also come with challenges. There are grumblings that some cons have gone too “Hollywood” and have strayed from their own origins. Trying to cater to the scale of fans at those levels is difficult, and there are no easy answers to 75,000 fans who all want to attend a panel that can only hold 5,000. The downside is that some fans don’t get to experience everything they want at the big cons. That’s why we’ve all heard people complain about this new “lifestyle of lines” more and more.
On the other hand, smaller, highly-focused cons are like the Shire (which, let’s face it, we all want to visit one day). You should always support your local cons – they’re very friendly and authentic, and you’ll have a fantastic time and make some great new friends. I have, however, seen some who are lacking management and sometimes basic operational necessities. It’s not easy putting on a con, but unfortunately, small details like overflowing trash cans can be con-kryptonite. Nonetheless, I applaud anyone who has the courage to put together a con.
At the intersection of all this is trying to find something new for our culture. If being a nerd has taught me anything, it’s that a ragtag group of unlikely heroes can do incredible things when they work together. When we organize and pool our strengths, we can accomplish mighty feats.
This belief is why I started InterGalactiCon, a next-gen convention made by fans, for fans. It’s a movement lead by our Guardian Council, an international crew of nerds from every fandom tasked with designing an inclusive, accessible, affordable fandom universe for all. Exhibitors and speakers are chosen based on the experience they’ll provide the fans. Con events are designed by fans. And, of course, we’re staffed by fans. Even the head of our security team, that we call “The Keepers,” is a Knight trained in real-world lightsaber combat.
Individually, we’re just like other nerds out there, but together, we have more than 100 years of convention experience. The first InterGalactiCon San Diego convention, being held this June, is designed according to what our tribes have said they’d like to see. And it’s only the beginning. Our vision includes different teams organizing InterGalactiCons all over the world (“World Domination” is a thing, right?). We’ll never replace the big cons, nor do we want to. We just want to create a new forum to free our fandom.
This is just one story of nerds teaming up to create the events we truly want. There are thousands across the galaxy. Bringing fans together is always a worthwhile experience and we love celebrating these efforts.
To all the nerds, geeks and fans in San Diego and worldwide, it’s time for us to take charge of our passion and create the inclusive convention experiences that make being a nerd worth it. It’s up to us to create our own stories and make them epic! Remember, there is no spoon.