Martha Thomases: Cat Con?

Bass Weejuns

When circumstances prevented me from attending a comics convention in my hometown this past weekend, I felt a little guilty. These are my people. My clan. Don’t I have just as much of an obligation to attend these gatherings as I have to attend Thanksgiving dinner with my family?

(Side note: Just like when I miss a family dinner, I worry that everyone was talking about me.)

And then I found out about this happening the same weekend, a cat convention in Los Angeles. Not a convention attended by cats (which would be awesome, if only for the bar scene), but an assembly of cat lovers, cat fans and cat nerds.

That is amazing.

Because I wasn’t there, I don’t know how much CatCon was like the San Diego Comic Con. I mean, there were panels and people selling merchandise to fans, and even some celebrities. No one dressed up like their favorite cats – at least not according to the article – but lots of people wore t-shirts and socks and probably other items with pictures of cats on them.

Lots of people wore cat-ear headbands. So I guess it was a lot like the San Diego Comic Con ten years ago or so.

Naturally, I wondered if other geek communities had their own gatherings. Not conventions, really, because usually a convention is an industry event, not a recreational outing. Comic conventions have expanded to include other pop culture fandom, such as movies and television and animation and even radio, sometimes, so I’m not wondering about pop culture cons.

I know that we knitters and fiber nerds have places to go, and there are antique auto shows for people who like antique autos. There are garden shows for people with lawns, or at least decent window boxes.

There are certainly political conventions, but those are mostly for professionals, not fans. Some political activities (like LGBTQ Pride parades and NRA conventions) have street fairs or indoor marketplaces for fans. I’ve seen ads for festivals extolling environmental issues and vegan lifestyles, but I’ve never seen any news coverage of them.

What other kinds of conventions could we have? What subjects attract enough of an audience to profitably sell merchandise, to allow for fun assemblages and room for geeky outbursts?

I collect lenticular, and I sincerely doubt there are enough of us to support a marketplace, because otherwise lenticulars would cost too much and it wouldn’t be fun to collect them anymore. More people collect cookie jars and salt-and-pepper shakers, but I’ve never seen a show for them.

And what would the panels be like: What kind of cookies maintain the value of your collection? Pink Sea Salt: Design Choice or Sexual Preference?

I think we need more events like these. I think every sub-group should find a way to get together and celebrate their quirky affections. Here’s a smattering of some I might consider attending:

  • Silly Putty (can be combined with any comic book convention as long as it doesn’t mar vintage books)
  • Bass Weejuns (panels can include discussion of which coins are coolest in penny loafers, and which bandages work best on heels during the break-in period)
  • Soap (Bar or Liquid — which is most authentic; New Trends in Smells)
  • Umbrellas (Threat or Menace?)

The more we celebrate our individual passions, the more people will share them. And the more people who share them, the more we’ll look for other things to enjoy together. It’s not impossible to think that we might achieve peace in our time over a mutual affection for the new Airboy.

Let’s do it, people!