Comic relief

The next Sac-Con is December 11. For more information, visit

It’s 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, and the seller floor is starting to buzz. Vendors are still adding the finishing touches to their booths; celebrities are trickling in and the smell of nachos wafts from the kitchen. This is the Sacramento Comic, Toy and Anime Show, also known as Sac-Con. Every three months, the Scottish Rite Masonic Center plays host to fans of superheroes, collectable cards and old-school video games, and today I’m subbing as a vendor. The excitement is about to begin.

I’ve been to my share of comic cons. I’ve attended Sac-Con more times that I can remember, and there’s a common thread among all of them: community. Vendors know each other by name. Some have been working this convention together since it started in 1986. Perfect strangers will spend 20 minutes discussing which superhero would win in a fight. Everyone is excited to be there, and no one feels judged. I’ve never met a more embracing group of people than those I’ve met at Sac-Con.

In addition to comics, toys, video games and the plethora of vintage collectables for sale, the convention offers panels and workshops for interested attendees. This time out, the panel “How to Self-Publish Comics” included comic creators who have experienced the uphill struggle of publishing their own comics, and a “Live Model Figure Drawing” workshop featured a costumed model for a figure-drawing session.

At every Sac-Con, organizers work hard to bring talent to Sacramento. This year’s top spots were filled by the likes of Marina Sirtis, who played Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy, as well as a multitude of comic writers, artists and voice actors.

Conventiongoers also had the opportunity to bid on items donated by vendors. Proceeds of the auction benefitted local charities, such as Loaves & Fishes and the Mustard Seed School for Children.

During the daylong event, I talked with girls who’d already spent their allowance on posters and cellphone charms. I saw families of comic fans, all wearing different superhero T-shirts. I met guys who got autographs from their favorite artists. I watched the beginnings of a romance bloom between two cosplayers who’d just met (cosplayers, for the uninitiated, is a cultural term for costumed convention attendees). I even saw a budding young artist with a sign reading “Will draw for cash.”

At the end of the day, as Sac-Con came to a close, I watched a vendor hand a kid a couple of action figures for free. When I expressed my admiration of his gesture with a smile and a nod, he told me he’d been working Sac-Con for 25 years and always tried to give a kid something to show his appreciation for the next generation of comic fans.

Now, that’s what I call a community.