The life and times of a nerd in the south

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

It’s hard to be a nerd in the south.

Last time I was in Little Rock, I had time to go to both of the malls. As a kid I remembered being enthralled by their comic book store. They had comics I’d never even seen, like a comedy parody of X-Men: Alpha, one of my favorites.

I wish I’d just kept my memories and stayed away because now all they have is greeting cards and Spencer’s. The two book stores on the mall map didn’t even sell books. I wandered around and absorbed the near devastation of a once great mall and nearly drowned in pity for all of the GAP shoppers who would probably never know the joys of Cartoon Network.

The distance to the most massive conventions also continues to break my heart. I can’t imagine how I would ever get to the San Diego Comic Con for less than a grand and Bronycon is held in Baltimore, probably because most of the writers and voice actors are Canadian.

But we nerds in the south finally have our share of options: it’s much better than it was when I was a kid. Now that nerd culture is becoming more mainstream, we’ve been getting comic book and anime conventions of our own.

I first heard about AnimeCon Arkansas three years ago, the first time they held it, and it was also my first time being able to go to any sort of convention. I ordered a Kisuke Urahara costume off of Amazon and the hotel was filled with geeks and nerds dressed like cartoon characters.

It was like if Superman suddenly found a lost city from Krypton that wasn’t shrunk down. I’d found my people!

I’ve found out about other conventions since then. I’ve already requested a day off to go to Nightmare Nights in Dallas this October, which will be my first time attending a convention exclusively for bronies. I’d attended panels before. A few soldiers set up a military bronies panel one year at AnimeCon and I loved their story about one recruit’s “yay” response after the third time a drill sergeant yelled “I can’t hear you!”

It makes sense to bronies.

Earlier this year, I spent a few hours dressed as Michael Myers at the River City Comic Con. I found a booth selling comic books for a quarter each. I went home with almost 80 comics and got my picture taken for a Michael Myers entertainment Facebook page.

As for nerd swag, Amazon helped that situation quite a bit. There are also local options for games, vintage games and used books. And at this point, I mostly buy used and vintage anyway unless I’m meeting a buddy at the mall in Hot Springs.

Hot Springs seems to have a bit more of a nerd culture than Little Rock, which might be why they’re holding a Spa City Comic Con in September. The closest one yet. I won’t be wearing my Doctor Who cosplay, with a heavy coat and 11-foot scarf. But I still have my Urahara cosplay, which is pretty breezy.

In this day and age, though, I’m probably going to leave the fake sword at home.

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