Wagner Writer

Picture it: Pampa, TX, 1989. I was attending a breakfast at the local church and had just loaded my plate with pancakes and sausages (covered in maple syrup…yeah!). After pouring on the last of the goop, I turned to see the popular guys waving me over. I was the dorkiest kid at St. Vincent de Paul Church. BY FAR. So I did that thing where I turned around, trying to see who they were gesturing at. No one lurked behind me, so I turned back, confused. They still waved. I pointed at myself and mouthed, “Me?” They nodded.

I inched over, thinking, What the heck is going on? The cup-is-half-empty part of me thought they were up to something. The cup-is-half-full part thought they were being nice because we were at church. The latter part won over, so I made my way over, sat my tray next to the most popular kid, and sat down.

All at once, they stood up and walked away. I was left sitting at the table, alone. Lots of people laughed.

I’m sure many people can relate to this story. It sucks being bullied – people judging your every move, poking fun at the tiniest mistakes. Now, I’m not saying that defines me. I don’t hold any grudges against anyone. Heck, I did some mean things myself back then. The desire to fit in is strong! So I can’t be a hypocrite and hate others.

But some things stick with you in ways you don’t anticipate. You might be a little more self conscious in public. Or care a little too much about what people think.

That’s why I have a special love of Comic-Con.

Sure, the costumes and energy and panels are a blast. But there’s something more at play: an emotionally satisfying component for us bullied nerds. Comic-Con is soooo very freeing to people like me. Here’s why:

(SIDE NOTE BEFORE I GET INTO MY LIST: I actually think I’ve shared that story before. I have others, but that’s the first one that popped into my head. And I’m being lazy. So there!)

1. Trip away!

I swear Comic-Con is loaded with that uneven carpet that bunches up in random spots.


I’ve never seen more people trip and stumble in my entire life. If the normal ratio of clumsy to non-clumsy people is 2:8, the ratio at Comic-Con is 10:0. I seriously watched a guy stumble and then I tripped (over nothing) as I observed him. (SIDE NOTE: How many times can I say “I” in one sentence?)

The beautiful part? No one cared. Anywhere else, you might get a golf clap and do that thing where you walk all cool and pretend nothing happened. At Comic-Con, everyone else is too busy tripping (in the clumsy way, not the drug way) to laugh.

2. Things like this are taken completely seriously:

Star Trek Bank

In any other setting, this band would be a joke. People would laugh at them. Hell, they’d probably laugh at themselves.

At Comic-Con, they’re the real deal. People gathered from all around to watch them perform.

How cool is that? That you can take your inner nerd, put it on display, and be seen as a freaking rock star!

3. Panels look like this:

Comic-Con Panel

‘nuf said.

4. The dorkier you look, the more popular you are.

Comic-Cons are a bizarro world. In the real world, everything about you is often judged: your body, your hair, your walk. At Comic-Con, big girls in tights strut the nerd hallways like it’s a catwalk. The crazier and weirder you look, the more elevated you are.

I mean, this guy was one of the most popular people at Comic-Con:

Star Wars Trannie

5. There’s less fat/thin/cool/tall/short/ethnic/gay shaming at Comic-Con.

I know people who are meticulous about what they wear. At Comic-Con, those insecurities often fly right out the window. It’s like everyone is able to let their guard down for a few hours.

Sure, there are those people who go to Comic-Con to make fun of everyone. But they’re the minority. And they come across as giant douche bags.

In the land where nerds rule, it’s OK to let your freak flags fly!


  • Kevin Monds
    March 8, 2016 - 11:47 am · Reply

    Cody… I’m just kind of speechless right now! My mind is blown. See, since high school I’ve had this whole idea about you, about who you were and what you were like. Even though I didn’t know you at all, I had created your personality and character in my head. I assumed you were one of the popular kids, way too cool to be my friend. Well, given my emotionally stunted growth and complete lack of confidence at the time, that last part still may have been true. Nevertheless, I was too shy to really get to know you, and I assumed you were too arrogant to get to know me like a lot of the popular kids actually were. I truly apologize for that unfair characterization. I just happened to come across you on Twitter last night, merely because Josh Campbell follows you, and now I’m seeing this entire amazing person I never knew existed! Makes me wish I had had a personality back in high school just to be able to befriend you! Haha! Apparently we have a lot in common, and that just amazes me. Never in a million years would I have thought that someone as good-looking and seemingly intelligent and cool as you would know what it was like to be bullied. Shows how narrow-minded I could be, I suppose.

    I’ve never been to a Comic-Con. Never had the courage, really. But I love stuff like that. Love fantasy fiction; super HP fan! I didn’t get into Sci-Fi a whole lot until recent years, but Doctor Who is now one of my faves of all time. (As a side note, I did watch Star Trek: TNG in high school. Not that I understood it then, but I definitely crushed on Wesley Crusher. Hell, I still crush on Wil Wheaton! Although John Barrowman has my heart. But I digress.) I’m currently reading the first book of The Dresden Files. I write a lot, too (but most assuredly not as well as you). Oh, I’ve already ordered a paperback copy of your book on Amazon. I can’t wait! I’ll never not enjoy YA fiction. And! Not when I was a teen, but I’ve actually been to “gay camp”. I wasn’t pressured by my parents to go, but that was because this was something my parents and I did not talk about. Period. Fast forward all these years, and they’ve accepted it about me, but we still don’t talk about it. Anyhow, I was slated to be in this live-in program for a year, and I only made it 9 months. Worst 9 months ever. Funny how I came away from it only determined to learn how to accept myself for who I am. Anyhow, all that to say your book struck an eager chord with me.

    Gosh, I’m rambling. Sorry. I’m writing this like we’re old friends, even though we barely interacted. Actually, despite my suspicion that you thought I was a freaking loser, you were actually nice to me those few times. So, you know, thanks for that. I didn’t mean to make this such a gushing message, either. Perhaps I should have slept a bit before writing this. lol! So, I eagerly await your book. Kudos to you for being so amazing. 🙂

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