2016 State of the Fandom Part 2: The Last TFcon Job


All I wanted was an autograph.

Having collected Larry Hamma (writer of the GiJoe half of my childhood), I needed only to add Bob Budiansky (writer of the TF three-quarters of my childhood) to call it complete. And he was only a short car ride away. Simple, right?

Nothing is simple.

I could list the positives of the show (seeing people I hadnít in awhile; noting how nice Bob seems in person; adding some jumpstarters to the collection) or I could tell you the negatives (the rude people with no social grace; running away from people trying to interview me; falling down the concrete hotel stairs) but what interests me more is the division of people.

The fandom had long fractured into different socioeconomic classes; it seemed like Tfcon inadvertently tried to cram them all together again. They donít mix as well as they used to. Luckily, everyone else was looking down at their phones, so they probably didnít notice.

One person griping that his precious McBotcon was gone; the dour, downturned lines now etched permanently in his face. Another fellow complaining because sales arenít what they used to be, Ďback in the day.í Still another complaining that his friend, once a regular joe, had let fame go to his head.

Then there were the people in line for supposedly rare exclusives, trying to fill the void in their lives; never succeeding, but always trying with the same plastic crack, repeatedly. Visiting their favorite dealers, over and again, to see if they had something to feed their fix.

Their empty eyes tell volumes.

A carnival of consumerism; one person buying the high-end plastic-cased foreign item. Another fellow digging glumly through the dollar bin, looking for a single treasure. Sometimes they are the same person.

Laughter, and tears.

Irrelevance.

We are all soon dead; is this truly the way we wish to spend our declining years?

Apparently, yes.

Then, there are the new fans. The ones who do not have a long history like the rest. Their numbers grow. Hair the color of a rainbow, with a similar number of gender identifiers. They donít have the same complaints as the old fans, nor the deeply etched lines. Nor do they have the negativity from long exposure.

But they will. Just give it time. Itís the gift of this particular fandom.

The gift that keeps on giving.

The gift that keeps on taking.

It will take everything, if you let it.

Itís funny; I hold no ill will toward any of them, old or new. I even like a few of them. But I see the sadness and seeming incompleteness of their lives. Their anger. Their loneliness.

I wonder what they see in me? Do they believe the smile is real? Do they think Iím happy? Am I happy?

Iím happier than them, probably. But I feel sad for them. Theyíd probably be angry if they knew I pitied them. They donít want my pity.

What else do I have to give?