When thinking of Santa Fe, I picture old historic buildings once housing cowboys and ranch families or ancient cathedrals filled with candles and murals of Catholic saints. What I don’t picture is a giant, working Dalek from “Doctor Who,” or Ciel from “Black Butler.”
On Saturday morning, crowds of people piled into the Buffalo Thunder Casino in Santa Fe, but they didn’t come for the gambling — they were there for the Santa Fe Comic-Con.
The large ballrooms of the casino were crowded with nerds, geeks and poindexters alike — myself included.
I was dressed in a shoddy Kylo Ren costume that was made from dresses and a coat from Goodwill. The look was complete with boots, a hood and a leather belt. I felt scared to show off my work to others, but I was also incredibly proud of my sad sewing skills.
The event was crowded with people, who were equally insecure with their own sewing skills and who were there to be their nerdiest selves for a few hours. Small kids dressed as their favorite superhero characters and entire families matched their Harry Potter costumes. Among the costumed attendees were promiscuous spins on character outfits that I never knew could be made promiscuous, such as Pennywise from the horror movie, “It.”
The costumes were not all that Comic-Con had to offer. The large casino ballrooms were filled with vendors, artists and craftsmen selling prints, keychains, bags, backpacks, necklaces, rings and anything a nerd could think of, all plastered with logos and faces from various animes, movies, comics and video games.
Marvel Comics, D.C. Comics, “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” “Doctor Who,” Harry Potter, “Game of Thrones,” Disney, “The Legend of Zelda,” Pokemon and many different animes were on display. As expected, collectors brought their old, well-loved or mint-condition comics to sell and trade. Famous cosplayers, costume makers, programmers, actors and even singers had their own booths where they sat ready to sign autographs, take pictures and meet fans.
There were special events as well, like “nerd speed-dating,” where nerds — some of whom were in full costume — went into an hour-long speed dating session. The convention also included karaoke, a DJ, dancing, a 51-entrant costume contest and panels where nerd culture celebrities answered questions from the crowd.
One of these panels featured actor Colin Baker, who played the sixth Doctor on the British sci-fi series, “Doctor Who.” Baker happily answered crowd questions, told stories and gave personal insight into his portrayal of The Doctor. He also discussed working for the BBC and radio, as well as his theater experience and time growing up, living and working in the U.K.
When asked about his opinion of the newest regeneration of The Doctor being a woman (who, until now, has only been male), Baker said that he was incredibly excited to see Jodie Whittaker’s take on the character. He said he believed it was silly that role models were sometimes decided based on gender, stating that boys should be encouraged to look up to women, and girls can look up to men. Baker compared the practice to hair color.
“Would you only look up to blondes? Or redheads?” he asked the audience.
Santa Fe Comic-Con was an ethereal experience that overjoyed the nerd in my heart. For all attendees, it is an experience where everyone is encouraged to be their weird, creative, superfan self. Santa Fe Comic-Con is a weird gem, a spectacle to behold in the heart of the Southwest, and is something that everyone should experience at least once.
Timber Mabes is a culture reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @timbermabes.