Picking the Brain: Big River Comic Convention showcases nerds who can save the world

PTB Kapow

I am a nerd.

For ages, our kind were mocked, laughed at and ridiculed for not trying to emulate the “cool kids.”

Instead of competing in sports, we competed for the highest score in Tetris. Instead of weekend keggers, which paused only for everyone to either pass out, throw up or both, we had weekend-long Dungeons and Dragons campaigns pausing only for meals, bathroom breaks and trips to the gas station when we’d run out of Diet Coke.

We couldn’t name a single professional basketball player, but we could easily rattle off almost the entire credit list of our favorite voice actors (Yes, Steve Blum was in “Cowboy Bebop” and “Demon Slayer.”) We went gaga for Marvel heroes before it was cool.

Throughout history, the nerd has drawn the ire of popular kids across the nation, earning many of us the title of “Locker Inspector.”

But no more!

Increasing public interest in things like fantasy and science-fiction, thanks in large part to Hollywood adapting our favorite properties for film and TV, has allowed us to venture out of our caves and confidently intermingle with the rest of society. This allows us to assume roles of guidance and keepers of knowledge for those newly initiated into nerd culture, often referred to as “normies.”

It is indeed a good time to be alive as far as being a nerd goes.

A nice little event taking is place this month in Hannibal where we can all gather together and celebrate our heritage as both old veteran nerds and excited normies. Big River Comic Convention has, in years past, been a great opportunity to experience the culture, meet interesting people and maybe even take home neat comics and other “swag.” Folks dress up as their favorite characters. Obscure movie quotes fill the air. Things like this really are a spectacle to see.

However, underneath the costume play, brightly-colored books and countless characters lies a much deeper purpose and spirit of nerd culture.

I could jump into this next part and ramble on for a book’s worth of pages, but I believe Muddy River would throw me in the Pit of Despair for taking up so much space. So for the sake of brevity, I’ll restrain myself as best I can.

Being a nerd isn’t just good for some fun. It’s also good for your mental and emotional health.

When all the world seems to be crashing down around us, who doesn’t want to retreat for a while into worlds where good always overcomes the odds and triumphs over evil? Who doesn’t want to relive a simpler moment from childhood, like when the Justice League would work together to defeat this week’s dastardly ne’er-do-wells or when Ash Ketchum and his buddy Pikachu put Team Rocket in their place again?

I could go on and on with more examples, but again, Pit of Despair …

Any fantasy buff can tell you that when life is throwing you problems and obstacles you never wish had come your way, you can always remember what Gandalf the Grey told Frodo: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

When we start thinking people in power may not be doing what they could to help the little guy, we think of Bruce Wayne. He uses his millions of dollars to build vehicles and equipment that help him clean up the streets as Batman. He’s a perfect example of someone who can use their prosperity to turn around and do their part to make the world a better place.

It’s from this deeper heart of nerd culture where we can all find the strength to stand up and carry on, no matter the odds. It’s where many of us find inspiration to do or create things that can improve peoples’ lives and bring more positivity to our communities. We can all be nerds in our own right.

Make sure you mark your calendars for the weekend of April 14-15 to converge at Comic-Con and see how us nerds can change the world.

T.C. Pierceall is a lifelong Hannibal resident, writer and member of the local music community. He studied journalism and graduated from Quincy University in the winter of 2015. TC lives in Hannibal with his trusty cat Chloe.

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