You know what the absolute most perfect opportunity to up my photography skills was? Emerald City Comic Con.
You know who didn’t up her photography skills at all?
This damn girl.
Look, I always do this thing where I overwhelm myself with too much stuff and then don’t find the time or opportunity to whip my camera out and snap a few shots. Maybe that means photography isn’t for me (and you’re probably really, really right) but a girl can dream, can’t she?
Anyways, that’s not why we’re here.
We’re here because I’ve been going to conventions since the start of the year and going to Emerald City Comic Con has been on my bucket list for a long time. It was one of those things I would always think about but never really go for. Then again, everything happens for a reason, amirite?
To those of you who actually know me in real life know that I’m this epic nerd who could watch comic based movies and tv shows for the rest of her life (and I’m not even sorry about it!!) It feeds into my lust of wanting to get into the film industry and for me, the best way is to go to these conventions and experience life in a different way.
I grew up on a diet of Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon at seven in the morning on Cartoon Network—I wanted to be Ash Ketchum for years (the concept of genderbending was a bit lost on me at the time but it was also really real). In fact, if I think about it, I never really wanted to be in the ‘girl’ roles unless those girls were strong and fierce. Ever Serena from Sailor Moon bothered me! (If you really want to know, I was always Rey but a part of me really wanted to have that meatball head as well… I’m a mess, start getting used to it now.)
Of course, my love for Anime evolved into a love for Manga, but as I got older and got deeper into Mangas, they kind of began freaking me out… and also became harder for me to access. So I turned my attention to other things.
Justice League, Teen Titans, X-Men, all of these show began creeping into my life as my younger cousins started getting older. Superman became my forever obsession (I WILL FIGHT YOU!!!) and I was introduced to the DC vs Marvel rivalry.
Look, I’ll be the first to tell you that I was a DC girl hardcore from a the start, but the moment I learned of Captain America, the game was changed forever. Seriously though, I was so sold on this invincible soldier and just became obsessed with learning more about him.
And soon enough the cinematic universes began their rise.
The first superhero movie I watched was Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman. At that time I was young enough and naïve enough to believe that nothing could get any better than this movie (or boy has age taught me differently). I was in awe, as I’m sure many other people were as well. And as time progressed, more movies were released and my things continued to change and evolve for me. I read comics, watched television, studied films, and just continued to be sucked into these worlds that were nothing short of magical to me.
They’re still the most magical worlds to me (and oh so, so, so powerful as well, but we’ll get into that a little later on).
At this point, I’ve seen every single movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; I’ve read and caught up on the Walking Dead comics as well as the television series; I obsessively waited for the release of the Punisher; I’ve seen all the Spiderman movies; I’ve become invested in Riverdale; I cried when my rebel princess; and have delved into a variety of post-apocalyptic and fantastical books and their various adaptations.
But the thing is, I don’t just get invested in these stories and characters, I get invested in the people who play them as well. Actors all have their stories and their struggles, and those stories and struggles is what helps me love the characters they potray.
So going to ECCC became very, very important to me.
Ya’ll are probably like “I don’t even know what this psycho is talking about anymore” and that’s okay. I’m rambling like a crazy person because I’m way too passionate about this to really get my words straight right now. As I stated last week, emotions were running on an all time high and I felt like I was floating above the world.
At ECCC I got the chance to meet a couple of celebs whom I have always dreamt of meeting. While my interactions with David Tennant, Billie Piper, and Matthew Lewis were far too fleeting, the one interaction I’ll always remember is Ricky Whittle.
If you haven’t seen the 100 or American Gods (the latter of which I recommend A LOT) then there’s a good chance you don’t know of this man, so let me educate you a little bit.
My time with him was special and important to me.
Why you ask?
Well, because he and three of his cast mates from The 100 taught me that being the way I am is perfectly fine. We all have little cracks and breaks everywhere, but that’s okay because our experiences have created those cracks and breaks, and our future choices help fill them.
Perfectly imperfect, you know?
It’s something I had been trying to teach myself for years, but these people, these untouchable people made me realize it’s true. And I was blown away.
Ricky Whittle is hands-down the nicest, sweetest, most amazing celeb I’ve met to date. His smile and personality are infectious and you can never get enough of him. And his hugs? His hugs are amazing. God, I was absolutely floored by this man.
He made my weekend what it was. He made going to this convention so worth it.
On top of meeting him, I was introduced to a whole new book that I may not have learned of had I not been roaming around aimlessly. Yes, aimlessly.
Look, these things are OVERWHELMING AS FUCK! While, at the end of the day they’re incredibly satisfying, in the moment you can’t help but think “what the hell was I thinking?!” especially when you suffer from nearly crippling anxiety (hi friends, we’ll talk more about this later as well).
So I took a stroll around the floor just to check out everything that was going on and what the vendors were selling. I found a stall with books, and when I say this was a slice of heaven, I’m not kidding.
Look, I had no idea this book existed or who this author was until March 4th, 2018. I hadn’t heard of her or her book. I had no knowledge of her existence. And that in itself cuts me straight to the core. I was and still am so, so disappointed that I didn’t know of her. As a Pakistani-American, who grew up on a diet of reading and obsessing over fictional characters, hearing about this author now only serves to tear me apart.
This woman, this author, is everything I strive to be and more. She really, really is!
When I was six or seven years old, I knew I wanted to grow up and write books. I knew I wanted to leave my mark on this world and make a difference. At that time I didn’t know about representation, racism, or what it really meant to be a minority in this world. I was open about being a Pakistani-Muslim-American girl.
Most of all, I was comfortable being one.
And then in a blink, all of that was gone for me. I remember watching the twin towers fall that fateful day in 2001. I remember wondering what was happening and being confused. As a fourth grader, I didn’t know what the hell was happening, but I didn’t think it would affect me. And boy was I wrong.
I was bullied consistently for being a proud and confident Pakistani-Muslim-American until my senior year of high school. That’s almost ten years of consistent bullying. I was torn down to a point where I stopped being able to recognize myself. I had become a shell of the person I was as a kid and it bothers me so, so much.
But it also helped me realize how I need more representation in the world.
And this author, in just a few seconds, had done just that.
I was at this aforementioned bookstall when my eyes caught sight of a poster with a red-hued girl who looked like a strong, brown warrior and I stopped in my tracks. I stared at this poster for a moment before asking the vendor—Colleen, she said her name was—what this poster was from. She pointed me in the direction of this book. For a minute I considered just nodding politely and walking away, but this poster had me so enthralled that I made my way over to the book itself and admired the cover before flipping it over to read the back.
Then I flipped over to the front again and read the author’s name, Sabaa Tahir.
In that moment I knew this weekend had been made just for me. For me to find myself and start crawling my way back to the confidence that had been cowering just out of my reach. A Desi woman writing a fantasy novel?! I’d never heard of such a thing. The thought in itself was beyond my scope of beliefs and here I was holding such a feat—and not just any book, but a New York Time’s bestseller.
At the risk of sound cliché (and not giving a shit about it), I’m going to admit something I haven’t said out loud yet: I found myself ECCC. Getting to spend time with Ricky as much as I did, talking to him and just being in his presence was a big help. But it was finding ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ by Sabaa Tahir that really hit the ball home for me.
Now I know that whatever I dream I can achieve, I’ve just got to put in a little more effort.
And trust me, I’m about to. This world isn’t ready for the storm that’s brewing, but it’s going to be a good ride
P.S. I am a Marvel girl. I’ve been converted. But you can never take my Superman away from me.