Comic-Con Panels: Supporting Friends
By Jason McClain (@jtorreyMcClain)
I think I was the first person among my group of friends to be in a creative event that you’d invite other people to go see. Ok, that’s partly true, since most of my friends at the time were in the same community theater production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I don’t remember much about the whole thing except that before our first performance, the most beautiful girl in the whole world, high schooler Syndie, asked me for a good luck kiss. Being an extremely nervous 8th grader, I balked for just a second before my I punched my nerves in the gut and gave her a kiss on her cheek that came wonderfully close to her lips. She smiled and walked on stage seconds later. Yes, I just Googled her and couldn’t find any way to contact her so she could confirm my story, so you’ll just have to trust me on this. As for Syndie and I, we’ll always have backstage at the Concord Theater.
I also remember that my parents came to see me perform. Well, that’s what parents are supposed to do. They had come to little league games and would come to see many more performances and events during the next several years. As my friends and I went in different directions with our interests, we would go and see each other’s moments in the spotlight, whether it was
performing music, acting on stage or playing sports. It’s what we do as friends. We support each other at just a step below what our parents do.
In fact, the support of my friends came in particularly handy for me later in high school. I had been asked by my friend Steve Sides* to join his band Suspect. The catch: they had a performance in two weeks and I had to learn to sing all of their songs by then. The band had been rehearsing for a while and I had just a few days and maybe one rehearsal to catch up while still taking care of the rest of my teenage life. Well, long story short, I got my mulletted ass on stage on a December Saturday night in the gymnasium of the Trinity Lutheran Church, nerves and all, and sang my heart out. I conquered songs by Britny Fox, Guns and Roses, Poison and Cheap Trick. During Kiss’ “I Want to Rock and Roll All Night,” another band member took the lead vocals duty and I took the chance to jump down into the audience and relax for a bit, looking for the support of my friends arrayed in a large semi-circle of metal folding chairs. They clapped me on my back, said I was doing great, and feeling so much more at ease, I jumped back on stage and helped my fellow band mate get through the lyrical stylings of Kiss. At that point, I may have even stopped my unconscious nervous pacing back and forth across the stage, my contribution to the showmanship bag of tricks of lead singers everywhere.
That kind of support, that kind of confidence born out of the love of my friends, makes me happy to see the performances of my friends whenever I can. At Comic-Con this year, I got to see my friend Bailee DesRocher (the person who gave me the wonderful advice to get a press pass for Comic-Con) speak at the Comics on Comics panel along with Phil LaMarr and Javier Grillo-Marxuach. I also got to see fellow Borg.com contributor Elizabeth C. Bunce at the Diversity in Young Adult Works panel. I learned things like the fact that Captain America: The First Avenger had absolutely no flaws as a movie (I went to see it, I pretty much agree) and that the Young Adult books don’t really have a solid definition for what they are except for protagonists that fit in a range that is definitely older than 10 and younger than 24. Mostly it was fun to see friends just having a great time in their element, taking the careers that they love and carving out a niche within the wonderful world of imagination that is Comic-Con.
And now I’ll just steer this post back to how I started this, friends that have come to see me in my element doing things that I
enjoyed. Now, it isn’t a stage somewhere or a 3.1-mile cross-country course but this assembly of pixels creating an essay on the internet. I thank you for taking the time to let me share with you and giving me an audience for my joy of writing. Hopefully I’ll see you soon doing the things that you love and that make you happy.
*P.S. Good luck on your Ironman Triathlon, Steve. You’ll probably be swimming or biking as this is posted. Wish I could be there to root you on.