Finding Fandom – With Tony Kim aka Crazy4ComicCon

Being in the nerd community, it’s good to have well, just that: community.

There’s no one better than to tie that community together than Tony B. Kim aka Crazy4ComicCon. Tony is a liaison for the biggest nerd conventions, especially for San Diego Comic Con. He’s a light for the nerd community when it comes to pop culture reviews, fashion, expression and just plain living the nerd life.

 The best thing about him? He’ll make time to help outsiders feel like insiders.

But how did it all start for Tony? When did he start becoming craaaaazy 4 Comic Con, and what are his top three fandoms?

Most importantly, is he a TWILIGHT fan? Ok that’s not most important.

Here are some convo highlights from when I sat down with Tony over some poutine in Orange County talking fandoms and nerd stuff:

Nerd Coolture (NC): What happened to all of the TWILIGHT fans…and are you a TWILIGHT fan?

Tony Kim (TK): Uhh…I’m not a TWILIGHT fan. I think their fandom has waned. They’ve mostly evolved into other…you know…VAMPIRE DIARIES, THE HUNGER GAMES…They’re like POKEMON. They’ve evolved into bigger, badder versions of themselves.

NC: So the Team Edwards are now…TRUE BLOODers?

TK: Yup! Totally. We have a lot to thank TWILIGHT for. They get a lot of heat. San Diego Comic Con back in 2008-09; it really was the gateway fandom into that convention. The nerd explosion would’ve happened regardless. TWILIGHT had a huge part in introducing the other demographics to the beauties and wonders to Comic Con culture. We kind of owe some of our geek culture popularity to TWILIGHT.

NC: What does “Fandom” mean to you?

TK:Fandom” means being true to yourself. Being honest, true. Living a life of integrity. For many of us as fans, we were closet fans. We were hiding it for many years, especially the high school years when it wasn’t cool to be a fan. Now, fandom means letting the geek flag fly high and being unashamed. There’s a lot of freedom in being unashamed and not caring what people think.

NC: How is fandom best expressed whether as individual fan or as community?

TK: Particularly, the thing that I’m passionate about: Comic Cons are a great expression of fandom. People contact me all the time and say how they don’t have a circle of friends that share what they love. They don’t have anywhere they can go where they can express themselves. Comic conventions are a place where people can go to help fill that void, gather together to form quick instant communities and meet other friends. That’s the biggest feedback I get: “I’m among my people” or “I’ve come home,” “This is where I feel like I’m truly accepted.” I really do think that Comic Con has really helped people feel the confidence to express themselves at home, at work, in their lifestyle because when they’re with fellow fans at conventions, they gain that self-confidence and acceptance.

NC: So when did you first realize that you were a fan of something in particular?

TK: Growing up as a child of immigrant parents from Korea, we moved to this little town in Texas, there was no one else who looked like me…I felt like I was completely alone, misunderstood, marginalized and I started gravitating toward sci-fi and comics. Comics were a big part in helping me find my identity. SUPERMAN had a profound impact in my life. This idea of a guy who came from another culture. He didn’t really understand his own culture but came from it to be raised in some weird place. He just wants to fit in, to be accepted. He knows he was made to do something big with his life. He didn’t aspire to be SUPERMAN. He just wanted to hope…life…community. He wanted to find who he was. SUPERMAN is the ultimate immigrant. He’s the story of coming to a country and serving a bigger purpose than himself. As a kid, those stories really resonated with me. So I later realized, you know what, I can feel different, weird…like I don’t belong here, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a purpose in life. Early on, my love for comics, it wasn’t just because it was cool or awesome…it was a lifeline for me.

At this point, I was taken back, near speechless about how Tony’s adolescent survival can be credited to comics and sci-fi. This is probably one of the first times I’ve heard how personal a super hero can be to someone. How amazing.

OK, back to the objective.

 NC: …It’s so crazy how you can connect with something like that….That’s awesome. OK, so what are your Top Three fandoms?

TK: Definitely, comics would be my…third fandom. My second fandom would be STAR WARS, no surprise. I think just raw time invested in STAR WARS has been the most. But my number one fandom is STAR TREK. That really is what started it all.

Tony talked about how his affinity for STAR TREK started because of his brother introducing it to him when they rebooted the series via full-length film.

It was Star Trek’s Space exploration, collaboration and seeking peace that was most fascinating to Tony. It wasn’t just about beating the bad guy or command and conquer. Let’s not forget about the diversity. STAR TREK was breaking down countless cultural barriers during its time, including a non-kung fu fighting Asian. These things stuck with Tony at an early age.

 NC: So you’re obviously telling me about what you love. How do you normally show or express to people what you love? What are your outlets?

TK: I express myself through what I wear for sure. I have a lot of fandoms but between STAR TREK, SUPERMAN, and comic books. Those are the three that I wear the most and express the most. It’s great. I get so many comments on the things that I wear, specifically my STAR WARS track jacket and belt buckle. I have a STAR TREK pin that I wear. It’s a great way to start conversation, through those pieces. Social media is another good part of it. All of my social media streams are clearly self-expression of my nerddom.

 NC: Why is it important for you to share your fandoms?

TK: There’s too many things on the internet, too many shows on Netflix. Our fandoms and nerddoms help us create connections with each other. Whether we express it through Twitter or through blogging… To express your fandom in a way that gets you talking face to face with somebody else…we’re never more connected than we are right now, but at the same time we’re more isolated too because people are working from home more than they ever have. So our fandom is such an awesome way to connect with people. I really do think that the fandom thing is the ultimate icebreaker wherever you’re at. Our fandom has really become this greasing of the wheels of socializing. It’s just really easy.

It’s no wonder why Tony naturally shares his Comic Con world with outsiders, and why he’s so enthusiastic about the latest of Star Wars, DC and Trek. They’ve literally helped him survive to this day.

What I loved best about talking with Tony was how he had me reflecting about how my fandoms have carried me through my past, how crucial they were as outlets. It was inspiring to hear someone have superheroes in their life actually be their superheroes.

 Are the things that we love popular? Yes. Part of a movement? Most likely. But there has to be a deeper reason of why we connect with them, empathize and want to share with others.

Alas, here we are, sharing another story of what makes us geek out and go forward.

Tony generously offers the best Comic Con advice and movie reviews on his website and social media @Crazy4ComicCon.

When’s did you realize you were a true fan of something?

How has being a fan of something impacted your life in a positive way?


How do you express your fandom regularly?

Drop a comment here so we can talk it out!