By Richard Melendez, Digital Editor
Once upon a time, “geek” meant the opposite of cool. If you read comic books or played Dungeons & Dragons, if you enjoyed math or science or had a hobby outside “the norm,” you were often the target of ridicule and shunned by the popular crowd. Today? Media inspired by comics and games is big business, geeks like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have inherited the world, and everyone from Hollywood to your grandma is in on the action.
Geeky passions run deep and they don’t get left behind when you travel. Fortunately for visitors, there are plenty of ways to get your geek on here in Hawai‘i. If you’re a comic book reader on the hunt for that hard to find issue or just some fresh reading material, there are several comic book shops to choose from across all islands. Other Realms on O‘ahu and Maui Comics & Collectibles are just a couple off the top of my head. And if you need to scratch your gaming itch while you’re here, you’re in luck. Many of these comic shops also sell role-playing and tabletop games and host regular game nights and tournaments, so sign up to join in on the fun.
Whenever I travel, I try to make time to visit a comic shop or another geek outlet of some sort. I can tell you from experience that digging into long boxes in another state can yield some pleasant surprises. Hawai‘i is particularly unique in its geeky predilections. Kids in Hawai‘i grew up watching live-action Japanese shows like “Kikaida” and “Kamen Rider” and were on to Hello Kitty and “Robotech” long before anime and manga became household words on the mainland. Thus, shopping for comics and specialty collectibles in Hawai‘i can often yield some unexpected treasures that you won’t encounter on your home turf.
Hawai‘i also hosts several annual comic conventions, such as Kawaii Kon in Honolulu and HawaiiCon on the Big Island, as well as a number of traveling mainland events like Amazing Comic Con. These events are great for seeing our local cosplayer population unveil their latest designs, meeting celebrities from sci-fi and fantasy, or just shopping for specialty collectibles. Plan your vacation right and you just might get to attend one of these cons for yourself.
So much geeky goodness, and I haven’t even mentioned Nerd Night and trivia night events, the LudoSport academy where students are trained in the ways of the lightsaber, or the regular Comic Jam gatherings for comic book artists of all stripes and levels. Apparently, geek is the new cool, and Hawai‘i is no exception. Teenaged me could only have imagined such a world. Hopefully, you’ll find something to enjoy while you’re here.