Touted as the "ComiCon for cat people," CatConLA is a few short days away, and I couldn't be more anxious, excited, overjoyed, nervous, happy, tense, optimistic, elated, nauseous, proud...did I mention nervous?
You see, as a child, comic books were the greatest thing to happen to me. I reveled in a fictitious world of heroes and heroines with superhuman powers. I dreamed of being greater than the meek human being I was. I wished I were in possession of super strength, that I could fly through the air at remarkable speed, and that I could defeat evil-doers and bring peace and harmony back to the world. The stories told in books like Batman, the X-Men, Superman, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and so on, the amazing artwork with all its expression and creativity,,,I would re-read, nay, consume certain comics of mine until the pages were worn and the cover torn in places.
Comic book conventions were heaven for me during those years, meeting my artist and writer heroes, listening to sci-fi authors and filmmakers talk about their craft. It all lit me up inside! I imagined that one day I might grow up to be a comic book artist myself, and that I, too, would be featured at a comic convention as an up-and-coming artist who had created the most ground-breaking new character that comic book readers had ever seen.
Well, at some point in my mid-teens, I gave up these dreams and put away my comic books. They no longer held the same allure they once did for me. The stories still seemed good, but I wanted something else, something different. And it was time to think seriously about a career. And the career I chose was a challenging one: architecture. The creativity and drawing was there, but with a strong sense of rigor and structure.
So to now be exhibiting my crazy, elaborate, and often impractical cat towers at a sort-of new age-y kind of cat show, where the focus is on the culture of people whose lives revolve largely around their cats, it kind of feels like completion of a story arc in some way. Mind you, I have no idea what to expect at CatConLA. This is the first of its kind of show, and it is decidedly not a cat show in the traditional sense, where cats are judged in various "rings" as first/second/third best in show. This CatCon event strikes me as very similar to a ComiCon, where it's okay to be a nerd. Not only okay, but even revered! Boxes of Conan and She-Hulk comics are here replaced with tables set up for cat adoptions.
Yet, with the exception of Internet celebrity cats, actual felines will not be permitted at CatConLA. Because it's really not about the cats but about the power and the hold that cats have over us, in the same way that ComiCon isn't about The Dark Knight but about the power and hold that that character has over us. It's kind of brilliant of Susan Michals to name it CatCon, actually.
Well, for me and Square Paws, this show represents exposure, in every good and bad sense of the word. My work will be exposed to a very wide and very focused audience in a way that I haven't had the good fortune yet to have. But it will also expose my work to critique, approval, and reproach. And rejection can be very hard for extra-sensitive people in this world.
No matter what, though, this work is a labor of love. I love to create new things for my pets. I love the reactions I get from both cats and people. (A purr is worth a thousand words!) And I love that I have this opportunity to creatively express myself.
So, to the true believers, I say "Excelsior!" See you at CatConLA!