Book Review: Shattering Conventions by Bob Calhoun

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In 1992, Bob Calhoun traveled to the San Diego ComicCon, and had the opportunity to chat with the King of Comics, Jack Kirby.  That is a tough act to follow, but Bob spent 2010 trying to do just that.  During a slowdown at his day job, Bob started traveling to as many conventions he could reasonably attend, trying to regain the exhilaration that he had first experienced nearly 20 years previously.

In his book “Shattering Conventions,” Bob writes about his travels through the world of the Con. Starting off with a Star Trek convention in January, the author travels through a series of gatherings and trade shows, including a conspiracy convention, a livestock show, and San Diego Comic Con, culminating with a trip to Washington DC for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity.  Along the way, he meets an interesting assortment of Vulcans, Christians, Bigfoot hunters, Twilight fanatics, and racists.

The authour with Jack Kirby, San Diego ComiCon, 1992
The authour with Jack Kirby, San Diego ComiCon, 1992

The book is written in a breezy, friendly manner, giving more the feel of a buddy telling you stories about his vacation than a documentary about the convention experience.  Not content to merely chronicle the events before him, Bob Calhoun gets involved in the proceedings, much like the gonzo journalists of the past.  Bob tells of how he was called out by Andrew Breitbart at a Republican convention, gets into an argument with one of the infamous Phelps clan at SDCC, and confronts an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist at Conspiracy Con.

“Shattering Conventions” is a quick, fun read for anyone that is interested in the convention experience.  While the author self-identifies as a nerd and obviously takes joy in going to the more nerdy events, he also covers his experiences at gatherings that are outside his normal experience, with the same congenial wit.  He avoids taking easy pot-shots at people who devote their lives to hunting mythical creatures or raising cattle, but is not afraid to call out evil or hypocrisy where he sees it.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the convention experience, but also to those who enjoy travel and experiencing events outside their normal realm of experience.

Shattering Conventions is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be available in time for San Diego Comic Con.  More information and ordering details can be found on the book’s website, http://www.shatteringconventions.com/

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