Is Boston One of the Nerdiest Cities in America? Comic Book Lovers Think So.
With major events and conventions like PAXEast and this year’s Boston Comic Con, it’s no wonder why Boston lands on the list of “nerdiest” cities in the U.S. And those who frequent the gatherings, who often dress up like characters ranging from Star Trek to Star Wars to X-Men, are just fine with the label.
Boston landed in the No. 6 spot on the list of cities known for their nerd culture, cities where those embedded in the sect “would most feel at home,” according to the Movoto Real Estate blog, which self-describes its writers as “nerdtastic.”
Randy Nelson and his team crunched the data—admittedly while drinking a lot of Mountain Dew—and based their top 10 findings on the number of annual comic book conventions, video game stores, comic book stores per population, and an ongoing list of other nerd-related interests in each respective city. “I was able to search my feelings like a Jedi Master in order to come up with the criteria I’d look for when determining what makes a city nerd-friendly,” writes Nelson.
One of the biggest criteria for the Motovo findings is the presence of conventions and gatherings where uber-fans could flaunt their homemade costumes and gain insight on industry practices—something Boston has been on top of in recent years with PAXEast and the Comic Con, which kicks off its weekend-long festival on April 20.
And according to organizers of Boston’s annual—and largest—comic book convention and event, the city definitely provides a good place for nerds to get together. “Even without Comic Con and PAX, Boston and Cambridge, really, is nerd central. MIT, Harvard, and our thriving tech and pharmaceutical industries make sure of that,” says Adri Cowan, a known nerd-enthusiast and featured moderator at one of the Comic Con panels this year. “Boston is lucky enough to have a concentration of some of the smartest people in the country in one place, and a large percentage of them have majorly geeky tendencies.”
Cowan says she witnessed a lot of those tendencies when she was an employee at Google in Cambridge. “These now-successful engineers, professors, and students are the same ones who invested their time in more ‘thoughtful’ hobbies in middle school, high school, or college—which can translate into a passion for literature, comics, and gaming,” she says.
For those designated in the “nerd” category, Cowan says the Comic Con is the equivalent of sitting at the “cool table” for people whose typically “nerdy” interests may have kept them from that in the past. “Here’s an alternate universe where the comic books, toys, and video games you like are respected, and the more nerdy facts you know, the cooler you are,” she says.
According to Boston Comic Con spokesman Colin Solan, as sci-fi, genre fiction, and video games have become mainstream entertainment there has definitely been an “upswell in the interest of ‘nerdy’ events,” he says. “There is a long history of conventions for all kinds of genres in Boston with the abundance of college students and creative types in the city. Many of our local comic artists are starting to hit it big [too].”
At Comic Con, which started as a one-day basement show and has exploded into a two-day event due to popularity, those interests and events include a panel and discussion about the Power Rangers—and a guest appearance by one—along with appearances by some of the world’s most well-known comic creators, and of course, lots of cosplay.
“Cosplay gets bigger every year! There are always amazing displays of costuming at Boston Comic Con,” says Solan. “This year, professional cosplayer Yaya Han is one of our guests. She will host a tutorial panel on Saturday to teach the essentials of creating costumes in addition to being a guest judge of the costume contest on Sunday.”
It’s all of these things, which were specifically outlined on the Motovo ranking, that make Boston a good place for the nerd at heart. “It’s refreshing to surround [yourself] with people who don’t take themselves too seriously,” says Cowan about being with fellow comic book lovers. “It’s all about fun.”