I told this story in my newsletter, but in case you didn’t read it there:*
Last month I attended the Fayetteville ComicCon, where I had a table on “Authors Alley” and tried to interest as many fans of superheroes and comic books as I could in a certain hard science fiction novel (ahem) and genre-related music. I was moderately successful, and the whole effort was worthwhile, but the most interesting part came from observing the people at the booths across the aisle.
Authors Alley was set up directly across from three actors who had been in various iterations of the Power Rangers franchise: Nakia Burrise, Jack Guzman, and Alyson Kiperman Sullivan (pictured below). Over the course of the weekend I had the opportunity to watch each of them interact with the fans who stopped at their tables to chat or get autographed pictures, and I came away very impressed with each of them.
Without exception, every time a fan—and especially a young fan—came to one of their tables, they paid strict attention to and were fully engaged with that particular person. It didn’t matter whether the fans were young or old, whether they were hale and hearty or arrived in a wheelchair or walking with a cane, these actors remained attentive and surely made those fans feel special. They were present in the moment in a way that was so complete and so palpable that I will reference it from now on as a measure of how well I do in interacting with people at conventions.
And I admit: I generally don’t do very well in those situations. I’m fairly introverted, and find it taxing to be “on” at these events. I would much rather retreat and let my interactions be more limited, but that’s not really an option. (In fact, at that particular event I was guilty of abandoning an interaction with someone; I sent them an apology afterward because I felt bad for having not given them sufficient attention.)
So, until I see a better example, I consider those Power Rangers — Ms. Burrise, Mr. Guzman, and Ms. Kiperman Sullivan — to have reached the pinnacle of fan interactions. Toward the end of the ComicCon I told each one of them separately how much I appreciated the way they treated their fans and how impressed I was. They seemed to appreciate that I noticed and that I told them so, but I don’t think they appreciated my comment as much as I appreciated their examples.
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