The pleasures of geeking out

Did anyone say “geeking out”? Blogger Paul Grech did! Read on …

The Malta Comic Con will be back this year. For those who, like me, enjoy graphic novels or the wider fantasy / science fiction genre and who have terribly missed this event that was cancelled twice due to the pandemic, this is fantastic news.

It means that, for a weekend in October, we will be able to see, meet, talk and listen to others who share the same interests. It also means that the many local artists and writers* who want to display their talents will have an opportunity to do so. That is the beauty of such genre-specific festivals: you get to geek about something you love with others who love it just as much as you do.

The atmosphere at the Comic Con is markedly different to other events like its cousin, the Malta Book Festival. True, the MBF does bring together those who love books but you don’t get complete strangers striking up a conversation about a shared love for a particular book. Or at least, it doesn’t happen as often as it does at the Comic Con.

It is why I happen to think that there is room for more events that where the focus is determinedly on a single genre. With the main one I’ve been thinking about for a bit of time being football books.

Around 400 football books are published each year. And that’s in the English language alone. That pales when compared to other genres like crime or romance writing, but it is still a substantial number. Again, speaking as someone who reads as many of those books as I can, it is my belief that there is an audience out there who are passionate about it and who, like fans of other genres, would love to be able to meet others like them.

My dream is for a conference that brings together football writers and readers with a sprinkle of adjacent media, like football documentaries. There is a growing appreciation of the culture around football – as evidenced by the mushrooming number of magazines built around similar ideas – so an event like this would attract those who love the sport but would normally not be overly interested in a book-related event. There is even the added bonus that there isn’t such an event anywhere else in Europe so it would have the potential of attracting visitors from abroad.

In reality, football is just one example. Music books (another favourite of mine), travel writing and crime books all have a dedicated following and so would firmly fit the bill (although there are a few crime literature-related festivals already). The possibilities are endless.

Of course, a reason why there aren’t such festivals probably lies in the success of the Malta Comic Con: the people behind it. The Comic Con has a hard-core team of dedicated volunteers who pour time into keeping it going. Other genres, whilst popular, probably do not have that level of dedicated fandom willing to make such a sacrifice.

It certainly is the reason why I, despite my hankering for such an event, have never really seriously gone about organising it. That said, if there are others who might be interested as well, who knows …


*Speaking of talent, if the fantasy / sci-fi genre is of any interest to you, then you do have to check out the first serialised home-grown graphic novel Mibdul.

Paul Grech is an avid reader particularly of sports, sci-fi, fantasy and non-fiction books. He is also a writer of a couple of ebooks about Italian football and also one about the forgotten Maltese World War II heroine, Henrietta Chevalier. His book about the Italian football coach Carlo Carcano was recently translated and published in Italian under the title Il Genio Dimenticato del Calcio Italiano.