It used to be that someone was derided as a nerd for knowing too much about some narrow pop-culture niche.
If someone knew all the guest stars on “Star Trek,” for example, they were a nerd. If someone could list comic book artists as if they were the presidents, they were a nerd.
But today, thanks to technology and social media, we live in a niche world where such pop-culture expertise is celebrated. Where nerds themselves are celebrated.
A major example of this can be found this weekend in Greater Portland at the second Coast City Comicon. It will feature a musical celebration — a Nerd Rave concert put on by nerd-centric bands — as well as a multi-generational event featuring Mexican wrestling.
The bulk of the convention, which will feature some 80 artists, vendors and speakers, will be Saturday and Sunday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel near the Maine Mall in South Portland.
Comic-book conventions have become increasingly popular over the years as they’ve expanded to include not only comics, but other aspects of nerd culture. But this one is sort of an expanded version of a nerd celebration beyond people dressing up as their favorite comics character.
Though there will be that too.
“Most of the people who come into our store grew up with ’70s, ’80s and ’90s pop culture,” said Jarrett Melendez, 27, the event’s organizer and visual merchandising manager at Coast City Comics in Portland. “So the way we run our convention is just to celebrate a bunch of pop-culture nonsense from all those eras.”
The weekend-long nerd fest kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday with the “Nerd Rave” concert at Geno’s Rock Club. Bands for this show were specifically picked for their nerdiness, says Melendez, including local fave Covered in Bees, an outfit he calls “probably one of the nerdiest death-punk bands around.”
And that’s saying something.
The band has a song about hobbits (with a profanity in the title) and a song about the McDonald’s character Grimace.
Also playing the Nerd Rave is a band from Rhode Island called Math the Band. It’s categorized as a “Nintendo-core” band, which refers to the fact that it samples video game-style music in its songs.
The crowd at the Nerd Rave will be “encouraged” to dress up in costumes as their favorite comic or game character, Melendez said. But they probably won’t need too much encouragement.
There will be lots of guests on Saturday and Sunday, including veteran TV wrestler “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan; Bob Camp, co-creator of “Ren & Stimpy”; Braden Lamb, an artist for “Adventure Time” comics; Rick Parker, an artist for the “Beavis and Butt-Head” comics; and Eric Holmes, lead designer for a such video games as “Gears of War 3” and “Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.”
Another event at this year’s convention that celebrates nerds in new and glorious ways is a Mexican wrestling match being staged at 1 p.m. Saturday by a new Portland-based group of wrestling enthusiasts calling themselves Super Lucha Explosiva.
Mexican wrestling has become big with comic book fans in the U.S. in recent years because the characters are so theatrical, look like cartoons and have “secret” identities hidden behind colorful masks.
This will be the first match put on by Super Lucha Explosiva, a group of about 10 wrestling and pop-culture fans. The idea began with 22-year-old Jacob Cote, a recent University of Southern Maine grad who majored in theater, and his friend, Adam Corriveau.
Cote said he and Corriveau grew up watching wrestling on TV, and have noticed other fringy pop-culture happenings on the local scene such as roller derby and women’s arm wrestling leagues.
So they figured, why not Mexican wrestling for local folks?
“We wanted to do something larger than life. We figured Portland would be a good place for it,” said Cote.
And what better place to debut the idea than at a convention full of nerds?
Now that nerds are cool, that is.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: