Bam! Pow! Ka-ching! Why it's cool to be a comics-loving geek

Faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, XCon World V Comic Convention is back in Myrtle Beach.

Now in its fifth year and with more than 100 vendors and a home in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center for the first time, XCon is bigger than ever.

The comics show provides one example of how superheroes have become a very big deal.

"The Avengers (movie) rules the world right now. We're going to see a big difference this year because of that," said XCon co-founder Steve Haines.

Comic books have been around for decades and may seem to be a throwback to an earlier generation, but XCon vendors say comics today have jumped off the page and into the big time.

"There's a whole generation of people that are coming up just knowing comics from the web, like people used to just know comics from the newspaper," said XCon vendor Chris Sims, a blogger on the Comics Alliance website.

At the XCon show, young and old comic buffs, video game players and comics fans wearing outrageous things can engage in their favorite superhero fantasies.

"I love a good excuse to wear a costume," said female comics fan Alex Bowen, who wandered the show Friday in a pink and blue "adorable bunny" costume with white high-heeled boots.

The show's fans would seem to share one thing in common: nerdiness. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

"Of course it's a good thing to be a geek," said Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, host and executive producer of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel "Geek, dork, nerd, it's all good stuff."

Tsoukalos said everything in life is cyclical and the ancient aliens meme, which first captured the public's attention in Erich von Däniken's 1968 best-selling book Chariots of the Gods, is enjoying an upswing in popularity.

"Because people are always looking for different answers," he said. "Because mainstream answers are no longer satisfactory in most cases."

Haines said geeks today feel free to come out of the closet and admit their "dorkiness."

"Pop culture kind of drives everything. It drives retail, it drives fashion, it drives trend. So now this is trendy, everybody wants to get on board."

XCon continues through Sunday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.