In the weeks before my first Comic Con, I was vocal in my disdain towards the whole affair. I was sure it was going to be filled with a bunch of dorks dressed up in shoddy homemade Storm Trooper costumes talking about who would make a better D&D character, Picard or Kirk. And to some extent that was true. But soon after walking into the convention center that first time, I realized that I needed to come out of the closet and embrace who I really am…a geek. The “Geekboy” moniker was born on that day. I had a blast and came home with toys, t-shirts and an original animation cel from “Dragon’s Lair” signed by Don Bluth. That was 8 years ago, and every year since I make the pilgrimage down to San Diego to congregate with my brethren.
If you’ve heard anything at all about Comic Con over the past few years, it’s because it’s grown tremendously in size and stature and recently has caught the attention of the mainstream press. It now draws over 125,000 people and completely uses up every ounce of space in the San Diego Convention Center, a building which can be best described as ginormous. It was an event that flew under the radar for a long time. But the advent of the internet has provided us geeks with a voice and Hollywood has started to pay attention. You win over the geeks and you build the buzz. And buzz equals money. So over the past few years the Con has swelled like a baseball player on steroids into a mammoth movie and TV marketing machine.
The coverage you’ll read of Comic Con highlights the parade of stars coming in to show throngs of fans exclusive footage of their new projects. But when I’m in San Diego, I don’t partake in any of this. I’m there for the comic books, which ironically enough are an ever-decreasing presence at the Comic Con. I try to meet with as many comic writers, artists and publishers as I can. Usually, I get to meet some really cool and really creative people. I also get to meet a lot of freaks who pitch me some really…um…let’s just call them colorful ideas. Comic Con is an exhausting marathon event and you have to pace yourself. It’s easy to burn out if lucky enough to get into a party and get plied with free drinks on the first night. That is especially true if, like me, you love to drink. But especially true if, like me, you’ve just had a baby three weeks ago and are already low on sleep.
For me, the Con always gets off to a good start on the drive to San Diego. I love to drive and halfway there you get to pass an amazing sight. If you’ve seen THE NAKED GUN, than you know what I’m talking about. In the movie, Frank Drebin is driving with his partner, nursing a broken heart, and says, “Everywhere I look, something reminds me of her.” Then they cut to this:
I don’t know how I avoided a car crash the first time I drove past and discovered that this is a real building. Oh, how much would I give for the opportunity to talk to the guy who designed this for 5 minutes? I bet he giggles every time he drives past it too.
I’ll quickly move past the part where this year the drive took 7 hours instead of the normal 2 ½. If I’ve learned anything in life it’s that you can’t cry over spilled meat trucks.
This year, there were more pretty girls on the floor than I can remember from Cons past. There are always a lot of skin tight costumes at the Con, usually being worn by either booth babes hired to lure in the crowds or attendees who could probably stand to go up a size or two with their costumes. Last year, there was an army of models dressed as Leia in the now legendary gold bikini, hired by a toy company. They were absent this year, but in their place were a surprising number of hot girls on the floor. Many of them on the arms of geeks. If you ever wanted a sign that the convention has changed, it’s this.
The crowd had also had its share of people dressed as the Joker, which was to be expected. And the afore mentioned Storm Troopers were out in full. William Katt and Robert Culp were there hawking “Greatest American Hero” DVDs. And of course, what would Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con be without a Mark Hammil sighting?
It was a busy year, but I still managed to come home with some toys (Comic Con exclusives, of course), some new t-shirts and bunch of comics. So even though the Con has gotten bigger, noisier, hotter and harder to manage every year, I still can’t help but enjoy it for what it is—the annual pilgrimage of my people to our Mecca.
Stay classy San Diego.
I brought my camera, not realizing that its memory card only held 10 pictures. So here are some visuals of the Con, limited as they may be.
Indy Jones made out of Legos. Let's just try to ignore the fact that he's holding a crystal skull, shall we?
I have a special place in my heart for those who dress up.
Night Owl's ship from WATCHMEN.
Like I said, Storm Troopers a plenty.
I love this picture.
It's not abnormal to see a Jedi amongst the crowd at the Con.