In case you don't know what Comic Con is, you can read about in detail here. But for the most part it is a 4-day comic, movie, TV, art, fashion (standard wear and kooky dress up - such as the $1300 Storm Trooper suit I saw), toy, gadgetry and everything in between convention held in San Diego every year in July.
Since our first summer here, the Mrs and I have wanted to get down and check it out. Not that we are Trekkies or really fanatics of any kind, but the people watching and the overall hysteria surrounding this event is hard to miss. As someone living in San Diego, it is less of a convention and more of a tradition, so we have always wanted to be a part of it. However, for whatever reason (insert lame excuse after lame excuse here), we never made it down...and we live a mere 10 minutes away.
It took 8 years and my cousin-in-law to get me to go, and I'm happy to have finally made it.
Over 130,000 tickets were sold. All tickets were sold online. You had to register to get tickets over 6 months in advance - if you did not register, you could not get tickets...non-transferable, no door sales, and no Stub Hub. From that registration, you were given a link to follow on the day tickets went on sale (again months before the event). To much horror, this link turned out to not work on the morning of ticket sales and unless you were curious enough to go and check the website you never got to the ticket room online or if you did then you got there late and missed out on certain days or the whole event. People were pissed. And you know what's worse than pissed off comic book readers/collectors? Probably a lot of things, like people in the drive thru at Starbuck's at 8:55 AM. But really, people were pissed.
Oh well...I got a 4-day pass so I was ready to go or at least I was able to go, "ready" as I learned when I got there was a whole different thing. It's like saying you're ready for your first trip to Vegas, your first enema or your first purple purple (or tittie twister, for you heathens).
If you are not immersed in the activities, shows, blogs, or newsletters of this immense subculture, then you have no idea what to expect. See, it's not just the people - though there are tons of them. Some sitting on the ground just resting. Some talking about where the newest swag will be given out. Others hoarding the classic Star Wars toys and classic comics. Tons of people catching previews, trying out new video games and looking at soon to be released toys (easily the biggest surprise of the event shockingly enough, as I had no idea people awaited the release of so many action figures...another strange event in my life that takes me back to my 10th grade english teacher's statement: "the older I get, the dumber I realize that I am"). On top of that there are lines. Lines for everything, though you often don't know what exactly and sometimes the people in line don't know either. It could be for a super exclusive giveaway, toy purchase or lame poster/swag bag/sticker/laniard. And last but not least, the characters. I'm not talking about paid employees or even event volunteers. We're talking about people who spend an exorbitant amount of time and money crafting some of the craziest costumes I have ever seen, everything from unbelievably realistic Siths (Star Wars) and Batmans to Slink (Toy Story - which was two guys in costume attached by some landscaping hose) and the Dude (The Big Lebowski).
I walked in on Thursday, thinking that I would just putz around and get my bearings.
Yeah. That didn't happen.
I was lost. Like I said I am not a comic book fan. I used to watch Saturday cartoons and I know a little bit about anime, but that's not even the tip of the nerd-berg.
There were artists doing custom drawings, 3D printers (yes, printing a usable Thor's hammer or Akira's motorcycle), movie costumes and props (they had THE everlasting gobstopper from Willy Wonka!), kooky gadgets (the weirdest were these cat-like ears that had some contraption that touched your forehead making the ears "react" to your brainwaves. While standing at the booth, I made a comment out loud to myself of how weird this shit was. At that moment, the ears on a girl in front of me turned towards me like they were listening...creepy), and classic toys like the original Millennium Falcon at just the small cost of $600 (now if you don't wish you had saved all of that crap from your childhood then you're a god damn liar). I had to get out there, before I got completely sucked in and spit out.
Day 2 was a far better day. I game planned. I figured out which panels I would go see (which is a huge part of Comic Con). I knew what areas of the main floor I wanted to hit up again and what products I was interested in. Sure there was plenty of new stuff too that I had not seen on Thursday such as: John Lassiter signed wine bottles with various Pixar movie labels (for the nominal fee of $1000 per bottle), a new Transformer mega toy called Bruticus, some great kids books (my favorite being The Halloween Kid ), and a great iPad app & digital pen for artists or even kids (this was unfortunately sold out, but I will be buying it as soon as it is back on the market).
Unfortunately, I missed all of the panels. Lesson learned here, show up early to the panels...as in hours early because 30 minutes didn't cut it for a rinky-dink show like Cartoon Network's Regular Show. Even in Hall H, which held 6000 people, if you weren't in line at least 3 hours before the panel was to begin then you weren't getting in (as a friend experienced trying to see the Big Bang Theory panel when he showed up about 45 minutes early only to be told by security that the theater only held 6000 and he was about 10,000 and he therefore had 0.0% chance to get in).
The best part of the entire event occurs on Friday night, when hundreds of costumed zombies drag themselves down through the Gaslamp district and frighten all of the tourists and dinner guests of the local establishments. Some of the zombies mailed it in and are boring while others really work it and scare the crap out of people over the several block walk down towards the convention center. And these folks aren't just plain fake blood or arrows through the skull. There were slit throats, throwing stars in the forehead, gouged out eyeballs, and even baby zombies.
Comic Con-ers are, suffice to say, serious people despite their costumes and poor posture (who am I kidding? my back looks like a horseshoe from playing video games and being hunched over my computer). But like many things, I can show you better than I can tell you. Please enjoy the trip!