You know how there are things nearby you that you never do because they’re nearby you and so you figure you can do them any time but then one day you’re on your deathbed and realized you never did those things, well, for me that was San Diego Comic-Con, almost.
I say almost for two reasons:
- Because I’m nowhere near my deathbed (I hope)
- Because I finally did Comic-Con for the first time this year.
The circumstances surrounding this first visit are pretty straightforward. I had befriended a rather talented individual and voice actor by the name of Wally Wingert (check out his IMDB) and one of his compadres Mark Fullerton (a connoisseur of all things pop and geek culture) and they had both won the lottery for onsite Comic-Con hotels and to host a panel at Comic-Con, a double-whammy of awesomeness. Given our shared passioned, I proceeded to assist with the Keynote deck that Wally used for his panel, and the whole panel aspect of things was an incredible success AND I got what many consider to be the most coveted of Comic-Con recognitions: A panel placard with my name on it.
I mentioned how successful the panel was, but the yang to that yin was that, it being my first time, I beautifully, brilliantly, brazenly failed to do anything else right with regards to Comic-Con. What I learned was that:
- The Exhibition hall is a marketplace, one that can largely be avoided unless you want to spend money on collectibles and comics. As I am not currently collecting anything, I did not need to spend much time there.
- Film and TV studios no longer promoted their upcoming projects on the exhibition hall floor and that had mostly moved across the street and into the adjoining hotels and public spaces of Down town San Diego.
- The Exhibition hall was about 50% legitimate comic book “conventioneering” with numerous dealers and a large chunk of the space devoted to individual artists. I had heard Comic-Con had lost its way (for better or worse) and no longer devoted this much space to comics and artists but it looks like they’re back and that’s a good thing and makes me happy.
- Comic-Con has stopped paying for sexy cosplay “con-girls” to walk the floor. I did not see anything approaching the photos that would get posted to blogs in the mid-to-late 2000’s and 2010’s. Rather, I kept seeing ridiculously ripped shirtless cosplay “con-men” and so I have to say ladies, this was your year. If you didn’t show up, you missed out.
- I didn’t bring sunblock and a good hat. I should have, because the interactive experiences across the street from the convention center out in the blistering sun would have been fun but I got sunburnt on my first day and sun sick that night. It was hot as f***.
- The exhibition hall will not give you room to breathe. It is packed beyond belief. Give it an hour or two, then move on.
- Go to the panels!! There are so many interesting ones to learn from and I regret not giving more of my time to that.
- If you’re driving down for Comic-Con…just pay the $50 daily rate for parking. Don’t try to cheap out and walk. It’s not worth it.
- I think I mentioned this before but it bears repeating: bring as much sun protection as you can for the amazing stuff across the street from the convention center.
- No matter how close you may think you live, you’re probably better off getting a hotel and paying for it. Of course if this isn’t an option with regards to your travel budget, don’t not go, just know it’s going to be a little more challenging. I canceled my hotel due to needing to repair my car’s air conditioning, and I should have just paid for the hotel too.
Getting back to the panel I helped with, it was titled ‘I Was Cosplay Before Cosplay Was Cool’ It was a look back through Wally’s early years building costumes from his favorite comic-book, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror shows and movies back in the 60’s to the present, long before reference material and patterns had become ubiquitous and easy to make. Some of the improvisations Wally made were amazingly effective, many the result of no better a reference than a black and white 35mm photo he took on the spur of the moment from an episode playing on his television set (long before DVR’s let you pause of course). The Panel and subsequent Q&A inspired me to try and apply for a couple of my own Comic-Con panel ideas in the years to come, and I can’t wait to go back again, and again, and again.
Oh and one more thing I kind of failed at, was decent photographs, so hopefully the ones you see on this page will suffice. I didn’t really get anything good enough for the gallery. Maybe next year.