Everybody told me San Diego Comic-Con was big. They lied. A bacon double cheeseburger is big. Comic-Con is mega ridiculous Gigantor-Gojira-Kong huge-plus, times seven.
I don’t know the exact number of attendees. I’ve heard 150, 000. Seems low to me. I think I saw more than that in line to take pictures with Pikachu. There were scores upon scores—an ironic word, perhaps—of Twilight fans, all wheezing over Robert Pattinson and flitting virginally a-shimmer about the hall. Counter to them, the True Blood fans who think vampires should be entitled to get a lil’ some-some now and then. I observed countless Ledger-Jokers, Romero-Jokers, Iron Men, Storm Troopers, Doctors Who, Watchpersons and miscellaneous cat-eared-fox-tailed teens giving out “free hugs.” (I’ve never needed to pay for a hug, myself, but I wish them well.) Loads of people dressed in anime-inspired cosplay outfits looking both soft and pointy at once. Scads of Steampunks, fillions of Browcoats, hordes of zombies, people who think a trip to Hot Topic is the same as a costume and people for whom a costume is really just a frame for breasts.
I went dressed very convincingly as the dumbass who forgot to bring comfortable shoes. May this be a warning to any of you whose wisdom is equal to or less than my own: wear good shoes, or suffer. Today, I’m limping all over my office, trying to convince my coworkers that it’s an early symptom of zombism I contracted during the convention.
Now and then I’d see someone in high heels and wonder why on Earth—or whatever planet they’re from—they’d do that to themselves. But you know, there are some people who can wear stilettos and tango backwards up a hill full of cacti with no harm done.
The real high point of the convention for me was spending time with the Macmillan folk, especially Pablo Defendini and Irene Gallo of Tor.com, and Jen Kaufler and Theresa DeLucci of Tor Books. (The other Macmillan/Tor peoples I met were all great, but I didn’t get to know them quite as well.) A more intelligent, charming and fun group you could never hope to meet.
My feet are really the only thing I can complain about. Just about everything else went marvelously well, even though I didn’t get to do a lot of the things I had planned to. If lesson number one is bring good shoes, then lesson number two is get in line early for the panels! I couldn’t get into The Mighty Boosh performance, but got to see one third of Noel Fielding’s head—a third more than I’d ever before seen in person— and I attended a live performance of Rifftrax, playing off a 1970s construction worker safety film, “Shake Hands with Danger.” It’s full of moustaches, country music and severed limbs.
Also, not only did I see Joss Whedon shake his groove thing (which in his case is, I believe, his right elbow) at the EA Games party, but I saw him shake it with the aforementioned Ms. DeLucci. She took it all in stride, naturally. I think she only mentioned dancing with him four thousand times afterward.
After years of going to much smaller conventions, I can appreciate both the appeal and the sensory overload that comes with Comic-Con. Throughout the weekend I heard people rhapsodize the Comic-Cons of yore, lamenting the enormity of its present form. Maybe they have a point; I wouldn’t know. But as I see it, the massive scale is an important part of the experience. I can only imagine how those same nostalgic naysayers would react if they came to Comic-Con and hardly anyone was there.
When Jason Henninger isn’t reading, writing, juggling, cooking or raising evil genii, he works for Living Buddhism magazine in Santa Monica, CA.