I should clarify, right up front, that (to some, limited, easily rationalize extent) these are my peeps. These are the geeks, the nerds, the folks who didn’t quite fit in when we were younger, who were politely, or impolitely shunned by the cool kids, and who spent a lot of time alone in their room with badly-put-together plastic model and hand-painted Dungeons and Dragons figurines. We were the kids who rejoiced when, one by one by one, we recognized others who were just like us, and formed our quiet little lunchroom cabals to hotly debate the things that really mattered. I mean, what was supposed to be the point of X-Wing fighters re-positioning their wings in space? Aerodynamics? In space? I mean, duh!
Gradually, over the years, two things happened:
- We grew up, got jobs, had kids or our own
- The Internet
The result, Comic-Con, should have been easily predictable from that. It crystallized around a nucleus that began in 1970 as the Golden State Comic Book Convention and was initially a quiet little gathering of folks who liked – wait for it – comic books. But as other geekdoms recognized it as a “safe place” for them to gather and express themselves, it grew until… Well, now they cap attendance at 130,000 people because that’s all the San Diego Convention Center can hold. Comic-Con sells out in seconds each year, and we were only able to get passes for the family this time by means of quick thinking, inside friends and incontrovertible proof that, by some reckoning, we were actually related to hobbits.
Think about that number: 130,000 that’s larger than many small countries, swarming, and I mean swarming from all over the world, to San Diego, to the waterfront convention center in an unapologetic five day frenzy of geekdom. Now that we can find each other, and have the wherewithal to travel/get sucked to the center of geekdom mass, it was going to happen.
The fun thing here is seeing how wide and weird and varied the geeky fandoms are. You may love Star Trek or Captain America or NASA or Myth Busters or the SCA or badly-drawn stick-figure comics. But you’re unabashed about it and unafraid to dress up as a Dalek (or Mars Rover) to demonstrate your commitment and send out a signal so that other, similarly-inclined lunatics will recognize you and revel in your shared geekdom. It’s kinda glorious, in a big way.
The biggest challenge is not burning out. Given the, oh heck, thousand or so panels, screenings, demonstrations and lectures distributed over about fifty different rooms there’s simply too much to do and see. The more popular panels (Star Wars, Dr. Who) have lines stretching a mile (I’m not kidding) of people who have camped overnight (I’m not kidding) to have their Starship Enterprise tattoos autographed by William Shatner (I’m not kidding – remember, this is hardcore).
And the exhibit hall floor – calling it cavernous is a woeful understatement. You could fit Malta, the Maldives and Vatican City in here. I am actually kidding, here. Just barely. And it feels like every row is filled with — ooh, ooh, check this out! Hey – do you remember Aqua Boy? And oh man, I used to have a copy of this! It’s only halfway through the first day, and my brain is already filled with Too Many Things.
(Okay, I’m already overwhelmed. But hey, here are a few more pictures…)
[Full set of Comic-Con pics now online at https://goo.gl/photos/Cx6PAWkdvoReLZuUA ]