This was the first time I ever went to the nerd Mecca known as San Diego Comic Con. When I was originally creating this post there was going to be lots of pictures of celebrities and going nuts on how awesome the panels were but with a little distance from it I realize that wasn't the part of the convention that I will remember long term. I mean, dont get me wrong. Bumping into Andy Serkis or some of the folks from Supernatural out on the convention floor was pretty cool. But still.
I've wanted to go to the San Diego Comic Con for as long as I can remember. It was a dream and while living in Missouri it seemed almost unreachable (dream bigger, darlings). Once I moved to LA and it was a short (2.5 hour) drive I had built it up in my head to be overwhelming.
And it was overwhelming. Giant transformers, huge sculptures, bright lights and people. There were SO many people. Nothing I had been to, concerts or otherwise, prepared me for the sheer throng of people in an enclosed space. There were the perfunctory (emphasis on funk) unwashed fanboys, the scantily clad cos-play girls, and the nerds. But I wasn't expecting all of the people that were there for the TV shows and movies. I realize now that more than anything thats what comic con's focus has become. There is a lot of money behind film production, its how I earn my keep so I cant begrudge that. But I didn't think about all of the people that would be there to get an interview, to see a couple minutes of footage that would be online in a week or were just there just for work. There were publicists and executives and little underlings everywhere taking up space and saving seats. If they took out everyone that wasn't there due to fandom there would have been another 100,000 tickets available for those unwashed fanboys and half naked girls with pink hair.
Another complaint of mine is that even after the success of the Avengers, the world continually underestimates the cult of Joss Whedon. They put the 10 year Firefly reunion in a large room, but not the biggest. The show that got that space happened to be involved with one of the people that bought a booth inside. So instead there was a literal 2 mile line that had more than the rooms capacity standing in it by 2am the night before. Joss was a cool guy though. He walked down the line, drunk off his ass, at 3am signing autographs and talking to folks.
Speaking of lines. You spend a lot of time in them. Like 6 hours a day to see the big panels. Or slightly less time for crap freebies.
Now, the actual highlights.
1) I met a couple idols. J.Michael Straczynski, whom second to Neil Gaiman I think is one of the best writers of our time, had a great panel, signed a couple books and was simply great to chat with. Dave McKean, an incredible author who has done a number of illustrations in collaboration with Neil Gaiman, was every bit the delightful Englishman I expected him to be but far more down to earth and easy going than I would have thought. I thank Mr. Rhoads for pointing him out to me as I probably would have passed him by unnoticed if not.
I spent a good half hour talking with Dean Yeagle, who has been drawing beautiful women for 20 years and worked for Disney a good 30 years before that. Speaking of beautiful women, Chris Sanders was there showcasing some of his pretty ladies. While I did not get to chat, I did grab a print he was giving away showcasing a few production drawings for an upcoming project.
The number one favorite person I met, and wouldn't have even known was there if not for recognizing his signature on someones backpack, was Kevin Eastman. He is one of the co-creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, one of the most treasured elements of my childhood. I waited a long time, but it was worth it to get several books signed, an awesome quick sketch of Donatello and a chance to thank him.
2) I met some incredible people while waiting in line or just randomly while walking around San Diego whom I hope to see again next year. Wearing your Comic-Con badge was an instant icebreaker for nerd and local alike. We did not go anywhere without talking to someone about what we had seen that day, how crazy the costumes were, what their nerd obsession was. It was awesome. This is where nerds are the norm. I felt like I belonged to a large group, something I wished the young me could have felt.
3) Croce's was awesome. Its rare that I would sit down at a restaurant that expensive and not feel at least a little bad about the bill, but the music was incredible and the food was glorious. Add in attractive waitresses, good drinks and a celebrity sighting and its a no fail senario.
4) We ended up staying at a bed and breakfast due to us dropping the ball and not getting hotel reservations until the last minute (5 months in advance). Carole's Bed and Breakfast had a great staff, wonderful food and a vintage charm that was a fun juxtaposition (ha! way to use that art degree, son!) to the bleeding edge, overload that was the Con.
5) This is the year for doing. I'm 31 now and it really feels like all those things I have been saying I will do are either going to happen or I might as well just give in to mediocrity. Its one thing to have great plans but my follow through has blown. There are far too many half finished projects on my hard drive and too many friends I have let down by not finishing what I started. This trip was a good instigator to evaluate what I really wanted to be doing for the next twenty years and see that I was already late enough that getting there was going to be harder than it should have been.
Mr. Rhoads, who was my compatriot at this event, is going though a similar period of evaluation in his life. We reflected each others self disappointment which enabled us to make realizations through discussion spurned by the success stories we were sitting in awe of every day of Comic Con. Those who had dreamed big, bled for and reached their goals, we sat by the thousands to pay homage and found ourselves lacking.
So this year we try to change that.