Okay. Back home with a little time to decompress from SDCC. Lots of lines, crowds, drinking, parties, crowds, and lines. Yes, repetitive. Redundant also, but such is the way of SDCC.
I’ve been going for the past six years and I really look forward to my time among my own kind. For four glorious days I get to revel in being a geek. No more faking my way through high school and college sports discussions with my co-workers (I’m not native to KC, and I didn’t go to a Division 1 college so I’m two strikes down in the count when I walk up to the plate). No more downplaying my excitement for Star Trek: Beyond (which lasted right up until I saw the movie). No more trying to explain the little Paco Taco figures behind my desk (and in a big ‘FU’ to HR, the pink taco is getting licked by a Mr. Potato Head).
Nope, no more hiding. Time to come out. Time to let the geek flag fly.
Me and tens of thousands of my friends. Geek-overload.
It’s simply way too much.
I went to my first SDCC a very long time ago, when you could walk up and buy tickets for that particular day, or splurge and buy the whole weekend. The con took up the entire convention center, but the convention center was half of what it was today. Want to go to a panel? Go. You might wait in a line to get in, but schedule yourself and you’ll see everything you want to see. I met Art Adams on a fluke and bought a $5.00 drawing from him. Frank Miller cut the line right between Bruce and I. I got a standing ovation for my interpretation of the Silver Surfer (my take on Kevin Pollak’s take on William Shatner).
Amazingly, just about every booth was selling comic books. Remember those? They’re movie storyboards now.
Now...way different story. You don’t go to the con, it comes to you. Conan and every Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and comic-based show greets you at the airport. Massive banners and billboards line the streets into downtown. Every bar and restaurant has a comic-con special. Marketing Gras parades blow through the Gaslamp trumpeting Sharknado, Outlander, and Mr. Robot. Bible thumpers warn of brimstone and Hellfire while Nightcrawler and Sebastian Shaw share a beer. Cosplay, which used to be for the brave is now being done professionally - like the costume, here’s my card, I do Bar Miztvahs. Fake Springfields and South Parks bloom into existence and die away like corpse flowers. One year, you could have the full ‘Django Unchained’ experience, which seemed ill-conceived at the time, moreso since I’ve seen the movie. Hotels become prisons. Pirate ships appear on empty blocks, sailing the high concrete sease. Petco Park turns into a zombie wasteland and not just because the Padres are playing. Promotions, press events, and panels blur into one long calendar event. Do you see Hasbro or Firefly? Lego or the Doctor? Are those homeless people or is that the line for Hall H?
And who are we here to interview again?
Mattel, Hasbro, Marvel and DC make the middle of the room impassable. Between Suicide Squad, Doctor Strange, and scads of exclusives, wasn’t no one getting through. Security did their best, but there’s little to be done when the crowd can’t move. Do I like being told that I’ve been told three times to move along? No. But for once, it wasn’t because I was being obstinate. Moving through this area of the room is like watching a health video on the dangers of smoking and high blood pressure. All the little platelets squeeze together and the patient has a stroke and dies. Every year there are more and more booths that I miss because I’m trying to navigate the clot. Did I know there was a huge Walking Dead booth? Nope, not until I saw it on Instagram. Add in signings from the casts of all the WB shows and you might as well pitch a tent. Nobody was going anywhere. On the plus side, SDCC changed the way attendees access the convention floor, pushing non-attendees out of the building all together. If you couldn’t manage the floor, you could at least go out into the hallway and circumvent everything. A successful bypass.
It’s a frenzy fueled free for all for the fans (thank you Stan Lee). ALL the fans. Movies, television, games, toys, cable channels, publishing, Hallmark, you name it. As long as it has the words ‘super’ and/or ‘hero’ attached to it, it has a presence at ComicCon. That show, ‘The Middle’. It had a press room one year...right up until somebody sobered up and cancelled it. Another genius thought it would be cool to turn one of the bars into ‘The Playboy Club’, which would have been fine if comic-nerds weren’t so afraid of women. I once stood in line for what I thought was a Nickelodeon give-away, turned out to be a plug for ‘Pan Am’, a TV show that had NOTHING to do with comics in anyway and was cancelled after just one season. It did, however, feature an actress named Margot Robbie so maybe it was ahead of its time.
SDCC can also be a little surreal at times. I’ve been cordoned off by a security staffer (just one) to make way for the cast of Game of Thrones. No offense to that security guy, but Bruce and I could have totally kidnapped Peter Dinklage and he would have never stopped us. I’ve interviewed William Shatner. Twice. And also Roseanne Barr, Patton Oswald, Bruce Campbell, Wayne Knight, Kane, Hornswoggle, and the director of ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader’ whom I got to ask if filming in 3-D was anything like SCTV’s 3-D House of Beef (the answer was ‘yes’). Considering I work with numbers most of the time, I think I’ve done alright.
While this sounds like a bitch note, it’s not. If you’re willing to let the craziness and the mania carry you away, ComicCon is fun. A lot of fun. Like Mardis Gras and New Years and your 21st birthday all rolled into one. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the opportunity to go. It is the highlight of my year. I love it.
And yet, I find myself a little concerned for the future.
I have been into comics since high school. On the one hand it’s extremely gratifying to go to the con and see, well, everything. The nerds have the day. Even the jocks wear Spider-man t-shirts. However, I look at the line to get into the Game of Thrones exhibit and wonder what happens when that show goes off the air. Or, what if the next season of Flash is as bad as the last season of Arrow? Or, what if Dr. Strange can’t find his mojo?
I worry that we’re being spoiled by our success. That one day ESPN will remake ‘Brian’s Song’ as the 30 at 30 to end all sports movies, that autograph conventions will become all the rage, and that us geeks will have to buy college sweatshirts from schools we could care less about just to blend in.
I don’t mean to end on a downer, but as successful as we geeks have been, no one rules the world forever. I hope that our day of reckoning is a long, long way off. I fear that it isn’t. Until it arrives, revel in the muchness as much as you can.