I even love the crappy pizza and mystery meat hotdogs at the snack bars. And why shouldn’t the meat be a mystery? Even the food at Comic Con has a secret identity!
I’ve been attending the San Diego Comic Con regularly for pretty much the past twenty-five years. I love it. It’s kind of the thing that I look forward to every year. It’s nerd Mecca. I love watching people dress up in spandex costumes they clearly can’t fit in, I love the smell of mold as I dig though dusty boxes of comic books, I love listening to a crowd of nerds (myself included of course) laugh uproariously when a celebrity tells the hackiest joke ever told just because he happens to star in an Iron Man movie, I love almost having to come to blows with several sweaty Stormtroopers over a free promotional t-shirt, and I even love the crappy pizza and mystery meat hotdogs at the snack bars. And why shouldn’t the meat be a mystery? Even the food at Comic Con has a secret identity!
So just in case you haven’t got it by now, I REALLY love Comic Con!
But lately, several friends of mine have bailed on Comic Con. Listing the usual complaints, “It’s too crowded.” or, “It’s too corporate.” or, “I don’t like walking through clouds of leftover B.O. and farts.” Well, you know what? If that’s all it takes to put you off of a celebration dedicated to everything you like, stay the fuck home! Apparently, some nerds can’t cut it. They’re weak. To use a Deadliest Catch analogy, Comic Con is like an Alaskan crab boat; if you don’t have your sea legs, it’s gonna be a shitty ride.
Personally, I really don’t get what all the complaining is about. Sure there’s a lot of people at Comic Con…because it’s great! When people hear about great events, they tend to want go to them. And where there are people, there’s going to be body smells. So you have a choice: you can get annoyed or you can look at it as an opportunity to do a little role-playing. Just pretend that you’re on an alien planet where everyone breathes methane.
Now, as for the complaint that Comic Con is a huge corporate media event, you really should shut your nerd hole and be thankful. Corporate media giants are the glue that holds Comic Con together. Who else has the money to build a full mock up of a house being attacked by zombies from the new AMC series, The Walking Dead than AMC? I’m a huge fan of the comic book series the show is based on, so my wife Carrie and I took a photo at their booth. We’re sitting shell shocked next to a man who blew hs brains out on a couch with the words, “Please forgive us” written in blood on the wall above. We plan on turning it into our Christmas cards. If that’s not a truly unique way to say, “Happy Birthday, Jesus” I don’t know what is.
In related zombie news, I picked up a book called, Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson about a zombie outbreak at a Star Trek convention. I haven’t read the book yet, but I give it points right out of the gate for combining two of the things I love most in life. Which brings us to next undeniable attraction of Comic Con…the shopping.
I always spend a shitload of cash on stuff every year and this one was no exception. I buy action figures (I found a Dexter action figure! Seriously!), t-shirts and other assorted geek supplies, but it’s always great when I come upon that rare treasure that makes any Comic Con hardship worth while. Well this year, that magic moment was bestowed on my wife, Carrie.
Carrie is a big fan of the original, Clash of the Titans. Specifically of Bubo the robot owl magnificently brought to life by famed stop motion animation pioneer, Ray Harryhausen. She has long coveted a resin model kit version of Bubo that a friend of ours has and I have spent many years searching eBay for a comparable version for her. With the updated 3D version of the film coming out, I was finally able to get her a cheap bobblehead version, but it just wasn’t the same.
Cut to Saturday at Comic Con strolling through the exhibition hall with Carrie. I come upon a booth with a Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Leatherface figure I’m interested in when I notice something from the corner of my eye. It’s a metal, 14 karet gold plated Bubo with red jeweled eyes and it’s everything a beautiful lady into robot owls could ever want. I point it out to Carrie and her eyes almost glaze over with joy. It costs in the neighborhood of three hundred dollars and within seconds, Carrie is taking it home. You know, there is nothing that can fill a Comedy Film Nerd with more pride than seeing his wife buy a three hundred dollar robot owl…for herself.
Of course, there were more magical Comic Con moments. Through the kindness of my friend, Sue Naegle from HBO and her husband and my buddy, Dana Gould, I was able to attend the True Blood panel and even do a little hob-knobbing with the cast in the VIP room. Also my friend Darick Robertson got word at the Con that the truly brilliant comic he created with Garth Ennis called, The Boys is being developed by Sony/Columbia for a motion picture with Adam McKay slated to direct. The Boys is about a special covert team who go after asshole superheroes when they get out of line. It’s beautifully drawn, really well written, violent, profane, hilarious, and has all the makings of a terrific film. Good luck, Darick! You deserve it!
Now, with all that good stuff being said, are the some down sides to Comic Con? Sure! The Gaslight District near the convention center can be a bit of a drag. It’s kind of like, Universal City Walk with a bit more threat of date rape. Lots of people yelling things at you from cars, and couples on dates who have been brought together by their mutual love of ignorance and alcohol.
I also have to say that some of the dealers in the exhibition hall really need to work on their sales pitch. I had to smooth things over when an overly playful salesman at the Doctor Who booth got a little too close to Carrie’s personal space with a sonic screwdriver. Hmmm? That sounded kind of dirty, didn’t it? Well, I assure you, it so wasn’t. But all in all, I’m just nitpicking.
What I love about Comic Con is that it’s pretty much the only place I can go to hang out with tens of thousands of people who are all into the same stuff that I am. I get off by the fact that for this one time in this one place every year, the guy wearing the sports team shirt is the outsider. But, if it’s too crowded and too much hassle for you, fine. But until you launch your own rival super convention like Nerdstock, or Dorkon, or Fartfree; the San Diego Comic Con is the best game around.
—Matt Weinhold whose CD “Dead Funny” is available in the CFN store. Signed, of course.