This year on July 22-23, I was among the nerds, geeks, vampire lovers, TV junkies, and internet addicts who joined together and united at the yearly San Diego geekfest known as Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center. Fandom is a strong addiction and an insatiable urge! And let me tell you, having been lucky enough to grow up in San Diego, this year at Comic-Con was NOT my first rodeo!
Every year I look forward to heading downtown for Comic-Con, and this year was no different. Why all the fuss about a little comic book convention? Well, it is no longer so little, and it has a long history. It was originally founded in 1970 as a tiny convention of only 145 guests with only two major headlining guests. Traditionally, the convention focuses on comic books (obviously), science fiction and fantasy writing and illustration, and related TV shows and movies.
Today, not much has changed in terms of content, but rather amplified. Yet even within my own respective lifetime of 22 years, I have seen dramatic change in the convention. As a kid, my dad used to take me and my sister to the convention. We would walk around and collect free Batman buttons and stickers for the Simpsons. Ten year old me would get excited over Pokemon cards and comics, and let’s just say some things never change.
The convention this year hailed over 130,000 people (only 20-40,000 when I was a kid!), and while it’s rough to elbow through the crowds it is always worth it! This year I showed up to the convention center with my dad and boyfriend in tow, carrying our swag bags that the convention hands out, ready to grab as much free stuff as we possibly could. First stop at the convention is the exhibit hall to do just that, to wind up and down the aisles looking at new video games, piles of antique comic books, individual artists’ works, steam punk accessories, and loads of miscellaneous pop culture paraphernalia. If you have the patience (which I never do), many people choose to wait in line for panel discussions with comic book writers and artists, movie directors, blog writers, and TV and movie casts.
However, all the fun isn’t JUST the exhibit hall and panels. There are tons of events outside the convention center in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Store fronts are temporarily rented out by companies like Sega and turned into gaming lounges, and restaurants are booked by promoting companies to hand out free food and encourage you to test the latest Samsung tablet. In fact, though the convention is still mainly a pop culture-centric event, many technology companies use this mass gathering of people from all over the country to promote their latest gadgets. And it works—I am seriously considering buying a Roku Box over an Apple TV!
And finally… Let’s not forget the costumes. So many costumes. It’s a fun game to count the Slave Leias, Stormtroopers, and Darth Vaders that show up every year. Some people go all out for their commitment to being a fan with crazy elaborate costumes. Other people don’t dress as pop culture characters at all, but dress weird just for the fun of it, just because it’s a great excuse to let your freak flag fly—in public.