Just a few days ago I was neck deep in a sea of nerdiness and geekery at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, the world’s largest celebration of everything even remotely related to pop culture. It is four days and a “Preview Night” of dorky debauchery that has now been fully embraced by almost all Earthly inhabitants and is one of the hottest tickets on the planet.
The annual event that is held at the San Diego Convention center has grown so large that many are content to make the pilgrimage to Harbor Boulevard just to see all the cool happenings that are taking place in the street and the local businesses, without ever having to fight for the right to pay for a ticket.
No one can see and do it all at SDCC, not without the super-speed of the Flash, the time-traveling technology of the Tardis and the incredible endurance of the Hulk. But after having a few days to catch my breath and reflect on last week’s epoch of incredulity, I thought I’d share my perspective of what was the best and the worst of this enormous event.
Best Celebrity – Adrianne Curry: By far, my favorite experience at the 2012 Con was the opportunity to participate in an interview with actress, model and geek-goddess, Adrianne Curry. I honestly had never even heard of this delightful dorkette before, but she dazzled the panel with her sharp wit, vast knowledge of pop culture, rebellious attitude and extreme sexiness. She was decked-out in a ‘Raptor-Jesus’ costume of her own design and was sincerely upset at the religious ravings happening in the street that morning, saying, “Really, you’re going to protest Nerds?” It was love at first sight.
Adrianne was promoting her new Super Fans show on Stan Lee’s ‘World of Heroes’ YouTube channel and I can’t wait to watch it. This is an exciting entrepreneurial young woman who I predict is going to be a huge star. She’s the real deal and I was super-impressed by her.
Best Artist – Tommy Castillo: Tommy’s booth at the Con showcased some of the coolest art I’ve seen in while. I loved his new Darkside of Oz work and can’t wait for his upcoming comic featuring these characters. The world of Oz has just about been run right into the yellow brick road, and yet his art made me really excited to see this new vision of the old standard. Great stuff!
Best Costume – Galactus: I didn’t catch this gentleman until closing day on Sunday, but for me he easily sewed-up the best costume at the Con category. Oh sure, it’s hard to beat many of the Wonder Women and Power Girls wandering the halls, but basically all you need for that is the body and a few bucks at the Castle Boutique. But to pull off the devourer of worlds is an epic feat; and to do it with a mini Silver Surfer hovering just off your shoulder is the ultimate cosplay accomplishment.
Best Television Presence – The Walking Dead: The amount of zombies seen in at the con was surprisingly light; but The Walking Dead TV show had a huge and very cool presence, with a Michonne photo op where you could pose as one of her walker-pets, to a Walking Dead Hyundai vehicle, complete with a spiked grill and other implements of destruction guaranteed to put the ‘die’ in Hyundai. They even had a comic-con souvenir photo op where you could insert yourself amidst a background of zombie apocalyptic mayhem. Very fun!
Best Movie Presence – The Hobbit: With life-sized versions of Gandalf, Gollum and the giant trolls, the Hobbit booth was the centerpiece of the exhibit floor and it was so popular you could hardly get close enough to take a quick photo, let alone linger long enough to get a really good gander at these exciting props. Nevertheless, these were some of the most amazing attractions at the con. Simple – but so cool!
Best Comic – Best comic for me goes to the classics – and a shout-out to the many vendors that were selling the old archived books and graphic novel collections, many at huge discounts. While this may not be a good sign for comic retailers, it was a huge plus for the fans looking for a great bargain. My personal favorite find was a hardcover collection of Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, but I saw fans snagging huge individual issue runs of Spider-Man, Batman and other classics.
Comics – While there were many cool Con exclusive comics at this year’s show, for me there was no real standout book. Even the comic panels I attended were kind of lackluster and it didn’t seem like the panelists were even very excited. Some comic professionals had downright negative attitudes that will do nothing to help promote their industry or art form.
I understand that many comic old-timers have concerns that their premier industry event has turned into such a multimedia circus while they are relegated to the shadows of movie & gaming events that were built on the backs of their ideas, sacrifices and hard work. But they need to stop and think what this event would be without all the extraneous hoopla. I sincerely doubt they would have the same attention without the movies and gaming components and I think they should lighten-up and embrace it, instead of turning fans off with their adverse attitudes.
Photo Kill – More than once I was shot down or outright admonished for taking a picture. I saw this happen with others as well and even saw one man with a video camera publicly humiliated for shooting video during a panel discussion. Really? When the whole purpose of participating in this show is to promote your work, be it movies, TV, comics, or some other type of art, how can you possibly be opposed to someone taking a picture?
I suppose I can understand this when it comes to the movies & TV, in that the creators want to control the quality of the presentation for the product they are promoting. But when an artist is so uptight that he won’t allow coverage of his/her work – all I can say is, good luck being successful with that. In fact, being a jerk is likely to garner you negative exposure, so why are you even participating in this event?
Lines – Almost every day of the con I wasted time in lines where I never reached my destination, which was bad enough in that I didn’t get to see the events in which I was waiting for, but this wasted time and effort meant there were dozens of other things I was missing as well. On one day I spent an entire 8 hours in line only to finally walk away with no chance of ever getting inside the building.
Now I understand that dedicated fans are lining up (in some instances camping) hours in advance to make it into an event, and that sometimes they will stay in a room for an entire day, watching hours of content they don’t care about, just so they don’t miss the one thing they came to see. But it seems like there must be a better way.
I don’t know if a lottery for events and clearing rooms between panels is in order, or what the answer to this problem is, but no one should have to waste time needlessly in a line that, in the end, goes nowhere. I talked to one man who for two days in a row waited to get into the Hall H movie panels, only to get stuck less than 50 people away from the entrance, and never got in. So 2 days out of his 4 day pass were wasted, and that’s a shame.
Porn Stars – The porn industry has its own convention and I strongly believe that they should stay to it and not try sticking their fingers into the Comic-Con. Granted, there is not a lot of this, but I ran across one booth where two porn-stars were signing autographed posters from their new movie. Granted, it was just a bad R-Rated B-movie, but I don’t think this is something the kids need to be lining up to get autographs at.
This was a fun convention with more good times than bad and with thousands of incredible sights and sounds. But this annual show has become so popular and grown so large that it is almost unreasonable for the average attendee to accomplish much of anything. It is literally wall-to-wall people and God help you if you are in the path of a manic mob at the instant some five-cent freebies are being given away.
Sure, the frenzied mayhem is part of the fun (albeit an inconvenient and sometimes painful part), but unless the organizers of the San Diego Comic-Con can figure out a way to make their event a more pleasant and rewarding experience, I’m afraid this monster is eventually going to destroy itself as a victim of its own success.