If you dislike large, fantastically dressed crowds, or are a supervillain wishing to avoid any run-ins with the superhero community, you would be wise to stay away from downtown San Diego this weekend! Comic-Con 2009 has long been sold out — not to keep rubbing it in — but, aside from Kate’s great suggestions for the ticketless masses, the Gaslamp Quarter is still the place to be this weekend, if only to get in some of the best people watching of the year. Sitting out on the patio of any restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter gives you ringside seats to a true San Diego spectacle as our most colorful conventioneers fill the streets.
Comic-Con is a sight worth seeing both in and out of the Convention Center. So what is this bigger-than-life happening that fills our hotels, takes up our parking spaces, and crowds our buses and trolleys? Is it bird? Is it plane? What started out as 300 comic book geeks in a conference room in 1970 has grown into San Diego’s biggest annual convention, bringing over 125,000 attendees from far and wide to take part in this four-and-a-half day blizzard of popular arts and niche marketing for comic book media companies, artists, animators and Hollywood studios.
In fact, it’s the Hollywood presence that has pushed attendance over the top in recent years. Fans crowd into auditoriums to catch glimpses of next year’s science fiction/superhero/fantasy movies, TV shows and video games. They line up to meet big-name actors, directors and other genre superstars. Even one-hit-wonders from eras past come to the Con to get a piece of that fanboy adulation. (Remember Lou Ferrigno, TV’s Incredible Hulk? That guy shows up every year to sign autographs and pose for pictures; and even he occupies but a tiny booth in a sea of fantastic spectacle, one that spills out into the streets.)
To me, that’s Comic-Con. Everywhere you look in and around the Convention Center, there is somebody’s childhood fantasy waiting to be reinvigorated; and that, evidently, is money in the bank. Sure, you can find plenty of vendors on the exhibit hall floor who will sell you back all the funny books your mom threw out when you went off to college — cruel reminders all that those Shazam! comics you held so dear could today have fetched you an early retirement — but it’s as much a playground as it is a marketplace, an enormous game of “Let’s pretend” where people gather to bring their kidlike passions out into the light to be accepted, even praised. After all, we all have our little eccentricities — some more conspicuous than others — and we’re lucky if we find a place to let our freak flags fly free. (Say that five times fast.) For the comic book enthusiast/fanboy, it’s downtown San Diego in July. Just take a walk down in the Gaslamp Quarter and pull up a chair at your favorite eatery for a good view of the madness. (Zombie Walk, anyone?)
Me? I don’t have passes either, but I’ll be front and center at The Tin Fish for some fish & chips and a little people/superhero/monster-watching. If I get some good shots of the spectacle, I’ll share them with you here. Until then, true believer, Excelsior!
Still bummed that you missed out on Con passes? Couldn’t make it to San Diego this year? You’re down but not out. You can still keep up with the latest from Comic-Con 2009 through live blogging courtesy of the gaming site UGO.