Comic cons: What I miss (and don’t miss)

So I’m sitting here and watching G4’s coverage of San Diego Comic Con – and also checking out some of the best comments on Twitter – and once again thinking, “Wow, I wish I was there.”

Followed quickly by another thought: “Wow, I’m glad I’m not there.”

I’ve never been to Comic Con but I’ve had a lot of experience at lesser cons from Chicago to Cleveland to Indianapolis to Denver. I’ve stood in line for speakers and autographs and snaked through the dealers room.

Some of my most vivid memories are attending “Star Wars” Celebrations when they were every-three-years events timed to coincide with the release of the prequels. The first was in Denver in 1999 at a decommissioned military base. Outside at a military base. In rain and sleet. At some point when we were standing in line in the cold mud to get into an event, my friend Andy said he was glad it was me who was with him and not his wife. “I’d already be divorced by this point,” he said.

Anyway, here’s some of the best – and worst – about convention-going.

The best:

The sense of community. During a comic convention – and the same goes for science fiction conventions – take a look around. There’s anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand people around you and they all love the same thing. Okay, maybe they’re not all fanatics about Famous Monsters of Filmland or Flash Gordon serials or vintage issues of The Flash. But they’re like-minded enough about some fannish thing to turn out in numbers and geek out.

The sense of excitement. It’s hard to be blase about that comic, movie or TV show when you sit through a convention hall presentation about it, hearing not only the words of the creative team but also the energy and expectation of other fans.

The costumes. A lot of fans get frustrated that much of the news media coverage of conventions focuses on geeks in costumes. While I’m writing this, G4 is interviewing Damon Lindlof as he stands in front of a bunch of guys in “Predator” costumes. No reason, why? But costumes add a lot of visual appeal to conventions, and I’m not talking about just the several dozen Slave Leias at every con. One of my favorites of all time? An Elvis stormtrooper.

The dealers room. Oh man, I’ve spent a lot of money in convention dealers rooms over the decades. Movie posters, magazines, comic books, DVDs. You can find almost anything in some dealers rooms. I bought the original script for the Tim Burton “Batman” movie at a convention. Dealers rooms are an opportunity to find things you never expected and never knew existed. One tip: Bring a lot of cash.

Briefly, a few things I don’t miss about convention-going:

The overwhelming crowds. I’m not inclined to freak out in big crowds. A few years of attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans will cure almost anybody of crowd phobia. But really big conventions will test your tolerance for elbow-to-elbow people.

The obliviousness of people. This is the extension of the overwhelming crowds scenario. I can’t count the number of times I was stopped cold in a convention hall or dealers room aisle by some oblivious guy who didn’t realize there were, I don’t know, a thousand people lined up behind him, also trying to get through the crowd.

The … shall we say … hygiene issues of some fans. ‘Nuff said.

 

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