By Brent E. Beltrán
I survived another San Diego Comic-Con International. This one, perhaps, being the most grueling.
I had initially planned to write my wrap-up on Sunday night but was too tired. I was then going to write it on Monday but my exhausted corpse refused to get off the couch.
So here I am on Tuesday, slightly less exhausted but determined to finish writing about my Adventures in Comic-Conlandia.
Of my many Comic-Cons this was the first where I actually had work to do. I volunteered in the past but I don’t consider that work. Over the course of Comic-Con I posted 160 photos to Instagram and only three short videos. I had hoped to take more Instagram videos but I got caught up in everything and went the easy route by mostly snapping pics.
Not including this piece I wrote four articles. The first was one that came out before Comic-Con that laid out my geek credentials. Thesecond was about how Comic-Con is a nerdly motley crew that is at home amongst family. The third was about how my wife Olympia and I were unable and unwilling to wait in line for Hall H. And the fourth was about me completing the three tasks I had wanted to accomplish on Saturday.
All of these articles were written after the day’s events and after being utterly exhausted. I’m an overweight, underexercised forty something year old, spinal injury surviving, partially paralyzed, couch potato. And all of those things added to my exhaustion. Regardless, I was still determined to cover the event and enjoy myself at the same time.
Just an average attendee with a free badge
My goal was not to report every announcement, panel or Comic-Con related happening. The Hollywood Reporter had all that covered. I wanted to give, like the title above states, a nerds-eye view of what was going on. Comic-Con from my perspective.
Since I was covering Comic-Con for San Diego Free Press I was added to the Comic-Con media list which was given to all of the exhibitors and presenters. Over the past week or so I probably received at least 100 different press releases from various companies and public relations firms asking me to cover their panel, product release, event and/or press conference. I was even invited to numerous parties.
I covered none of these. Not because they weren’t cool or interesting, many were, but because I knew other mainstream and geek media would. I was there to be like the average attendee, except I got in for free.
I’m walking here
One of the hardest parts for me was all of the walking. I walked to Comic-Con each day from my apartment in Barrio Logan. The distance is about 1.2 miles up Harbor Dr. Not very far but not close either. While at the Convention Center I probably walked as much if not more. The huge crowds jostling and bumping into me made walking inside that much harder. I was completely unprepared for the amount of walking necessary. Next time I won’t be.
American Taliban made their presence known
Though I detest religious fanatics I need give at least a little credit to the Christian doombringers for their tenacity. They were at Comic-Con all day, every day protesting against us sinners. They were mostly ignored by the nerdy masses except for a few who got creative and designed their own signs including: Turn to the Dark Side and Kneel before ZOD.
Lines, lines, everywhere a line (apologies to the Five Man Electrical Band)
Everywhere one went at Comic-Con there was a line. A line to get your badge. A line to go to the bathroom. A line to eat. A line to cross the street. And, of course, a line to get into the panels especially for Hall H and Ballroom 20. Hall H and Ballroom 20 are the biggest rooms at Comic-Con and they are used for the panels with the most interest.
This year the lines for those two rooms were insane. Hundreds if not thousands of people camped out overnight on Thursday, Friday andSaturday. Slept on the ground kind of camp out. Not take a shower in the morning the next day after walking all around Comic-Con that day kind of camp out.
Maybe I’m too old. Perhaps I like the comforts of a bed too much. But there is no way I’d camp out all night just to watch a panel on some upcoming movie. Especially when I know full well that whatever goes down at the panel will be reported extensively by the various media outlets. I guess I’m not as nerdy as I thought I was. Or maybe I don’t like sleeping on the ground and having all day morning breath and body funk.
Panels I did attend
Even though the masses were out in full force I still got to sit in on a few panels, including two in Hall H. If you wanted to get into Hall H then Thursday was the day for you. There was virtually no line!
I got to see The Visionaries panel in Hall H which featured directors Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), Marc Webb (Amazing Spider-Man) and Edgar Wright (Shawn of the Dead) discussing their work. I also saw the panel preceding that one about the upcoming sci-fi/horror movie Europa Report that featured Ecuadorian director Sebastian Cordero and some people from NASA.
Following The Visionaries was a panel on Ender’s Game, a sci-fi movie based on the extremely homophobic Orson Scott Card’s book. He’s homophobic. I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if the book is. Even though the panel featured actor Harrison Ford, out of principle, I refused to attend and show support for an author who’s homophobia borders on pure hatred.
Other panels I got a chance to check out include: Black Mask: Bringing a Punk Rock Sensibility, Activism, and Wu-Tang to Comics; Star Wars Origami; and Marvel: Cup O’ Joe that featured Marvel Comic’s chief creative officer Joe Quezada discuss all things Marvel.
I got a photograph picture of…
If the plan was to take lots and lots of photos and post to social media then I accomplished my mission. I focused most of my picture taking on the attendees in costume. They are, after all, the ones who make Comic-Con what it is.
Costume watching is one of my favorite Comic-Con activities. It doesn’t take much effort. Just stand anywhere inside the Convention Center and those dressed up will find their way to you. For the most part cosplayers love getting their pics taken and will gladly pose for anyone with a camera.
After awhile you start to see who the favorite characters to play dress up are. The favorites this year were Wolverine, Thor, Black Widow, Stormtroopers and anything Star Wars (especially Slave Leia!), Captain America, Batman, Joker, Naruto and, of course, zombies.
More to Comic-Con than the Convention Center
This year’s Comic-Con seemed bigger on the outside. In the past I would stay inside the Convention Center unless I wanted to eat. This year though I wanted to go outside and see some of the things that were taking place in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. And there was a lot going on.
In the Petco Park parking lot near the boondoggle bridge that crosses over Harbor Dr. was the Interactive Zone. Inside this zone were various activities and whatnot taking place. They included a car wreck scene from The Walking Dead; a statue of the Silver Samurai from The Wolverine movie; a Smurf village; an area plugging a Mad Max reboot that had a DJ and free, fake tattoos for patrons; a Cartoon Network Adult Swim Funhouse; a skiff from Return of the Jedi; a trailer from the Falling Skies TV series; food trucks and lots of other stuff. All for free.
There were other free activities taking place as well including a parking lot on First Ave., a block from Harbor Dr., that hosted various entertainment companies; Dracula’s crypt across the street from the Convention Center that hosted other NBC properties including Revolution and Grimm; a huge enclosed tent-like structure for the upcoming sci-fi movie Ender’s Game (which I refused to enter).
There were also lots of happenings taking place along a closed off portion of 5th Ave. Media companies like SyFy network and Comedy Central took over the Hard Rock Hotel’s diner and The Broken Yolk Café. Other networks took over different locales within the Gaslamp. That section of Downtown was completely taken over by the geeky Comic-Con hordes.
When in Rome…
I no longer read comics on a regular basis. I don’t have the time or the funds to do so. But what I do like is buying the occasional graphic novel. And Comic-Con is the perfect place for that. Numerous exhibitors were selling them for 50% off cover price. But even that is a lot for a hardback graphic novel for someone on a budget.
So I did my due diligence and found a spot that had some super deals. I ended up spending less than $70 for nine hardbacks. The full retail for these books was $19.99, $24.99 or $34.99 each. What a deal! I can’t wait to crack them open and get my superhero on!
Huge economic impact on San Diego economy
Comic-Con is huge. It’s huge among the popular arts fanatics that attend this paean to all things nerdy. And it’s huge for the city of San Diego. So huge that it is estimated that through the years 2013-2015 the economic impact on our city is over $480 million. Over $200 million is in direct spending by attendees alone.
Those numbers were compiled by the people at the Convention Center. Blame them if they’re not exact. But by walking down a couple blocks on 5th Ave. I could see the impact there alone. Every restaurant and bar was uncomfortably full. Stores had people buying their wares. People were taking cabs, public transportation and pedicabs. Money was being spent by the fistful. And every city in the country with a larger convention center would love to steal Comic-Con from San Diego.
Comic-Con has a bigger economic impact locally than the Super Bowl would have here. The Super Bowl’s economic impact on New Orleans earlier this year was measured at about $430 million. Not only would it be beneficial to find a way to keep Comic-Con in town (their contract ends in 2015) but it is also better than hosting a Super Bowl every year!
Everything must come to an end
As Comic-Con came to a close on Sunday the Universe (pick your own) cried a little as a light sprinkle drifted earthward from up above. All the geeks, nerds, Wookies, Klingons, superheroes, gamers, and others who gathered as one during the entirety of The Con went their separate ways. Went back to their respective realities. I’m sure there were others just as tired as I. But just as pleased. For we all came together to celebrate those things that we love. And we all look forward to doing it again next year. Hopefully with a six week training camp beforehand to get us in better shape.
Brent E. Beltrán
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