Each year, fans, celebrities, and business folk make the trek to San Diego, CA. Often referred to as “Vegas for the Awkwardly Bearded” or “Disneyland for the Affectionately Weird,” it’s easy to fall down the sparkly rabbit hole of the Con year after year.
Comic-Con is now known for its recent prevalence of flashy Industry marketing mixed in with the actual convention events in a Marvel-themed cocktail. Because of this growing intensity, super fans and regular fans alike may find themselves spending all year marking down the days til the big event only to turn around and mark the days til next year’s like Nightcrawler eating his own tail.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to love about Comic Con. The sense that you’re participating with your generation and the validation granted by other Comic Con-ers as they smile dutifully to you in passing is great. There’s also a heap that the majority of attendees needn’t be bothered with. If you’re planning on surfing over to San Diego next year, it’s best to do your homework.
Nerds smell. That’s not me making what is undoubtedly the easiest joke in the universe, it’s just a fact. Scientifically speaking, it’s damn near impossible to jam hundreds of thousands of people whose main physical fitness derives from their rolley office chair and their right hand (for joysticking, you perverts) into one long, sprawling room without things gettin’ a little funky. But you know what? No one gives a damn. It’s like knowing your buddy just ripped a fart and staring valiantly off into silence. A “we’re all in this together” kind of bond is thriving at the nucleus of this billion dollar beast, and everyone’ll be damned if that is disturbed with a single passive-aggressive deodorant giveaway at the opening gates.
When I was a kid, there was a special interest store in my neighborhood that catered to those who read Manga before they knew proper grammar. Periodically, I’d stop in out of a simple fascination with being the only customer with female sex organs occupying its aisles. Once the backdoor sprung open, it gave light to an underground world of strategy board gaming and card playing seediness. It was as if the whole store was a front for a mob run by entitled boys who hadn't had a Bar Mitzvah yet. I never understood the purpose of this kind of life, and though the Con feels like an appropriate venue for an encore into that Wizard cards addiction, no one really has the time. I found myself passing by handfuls of these kind of card playing stops only to find no more than four or five players hedging their magical bets. Dejected and desperate, the managers of these booths often slipped into the role of the world’s most educated carnies, calling out their wares to the most timid players. This is proof that if you ain’t got explosives, Peter Dinklage, or candy, you ain’t got me. Which brings me to...
Booths Without Freebies
After a while, the Con starts to take on the characteristics of a zoo. The exhibitors are the humans, and the attendees are the caged animals. Give us a flyer, and we’ll crumble it up in your face like a twice-scorned marsupial. Give us a Regular Show themed home botanist set, and we will name our first born son after you, forever smiling when we call him into supper. We’re adults, and we miss Halloween. So yes, I will take that temporary henna tattoo for a show I’ve never heard of on HGTV, because I gave up my personality and self-respect hours ago.
Nerds love science, and science is the antithesis of religion. In the past handful of years, religious protests dotting the entrances and exits of the convention hall have grown thrice their size. Often the protestors stand with their cardboard sandwich board signs, denouncing Captain Kirk and Harry Potter for teaching the next generations to believe in the kind of magic that doesn't turn water into wine. Because atheists have the best sense of humor, the nerds flashed signs that said, "GOD HATES FREE HUGS," when the JC fanboys and fangirls marched past signs that said, "FREE HUGS."
See: Personal Hygiene. Sometimes the "We're all in this together" mentality can take more literal form. When you’re clumped together like sardines in a crowd underway to see Veronica Mars recount her most traumatic crafts service experiences, “your arm” becomes “our arm.” It's wise to think of every experience you have as part of the “royal we.”
As a young woman attendee, another trend I seemed to notice was a flirt hit-and-run, in which men wouldn’t so much as come up to my personal space to hit on me, but rather would just shout, "Hello!" at inopportune times only to vanish under their permanent invisibility cloak.
Healthy Life Choices
San Diego's proximity to Mexico means there’s an added dose of red meat and weird, white cheese dabbed atop their blessed fry slab. Comic-Con folk don’t give a shit about vegetables, and you can take that granola-soul-patch gabbin’ somewhere else, ‘cause you ain’t got no business stickin' your big ideas and your Greek Yogurt products in their God-lovin’ faces. Piss off, America. I’m never gonna die!!!
When you spend enough money to fill several Disney World vacations, sleep lessens in importance. Once nightfall hits, the convention-goers who hold a Walter Sobchak Big Lebowski-like intensity toward the rules and want the privilege of being in the same room with a sweaty Thomas Jane in a Hall H panel, camp out by the San Diego Convention Center. With so many bedraggled people in elaborate costumes and makeup sleeping on the street, the scene starts to resemble a deleted scene from Blade Runner. I once asked a woman what she was camping out for and all she replied was, “Hall H.” That’s it. Nothing in particular. Just whatever stuff was going on in the biggest banquet hall. How have we not cured cancer and acheived world peace when that kind of blind devotion actually exists? I was exhausted by the prospect, but felt napping would be disrespectful.
Townies / Locals
You’re better off just moving the hell out of town for the weekend. Someone will piss energy drinks all over your lawn, and you will see sights unimaginable in the form of an overweight Jack Sparrow punishing a Pedicab driver through the Gaslamp District.
After a while, the Con plays out like a Frat Row for those disenchanted by the amount of years it has been since they were actually a card-carrying student in college. Luckily, every corner has enough booze to take down several Greek Weeks. Give your liver the finger and drink up, buddy. You didn’t earn it, but who’s keeping count at this point?
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