The San Diego Comic-Con is an event that defies explanation. If you've never been, then you simply won't understand. This year's event, which was held last Thursday through Sunday, was the second Con I've attended. Whether or not it was a good experience is beside the point; it was an experience, one that won't soon be forgotten. It's like jumping into a portal, bound for an alternative universe. It's a place where you can feel overdressed wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It's a place where actors and writers and directors are both adored and irrelevant. It's a place where lines snake through the corridors, longer than anything you'll find at Disneyland. It's a place where, no matter how big a fan you are of a certain TV show or film or comic book, your knowledge is trounced by almost every single person around you. It's a monstrosity, but it has a beauty that you can't exactly pin down. San Diego Comic-Con is a mecca for those who are usually not catered to by the outside world. The community created by Comic-Con is unlike anything you'll ever get a chance to witness outside of one weekend a year in Southern California.
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Comic-Con is a place where you become immune to celebrity sightings. Oh, there's Ludicrous. Hey, it's Tank Girl. Look, it's McG. Not only are the celebrities omnipresent, but there are long forgotten, quasi-celebrities who show up to receive more love and adulation than they have any right to. On the autograph floor, I saw the guy who was the voice of Nikko Bellic, the main character from Grand Theft Auto IV. People wanted to meet him. There were also totally random people who had one upon a time played roles in now-forgotten sci-fi TV shows. The Comic-Con crowd embraces these people.
Though the San Diego Convention Center is huge, it doesn't feel that way during the Con. Thousands and thousands of people roam the halls, and the claustrophobic probably shouldn't even bother showing up. The lines are one thing, but the crowds inside the panels are worse. You get your seat, if you're lucky, and you're bombarded on all sides by people. The liquid seating arrangement is chaotic, people looking to move up for a better view at all costs. Not to say I wasn't involved in climbing the seat ladder myself, but it made it difficult to sit back and relax.
The Comic-Con is incredible in what it provides for fans. Imagine having a favorite television show, one that you are completely obsessed with. You worship everything to do with the show. At Comic-Con, if you show up early enough, you can sit mere feet from the brain trust behind your favorite show, as they put on their presentation. The joy and awe on the faces of countless fans I encountered over my four days at Comic-Con was a great thing, though it did put my relative level of fandom into perspective. You may think you're a big fan of a TV show – you're not. I like Pushing Daisies
as much as the next guy, but I can't hold a candle to most of the crowd at Saturday's Pushing Daisies
panel. There were lots and lots of screams.
Of course, for a Comic-Con newbie, the costumes are the main attraction. Or, at least they're what everyone who doesn't know much about the Con ask you about. I'm a little bit costumed out, to be honest. I've given up trying to understand what makes a person dress up as a character. I don't have that in me, so I can't really judge it. For the second year in a row, the most common costume was that of a Storm Trooper. After much deliberation, I've concluded that this is very important.
I'd assumed that people who dress up in costumes wanted attention, or simply to look cool. But, no matter the case, I couldn't for the life of me understand the ubiquity of Storm Troopers. If you're in a Storm Trooper costume, what are you saying? What are trying to represent? Storm Troopers, by nature, are non-entities. They have no real personality. They are clones. They have no free will, and are at the command of the evil republic. And they're mediocre at their jobs. Why the hell would anyone want to be a Storm Trooper?
Anonymity. Nothing like a Storm Trooper costume to blend in to the crowd at Comic-Con. It kind of represents a lot of what Comic-Con is about. If you want to interact with new people and talk about all the interests you have in common, that's totally cool. If you want to dress up in Princess Leia's gold bikini, despite being 30 pounds overweight, fine. No one will bat an eye. If you want to bring your child and make it a bonding experience, in hopes that comic book fandom continues down the family line, go ahead. If you want to walk around in an elaborate storm trooper costume, even if it means not talking to anyone or being able to eat and drink, that's your prerogative.
At Comic-Con, there are no social boundaries. It's an open society, where the fear of being outcast or belittled for a fringe interest is non-existent. Whatever floats your boat is cool. Just show up at the San Diego Convention Center and go for it.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer