The Return of the Con
Going to Comic-Con changes your perspective on life. You’ll never whine again about brief delays checking out at the grocery store when you’ve waited in line for hours and hours with literally thousands of people. Star sightings will seem mundane after you’ve been surrounded on all sides by celebrities. Sneaking ninjas and throngs of superheroes invading your personal space won’t even make you blink twice. Yes, once you have been to Comic-Con there is no going back to your pre-Con preconceptions.
Last year Jason and I had our first stupefying Comic-Con experience. Our recount of its fabulousness must have bedazzled everyone because this year a group of friends joined us. My brother Drew, his wife Simone, Jeremy Rowley, his wife Amber, and Jason’s coworker Dan all decided to come and miraculously everyone managed to acquire those mythical tickets.
Comic-Con this time around felt very similar to last year. The eternal lines were everywhere, the elaborate costumes were as prolific as Mario’s mushrooms, and the smelly masses still hadn’t discovered deodorant. Once again we rose before the sun or the sane to claim our spots for the panels from our favorite shows. Yes, Comic-Con was the same mess of marketing and humanity but this time Jason and I had changed. We were no longer Padawans; we were the Comic-Con Masters. We weren’t awed and overwhelmed by the omnipresent famous. We knew better than to take volunteers’ conflicting directions as fact and we anticipated spending most of our time standing in line. With that said, it would be erroneous to assume that our Comic-Con familiarity led to letdowns. Just because we were Con veterans doesn’t mean we didn’t totally nerd-out from predawn to long after dusk. We expected chaotic awesomeness and that’s what we got.
The most awesome of that awesomeness? Meeting Brent Spiner, AKA Mr. Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lifetime dream fulfillment? Check. Brent was not disappointing in person; he was very witty and clever. Jason made me confess my teenage Data crush to him. (Thanks a lot for ratting me out Jason.) He took it quite well. My admission actually didn’t seem to surprise him one bit but he did appear a little stunned that I had followed up my taste for tasty androids with a marriage to a common earthman.
Along with encountering celebrities up-close, we saw oodles of them on stage at the multitude of superb panels we attended: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, Frankenweenie, Oz, Wreck-it Ralph, Masquerade 101, History of the Modern Zombie, Legend of Korra, Spotlight on Ben Edlund, Designing for the Undead, and Minimates Turn 10. While I enjoyed learning about the psychology of the post-apocalyptic and hearing from Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Mila Kunis, Sarah Silverman, and John C. Reilly, my favorite panel this time was Firefly: 10 Year Anniversary. Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, and a number of the other cast members were present. The audience was so appreciative and supportive of these stars that by the end our standing ovation had most, if not all, of them in tears. I was moved by them being moved so I ended up crying a bit myself. It was moving. What a fantastic panel! By the way, if you haven’t watched Firefly I would highly recommend it; then you will understand why the Fox network is run by morons.
While the panels were delightful, they didn’t monopolize our attention. We had to leave some time for the enormous and illustrious exhibit hall. The Comic-Con exhibit hall is as full of surprises as a Klingon in a barbershop. No matter how much time you spend wandering around the thousands of booths you’ll always discover more must-have geeky merchandise that you missed last time you wandered by. You’ll also stumble upon famous people left and right. That’s how we came across the members of The Bunker, which do animation work for South Park, and Max Brooks, the author of The Zombie Survival Guide. Needless to say, we purchased a lot of autographed wares on the exhibit floor. I even had an anime version of myself drawn by comic book artist Ashley Riot; I affectionately refer to it as “animeMe.”
Yes, our familiarity with Comic-Con led to less “wow” this year but not less enjoyment. We knew we were dumping ourselves into the stinky melting pot of nerd culture and that we might emerge with the white hand of Saruman painted across our chest but we wouldn’t regret it. And what about the noobs? They had a great time and are already plotting how to maximize their Comic-Con experience next year with less funds, less sleep, and less showering. Will Jason and I be there next year? If Picard’s crew can make it so we probably can too but I think we’ll stick with a Con plan that includes bathing.