Every year it descends upon America's Finest City.
The air grows thick with an expectancy that fills every inch of the laid back metropolis.
The police come out in force, ready to do what is asked of them. The shopkeepers shore up there staff and mentally prepare for yet another onslaught of unknown proportions. Children who've never experienced it wonder whether it will be as bad as the stories they heard about it.
Then it happens.
The roads begin to swell with traffic, public transit starts to look like Japanese commuter trains and sidewalks become bloated with masses of bodies... bodies all moving with a singular purpose, toward a singular goal... bodies ravenous for...
This year approximately 140,000 people flooded downtown San Diego to partake of the sweetest pop culture sampling on planet Earth: The San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC). Whether you're into television or novels, movies or scriptwriting, celebrities or industry rock stars, horror or anime, collectible toys or steam-punk apparel... or, heaven forbid, actual comics, the SDCC has it all. Since 1970 this convention has brought together like-minded people who share a love of all things pop culture, mainly focusing on comics, science fiction, fantasy and a pinch of horror.
Being the sci-fi nerds that we are (and I the comic geek), my wife and I have been attending the SDCC for the past 5 years. With the recent boom of comic-based movies and television the con has virtually exploded in attendance the past two years and oh how the stars have followed. From Angelina Jolie to Johnny Depp, Hollywood has discovered the SDCC and each year produces even more big names to attend the event - this year Steven Spielberg himself showed up! Believe it or not, a few years ago you could walk up to the convention center where the con is held and purchase a ticket for the day you wanted to attend - not so any more! Last year the four day passes with Preview night sold out before the con was even over and subsequent online purchases crashed the website as soon as tickets went on sale. Needless to say that with all of this craziness to survive the SDCC one needs a bit more than lady luck (or a flux capacitor) on their side.
Nick's Tips for Surviving San Diego Comic-Con International
Have a pregnant wife
Having one of these allows you to cut to the front of the various lines (which have, at times, thousands of people in them and can take hours to get through) you will have to wait in to see your favorite producers, actors and creators of your favorite movies, TV shows and comics.
Wear an easily removable costume
If you have the itch to embrace your inner geek and dress up, start slow by wearing a costume that is easily removable. The last thing you want to do is be trapped in something that is making you uncomfortable... It's hard to escape makeup that is painted on head to toe or a giant sword that is larger than your first car.
Make new friends
After all... you'll probably never see them again!
Well... at least not until next year.
Have a plan
Comic-Con's schedule is posted on the internet at least a week in advance of the doors opening. Take the time to comb through each day's events and discover what is offered that will make your con a truly memorable experience.
Embrace the weirdness
Attending Comic-Con is like stepping through the wardrobe into a magical land that only exists in your imagination... you're going to see some and experience some weird stuff that may make you feel a bit uncomfortable - just go with it (yes, even free hugs from strangers).
Keep your eyes peeled
You never know what obscure actor or actress will pop up at Comic-Con... so keep your eyeballs primed or you could miss out on seeing some quirky sights!
Have a friend on the inside
With tickets being more difficult to obtain than an item on a Herculean quest, it's best to have a true-blue friend who will sleep in line overnight to secure a pass for next year's con for you.
Be prepared for anything
You never know what you'll encounter, be it a starship captain from 30 year old TV show or the forces of Cobra waiting to be seated at the newest Italian bistro downtown.
Expect the unexpected.
Appreciate the fanboys
Even if you think it's strange that a middle-aged man would dress up like a character he idolized as a kid (and doesn't have the physique to portray) enjoy the blood, sweat and tears he poured into his costumial (yeah, I just made up that word) offering.
Nick's Top 11 Moments at San Diego Comic-Con 2011
As you can see there are some crazy things that happen at Comic-Con and this year was no different! Without further adieu I'd like to share with you my top 11 moment's from this year's event (because 10 just wasn't enough).
Seeing the star of Eureka just chilling out among the crowd (without security) on his birthday. Comic-Con is special in that you genuinely feel at ease with the people who create/star in the shows/movies/literature you love. Most celebrities handle the open environment pretty well, but Colin Ferguson truly seemed to be enjoying his time at SDCC.
Watching zombie Santa Clause put the moves on zombie Mrs. Claus by the trolley while enjoying fish tacos with the wife.
Getting into Preview Night and grabbing a sneak peak at all of the exhibits even though I didn't have a Preview Night pass (thanks again pregnant wife!).
Attending The Walking Dead Panel.
Not only did I get to hear the cast speak about the show, but the group I was in was also the first to see footage of the new season (which gave my goosebumps goosebumps!) and hear when it premieres! (10/16/11 if anyone is wondering - mark your calendars!)
Having the crap scared out of me by Christopher Reeves... or at least a wax facsimile of him. Imagine seeing this head peeking out at you among the numerous faces in the crowd! Creeeepy... also, his hands were so life-like it was frightening!
Spotting "Alvin" at the Star Wars Fan Film Awards and shouting "Alivn.... Alvin.... AL-VIN!!!!" at him. He seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.
People watching in the main exhibit hall while eating nachos with my wife and calling out answers to the trivia game being held at G4's booth.
Beating some random teenager at arcade version of Capcom vs. Marvel. The kid was totally psyched about the game and I hadn't played an arcade fighting game in like... ten years.
Yeah, I felt a little bad, but it was still awesome.
Trying to escape from handcuffs with Merle while zombies pounded down the roof-access door!
Must... reach.... hack... saw... !!!!
Attending the academic zombie discussion panel (complete with neuroscientists and Harvard medical professors) and getting the San Diego Public Library's copy of The Zombie Autopsies signed by the author! Joking around with Max Brooks about whether or not I'd get a fine wasn't half bad either.
They embody all which is awesome about Comic-Con to me.
So, for those of you who have yet to experience Comic-Con... what are you waiting for? Give it a try! If you can get tickets that is...