One does not simply attend the great San Diego Comic-Con International. Now in its 43rd year, over 120,000 people were in attendance, again. Tickets, even with the increase in pricing many months ago, sold out in minutes online.
Now, imagine endless lines everywhere. Crowds of people with cameras snapping, cheering, laughing; all shuffled in a mix of excitement and anticipation by the great fandom. And between the lines, colorful, costumed fanboys and fangirls scatter about. This year, I noticed more Poison Ivys, Deadpools, Avengers, Batmans, Batgirls, Time Lords, Street Fighters, and Stormtroopers. The Slave Leias and Ghostbusters were lacking.
The largest crowded area is always the 460,000-square-foot Exhibit Hall room. Here, awaits a legion of companies, promoters, dealers, small and big press creators. Amongst them, many writers, artists, actors, and more industry types. The best areas in the Exhibit Hall are with the comics, still the draw for those resisting the allure of big Hollywood movies/TV, toys and video gaming megabooths.
The Exhibit Hall on all days (including preview night) can be overwhelming. So much, that it was said that for one person to walk down every single aisle in one take was equivalent to three miles. As always, the swag abounds: Some have giant bags full of free swag, my favorite being the creepy owl mask, from the recent Batman comics storyline. Others hunt for toy exclusives, like Hasbro's My Little Pony "Derpy Hooves" Pegasus and the giant Avengers S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Others hunt for the plentiful rarities and bargains.
And outside Exhibit Hall, numerous open rooms feature hundreds of special programs. These include Q & A panels, previews, presentations, tributes, tutorials, and much discussion. The subject matter includes a multiverse of science fiction, fantasy, action, and other fandoms of geeky persuasion. For the eager many - lengthy, hellish lines await... Among the worst, most confounding lines are once again the panels of Adult Swim shows, "Doctor Who," "Futurama," "True Blood," "The Walking Dead," and pretty much anything featuring Joss Whedon. Smaller rooms featuring treasured video games or discussions on works within the creative industries are often maxed out. Fresher properties gaining the epic line status this year include Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time," "Game of Thrones" and "Grimm."
For this year, my attention turned to my favorite comic and graphic novel reads. These include Locke and Key, Chew, Saga, and recent Batman comics. My favorite booths and companies were those that encouraged the creative spirit, mainly Image Comics and IDW and the entire Artist Alley section. Most related panels had easy access, with a closer, almost intimate feel with creators sharing their next projects and thoughts on building their worlds.
So overall, Comic-Con was about mixture. Here, there is something wonderful for everyone accepting of the geek culture and fandom combinations. Among the top reasons for Comic-Con's success is the diversity of fandoms big and small. The “geek” culture cannot be labeled based on a particular genre, property or concept of science fiction or fantasy. We are all just regular folk, letting loose our appreciations for imaginative storytelling, art and imagery.