Preview: The 45th edition of San Diego Comic-Con

Gillian again

Comic-Con. Where I *don’t* get called a geekdorknerd. (Okay I do … but it’s done with a little more respect instead of mocking insult. Kinda. Somewhat. A little bit. Shut up.)


Look … I admit:

Year in and year out no matter how many times I venture to San Diego (“America’s Finest City”) for Comic-Con, it’s always a thrill. Always. I’ve equated the weeks leading up to it with a child’s anticipation of a trip to Disneyland.

Truly, it’s that exciting.

The planning. The scheduling. The approach of the event does nothing but ramp everything up to a frothy, effervescent headiness. And then? The head-spinning, giddy feeling of being right smack dab in the middle of it all with thousands of others (tens of thousands, truth be told), all vying for that collectible or that panel or that photo opportunity with “Holy crap! Did you see who that was?!? It’s (insert any popular personality here) from (insert any popular or cult television program or film here) … !!!”

Here’s a little taste of what’s in store this year:

  • I get to sit face to face with Mohandas Gandhi! (Well … Ben Kingsley who played Gandhi in the titular film and who is featured in the upcoming The Boxtrolls.)
  • Fellow Clacker Ivey West and I will be taking in a brand new Star Trek film. (Details to follow.)
  • I get to angle for position in a press room announcing the highly-anticipated release of television’s 1960s Batman series. Adam West and Burt Ward will be there in the flesh.
  • I’ll be grilling the cast of Falling Skies about their thoughts on the current season as well as their just-announced 5th and final season.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg where The Con is concerned. (Yes, I’m bragging. Wouldn’t you be if you were on the receiving end of all that? Yeah … that’s what I thought.)

Add partying, hobnobbing, joking with and sharing cocktails with cast members from lots of television shows and films, picking up exclusive collectibles available only at Comic-Con (which will inevitably show up on eBay, etc. at obscenely inflated rates), bumping into old friends and acquaintances (and making new ones) and my personal Con tradition of smoking a cigar in public in a luchador mask. (I know. “What a freak.”) Add it all up and that will fill anyone’s Con experience quickly. *whew*

MutoCryptic stuff from last year’s Godzilla Experience

But! You have to dig deep, take a breath and dive right back in because, as stated, that’s only the beginning. Unexpected stuff comes up. Four days of Comic-Con simply isn’t enough to take everything in. But you hunker down and you do your darnedest.

Some of you out there might be wondering: “Michael … is it all worth it? The crowds and the lines and the long-assed days and the rude people and the $9.00 pizza slices and, holy guacamole, all those NERDS. Is it really worth it?!?”

First of all, I don’t like pizza, let alone pay nine bucks for a slice of the stuff. So no problem there. As to the question at hand:

  • When you can walk down a vacant hallway off the main drag, realize someone in a white suit is pacing you at your left shoulder, glance over and realize it’s Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead, Army Of Darkness, Bubba Ho-Tep) and carry on a 3 minute conversation with him while he’s on his way to a panel despite body guards being in tow? (Bonus: He was amiable as all get out.) Damned straight it’s worth it.
  • When, of a sudden, the opportunity arises to meet some of your heroes such as Marvel Comics and film storyboard artist Mike Ploog, animator / stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen (RIP), Forrest J. Ackerman (“Famous Monsters Of Filmland” magazine, RIP), voice over actor extraordinaire Chuck McCann (Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, Cool McCool, various Powerpuff Girls characters, voice of cartoon’s Oliver Hardy and hundreds more), actor/writer/director/voice over artist Stan Freberg? And one on one? Face to face? Damned straight it’s worth it.
  • When you’re waiting in line for an autograph from the yummy Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher of Star Wars legend (hokay, this was years ago … but I still have a thing for her) and she keeps eying you the entire 45 minutes you’re inching along with the others to where she sits and you’re getting more and more uncomfortable as you reach your goal? Then, once there, she asks what you’re doing at Comic-Con because she thinks you’re an old boyfriend of hers she hasn’t seen in ages, the reason she’s been staring at you all this time? Well … you do what I did. You respond: “No, I’m not him. But, if you like, I can certainly fake it …” and you make her blush several shades of red? Yeah … damned straight it’s worth it.
  • When you’re standing at a men’s urinal minding your own business and Jason Gann (Wilfred from Wilfred) unzips next to you and strikes up a conversation? Damned straight. And when critic Leonard Maltin does same at the Hard Rock Cafe the next evening? Ditto.
  • When you get called on to meet, say, Reggie Lee of Grimm (as Keith and I did last year) in a casual restaurant/bar and chat about anything you want (television, family, favorite vacation spots) for a few hours while nursing beers and munching french fries? Yeah. Damned straight it’s worth it.
  • When you’re as close to Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) as the picture featured above? Damned. Straight. It’s. Worth. It. Period. *swoon*

Con Badge rev rev

But let’s get grounded for a moment. I want to explain why my geekdorknerdness has become a little more respectable. (Kinda. Somewhat. A little bit. Oh, shut up.)

Relatively speaking, it wasn’t that long ago when Hollyweird shoved its big, fat, greedy paws into the Comic-Con pie with all its high-falutin’ media and “WowZah!” sneak peeks and premieres and events and spectacles, forcing The Con into what it is today: A “must-attend-at-all-costs” event for many. The “suits” … they know how to jump on a bandwagon when opportunity rears its head.

And what, pray tell, set all this hoo-hah in motion? Well … because of those little things called “comic books” and the creators who create them, of course. At its core, comics have always been the backbone of Comic-Con. And they always will be. Want proof? (Really? You need proof? *sigh*) Ever hear of a little film called The Avengers? How about Iron Man? Or Thor? Captain America? Batman? Superman? Each and every one had humble beginnings in the once-lowly comic book format. Hollywood caught on and realized they could promote the bejeebers out of new properties and programs and more. And maybe — just maybe — with some experimentation comics could be turned into celluloid gold. They could directly feed the “audience” they were shooting for in one fell swoop. An audience who had the power to “word of mouth” an up-and-coming something or other and propel it into the stratosphere.

That audience? Nerds, of course. And that’s a major reason you can’t walk up to The Con as previous, say 10 years ago, and plop down $50 and get in to all four days of the event effortlessly. Today? Because of Hollywood Comic-Con tickets sell out in a few hours of going on sale. (We’ll see what happens next year when The San Diego Convention Center puts the finishing touches on a major expansion. Stay tuned.)

Michael & KeithCliqueClack’s big wheel Keith McDuffee (right, as “The Blue Demon”) won’t be attending this year.
So, sadly, this sort of monkey business won’t be taking place. *sniff*

Regardless of the changes that have taken place over the last decade, overall, is it still worth it? Absolutely. If you can get in.

And if you can’t, the cool thing is this: Over the last few years, tons of events have been added outside the confines of The Con itself. Exhibits and interactive experiences and programming and parties and concerts and more. Many things you don’t need a Comic-Con ticket for in order to attend. It’s become that massive and popular.

This year? As in year’s past, my friend and colleague Mr. Ivey West and I will be scouring the convention floors, planting our asses in seats at numerous panels, maneuvering through the crowds, jockeying for position in press rooms, venturing to parties, giving blood (I do it every year) and participating in clean, close shaves (Really! Details for follow) as well as other things sure to come as a surprise not only to our readers but to us, too. We’ll be reporting live from The Con via Twitter (CliqueClack: @CliqueClack / Ivey: @Dorv / Michael: @RuprechtReal) and posting highlights to as often as possible. (I’m swiping a page out of Ivey’s book and following his lead from last year.) In addition, Ivey and I will log in-depth interviews, video, wrap-ups and more during the week following Comic-Con.

In the event you can’t attend The Con? Well … you can. Through us.

And no one will call you a geekdorknerd. We’ll take the brunt of that for you. We’re giving that way.

Photo Credit: Michael Noble

4 Comments on “Preview: The 45th edition of San Diego Comic-Con

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