I owned a few Archie comics growing up. Some website estimated there would be at least 150,000 people descending on San Diego for Comic-Con. Perhaps that was just the amount of people with badges allowed to go inside the convention center. There were another 150,000 people in the streets, on the trolleys, and waiting in lines. We drive the car downtown and are able to find a parking spot less than a mile away. We could’ve walked, but we expected to be farther away and brought our bikes. We ride them over a bridge and park them across the street from the convention center.
I anxiously walk across the street looking forward to the tent event that seems to be taking place. Then I find out it’s a shaded waiting area for people who have been here since 5:30 am to be the first in when the doors open at 11:00 – in 5 minutes. Misha Collins is quoted by the CW Network as describing the “fans as patient, devoted and insane.” This event is so big that plans are already being made for next year. It’s a possibility that I might volunteer for three hours to earn a volunteer badge that will get me inside.
I found out that tickets aren’t originally as expensive as I thought – $400, but were increased this year. A 4-day pass with preview night was $175, but day passes could be purchased for $40. They even offer a military discount, but it seems the Comic-Con might be going the way of the Superbowl – previous year ticket holders will be able to buy tickets first. Perhaps Comic-Con will become a family heirloom tradition or a public lottery item. I’m grateful that, as much as I wouldn’t mind an opportunity to photograph this nerdy world, I won’t be saddened if it moves venues or decides to exclude the masses as space available is already becoming an issue.
Some people are happy to pose for my camera when given the space. Crowds are thick and people hurry to wait in line for hours for a few minutes glimpse at the author or illustrator of their favorite comic, movie, TV show, or other popular media on the market or being advertised. We were given medical style bracelets, soap, chocolate, temporary tattoos, stickers, coupons, magnets, and bags as advertising gear. And there were plenty of flyers, pamphlets, papers, magazines, business cards, posters, and pins to fill our giant bag.
I recognized Batman, the Three Stooges, Pac-Man, and the Mario Bros. There were people with picket signs spreading The Word of God – “Believe in Me or Burn in Hell, Forever!” Soon costumed people wanted us to follow their Zod. And then more people wanted you to read their signs and ignore the others. Some people posed with the signs. Some guy asked an employee how to get in, but had no idea that he needed a badge. The employee told the guy that it was no fun inside and that there was plenty of free and fun activities across the street, and that he was more likely to see a famous person.
Luckily, the guy bought it, or accepted the fact he wasn’t getting in, and left. Even outside of the convention center some events require badges to enter with a guarantee of seeing, and possibly talking to, a famous person. One event being the Dawn of the Con with host Rob Zombie who enjoyed his first Comic-Con years ago when he could walk around safely. We return to our bikes after a couple of hours and all parts are still attached. Time to leave make-believe world behind and get back to reality.