The 45-year-old Comic-Con virginWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll admit it: I was a lifelong comic book fan, veteran of many comic conventions, but had never been to Comic-Con. This year I finally justified the trip and with the help of Bill Shatner on the plane tickets and a friend who let me crash in his hotel room, I made my way to San Diego for the 41st Comic-Con International.
Justification came by way of a “Ghostbusters” comic story I had published with a friend and an offer from its publishers to appear at their booth for a signing. That went well, with the extra-added bonus of one of the top stars of the comics industry stopping by to purchase our book and have it signed. That alone would’ve made the trip worthwhile — but the con had so much more in store for me.
Having attended many major conventions does not prepare you for the onslaught of Comic-Con. It’s every con I’ve ever been to squared. With a convention floor that stretched to infinity, it assaulted my senses the moment I stepped onto it and by the time I left I’d barely learned its ropes. A recent wrinkle to the con’s legend is that it’s been completely taken over by Hollywood; though that august body claims the bulk of the flash and sparkle of the event, I happily discovered Comic-Con to still mostly be about comics. And the sheer volume and variety of comics therein is staggering: books of every shape, size and story vie for your attention, from the biggest publishers with ginormous booths to the smallest tables of self-published tracts of energy and enthusiasm.
But yeah, Hollywood’s there, too. My friends laughed at me when I said on Friday that I wanted to attend the Marvel movie panel on Saturday evening — seems I would have had to get in line at least 24 hours ahead of time to get in. Seems some people only attend to go to the film and TV presentations. Still, one cannot walk the floor of Comic-Con without bumping into stars — every booth had ’em — so I contented myself with glimpses of luminaries from afar. And as far as comic professionals, well, there’s nothing like seeing generations’ worth of industry legends all under one roof. Within one day I saw golden age artist Jerry Robinson, co-creator of much of the Batman mythos, 1960s-’70s Batman superstar Neal Adams sketching away at his table and current Dark Knight scribe Grant Morrison signing at the DC booth. I also met Bela Lugosi Jr. and Kathryn Leigh Scott, of TV’s “Dark Shadows.” Where else are you going to get that variety?
I suppose I walked around like a deer in the headlights but that’s okay, as I felt the wonder of a comic book convention like it was my first time, and, in a way, it was. Comic-Con is a pop culture paradise; four days of blatant hedonism for freaks and geeks to celebrate every single thing they love. Though I was quieter than most of my nerd brethren and didn’t wear a costume, I think I enjoyed myself as much as anyone. I walked the con as a mixture of pro and fan, with a few projects under my belt — and new prospects for more to come — yet eager to see the previews of all the new “stuff” as a faithful consumer. Comic-Con literally has it all. And much, much more.