A few years ago I attended a medical equipment convention with some name like Med Con. Doc Con. The other attendees were doctors. Surgeons. Hospital reps. The booths — scalpels. Bone breaking tools. Cameras. Videos above the booths showed the equipment in action.
‘Look how easy this claw spreads the ribcage!’ ‘Our expertly designed skull saw gets you to the brain faster than the other guy!’
Real life horror show.
There was a bar. A cocktail party. Doctors vetted. I was purely an onlooker. A vagrant. The event lasted a weekend, then torn down and all moved on.
At its core, Comic Con is the same sort of beast. A convention to promote and sell popular culture.
‘Our toys are limited edition!’ ‘This TV show will be a huge hit if you watch it!’
A shopping mall of the up and coming — the latest. Greatest. Vinyl toys, posters, steampunk attire. Comic books and celebrities of all sorts. You have actors, writers, artists, designers, and models.
Comic Con is an environment that inspires — I want to see everything, touch everything. Be everywhere. Talk to everyone. Walk the floor alone, chat with strangers along the way. Find a spot at a bar. A restaurant. Let it all soak in until I realize my face is sore from smiling. My voice raw, gone from shouting over crowds. Laughing.
I’ve heard that a good portion of artists that have booths on the floor break even at best. With the cost of purchasing a space on the convention floor and lugging their gear from wherever they are based, the biggest benefit is exposure. Meeting fans, new and old. It’s a theme park, but the theme is a special reality that forms in San Diego as a tangible element. For those few days, fantasy exists.
San Diego is now free of superheroes and the sweaty mass of culture fiends. Everyone is home, tired and worn out. I’m already thinking of next year. Planning. What did I miss? Who didn’t I talk to?
Until then, I’ll have this recap to keep the memories safe and be warned — I give myself full license to proceed like the fan I am.
First, the Matterhorn. A quick tip — if you’re in San Diego and have even the thinnest of Disney dreams, the drive is about 90 minutes to the Happiest Place On Earth. My plane landed Wednesday at 8am and Preview Night didn’t open until 6PM so I got in my rental car and drove up to Disneyland.
There was just enough time to park do one ride (Ariel’s Undersea Adventure) and drive back down to pick up my badge.
With my detour out of the way I was off to San Diego. Comic Con.
As usual, the walkway between the Hard Rock and the convention center was packed with themed pedi-cabs and various promotions for upcoming TV shows and films.
The Hollywood Reporter threw a party in conjunction with A&E’s show ‘Bates Motel.’ Red carpet was assembled. Booze and food prepped for celebrities and industry folk.
Outside of Reading Cinemas a lined formed for the preview of the Stallone & Schwarzenegger action film ‘Escape Plan.’
The red carpet, all set for Mr. Stallone and Mr. Schwarzenegger. Somehow a red carpet loses its allure in the daylight.
I was happy to see illustrator Jerrod Maruyama attend his first Comic Con.
Jerrod was in town for a signing of the print he did for Warner Brothers’ ‘The Big Bang Theory.’
I picked up a signed print of his ‘Little Big Bang Theory’ print, an adorable homage to the hit show.
You may ask yourself, ‘Where do you go after you’ve walked the floor for hours?’ One major part of Comic Con is the act of taking breaks. It’s a must. Lunch. Drink. Sit. Chat.
This year my accomplice and I took more than a few breaks at the Tin Fish. Outdoor seating. View of the street. Short walk back to the convention center. I was also lucky that my shirts were done in time for the convention. Here’s my super cool Alaina Varrone designed Evil Tender Dot Com t-shirt. (Get your own HERE!)
Let’s move on to some cosplay, shall we?
I met these incredible cosplayers on the floor. Everything they are wearing was handmade.
Han’s holster is all handmade. Hand dyed leather. Cut, stitched.
A pair of Banana Guards from ‘Adventure Time’ bumbled around downtown San Diego.
Also from the world of ‘Adventure Time’, Lumpy Space Princess and Princess Bubblegum.
The bad part about cosplay are those times when I don’t know who the characters are. This happens a lot. I’m not a gamer and I don’t read every comic, so most go unknown.
The policeman, he’s real. The storm trooper, he lives inside the imagination. But together, man can they dance.
After hours of walking around a strong thirst for a beer hits. I went to The Blarney Stone and grabbed a corner table. I heard a commotion behind me and turned to see the rump of Adrianne Curry. For those that don’t know, Ms. Curry is a huge gamer and cosplay enthusiast and is always at Comic Con. In fact, until you see Adrianne Curry downtown San Diego, Comic Con technically hasn’t begun.
She’s always generous with her time and poses for as many photographs as she’s asked for, and that’s a lot. I’ve never seen her turn down a fan. At this point in the evening she was having drinks with friends in the patio of The Blarney Stone, and still, when people approached from the street for a photo, she put the mask on and donned the pose. It’s that spirit that keeps Comic Con an amazing event. Enthusiasm. Spirited joy.
The costumes are great. Love ’em, but that’s not what I was there for. Nope. Let’s get to the art, shall we?
Mondo was there with a bevy of fine posters.
Ash Thorp signed his ‘Predator’ posters at the Mondo booth. These things are awesome in person. They have motion and a visual wetness that matches the film’s visual style.
One of my major events of the weekend was picking up my ‘Conan the Barbarian’ print from Martin Ansin. He’s a fantastic illustrator that I’ve been trying to contact with no luck. I thought this could be my chance to chat with him, but no luck. There’s always next year.
Seeing these posters in person makes you understand how completely poor a photograph is compared to the real thing. You lose the glow, the gloss — the texture and heft.
I stopped by illustrator Kevin Tong‘s booth more than once, I’ve also written about him more than once (interview HERE) so I figured I needed to introduce myself. Outside his talent he’s also a genuinely nice guy. I picked up a few things while I was there.
Besides his new print ‘Beyond Good & Evil’ (previously mentioned here) and I also bought the final set of his H.G. Wells posters.
He had his ‘Iron Man’ posters for sale and I was finally able to see those up close.
At his booth I found about 8 black envelopes, roughly 11 inches by 14 inches. $100 each. Four original drawings, one small print. You don’t know what you get until you open it.
Of course I bought one. Inside, treasures…
These original drawings were the beginning pieces of larger designs.
And now, on to more artists doing stuff!
That was fun, right? Now, let’s go to a party!
I was invited to the Con of Darkness party put on by IFC Midnight, Shock Till You Drop and other horror genre film companies. The fine folks behind ‘Maniac‘ and ‘Grabbers‘ hosted drinks, a DJ, monsters, and blood splattered walls. Oh, and of course dancing girls.
More happened. More always happens, but for now, that’s the show. Comic Con is over for another year and just like previous years, I’m left wishing everyday could be Comic Con. I packed my bags, my posters, and flew home. Done. Dunzo. Until next year, dear Comic Con. Beacon of popular culture.
Wait! Not done just yet! Here’s a smattering of photos that had no other place to go. Poor fellas, check ’em out won’t you?
That’s it. No more Comic Con. We’re all back home, to Home Con. Work Con. Family Con. Sleep Con.