Did Halloween come early this year? No, I had to remind myself. Instead, I was enjoying (read: tolerating) the crowd at my first visit to Comic-Con, the trade show/convention that straddles the line between consumer indulgence and pop culture as it relates to all forms of entertainment.
Once upon a time, Comic-Con was an outlet for comic book, sci-fi/fantasy, and film/TV topics. Over the more recent years, it has expanded into the genres of pop culture, horror, anime, manga, animation, toys, collectible card games, video games, Web comics, and fantasy novels. (Read: If it attracts geeks, it will be there-and, they will come.)
I was a newbie at the convention this year, thinking I would take in the sights since the stars (pun intended) aligned so that as Comic-Con ended in San Diego, SIGGRAPH began in Los Angeles, just a short drive away. It was a plan that was hardly spur of the moment: You have to register for the show months in advance in hopes of being one of the lucky few who are granted a pass, since the show sells out.
So, Lisa Black, CGW associate publisher/national sales manager, and I headed down the California coast for the day to sunny San Diego to check out this much-discussed show. Okay, under full disclosure, we rented a convertible Mustang for the trip, but the sun was hidden under cloudy skies (read: smog) for most of the drive. Yet, that did not put a damper on our fun.
We were in high spirits when we arrived, and after finally finding a parking spot not that far away, we headed into the convention hall, only to be greeted by throngs of attendees-some in really high spirits (read: unnaturally induced). The crowds were everywhere, in and around the convention center. After all, the convention is one of the largest in the world (Wikipedia contends it is the second largest in the world.).
We were handed our show materials and show bag. I have attended many trade shows and conferences during my many years as a writer, and I have never, ever seen a show bag as large as the one I was given. I could have lugged a body out the door in it!
The show was divided into two distinctive sections: the upstairs, where all the events were being staged, and the downstairs, where all the fans (and fanatics) roamed and perused comic books and items relating to comic books, games, and movies: objects large and small, cheap and expensive. (I have never seen so many folks dressed in costume outside of a Halloween party, and I was also impressed by their efforts; many of their outfits were spot on.) Upstairs was hard-core business. Movie studios and others held press conferences and panels there, touting their latest offerings and/or discussing behind-the-scenes challenges of their latest project. The especially interesting panels drew especially long lines of people hoping to get in. Most did not.
In addition to the panels and seminars, there were film previews for features about to hit theaters and for those with a more independent bent (read: looking for distribution deals). There was also a masquerade contest for all those who showed up in costume (and there were many). And, there were even autograph sessions, uniting fan and fiction.
While I may make the show sound frivolous, it was not. There were many excellent discussions and panels. Make sure you read about them in our In Focus section of our Web site and in an upcoming printed feature in