This year I had actually planned to give the con a miss, as I wanted to save the money for various reasons.
But fortune favors the nerdy, and I managed to luck into a badge for Sunday. Granted, it was one day only, but a day of Comic-Con is better than no Comic-Con at all.
The only downside was having to get up at zero-dark-thirty on Sunday morning to catch the Gold Line Metrolink from Pasadena down to Union Station, and from there catch the 6:15 Amtrak to San Diego, and from there take the trolley to the Convention Center. (I know this sounds complicated, but I'll take this over trying to find a parking spot by Comic-Con any day.) Upon arriving at the Convention Center with all its banners and signs for various nerd shows and movies, and seeing the crowds of nerds, I felt that peculiar sense of homecoming that I get at the Con. I'm where I belong. I'm with my people. Here, I don't have to explain myself. Everyone gets it.
I acquired my pass and made a beeline for room 29A. The best part of this impromptu trip was that I would get to attend "The Cross-Generational Appeal of Doctor Who" - I'm not that into Doctor Who myself (mostly I just can't spare the time to get hooked on the show) but one of my best friends, E. Gerry Hoard, was on the panel (basically to prove that Doctor Who isn't just for the Tumblr crowd).
I wanted to get a good seat, so I camped out in the panel that had the room before the Doctor Who one. Sitting through panels that you're not that interested in is inevitable at the con, and not always a bad thing. Sometimes you learn about something new and interesting; on the other hand, over the years I've sat through the Bones panel about three times and still have no desire to watch the show. This panel, something about Nintendo, was very boring, but I'm glad I camped out as the line for the Doctor Who one was huge (the show had no official panel this year and the Whovians were starved for anything Who related). The panel my friend was on made the time well worth it. It was great to see the enthusiasm for the show span such a large age range (the youngest panelist was 11, my friend is in his early 70s). Gerry was thrilled; he's been going to the Con for a long while and this was his first time on a panel.
My friend Gerry at the Doctor Who fan panel.
After the panel I zipped down to the exhibitor floor for some shopping. My first stop was William Wu Books, which specializes in pulp sci-fi/fantasy/horror books, movie-related books, and signed works by authors like Bradbury, Ellison, etc.. I was inordinately thrilled that Bill recognized and remembered me from my previous visits. We had a nice chat and I ended up getting Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: 13 New Stories From the Supernatural Especially Written for Young People and The Stunt Man by Paul Brodeur, source material for the Richard Rush film. I then headed over to the Fantagraphics booth, where I picked up one of their EC artists books, Judgment Day and Other Stories by Joe Orlando.
After those two stops I prowled the floor, fighting my way through the crowds (Sunday is traditionally the most crowded day on the exhibitor floor as there are fewer panels to attend and the vendors often have good deals to reduce their inventory). I got a couple things for my son but other than that didn't do much more shopping, as I wanted to stay on a budget.
Action figure army
The Great Gonzo
At 3 p.m. I popped upstairs again, this time to attend the Browncoats Meet-Up, a gathering of Firefly/Serenity fans. Unfortunately there were no surprise celebrity guests (there have been in the past, so hope springs eternal) but the panel was still enjoyable, with interesting news about the upcoming Firefly online game. After that it was one last trip to the floor, and then I said goodbye to the Con until next year, and headed for the train station so I could make sure I got a spot on the 6:45 (the line for the train back home is always terrible). The one downside of this trip was that I didn't get a chance for a nice dinner in San Diego - I ended up grabbing a bento box at the Ralph's market and eating that in line for the train. And the cherry on the sundae of the day was on the train ride home. I struck up conversation with my seat mate, mentioned that I was a writer, and he went ahead and right then and there, bought one of my books on his smartphone.
It was a long day, but worth it. I credit my first attendance at Comic-Con in 2008 with a change in how I feel about the things I enjoy. Up until then, I spent most of my life apologizing for my tastes in books, movies, music, and TV. But after that first visit and the feeling of welcome I felt there, I've stopped apologizing. That alone makes it worth the long trip, the crowds, and so on. Fortune willing, I'll be back next year.