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If you read about San Diego’s Comic-Con at most news sites, you might get the impression that the convention is a Hollywood showcase for superhero and sci fi movies. That’s not really accurate. It’s more a thin layer of Batman and Marvel comics movies spread over a giant pile of vintage comic books, Star Trek costumes and Star Wars action figures.
What you won’t see on the show floor at Comic-Con: sports (there’s even a trading card booth that’s called Non-Sports Cards), rock music (unless you count reality TV star Gene Simmons) or cop movies (unless they’re science fiction Cops From the Future). It’s like the organizers got together and created a space free of all the stuff that tortured them in junior high school.
Obviously, that kind of safe place interests a lot of people: the sold-out event caps attendance at 125,000 people and it felt like all of them were crammed into the building at the same time on Saturday. There are thousands of little kids dressed as Iron Man or Dora the Explorer that have to pass by kinky NSFW comic booths on their way to visit the Yo Gabba Gabba or Nickelodeon exhibits.
The biggest presentations (Twilight, Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, Marvel, Total Recall) go down in the 6500-seat Hall H. Since there’s at least 20,000 people on site who would like to find out exactly when Marvel is making that Ant-Man movie or wonder what color vest Bilbo Baggins will be wearing, anyone who wants a seat in Hall H has to spend the night outside in line with everyone else. The Twilight panel opened the conference and the line started on Sunday, four days before the hall opened, an arrangement that cost one 53-year-old fan her life.
Getting around on the trade floor is a challenge that’s complicated by a seemingly endless number of autograph sessions taking place at the booths. Here’s a list of everyone I can remember, ranked in order of how long the lines were: Mark Hamill ($60 to meet Luke Skywalker), David Hasselhoff (delighted to be in a room full of people) Lou Ferrigno (he stayed on the floor at least three full days and talked to everyone) Gene Simmons (promoting the new KISS/Archie crossover comic), Biz Markie (his rap career reborn on the little kids show Yo Gabba Gabba!, Sid & Marty Krofft (signing special edition H.R. Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost posters), the Hernandez Brothers (30th anniversary of their Love & Rockets comic), Lee Meriwether (appearing because she was Catwoman in the 1966 Batman movie but happy to talk about Barnaby Jones), Sergio Aragones (the guy who drew Spy Vs. Spy for Mad Magazine), Kevin Sorbo (looking kind of lonely but still buff enough to be considered for Expendables 3), Brent Spiner (what? the Trekkies are bored of Data) and the cast of Warehouse 13 minus the cute girl (looking very unhappy, especially since that show is pretty popular and you’d think they’d have a lot of fans at Comic-Con).
Some of the video game companies show up, the TV networks show up, the movie studios show up, but Comic-Con is still really about comic books and action figures. Dozens of panels, hundreds of dealers and at least ten thousand people in costumes. It’s like Mardi Gras minus the open containers and people passing out in the street.
Keep checking back over the next couple of weeks and we’ll sort through the announcements and post the good clips we find here.