16 Jul 2015


Last week saw another San Diego Comic-Con come and go.

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon, you’re probably smarter for it. Explaining the point of Comic-Con to someone is like having to describe the taste of water.

I went to the mega-event for four years before vowing not to attend again for a while. It’s been five years since my last venture, and this week each year, I get the itch to go back and hate myself all over again.

Imagine going to lunch with 10 of your closest friends. Now imagine that each one of those friends brought 50 friends of their own. Now, the next group of 100 show up in costume with their own group of friends, and another group are in sleeping bags all around you and the rest are waiting in line and the others are trying to find a rare toy and suddenly you’ve gone crazy and you’re screaming, running through the crowd to get away.

The closest thing to which I can equate the convention is being in an actual zombie apocalypse, with hordes of people all around you. More than 130,000 attendees descend on San Diego each July for the largest gathering of television, film, comic book and memorabilia fans imaginable.

And at the center of the madness is you, armed with nothing more than a backpack to stuff whatever you can get your hands on inside so you can keep your fists free to swing at a moment’s notice.

That’s Comic-Con.

Over the weekend, I explained the mania to my 4-year-old daughter, who grasped the concept, but not the execution. “You slept on the sidewalk? Are you crazy?” she asked.

OK, yes, one night I slept on the sidewalk outside the convention center, but I was in line for an early morning event and the only way to ensure I would get in was to camp out the night bef – this isn’t really helping my case to sound sane at all, is it?

Unfortunately, that’s the norm for July in San Diego. Common sense and civility go out the window just in time to see Batman and Robin climbing up it.

All in all, it’s a neat place. You’ll see things you’ve never seen before, and there’s no other place that actors and creators from your favorite franchises will converge in one spot for four days every year. I had the honor to interview folks like Adam West, Sigourney Weaver and a host of others from television shows like “Supernatural” and “Smallville” when I went. And it’s hard to be professional and look like you know what you’re doing when you haven’t eaten or slept in four days, save for a nap on the pavement.

A bit of a pro-tip if you ever go, start popping vitamin C pills in the days leading up, and be prepared for the smell of individuals who skipped booking a hotel for their time at the event to save on money. Don’t worry, you’ll smell them coming.

I went on a press pass each year, which made things a lot easier. I can’t imagine going with the absence of a place to stay or some comrades to spend your time with. It would be the loneliest place in the world if you went alone, surrounded by all thousands of people.

It’s hot, crowded, expensive, loud, annoying and overwhelming. I can’t wait to go back.

W. Derek Russell is the Daily Journal’s arts and entertainment reporter. Connect with him on Twitter at @wderekrussell, through email at derek.russell@journalinc.com or by phone at (662) 678-1580.