Saturday, July 28, 2007
Chris here, on the road, posting on Steve's account because I forgot my password.
I have now experienced a tiny fraction of the amazing thing called Comic-con. I ache from walking several miles. I know I saw very little of what was available. I still can't wrap my brain around the enormity and complexity of what I did manage to see.
And we went on a "slow" day!
Of course, the entire process was complicated by the simple fact that we are staying about 70 miles from the San Diego Convention Center. We drove about 90 minutes Thursday morning to Qualcomm Stadium, parked the car, caught the trolley for a 25 minute ride to the Convention Center, then walked the block or so to the Center. It is "across the street" from the trolley stop, but the "steet" is about eight lanes wide. We were fortunate enough to find the professional registration entrance line, where check-in was swift and relatively painless, thanks to the bar code confirmation that had been e-mailed to us.
Then we headed for the Exhibit Hall, literal acres of floor space, packed with vendor and exhibitor booths. It seemed like every major purveyor of pop culture was represented, and many minor ones.
We were accompanied by our son, and two-year-old granddaughter - due to a re-scheduled final exam, our daughter-in-law didn't get to go. A stroller is a fabulous way to corral the baby, and haul stuff, but it's a real pain to navigate in the crowd. You spend most of your time trying to avoid running over the feet of the people crowding around you, cutting in front of you, or crossing your path without looking. There were some areas we simply couldn't get to because the crowds were too thick to allow us through.
Did I mention we went on a "slow" day?
We saw the art show, which was a mixed bag, as are most art shows. Zoe loved the six-foot-tall, welded steel sculptures. She took one look, grinned, and said "monster." Then she said, "Mine." Her dad inspected the bid ticket, and told her she would have to choose between the monster and a college education. Unfortunately, dad and her grandparents out-voted her, and the monster did not accompany us on the trolley home.
One little bit of marketing we tried was to order buttons for the freebie table. The 750 or so that we took in Thursday morning disappeared in a flash, and I did spot one occasionally in the crowd. They are a simple black-and-white "EVIL IS NOT MY NATURE. EVIL IS JUST MY DAY JOB" with the Website for Steve's Web cartoon blog Minions at Work. Given that last year's attendance was in the neighborhood if 123,000, that 750 is a drop in the bucket. But it will be interesting to see if it drives any traffic to the Website.
We were pleasantly surprised at the food available in the Convention Center. It wasn't cheap (we didn't expect it to be), but the hot dogs ($4) were good quality, and large enough to provide a reasonable lunch. The other surprise was that there are apparently no restrictions on carrying in your own food, unlike many venues. And the line to buy said hot dogs was only 12 minutes long. I know this because one of the boys sharing our table (table space and chairs are at a premium), when asked how long the line was, answered, "Twelve minutes. I timed it." Make of that what you will. :-)
One of the strangest things in a crowd of that size - and, did I mention, we went on a "slow" day? - is running into people you know. Scott Edelman, fellow SF writer, editor, and all around good guy - took our picture, just to prove we were there. We also saw a couple old friends, and our daughter's ex-boyfriend (they're on good terms, no Jerry Springer fodder here), as well as several editors we know.
We left the Center about 5, to have a drink with the folks from Paradox Entertainment, the people behind the World of Conan. Steve wrote a trilogy for them a couple years ago, and they were kind enough to include us in their party. We had a wonderful time, and would have stayed longer, but we'd abandoned Zoe and her dad, so we left after a delightful 90 minutes. I have to say, Leigh and Frederick were absolutely delightful, Josh and Tom were super, and fellow writer (and Scribe nominee) Matt Forbeck is simply amazing! The Amazing Mr. Forbeck is in the same category as I am for Sunday's awards, and I have to admit to mixed feelings. I want to win, sure, but I want him to win, too. He's really that nice!
After the Paradox party, we retrieved the over-stimulated two-year-old (isn't that just a scary phrase?) and joined the mass exodus to the trolley. The ride back to the car was hot, crowded, and seemed to last forever. But we finally got back to the stadium, reclaimed the car, and headed home. Zoe was asleep in about five minutes, and I wished I could join her. It was one very long day, filled with more input than I have been able to process so far.
And, did I mention, we went on a "slow" day?
We're going back to Sunday, for the awards ceremony, and my moment of fame as a panelist at the biggest pop-culture convention of the year. Then Monday morning we head home to Oregon, and back to our regularly-scheduled lives.
I think I'm looking forward to it!