Conquering the Con

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Comic-Con is all about making tough choices.  Whoever scheduled the True Blood and The Amazing Spiderman panels at the same time should be trampled by a mob of angry geeks.  But that’s just something you have to understand going in: unless you own Hermione Granger’s time-turner, there is no possible way to see everything.

But what you do see will undoubtedly be something special.  How often do you get to be in the same room as Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson?  Or watch the pilot for Terra Nova months before it premieres?  Or see someone dressed as Chef Vader, complete with a white chef’s uniform and Jar Jar’s head on a plate?  Comic-Con International in San Diego 2011, which took place from July 20-24, that’s where.

Some people – the kind who wouldn’t know Sookie Stackhouse from Jersey Shore’s Snooki – hear a name like Comic-Con and automatically think they are too cool to be associated with something so nerdy.  They would rather beat up the kid cosplaying as Goku from Dragonball Z than experience everything an event like Comic-Con has to offer.

It is the ultimate celebration of popular culture and the impact it has had on our lives.   It is an amazing showcase for everything from the most obscure comic books to the biggest Hollywood event movies.  It is a place where young artists can show off their work and try to get noticed and sent up to the big leagues.  It is somewhere where you can find Batman and the Joker posing together for pictures. 

Most of all, it is five days where some people that feel ostracized for their interests the other 360 days of the year have an opportunity to show off their passions and feel like they belong.

If you are willing to wake up at 6 a.m. (or earlier) and wait in obscenely long lines to see your favorite stars and footage from Hollywood’s most anticipated projects, that option is available.  Maybe you only care about the smaller comic book writers; they have panels of their own to discuss their work and thank their fans for their support.  You might only be interested in amassing as much free swag as possible, in which case the you can find a mountain of freebies at the exhibition hall where everyone from Warner Bros. to the smallest artists/publisher are trying to promote their stuff.

If you ever find yourself outside the convention center, bask in the glory of beautiful San Diego, a city where it seems like the sun is always shining.  Comic-Con has enough events around the city so that shouldn’t be a problem: the downtown area this year contained the South Park fan experience (a re-creation of the show’s version of South Park, Colorado), a restaurant that was turned into Eureka’s Café Diem, and the Hard Rock Café that was plastered with posters for Sony movies.  San Diego embraces the convention and the attendees in turn help support the city.

If you’re like me and have a press badge, a few more opportunities present themselves.  I was lucky enough to attend screenings for two smaller films, the Edgar “Scott Pilgrim” Wright-produced urban alien invasion horror-comedy Attack the Block and the Australian indie superhero psychological study Griff the Invisible. Showing off pictures of myself with Wright and Griff star Ryan Kwanten (Jason on True Blood) to my friends on Facebook isn’t necessary for a Comic-Con experience, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

It’s difficult to not have the time of your life at Comic-Con.  Unless you’ve never read a book, seen a movie, watched TV, or have been frozen in a block of ice Captain America-style for 70 years, there will be something at this convention that should excite you.  Just reveling in the atmosphere is enough for me; tens of thousands of people share my enthusiasm for pop culture and are here rejoicing in its power.  It truly is a “you have to be there” kind of experience.

Freshman > Journalism > University of Maryland

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