Part One: In which lines are drawn, but not where they should be
The sun shone brightly on the descending hordes of comic book fans, as Wednesday's preview night at Comic-Con International in San Diego beckoned. Accompanied by my traveling companion and brother, television's Ryan Callahan -- he of 'The Bachelor' and 'Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious' -- I arrived near the convention center at 5:00.
One hour before the doors to the convention floor opened.
One hour before magic time.
I had no trouble picking up my press pass for Comic-Con. I waited in line for about ten minutes, but the transaction was quick and without pain.
Not so for television's Ryan Callahan.
Although he could have received a professional pass had he applied in time, neither he nor I realized that we'd be able to make it to the convention this year until it was too late. Luckily, a press passes was still available for me, but television's Ryan Callahan had to buy a four-day pass back in May like most convention goers. And that four-day pass meant a long, long wait in line on preview night.
Unwilling to abandon my brother, I waited with him, as the line wound down through the bowels of San Diego and double and tripled back upon itself. It wasn't the length of the wait that was such a problem, it was the uncertainty. The line seemed to lack integrity, winding through itself too much, and when a gap appeared, there was no telling how the line would shift to accommodate such a breach. The line was not designed to withstand such an assault, and hundreds of comic book fans would dive into the open space, destroying any hope for progress toward the ultimate destination of lanyard and plastic badge sleeve.
The line seemed endless because it would change shape every four minutes. But it gave us plenty of time for celebrity spotting. Or faux-celebrity spotting:
- Stubby Rob Reiner.
- Fat Lou Bega.
- L'il Wolverine.
- Seventies Burt Reynolds.
- Blond Kevin Smith.
- Skinny Kevin Smith.
- Regular Kevin Smith.
By 6:00 the line had turned into a feeding frenzy as con-goers who'd been waiting for over an hour had to fend off newly arrived visitors, who saw the doors opening and a chance to bite.
By then we had already earned a spot near the front of the line, and even with the onrushing newcomers, we were able to get inside. And get a badge for television's Ryan Callahan.
After the thrill and danger of the line outside, the convention floor seemed a tame sanctuary.
For movie and video games, anyway.
We had walked around the floor for fifteen minutes before we even saw a comic book. We saw Lion's Gate, Fox, Activision, and Xbox 360 booths. We saw statues and toys and t-shirts. The absence of actual comic books was so overt, we decided to actually look for a comic book, just to see if we could find one. Just to see which one it would be.
The winner? Radical Publishing's newest issue of 'Caliber. ' That was the first comic book we saw at the convention. Thus, it wins the First Annual Comic Book That We Actually Found at San Diego Award.
After patrolling the entire convention floor, we found dozens, if not hundreds of other comic books. More comic books than anyone would ever need. Golden Age, Silver Age, Hardcovers, Trade Paperbacks. You name it. Make no mistake, we saw plenty of comic books at this comic book convention. It's just that they were all in the corners, while the center aisles are dominated by multi-media empires and Iron Mongers and Owlships.
We hit the convention floor hard, looking for 50% off sales and convention exclusives. The former were scarce, but present, while the latter were abundant, but getting them involved waiting in line, which we had no interest in doing ever again.
I think one of these days, television's Ryan Callahan and I will dedicate a day to just waiting in various lines to see where they lead. To see what treasures await. But not on preview night. And, let's be honest, probably not ever.
As we walked the aisles, avoiding any and all lines, we bumped into a few of my favorite creators. Jason Aaron was signing at the Marvel booth, and we had a scintillating conversation about what was up. The verdict: not much was up.
We saw a giant purple space alien thing. With a monitor built into it. And families sitting on it.
We saw Scott Summers, Jean Gray and the children they never had.
Television's Ryan Callahan looked at the Watchmen toy sculpts as he sipped from his Diet Coke.
Then we came upon the Fraction brood: Matt, Kelly Sue, and Henry Leo. I accosted them with tales of my new favorite film, 1957's 'Zero Hour!' and discussed the quality of 'Uncanny X-Men' #500. The verdict: good. The conversation: delightful. Henry Leo was distracted by a giant banner of the Incredible Hulk, but I'm sure he would have contributed some pithy remarks.
With four more full days of convention-going ahead of us, television's Ryan Callahan and I decided to depart. We didn't want to overstay our welcome. We had seen the preview, and now we were ready for the real thing.
NEXT: How many lines can we not wait in on Thursday?
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