I've checked off a lot of boxes since I became a comic book professional five years ago, but one thing has eluded me ever since going to comic book conventions became a job necessity. I've been to comic book conventions in Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Maryland, Illinois, North Carolina and Oregon, but I've still never been to the convention. You know, the one in California. I've never been to San Diego.
All that changes this year, though, because I'm going to Comic-Con International in San Diego, and I'm about to experience something. I have no idea what I'm in for, because everyone that I've talked to about San Diego seems to be unable to accurately describe just what I'm about to throw myself into. The most accurate description I've heard from multiple people has to be, "It's... bigger." I'm only 5'6"; pretty much everything is big to me.
After going to shows of varying sizes in eight different states, I feel like I have a handle on what constitutes a convention. There'll be artists and exhibitors. There'll be huge, crowded displays for video games and cartoons that I've never heard of. My favorite superhero artists will be there, as will the people selling drawings of sexy baby Looney Tunes characters. There'll be crowds. There will be absolutely horrible eating decisions made on my end. There'll be great cosplayers (if you are dressed as Miss America Chavez, I want to take a picture with you!). I feel like I know what I'm getting into, but all the glazed-over stares I get from people after asking what SDCC is like leads me to believe I have no idea.
I had no idea what I was getting into back in summer 1995 when my dad took me to my very first comic book convention in Nashville, Tennessee. This was a few years before I had the internet, so I know we had to have learned about it through the radio or newspaper, and the big draw for me was Stan Lee. Yeah, Stan The Man was appearing in a hotel ballroom in Nashville for the few hundred comic book fans that existed in the years prior to the modern Geek-Splosion. The rest of the show didn't interest me at the time, so I regrettably didn't commit a lot of it to memory. I was eleven and had only been reading superhero comics for two years, so I did not care about whoever was there (I have no idea who else was there - this is bugging me). I also didn't see the need in combing through back issues; I could do that at my comic shop. I just wanted to meet Stan Lee because he was famous!