Every year, hundreds of thousands of nerds, geeks, comic aficionados, movie buffs, television junkies, Trekkies, and other imaginative people converge on the San Diego Comic Con like ravenous bears on a newly fallen honey hive. This colorful amalgamation of excitement and intrigue is ripe for good times and greater adventures. From newly released products, to meeting your favorite artists/writers/actors, Comic Con is the place to be if you’re looking for a day full of fun. At least…that’s what it looks like from the outside. But once you get in, you’ll notice that there are some things that nobody really mentions. Things that will start off as an arbitrary annoyance, but will slowly grind you down, fueling your anger and bloodlust until you tear the hair from your head in rage. These things are as follows –
Bringing your kids to Comic Con is one of the best things you can do. By exposing them to awesome sights and sounds, you’re fueling their imagination and sparking the all important desire to create! Plus, the Con is free for kids under 12 years old! There’s no reason not to bring your kids down to see Batman or Iron Man! Unless, of course, if they ‘re too young to walk.
One thing that you’ll notice immediately upon entering Comic Con is that the place is crowded. Really, REALLY crowded. Every year, more and more people attend the convention to the point of bursting. And there are people of all shapes and sizes here. Tall folks, fat folks, skinny folks, shorter folks. Everyone is smushed into such cramped spaces, that nobody has time to look down, especially when all of the cool stuff is towering over you. This becomes problematic when there are strollers being pushed through this tide of flesh. Because so few people are looking down at their feet (a place where stroller wheels and tiny children tend to exist) there are accidents that happen, people trip and crash down onto unsuspecting five month olds and everyone is sad. Especially the pulped child. Not only that, but strollers, by default are on the larger side. And when the aisles are as tight as they are (see artist alley) it’s almost impossible for any kind of two way flow of traffic to happen around you. Not when your $3000 Cadillac Baby Cruiser is bumping over everyone’s foot.
My idea for an alternative – Get a baby backpack. Strap them on, and wear comfy shoes! You get a work out and the kid remains safely above the stomp of combat boots and old, sweaty crocs.
2. Standing in line for swag that isn’t worth it
Back in the good ol’ days, which for me was about five years ago, the only lines you stood in were to get into the awesome panels. And that was cool, because you could hang out and talk to folks about what you were going to see, if you were going to ask any questions, etc. It still is like that, to some degree. Things in the exhibit hall, however, have changed. Where once you could walk up to a booth and reach on up for whatever swag they were handing out, now you must wait in line. Then, once you get to the front of the line, you need to wait while the underpaid booth employee unsuccessfully tries to scan your badge for fifteen minutes while the fellow behind you dressed as King Kong starts flexing his pecs next to your head (this is a true story). After that, you’re allowed to approach the holy swag grab section of the booth. You think to yourself, all this waiting was so worth it when I get my hands on that awesome figurine they’re handing out. You get to the counter, arms wide open, awaiting the arrival of the Cloud action figure, only for them to hand you a button and send you on your way. “Oh you wanted a figurine? You’ve got to spend at least $150 on merch first.” Fuck. You.
What could have easily been (and WAS in the past) three dudes standing on a platform, tossing buttons into a crowd of overly-enthusiastic fans is now reminiscent of amusement park lines where the payoff was definitely not worth the time spent staring awkwardly at the kid with the whirly hat picking his nose. Now, I know they’ve got to keep track of their supplies. Make it last the whole weekend. And with thousands of fans pining for anything collectable, I can see that their supplies might run low if folks keep coming back for more. But still…if they’re going to weed out the loyal fans from the people looking for quick freebies by pushing them into lines, I’d at least appreciate it if the prize at the end was more than a poster.
3. Mobility Scooters
There are few things in this world that I hate more than people who use Mobility Scooters that don’t need them. Veterans, victims of accidents, folks with degenerative diseases, people who physically can’t stand up, these are the people who legitimately need the aid of motorized wheelchairs. Uncle Phil with his three bags of McDonalds stuffed down the front of his shirt does not. And yet, Uncle Phil will whine and complain until he gets one and is able to zip through the crowds with the greatest of ease. I talked about the fact that the con is crowded up in point number one. I also talked about how its easy to trip over strollers and to step on them. Mobility Scooters are somewhat the opposite of strollers, while still falling in the same category. Where strollers are light, easily breakable eggshells that encase tiny children, these Scooters are armored tanks, crushing the ankles and feet of anyone foolish enough to not pay attention to the three hundred pound ball of flesh and rage hurtling down the tightly packed aisles. And the sound of their honking horns…the “BEEP BEEP OUTTA THE WAY” sounds it makes almost makes me want to cut the electrical lines as they pass by.
But, Kevin, some of these people have legitimately bad health problems. They can’t stand because their spines are too weak or they’re diabetic. In which case, I refer to my first point. If they need it, fine. But when I’m standing in the lobby and I watch Uncle Phil saunter in through the entry doors, laughing jovially with his equally round wife and three kids, only to mount the first Mobility Scooter he can rest his twinkling black eyes on, well, it makes me a little mad. In fact, just thinking about it makes my big toe hurt.
4. Body Odor
Every year, I continually remind myself that these are people. Huge amounts of people. All trapped in a big room with minimal air conditioning and no sunlight. Things are going to smell a little musky. A little…testosterone-y. It comes with the territory, right? There are a reason stereotypes exist and there’s no denying that a certain amount of eager Comic Con attendees are basement dwelling neckbeards. It’s just how it is. The way I see it is it’s all part of the magic. Without these flavorful folks, we wouldn’t have some of the coolest cosplay costumes, or some of the greatest comic books. There wouldn’t be the really engaging panels we have if it weren’t for Mountain Dew and rage fueled fanboys.
But here’s the thing I wish more than a few of these guys would realize: they’re in a very public place. A place filled with people who, like myself, are here to enjoy the sights, the sounds, AND the smells. The smell of new comic books, the smell of fresh plastics, the scent of excitement and adventure! But when the scent of “first day emerging from my room in a month” mixes with all the others, the experience is a tad overshadowed by something so powerful, something that could be taken care of with a quick shower and a little deodorant. Now, I understand, nobody smells like roses after seven hours of wandering and waiting in the halls. But when it’s nine in the morning and a cloud of green follows you into the lobby, there’s got to be a better way. Especially when the cloud of green engulfs those around you while standing in line for a goddamn button.