Saturday, August 6, 2011

Adventures at "The Con"

When you tell a 12 year-old boy you’re taking him to Comic-Con, it just feels right.  For those of you newbies that don’t know what Comic-Con is, go Google it and come back.  I’ll wait.

Okay, now that you know it’s a huge media extravaganza in San Diego with movies, comic books, celebrities, sci-fi memorabilia, and everything remotely related, you get the picture.  This year’s Comic-Con boasted over 126,000 attendees, most of whom arrived in some form of costume, super-hero t-shirt, hat, makeup, or hairdo.  It was a combination of Halloween, Mardi Gras, the last day of 7th grade, and the Bellevue Mental Hospital family picnic day.  Seriously, I think I saw more cosmetics, hair extensions, and outfits than in “Sex in the City 2.” (Ok, I’ll be honest.  I didn’t see Sex in the City 2, but you get my point.)

Once there, you realize quickly that anyone that goes to Comic-con has to be nuts, or a huge sucker for his 12 year-old son, or maybe just a 12 year-old trapped in an nearly-adult sized body himself.  You can figure out which is me.

Whatever your reason for going, once you get there you see it’s a feast for the senses, complete with sights that push your understanding of human nature.  Most people’s costumes were quickly identifiable—Spider-man (red/blue and black costume), Superman, The Dark Knight, Green Lantern....  Others were a little harder to pin down, even for the seasoned cartoon-o-phile.

One dude, for example, had no shirt, a fake mustache (at least it looked fake), combat boots, and carried around a giant stuffed shark.  Um.  Which hero was he?  I can’t claim to know them ALL, but I’m pretty sure Aquaman didn’t have a black mustache and boots.  Was it Aquaman’s lesser known cousin, G-I-Joke?  Was it a long lost ocean-bound Mario Brother?  I honestly have no idea.

To give you a sense of the hilarity of the human (and super human) spectacle, I will list for you a few of my sightings, a couple favorite overheard phrases, and some interesting moments (isn’t that nice of me?).  Think of this as time travel back to the event.  Come to think of it, if you embrace that idea, maybe you’re ready for “The Con” yourself....

First, the sightings:
  • A man dressed as “the Flash” whizzing by on a Segway (funny, yet sensible, no?)
  • A pug dressed as Spider-Man being walked by a lady dressed as Electro-Woman (I couldn’t help but wonder who chose the outfits).
  • A man dressed as Electro-Woman (totally unrelated to the prior Spidey-on-a-leash Electro Woman; his costume was better, though he didn’t quite fill out the bustier portion.)
  • A dude in underwear that can best be described as a “banana hammock” holding a sign with an arrow pointing at his crotch that said, “The Real Thor’s Hammer.” (Editor’s note: that hammer couldn’t pound a nail or summon thunder.  Sorry dude.)
  • Justin Timberlake!! (No, he didn’t ask me to join him for the N’Sync reunion.  But he did forgive me for choosing not to tour with the guys in the first place.  Peace out, J.T.).
  • A t-shirt with a picture of Ricardo Montalban from his role in Star Trek II with the caption “Comic-Khan” (if you don’t get this joke, Comic-Con was not for you.  Live long and prosper).

Now some overheard conversations

While in any number of 3 hour lines waiting for a celebrity panel or advanced screening, I heard a few conversations that made me wonder, “Do any kids play outside anymore?”

In line for the “Futurama” panel:

Nerd 1:           “I think you just fall in love with your first Dr. Who and every other Dr. Who just isn’t your Dr. Who.”

Nerd 2:           “Yeah, totally.  But Tom Baker was the best ‘Who’.”

Nerd 1:           “Didn’t you hear what I said?”

In line for the Sony Pictures panel:

Geek 1:          “I love your kilt!”

Geek 2:          “Yours too!”

Geek 1:          “I made mine.”

Geek 2:          “Awesome.  I kinda figured.  Where else would you find camouflage kilt fabric?”

At the bootleg DVD booth:

Dork 1:           “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters!”

Dork 2:           “Sid and Marty Krofft must’ve been on drugs, dude.”

Dork 1:           “Duh.  Puff n’ Stuff?”

Dork 2:           “Oh, right.”

Interesting moments:

Really, too many to list, but here are a few that still stick with me...

1.    A lady dressed as one of the Mario Brothers (from the video games) taking a picture of a Star Wars Storm Trooper drinking a Starbucks coffee through a straw poking into his helmet.  She thought he looked ridiculous.  Her outfit was rubber.  Comic irony?

2.    A very attractive woman wearing a cog on a necklace guiding open-mouthed teenagers to a booth where they could try the “Gears of War 3” video game BEFORE its “official release.”  I think a few of those boys “unofficially released.”

3.    Pizza for breakfast (it’s amazing what Dad finds acceptable for the most important meal of the day when you’ve got somewhere to be and Mom’s not in the picture!)

4.    My son meeting his hero, Matt Groening (creator of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”).  I think he almost wet himself.  Maybe that was me.

5.    A full grown man in sweatpants pulled to his mid-chest, waiting in line for a movie screening, picking his nose..... then eating it.  And that was during the first hour of a three hour wait.  We named him “Picker” (his super power was making us throw up in our mouths).

6.    My son meeting actor Aziz Ansari who literally bumped into him while in line for my soda refill.  Serves me right for sending the boy – he had the Hollywood encounter (again!).

7.    Stan Lee... in the Marvel Comics booth!  Stan!!  The Man!!  The real super hero.  Excelsior!! (okay, now I’m the nerd!)  I love Stan Lee!

All said, it was worth the lack of sleep, the failing nutrition, the gawking, the waiting in lines, the 3-D glasses-induced dementia, and the occasional fearing for my life.  Comic-con is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Now the question is, am I up for it again next year?

© 2011, Herb Williams-Dalgart