Ah, summer. Time for beach trips, exotic vacations, and standing in line for at least twelve hours to get the latest scoop on The Flash.
Yup, summer is time for…San Diego Comic-Con!
My first sojourn to the “Nerd Prom” was way back in 2004 and I’ve gone every year since; first as a fan, then as a writer for iFanboy, and now to meet creators and companies on behalf of Six Foot. I can finally tell my parents that I go to Comic-Con for work. (Indeed, before I joined Six Foot, I met many of my future co-workers at the show!)
Over the years, Six Foot’s presence at San Diego Comic-Con has grown from “just” taking meeting to co-hosting an industry party with Gentle Giant, Ltd, 3DSystems, and Weta Workshop, and we were thrilled to partner for the party again this year, our third year in a row. The party featured free-to-play classic arcade games (Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Pole Position, to name a few). We also had a GIF photobooth, and some tasty themed adult beverages, including a drink with a 3D printed Dianoga-shaped sugar cube (that’s the trash monster from Star Wars). The event went really well — it’s a great chance to unwind, get away from the crowds, and meet some interesting industry insiders.
Every Comic-Con is a bit different for Six Foot, and 2017 was no exception. This year, were very lucky to to partner with Stack-Up (https://stack-up.org/), an organization that supports veterans and active military personnel through their passion for video gaming. We sponsored a trip to Comic-Con for two of their members, Justin Gorsage and Tyler Southern, and gave them the full VIP Comic-Con Experience. Working with our friends at Marvel, we introduced the pair to cast members from Daredevil, The Punisher and Black Panther, and they even got a chance to chat with Stan Lee! Neither of them had ever been to Comic-Con before, so it was amazing to see the show through their eyes and get the chance to show our gratitude for their incredible sacrifices.
There’s no way to see “all” of Comic-Con, which has events across four days, both inside and outside of the convention center. As usual, thousands of people waited in line for hours to get the latest updates on their favorite movies and TV shows (I admit it, I am super bummed I missed Harrison Ford at the Bladerunner 2049 panel!). Thousands more filled the aisles on the convention floor itself. Over the past few years, the networks and studios have been featuring stage shows and signings in their booths, which is awesome if you miss seeing the stars on the panels (the Supergirl cast was all smiles and having a blast as they signed photos for their fans). But it makes traversing the hall more difficult than ever, since so many people would crowd around trying to see what was going on, much to the frustration of the floor staff and security. At one point, Marvel had members of the Thor: Ragnarok cast on stage, while DC, just down the aisle, was showcasing the actors from Justice League! It was insane.
I had a great time walking the floor with Six Foot CEO, Matt Ballesteros, who was visiting various vendors to see what comic book art was for sale. He’s a huge fan of comics, especially World War II books like Sgt. Rock. Nothing helps you appreciate the artistry of the medium like seeing comic book pages in their original form — the amount of detail and care the artists put into their panels can be truly astounding. One of the dealers actually had a sketch of DC Comics’ Hawkman character by Joe Kubert…drawn years before the character was introduced! Flipping through these pages and actually touching the art is super inspiring—and humbling. Many of these artists were overlooked and not taken seriously as “real” artists when they were working on these books; it’s great to see their work recognized and revered, decades later.
Comic-Con has gone beyond “just” comics for years now, actively celebrating all kinds of popular entertainment. Over the years we have seen more and more game developers and publishers on the floor. Blizzard was there, selling their cool collectibles, and you could play the latest XBox games in their booth, right across they way from Capcom. While the gaming presence may not match the spectacle of the PAX shows or Gamescom, it’s great to see fans get a chance to play new games and meet the people behind them.
Cosplay has also become a staple of these conventions — just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone (something?) will turn the corner and blow you away. My personal favorite was a Star Wars/Guardians of the Galaxy mashup - Stormtrooper-Yondu, carrying a boombox playing Bruno Mars tracks!
The days at Comic-Con are plenty crazy, but the nights are downright insane, and I have to admit, kind of stressful. Given the scope of the show, there are more companies and brands throwing events than ever before, and if you aren’t careful, you can spend the entire night just going from one party to the next…and not really enjoying any of them (there’s a reason our party started at 9—we want people to show up, and just stay and have a good time). It’s best to keep it simple—focus on one or two plans and try not to get frustrated if there’s a huge line to get in. (At its core, Comic-Con is a celebration of waiting in line.)
As fun as it is to the see the stars and go to the panels, the one thing that keeps me coming back to Comic-Con, besides work, is getting a chance to thank the artists behind the books I love, and to meet new people who are passionate about what they love. Everyone you meet there is a passionate fan of something, maybe even a fandom you're also a part of. I’ve had great conversations waiting in line, learning about new shows and, more often than not, debating them. Yes, it’s a madhouse, and yes it can be really frustrating, and yes, if you are not careful, you are likely to get the Con Plague and be out of it for a week, but at the end of the day, it’s a ton of fun and I am so grateful I am able to go. There truly is nothing else like it anywhere, where people from all around the world can participate in something that is so positive, welcoming, and inspiring.
Okay, back to it. And by “it”, I mean “catch up on The Walking Dead” of course!