It's funny, this Comic-Con thing.
And I say that like I’m some battle-hardened San Diego veteran. Oh hell, maybe I am. But would only four real trips on the resume count as "veteran"? Or, do we count that one-day virgin visit way back in ... 2005? I mean, I'd meant to get down to San Diego for a lark during those crazy mid-Aughts years—but other cons, other conflicts got in the way. And after all, it was really just a "comic con," right?—and I was hardly ever a "comics guy"—even with the wild rumors that more and more Treklanders were turning up down there, just on general principle.
When Trekland itself turned upside down around here in 2005—end of magazine, end of producers, end of studio*—I suddenly found myself with a future in flux, an empty weekend in late July ... and old buds Neal and Jana in San Diego, ready to ease me over to Comic-Con consciousness. Just for a couple nights and a day visit, mind you, since I was a bit out of sorts. Just to see what the fuss was about.
Five years hence, my surviving standout memory of that day (at left) was actually watching those passionate Browncoats swarming all over their huge fan table—Firefly fandom, the only thing I've seen in my day that even comes close to the vibe and intensity of early Trek's. I felt young, as if the world was new... And the mojo began to flow again.
But my newfound bud Lee with his secret, fan-in-businessman's-clothing comic habit and longtime gang of CC suite crashers made it official when they dragged me down for a full-on stay the next year. I was now learning the ropes of this creature. I was hooked. And now I can talk tales from the trenches like the best of 'em, back to when you could still by a ticket on-site ... much less just park and walk in right there. There was none of this massive entrance/exit route room ballet choreography like Disneyland. Why, that first year I went, the attendance was only @ 80,000; now it's topped 120,000!
Well, Comic-Con was hardly a Trek con, either in the sacred fan style of things, or the oft-disdained pro set. Neither was it an old-fashioned lit-snob con. It was truly a trade show for pop culture—with ever more Hollywood studio folk and New York toy makers insanely swelling the ranks. I do love my Trek cons—viva Vegas, salute Starfest, take me on Shore Leave!—and I've seen the litcons hang in and make a comeback, too.
But this critter... well, forget the naming: Comic-Con San Diego—and various others around the country who share only the name and the intentions, nothing more—is very much a cross-genre beast of its own now. Oh sure—like Voyager 10 at the heart of V'Ger—there's still a revered core essence of the old 70s comics collectors' and artists' show in the center of it all that survives, even as all the other stuff that dwarfs it.
But the story of Comic-Con transcendence is very much the story of what's happened to fandom, and to mainstream tastes alike: it's all overlapping, all over the place. "Narrow-casting" may still be the key behind the 500-channel cableverse... or is it? These days, the lesson seems to be: Get out of your ruts!
And that may be the biggest and best Comic-Con lesson of all.
Oh, and my 2010 Comic-Con highlights? Join me if you can:
—Selling and chatting all things Trekland in Autograph Alley at my times: 11:30a-1p Thursday, then 1-4p Sunday
—Crashing the Roddenberry party earlier/Geek Girls bash later, both Friday night—with Daryl and Curtis' Twilight Zone interactive anthro panel in-between at 8p
—Finally checking out Wil & Co.'s W00tstock phenom Thursday night, off-campus
—Eyeballing all the chotskis for the new startrek.com at the mobbed CBS booth (4129)
—And grabbing any and all peeps wherever we run smack into each other .... including Gary's lineup at LightSpeed Fine Arts, of course (3745).
Or you can always just twack me on Twitter, Tweklanders!
(See? Yes another Comic-Con first for yours truly).
* = Communicator, Rick Berman Era, Viacom united—respectively