Seen/heard at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con…

  • The crowd, which reportedly topped 170,000. Comic-Con is, after all, the world’s most prominent pop culture event, and attendance only seems to increase with each passing year; this was my 27th year attending Comic-Con, and 2014’s was undoubtedly the most crowded Con of them all. The following pictures convey only a hint of the insane congestion:

  • The Comic-Con crime wave? You’ve probably already heard about the so-called criminal activity that occurred at the Con, including a woman run over by a car during an outdoor zombie walk and an alleged incident of sexual harassment. I wasn’t present in either case but will opine that the media has exaggerated their reports (as was the case a few years ago when a Con goer was reportedly “stabbed in the eye,” a claim that turned out to be more than a little inaccurate). From what I observed, the majority of this year’s Con goers were overwhelmingly friendly and well behaved. Even the bums and junkies who haunt downtown San Diego were on good behavior (nobody tried to sell me drugs, and I succeeded in parking my car on the street without incident), realizing, perhaps, that the revenue brought in by Comic-Con benefits them as well as the city at large.
  • Continuing with the topic of Con crime, I DO believe theft is a pressing issue at Comic-Con. I say that based on what happened to me this year when I tried to purchase a graphic novel from a dealers’ room vendor. This entailed being shoved into the crowd and fighting my way back to the cash register, whose operator didn’t initially notice me, or the fact that I was holding merchandise from her table. I succeeded in making the purchase, but I wonder how many other Con goers have simply picked up merchandise and walked off.
  • Forget about the Comic-Con crime wave, let’s talk about the heat wave. Air conditioning was generously wafted throughout the convention center, yet the heat emitted by those 170,000 bodies raised the temperature to intolerable levels. One panelist asked “is it just me or is it sticky this year?” It was indeed sticky, as conformed by another panelist–Frederator Studios honcho Eric Homan–who sweated so much I thought he was going to melt. At one point during his presentation Homan put on a Hello Kitty-esque hat (specifically a character from the kiddie cartoon BEE AND PUPPYCAT) and lamented “I don’t know why anyone would wear this because it’s so hot!”

  • The Holy Joes pictured above have become Comic-Con fixtures, waving the same dopey signs each year. This year they were joined by some anti-abortion loons, as seen here:

  • I know Comic-Con is supposed to be a family-friendly event–and indeed there were more kids present this year than I recall seeing in any of the previous 26 Cons I’ve attended–but outfits like this R-rated Wonder Woman get-up were not uncommon. Not long after this, FYI, a middle-aged slob dressed only in a skimpy thong was seen running around outside the convention center (I’ll spare you a picture of that ghastly sight). I wonder what costume he was wearing?
  • At a mini-film festival held in one of the convention center’s upper rooms I caught a dialogue-free claymation short involving a featureless figure attempting to climb a mountain, and falling prey to fatigue and other disasters. The pic was no masterpiece, but it had an intriguing dreamlike air, and the claymation, evidently accomplished on a shoestring budget, was impressive–so much so that I was moved to look up the film and its creator on imdb. For the record, it was called “Move Mountain,” and was made by Kirsten Lapore.
  • Of the swag on display in the dealers’ hall the news media seemed particularly fascinated by figurines like these, which have turned up in seemingly every TV feature I’ve seen about Comic-Con. I myself don’t much care about such things, although this STAR WARS display looks pretty damn cool:

  • I was interested to see a panel demonstration of the popular “Starship Smackdown” game, but was severely annoyed by the participants, a bunch of frat house types who laughed incessantly at their own jokes, blathered about a Kickstarter campaign one of them had going, and generally acted like dorks. I wound up leaving before the Smackdown got started–if indeed it ever did!
  • During a Hall H panel for the TV series THE FOLLOWING, the show’s creator Kevin Williamson (of SCREAM and DAWSON’S CREEK) was asked by a woman whether he was worried about the violent nature of his program inspiring copycat action. Williamson (correctly) replied that he didn’t feel that was a concern. A more memorable quote was provided by the show’s star Kevin Bacon, who informed a gushing teenage fan that “I guarantee I have socks that are older than you.”
  • Irrefutable evidence that Comic-Con’s nerdy vibe spread far beyond the convention center (you CLERKS fans will recognize the handmade sign on this recently-shuttered San Diego music store):

    • At one point I found myself seated beside a guy and his kid. The guy handed a bottle of water to the brat, who inevitably tossed it around–and just as inevitably hit me with it. The kid’s chagrined father scowled “I told you to drink it, not throw it,” but of course once he got the bottle back the brat immediately began tossing it around once again.
    • Prior to this year’s Comic-Con I had no idea the “Once More, With Feeling” musical episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was such a cult sensation. I recall when the episode was first broadcast back in 2001 I wrote it off as, simply, a dumb idea, yet the extremely appreciative Comic-Con crowd to whom it was shown on Sunday clearly felt otherwise. The screening was introduced by actor Nicky Brendan (BUFFY’S Xander), who led a sing-along for a song I didn’t recognize, and also performed a nerdy dance I didn’t recognize. Turns out the song and dance both originated in “Once More, With Feeling,” which was screened in its entirety, and elicited a ROCKY HORROR-like response from a crowd who’d evidently seen it hundreds of times, enthusiastically singing along with the songs and shouting out lines of dialogue before they were spoken.


  • The time: the Con’s final hour on Sunday afternoon, mere minutes after a booming intercom voice proclaimed “COMIC-CON IS NOW CLOSED!” The place: the second floor freebie table. The situation: a supply of damaged Comic-Con bags that were being given away in mass. These cheaply made swag bags are evidently prized collector’s items, as evinced by the insane grab-a-thon that occurred; I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a shoving-and-grabbing frenzy like the one that ensued the instant the bags were removed from their boxes and layed out on the freebie table (the photos admittedly don’t do it justice), a sight that put me in mind of chunks of meat being thrown to a pack of starving dogs.
  • The following pic was taken near the end of the final day of Comic-Con, and, I believe, adequately sums up how we all felt at that point:

Until next year…