SDCC 2010: Thoughts and Preambles Before The Madness Begins

This is a strange week, I just have to start there. On one hand, I am tremendously excited; I head down to San Diego bright and early Thursday morning, where I will dive headlong into the madness that is San Diego Comic-Con.  On the other hand, I know that one week from now, I will be more tired and more burnt out than at any other time of the year and mildly depressed that I have to wait another year to feel so badly. I went back and forth about even writing this piece–who wants to read more about San Diego?–but, honestly? This is where my head is at. This is the center of my summer; this is the thing I go to that most of my friends do not understand at all and my family can't even imagine and even though it often feels closer to work and no small amount of torture, I can't imagine not going.

I know a lot of you are not going to San Diego, and I know there are those of you who have never been, others that may never go, and more than a few of you who are just plain tired of hearing about it. I get that. San Diego is an overwhelming experience and the more often I go, the more I realize that it is just not for some people.  Heck, it's not for most  people–who among us really wants to spend all this money just to wait in long, agonizing lines with a bunch of people whose distrust of deodorant is so palpable?

I have my issues with Comic-Con, but they are not the "where are the comics?" variety.  Yes, it's true, there are more and more panels that are a bit tangential, to say the least, to comic books.  I was just at a party this weekend where someone was claiming that he would never go because he heard the "soul" of Comic-Con was gone, that it's not about comics anymore. Well, I am pleased to say that that could not be further from the truth–you look at the panels and the presentations and the booths and comics are definitely a part of it–comics are the very fabric that keeps this whole thing intact. Yes, last year was insane because of the whole Twilight thing. Like, that was crazy.  Madness.  But overall, when you look at the show, there is more than enough to keep the comic book fan interested.  From the panels to the booths to artist's alley to the resellers…they got comics.

Still, this year's going to be tricky. I know I am supposed to point you to the Comic-Con website, but I have to tell you, that site desperately needs a redesign.  Way too much going on.  This year it looks like they are taking a cue from other conferences and giving you a chance to create your own schedule, which is a pretty good idea, but at first glance, the scheduling tool just makes the whole thing just as overwhelming online as it is on real life, in fact, my blood pressure is going wonky just remembering that fact that, at its core, I remember that, contrary to what I just wrote, Comic-Con is not about comics–it's about trade-offs.  You hear sentences that begin with "Well, I am going to this but I really want to check that and I would have gone to this but the line was too long and I didn't want to miss the other thing while I waited in line for…" Once you realize that there is no way to see everything you will want to see, once you make peace with that, then you are a third of the way to building some kind of positive number in post-con satisfaction index.

Perhaps you don't believe me. Perhaps you think I am just being lazy. Let's step through Thursday together. 10am.

(glancing at site)

Okay, 40 things to do at 10am. Now, 18 of those are signings (though I do want to see Dirk Benedict, maybe)…Should I go to see Jeff Smith?, Film School 101, that sounds relevant to me…whew, four of the listings were card game things so I don't need to deal with, good..Film School it is…but..wait that means I miss the DC Comic Writers at 10:15 (10:15?!?!) and..oh wait, I wanted to check out that Boom! panel at 11 but..oh, man–the Film School is in the Marriott thing but Boom! is in the convention center, so I may need to leave Film School earlier…but will Whit want to go to Boom!?  Will we even BE at the Con by 10? Wait–Tron 2 at 11:15 in Hall H! I really want to check that out…but..oh, wait, Hall H–that means I really should be in line at least at 8:30-9am in I want to get in…which means I can't go to Film School..or Boom!, actually…and forget about Jeff Smith. Of course, the Tron stuff will be online, but wouldn't it be cool to see Jeff Bridges in person?

And that's the first 90 minutes of Comic-Con. Repeat every hour until Sunday afternoon.

So, yes, scheduling is a difficult and confounding series of choices and can easily turn into a major frustration, especially if you live in fear of being left out of something cool, like I do. (I only recently admitted this to myself.)

There are going to be lots of guides out there on how to survive Comic-Con this year, I realize this and will try not to repeat what you have heard before, but, if you are going, there is just one thing that I think you just gotta remember: when on the floor, don't shake someone's hand unless they offer it to you. Things might change later at night, when you are at a party, but for the most part, it's just not a good idea. For the first time in my life I am thinking about having some hand sanitizer in my bag. I know, it's crazy, but seriously–last year, at the end? When I was dancing for the video? I was sick. So sick. Like, out of commission for three days sick.  You are literally around tens of thousands of people most of the time and there are germs to be had.  So, yeah–watch out for the germs–and I am never that way.  I mean, I'm not disgusting, but I am definitely not a freak about germs.

Yes, the food sucks at the con, but, like, sometimes you have to eat it. Bring energy bars and a refillable bottle for water.  Understand that the afternoon nap might be the best thing ever. Go to the parties. Meet people–like really, go meet people. Introduce yourself to people you'd never think of introducing yourself to in real life, for kicks.

That's all I am going to say about con prep.

We had a staff call on Sunday about what we were hoping to get done over the week, and I have to say, I really am impressed with how much effort the guys put into the convention shows.  Like, they've done this a lot, they've talked to a ton of people, but somehow, they just go for it with all the people they want to talk to and how quickly they want to get the con show out. Because, like–we want you guys to be there. If you can't be at the show, I mean, there's this desire for you to get a sense of what it's like. What's interesting about this site is that there's a real sense of community here–like, has articles about news, but what it's really about is discussing the news with the rest of the iFanbase. Same thing with San Diego–we want to make sure the iFanbase has a good time, whether they make it there or not.

When I think about this year's convention, I gotta admit–I actually don't know what to think. Like, a lot of the creators I want to see are probably not going to be there, and it sounds like a lot of the big news has already been announced. There are a few movies doing big presentations, but, like, not that many.  There are no new "genre" TV shows that I am really all that excited about.  I certainly am not going there looking to buy some comics.  I have no idea, no expectations, at all, from San Diego–which might be a very good thing.  I really hope to muster the energy to do some daily dispatches–even a few quick videos would be fun–to letcha know what's going on; I think that would be really good–I will try it. I think what I am really looking forward to is catching a few of the panels that I always miss–the Film School series sounds really good, for example.

So, we're getting ready San Diego. We're hoping to talk to some great comic book personalities, attend some fun parties and, at the end of the day, just hang out with people we like to hang out with. The thing is, these conventions are more about the community they engender and support than anything else.  We are all lucky to have this opportunity to spend a few days complaining about the heat, the lines, the security, the food, the prices and forgetting the foot powder because we have a great group of friends to complain to, you know?  When I think about Comic-Con, I don't even think about what happens in the convention center anymore.  It's much more about making sure I see all these great people that I've met over the years.  

Okay, folks. I get there Thursday and will be at the iFanboy party, and will be taking video footage throughout, and will do my best to publish some dispatches at least a few times during the four days.  Follow the iFanboy gang on twitter–when I am not helping out with interviews, I will be going to the panels to gather the latest stories and announcements. If you are not going to the con, we're going to miss you and really hope to see you next year. If you are, well, I'll see ya soon.


Mike Romo is an actor in LA and will be bringing his headshots to San Diego (well, he always has some in his car, so it's not like it's a special thing but still–it's on). He loves email and twitter.