Not my area of expertise

apesinsandiego.jpgMy degree is in computer science, which means I’m perfectly suited to buying comic books and geeking out over television series, but not so much for public speaking. So naturally, this weekend I haven’t done much of the former, but a ton of the latter.

Which is okay, since this was a business trip, not a vacation. I think I stopped caring sometime Friday afternoon, when I was doing an interview about a game I didn’t work on (it was Mark and Mike’s episode), by a half-naked woman in a Slave Leia costume. I realized that no matter what else happened this weekend, I couldn’t get any more awkward than that.

I’m not sure when it was, exactly, that “I’m never going to the San Diego Comic-Con again” turned into “Sure, sounds like fun! I’ll take a day off work!” But it didn’t take five minutes at the convention center for it all to come back like a sense memory… there are people who love this kind of thing, and I’m not one of them.

On Friday, my friends Polly and Kevin came by the booth and showed me a bunch of pictures around the show floor; it looked like they’d made it to all the big panels, and stopped at every character costume to pause for a photo op. It was a great reminder that these things are a blast for an awful lot of people who can just relax and get over their noise and personal space requirements, and just go with the flow.

There are still way, way, way too many people. Coming down, I’d marked off the stuff I wanted to see, optimistically thinking I could make it to a panel scheduled 30 minutes after an interview. It didn’t take long to realize that was a ridiculous idea.

The only ones I missed that I was really disappointed about were the “Venture Brothers” panel and the MST3K reunion. I didn’t even make it over to that side of the building until the Venture Brothers panel was about to start, so it was already packed with no chance of my getting in. And I’d figured all along that seeing the MST3K guys was important enough to me that I’d be willing to wait for 2 hours to get inside — I went there about an hour and 45 minutes before it was scheduled to start, and was told the reason there wasn’t a line was because the hall had long since filled up. I heard that for the “Heroes” panel, people had been camping out since the night before.

So I said it last year, I’ll say it again this year, and I’ll probably say it yet again next year: this thing has just gotten way too big, and the one in San Francisco is about as much as I can tolerate. I’m not sure how they can solve it; splitting it up into separate cons for comics, movies/TV, and games seems like a natural move, but would lose the whole “multimedia” thing that’s half of the appeal. Maybe the only solution is to schedule a bully convention across the street to thin out the ranks a little bit.

One thing definitely in San Diego’s favor: apart from a few predictable examples, everybody was extremely friendly. You’d inevitably get jostled and bumped into and stepped on, and almost without fail, people were saying “excuse me” and “are you okay?” and just being surprisingly polite.

My convention in numbers:

  • Panels seen: 0 (unless Telltale’s counts)
  • Comic books bought: 3 (all recent B.P.R.D. issues that you could buy anywhere)
  • Famous and near-famous people seen from a great distance: 10 (Judd Apatow, Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank), Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Jackson Publick, Nathan Fillion’s back, Felicia Day (of Dr. Horrible), Richard Hatch, about five different guys I’d swear were Seth Rogen, that guy on “Reno: 911” that I went to college with whose name I forget, and Jon and the Lasagna Cat)
  • Meals eaten: 3
  • Meals eaten at non-pizza places: 0
  • Interviews given: 7? Maybe?
  • Interviews I can remember making a single coherent sentence: 0
  • Items bought: 2 (a MST3k anniversary T-shirt from the Shout! Factory booth, and a sketchbook from Mike Mignola).