Peter guesses that every year, the San Diego Comic-Con is 30% larger than the year before. I’d assumed that when the convention center reached 100% capacity (as it did last year), that it couldn’t get any bigger. I was wrong: the convention has instead increasingly sprawled out into its downtown San Diego surroundings and beyond.
For instance, this convention proves that no matter how fanatic you are, there’s always someone more fanatic than you. Last year, I was boggled that fans were lining up at 4 am for the Heroes panel at 10 am that day. I suspect this year, predawn lineups are standard; and now those fans have been shown up. This year, pop culture groupies started a line for the Twillight panel, not scheduled until 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, on Tuesday night, choosing to camp out for two nights for a studio presentation in order to guarantee they’d have a seat. On a related note, comics news blogger Heidi Macdonald reported more hotel rooms than usual opened up in July, as some attendees gave up their reservations. Hey, what do you need a hotel room for when you’re going to be camping out every night in order to get into the panels you want to see?
The con has become so big it’s now a vortex that sucks in people you’d never expect would even know about it, and then becomes a trap hard to get out of and into. A dancer I knew vaguely in college wondered if she was the only person in L.A. not going to the con. (Yes, Leigh, only you and essential emergency workers are left.) Soon Nevadans and Oregonians will be wondering whither their towns are emptying in late July. Despite my best intentions, I almost got sucked in myself, due to a booth emergency. Since Peter was out with flu, he couldn’t oversee the packing of the van, and a crucial component of our booth stayed home. I packed it up, packed my bags, and told my client I wouldn’t be available on Thursday, so please, please move any conference calls to early Friday morning when I could take them from a hotel room. Meanwhile, Peter tried to save me by rigging up a substitute at a friend’s house in suburban San Diego. And then, while trying to get back to the convention center just as Preview Night was beginning, he was stuck in near-immobile traffic for 2 hours. However, eventually (it seems), the fix worked (knock on wood), so I’m still home, today.
I don’t know if I’m yet safe from the Con. But there’s certainly a competitive fanaticism in play already. I wouldn’t be surprised if within a few years, people start lining up for panels within minutes of the Comic-Con announcing their times and places–weeks in advance. When the end of the line reaches the bottom of San Jose, I’ll tell you I told you it’d come to this.