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Confessions Of A Comic-Con Virgin – Part One


It’s a Thursday morning, and I type this laying face down on a stretch of open grass, a field somewhere in southern California. I would call it a park, but it doesn’t look like a park. I wouldn’t even call it a field to be honest, as a field to me insinuates that its in the countryside. We aren’t in the countryside. We’re in a funny part of a cosmopolitan city with boats all around us. To get to where I am positioned now, I have passed a Wookie, a bunch of Klingons, a bloke dressed up as Matt Smith Doctor Who, Tom Baker Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who, Wonder Woman, some Sandmen, Katniss from the bloody HUNGER GAMES, Captain Jack Sparrow, Han Solo (he wasn’t with the aforementioned Wookie, but he did seem a bit lost), Thor; sorry three Thors (however one was a lady Thor), the Governor from THE WALKING DEAD, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from GHOSTBUSTERS (really), Steve Rogers, then Captain America, someone seemingly riding a velociraptor (?), two Darth Vaders, but only one Stormtrooper, and their old mate, red-stripey-face Darth Maul. It is 4am, and THN is queuing up with the rest of them. Welcome to the San Diego Comic-Con, the annual meeting hub for all things popular culture, or to put it another way, the biggest geek convention on the planet. I am dressed in a modest pair of shorts, waist size 32 inches and a plain white t-shirt from Burtons that is probably a little bit tighter than it ought to be. That is about as interesting as my attire gets, though I do share one article of uniform with my new found friends. I have a lanyard that reads ‘I ‘heart’ Dexter,’ on it, referring to the famed American TV show about a loveable serial killer. Apparently its quite big. It is my pass into the show and into Hall H, the biggest exhibition hall in the colossal San Diego Convention Center. We have already been here for two days, and I am quite clearly not fitting in.

It’s not a surprise is this; in fact it was expected. Before leaving the UK, colleagues laughed when I said that I was to attend Comic-Con this year. They laughed; ‘You? Comic-Con?’

Now, I like a film; for example, I can tell you who directed the original film version of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon quite easily. It was Michael Mann, and it was called MANHUNTER by the way, and not RED DRAGON actually. Brian Cox played the original Lector, but it was spelt Lektor due to a legal issue. William Peterson, him off of CSI was in it and I remember it being very blue.

On this here website I am labelled Mr. Mainstream, because as soon as things start to get a bit sci-fi or are presented in a different language, I get a bit itchy. That’s fine though, as I know my limits and capabilities, but in truth, I am more than willing to give anything a go. So, I find myself 5000 miles away from home in a place I’ve never been, but, we have a nice hotel about three miles from ‘Downtown’ San Diego, and right next to the airport. It has a nice swimming pool, a lovely little bar that sells food and beverages until midnight, unlimited internet access and lovely little bottles of shampoo that I will probably steal when I leave in a few days.

Our first night here was brief, but enjoyable as I tucked into some local cuisine, which was a half-pound burger, some chips, sorry fries and a pint or two of Coors Light – hey, let’s not go crazy. It’s only the first night and I my friends, am not an animal.

1016779_10152068289289908_339383409_nThe next day was an early start and I’d like to say that I hit the gym with my travel companion Craig Hunter, but there was more serious stuff to do; we had to get to the convention center to pick up our lovely gleaming press passes! ‘It’s Comic-Con’ we sang as we left our hotel for the GasLamp, a snazzy area of the city, which was basically tons of bars, discos (they still call them discos right), and restaurants, which were mostly Mexican, which is fine by me.

Things went swimmingly. A short queue for the press desk outside of the convention center shrank quite quickly and we were presented with our press badges with our names on them almost immediately. The badges came with said ‘I love Dexter’ lanyards, a show I’ve never seen, but I was willing to wear it with pride and ‘blend in’ nonetheless. We were also given big bags, big enough that you could carry a small child in them and still seal the top. I wouldn’t recommend that though. All of the bags were different and were covered with what was basically a big ad for a TV show or film on them. Warner Brothers sponsor these bags every year and some had THE BIG BANG THEORY on them, while others had THE FOLLOWING, the new GODZILLA film or that show SUPERNATURAL. Mine had REVOLUTION on it, again a TV show I hadn’t heard of, but hey, I was willing to carry it, or more wear it, and ‘blend in.”This is easy,’ we thought as we exited the convention center and headed for town with around three hours until the main exhibition floor opened.

A short walk later revealed a pub named the Double Deuce, and being fans of the classic Patrick Swayze movie ROAD HOUSE, we made a mental note to go check that out later. We then ended up in a lovely little bar that played eighties music, and we grabbed a Taco – you see I’m getting in with the culture already – and a couple of beers. They played ‘I’ve Had The Time Of My Life’ from the classic Patrick Swayze movie DIRTY DANCING (I am not making this up), and all was well in the world; in fact, it was nigh on perfect.


The bar lady, or should I say, lady behind the bar, walked over to us after seeing the amount of loot we’d already got from earlier on at the convention center- again, which was limited to just big child sized empty big bags at this point.

‘Y’all going to Comic-Con?’ she said in a thick American accent, and by thick I mean quite well pronounced.

‘Yes,’ we said sitting up straight on our bar stools, proud as punch. ‘As press,’ I added, smiling and flashing her my badge using the best English accent that I could muster.

‘Y’all are in for a good time.’ she replied. Of course we were, it’s bloody Comic-Con, the greatest show on Earth, for a film and pop-culture fan. Of course we were going to have a good time.

‘You make sure you come back later. This place gets real busy after nine. Lots of great music. You will love it.’ As Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley faded, I though to myself ‘I probably bloody would.’ I thought to myself; ‘ Would I come here first and end up at the Double Deuce, or Double Deuce myself up, and then come here.’ It was all too much at this point. I was like a kid in a candy shop, alone with Daddy’s wallet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5pm and we were back in the convention center, only now things were noticeably busier. There was a quite a queue forming up an escalator into the upper floor where the masses seemed to be heading. ‘This must be the place,’ we thought as we slowly but confidently joined in line. As we approached the top floor we noticed a, how do we put this nicely, larger lady in a Captain America comic book outfit. Now there is absolutely nothing unusual about this, but she had the shortest of crop tops on, all hanging out and leaving little or nothing to the imagination. Accompanying the short crop top came a pair of hot pants and knee length boots too. She also wore the mask with pride. I thought to myself  ‘Was there a female Captain America?’  We moved closer and saw that the girl held a little display sign that read simply…” Fat girls can do Cosplay too.’ I felt like applauding her.

We headed outside to join what we thought was the biggest line we’ve ever seen. Hoards of people snaking up and down the balcony area of the complex and into the building where they appeared to be doing the same. In front of us was a girl with a plain t-shirt on and a skirt. Quite conservative, I thought to myself, considering what we’d just witnessed. We pressed on enjoying the brilliant California sunshine that was just starting to disappear as we moved into the early evening. The sunset sparkled on the Pacific in the harbour over the way, loaded with multi-million dollar sea boats and yachts, all moored in the marina, possibly to host glamourous parties later on in the week.

Our line slowly moved forward, and we stood atop the convention center thinking just how many people managed to get tickets for this preview evening, a part of the Comic Con we thought we would have a little room to breathe in; after all, only press and 4-day ticket holders could gain entry to this first day event, and we genuinely thought we’d be part of an exclusive club to have a look around. No. I believe Craig summed it up the best; everybody and his Grandad were here, and we were stuck right in the middle.


Half-an-hour later and we’ve moved on, chatting amongst ourselves in the queue when the girl in the white t-shirt turns around to face us. She’s red-haired, slim build and possibly in her early twenties. She looks exactly like that girl that likes to do interesting things with wind instruments in AMERICAN PIE.

‘Have you guys just arrived?’ She says.
‘What, in the line?’ I reply.
‘No, at Comic-Con.’ She tuts.

Keep your wig on.

‘We got here yesterday. It’s our first time.’ Craig says.
‘We are Comic-Con virgins.’ I say with utmost wit, appearing very pleased with myself.
‘It’s my third year.’ She confidently tells us seemingly ignoring my previous comment.
‘We are here as press.’ I say, waving my badge in her face, even more pleased with myself.
‘I could have come as press. I’m a 4-dayer.’ She says, again largely ignoring me.

It’s at this point where I start to squint and look down at her mouth as something doesn’t seem quite right. Maybe she’s chewing some gum. No. Maybe a gob-stopper. No. She’s definitely got something in her mouth.

Craig steps a little closer to the girl. ‘Is it usually like this? I mean, this busy.’ I continue to stare at her mouth.

‘For preview night? Yes, this is actually quite quiet.’ She says, replying to Craig.
‘It’s just crazy. You guys hitting Hall H in the morning?’ She asks.
‘Yes.’ Craig replies.

It’s at this point that I realise that the girls has fangs. She has TRUE BLOOD fangs. Not some fake teeth, but full on actual filed down teeth –  bloody FANGS! I look immediately at Craig to see if he has noticed, but he continues the conversation.

I look the other way, almost turning my whole body but stop and turn back almost immediately when I realise that 200-pound Captain America girl is directly behind us. I turn back at the girl who is laughing at a comment made by Craig, which I have obviously missed. I turn and stare right back at him. Can he not see!!!

‘What time do you think we should get in the queue for it?’ He says as I stare right at him as if to say; ‘have you not noticed anything particularly strange about this girl?!’ FANGS!

‘Oh Hall H is. a. nightmare.’ She replies.

Craig. FANGS!

‘I would get down there as early as you possibly can. I would say if you want good seats, maybe 3am?’

I turn back to her, immediately forgetting about her dental issue.

‘I’m sorry, what? I thought you said 3am?’ I asked.
‘Yes. If you want good seats.’ She says, turning to me.
‘Wow, that’s early. Or late, if…we don’t go to bed.’ I laugh.
‘Lots of people will go right from here to Hall H tonight, sleep overnight under the tents. Get in line.’ She says.

The laugh fades, and all kinds of horrible things were now going through my head. Sleeping out in the open in the cold of night, with people, people I don’t know, people with FANGS(!); no shower, but most of all, no Double Deuce. This was horrible.

‘We can’t do that. We’re press,’ I say waving the silly little badge before her, now not so confidently.
‘Doesn’t mean much here I’m afraid. You have to get in line like the rest of us.’
‘This is terrible.’ I say to Craig. ‘We can’t do this.’

The girl turns away and I point to my teeth. Craig offers an ‘I know’ nod… FANGS!

He dismisses it as normal, which it quite obviously is here as we move forward towards the entrance to the building. The fang-girl turns back to us and looks down at Craig’s footwear.

‘I like your shoes.’ She says. ‘Is that Scarface?’

‘Yes,’ Craig replies, looking down at his limited edition Nike’s, gleaming white in the fading California sun.

‘Cool,’ she says before glancing at mine and turning right away. Yes, plain black adidas. Whatever.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe finally got into the hall to be greeted by a cast of thousands. Actually, it felt like tens of thousands. It was probably nearer the hundred thousand. Let’s just say there were a lot of people. The idea was to navigate the floor on our first official duties for the website, take some pics, write up a report and defect to the boozer. None of those directives were realised and after half an hour we ducked right out. I compare this experience to being punched in the face. Hard. And then punched in the face again and again. Harder, and harder. In that hall, it was impossible to stop; impossible to halt and look at something, as the next second that you did, you were shunted on by the next person behind you. I have many blurry images on my phone from things I’ve tried to stop and photograph only to be bum-bumped out of the way by a fan trying to get his hands on the 2013 Mighty-Morphing-Tranforming-X-Wing-Tie-Fighting-Comic-Con-Only-Exclusive-Lego-Made-Collectable-1/4-inch-Scale-Figurine-Thing. I actually made that up, as I have no idea what the 2013 exclusive toys that were. Of course I didn’t get anywhere close to even finding out what they were dashing for…

30 minutes later and we’re back in the boozer. Lost for words. What was that? Is this what this is all about? Is this… Comic-Con?

‘It is hell on Earth here Craig.’ I said sipping from the strongest local beer that I could find.
‘I agree.’ He agreed.
‘I don’t know what to say.’ I said.

My pint disappeared inside me very quickly. We’d heard of a film screening happening up the road and retreated to the Gaslamp 15 cinema nearby to see a new horror film playing. The film hadn’t opened in the UK yet, and the idea was to review it for our readers. Within 15 minutes I had fallen fast asleep.

Our conversation regarding our wake up call was indeed picked up when we got back to the room.

‘What time shall we set our alarm for?’ Craig asks.
‘I’m not getting up for three.’ I reply.
‘What time then? That girl was pretty adamant that we wouldn’t get in if we leave it much past three.’
‘I’m not getting up for three.’ I stood firm.
‘Hall H. Is it worth it?’

I thought to myself. Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Marc Webb, Spider-Man. All set to appear in that hall over the coming days.

I look back up to Craig.

‘I’m not getting up for three.’

And so here we are, 4am, and we’re nowhere near the front of this humongous queue. Granted, we’re nowhere near the end either. Not that I can see the end. It starts at the convention center, snakes through about ten 50-yard-long queue chutes, over the road, past the Hilton hotel, around a huge car park, down the side of the Marina housing a massive Assassin’s Creed pirate ship, through another car park, over a small green, through us, past an outdoor concert area and over to the far side of the Marina.

I’ve just stood up to take a look at the dozens of people that are still joining the queue. Its growing about 100 feet every ten minutes, and those joining apparently have no care in the world, no idea that they’re probably not going to get in. This is normal to them, but then again, dressing up as Wonder Woman is normal to them.

I lay back on the green and close my eyes, Craig doing the same next to me. After all, we’d be inside in about…. six hours? Things couldn’t really get much worse.

That was the last thought that went through my mind, just as the morning sprinklers switched on to water the green; the green on which we lay.

It seems, things could.

Check out part two of our Comic-Con diary in a couple of days.



  1. Pingback: Confessions Of A Comedian-Con Virgin – Element One particularCelebrity Blog | Celebrity Blog

  2. Dan B

    Jul 29, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Already stunning, more MORE!

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