It has taken me quite awhile to recover from Comic-Con. I still don’t know whether it was amazing and fun, or frustrating and exhausting. Obviously it must be a combination of both. This is of course not the first write-up about Comic-Con on the Internet, I am just adding to the noise (and late to boot), but as a lifelong obsessive lover (and hater) of things, especially nerdy things, there are some aspects of that I need discuss.
In my mind I always thought Comic-Con would be a big nerd party, a place where I would have epic discussions on the minutiae of the different Enterprises, and deep arguments on who the hell was Tom Bambildil. But that is not what Comic-Con is, Comic-Con is a nerd theme park, where the majority of your time is spent waiting in line in an exhausted haze. It is like a trip to Las Vegas, it is anticipation and excitement followed by exhaustion and shame (I yelled at a poor security guardswoman as we rushed to the Buffy “Once More With Feeling” sing-along on Sunday afternoon, in my defense she was guarding a single door that hundreds of people were trying to get through and she tried to make us back up to let someone in a wheelchair go, which was impossible, when if she has just let the mob take its natural course the wheelchair bound women would have gotten in 10 seconds later)*. That long digression aside, Comic-Con is Caradhras, an unassailable mountain. Even though I saw almost everything I wanted to see, there were tons of things I did not get to see, because they were at the SAME TIME AS OTHER THINGS I WANTED TO SEE! We had to choose between not only TV shows and movies that we were interested in, we had to choose between how early we wanted to get up and which line we wanted to wait in. I know I sound whiny, and I suppose in a way I should feel lucky that we got into the panels we wanted to see, never being turned away, but there were plenty of “fell voices in the air” to be sure. I am amazed that we got to see the pilot episode for SHIELD and the trailer for the 50th Doctor Who special, which in even more amazing news is still not officially available.
What no one can explain to you ahead of time is that it is not only the 150,000 people attending Comic-Con you have to navigate and swim through, it is the other 100,000 people who show up because it is a party in southern California with its beauty and temperate climate. It is a beautiful and frustrating clusterfuck. As a lifelong nerd, I never thought I would feel inadequate around other nerds, but man was I wrong. The costumes and the conversations one overhears reminded me of that old saying that there is always going to be someone richer and smarter than you, so don’t be jealous, but in this case it was people being more dedicated and more knowledgeable than you (not always the case, as I heard people misquoting and flat out being wrong about things, but those douchebags can’t be avoided) on the things you love. It can be both and frustrating. I can tell you within the first minute of a Star Trek: The Next Generation what the episode and plot are, TNG was my first nerd love, but I recently have fallen in love with Doctor Who, or NuWho as the reboot since 2005 is called. The whole weekend was a reminder of how limited my Doctor Who fandom is, not only where there hundreds of people dressed up as the Doctor (every regeneration of the Doctor as far as I could tell) or any of his companions, there is the whole backlog of episodes, books, radio shows, and a movie that I have not watched and I probably will never have time to see them all. It did not take away from the joy of seeing Matt Smith at the Nerdist podcast, nor did I feel unworthy to get in line at 1:20am Sunday morning to make sure that we got into the Doctor Who 50th anniversary panel.
I guess because I watch Doctor Who alone, I never contemplated what the fanbase would look like, and I was surprised and a little scared. Overall, Comic-Con is an intense bootcamp-like experience for fandom. Todd Vanderwerff, TV editor of the A.V. Club, wrote about Hall H for Grantland.com and he describes how it becomes a swell of positive emotion about whatever movie or TV show they are currently talking about. It is kind of troubling in a way, not everything is great nor do the writers or actors of the show need to have their egos stroked by the squeals of nerds everywhere over trailers, nor do we need to get over-excited about show runners not telling us anything, or actors being asked questions they have heard a thousand times and can’t answer because the person asking the question knows more about their character then they do. Yet, you can’t help getting swept up in it. It was fantastic; I can’t wait to go back and get in line again.
*That description makes me sound like a huge asshole, but you had to be there, the woman in the wheelchair was going to get in the door literally 10 seconds after us, and it was not like we had control, we were being pushed from all sides. I am still pretty annoyed by the whole thing.