Thursday, July 20, 2006

It's that time of year again

OK, it's here. The time of year when San Diego Downtown and Convention Center get inundated with cars, buses and 100,00 people all on a pilgrimage to Comic-Con. Residents of San Diego do not even blink when you see 12 Stormtroopers, 3 Darth Vaders, 2 Superman, 1 Batman, an Ugly Doll or a scantily clad Japanese anime schoolgirl waiting for the trolley at Old Town.

Comic-Con has become the biggest Popular Culture convention in the world. Covering the whole floor space of the convention center(both floors and meeting rooms), 100,000+ people will file past the doors over the four days.

The big movie and TV companies have realized that it is the perfect opportunity to promote the latest blockbuster movie or TV show and they arrive complete with display cases, costumes, live size models and boxes of free giveaways, all in the name of marketing. The attendees lap it up, filling bags full of stuff that, if received through the mail, would be thrown away as junk. I must admit, I'm as guilty as the next man. Accepting anything handed to me, throw it in the bag to sit at home surrounded by piles of freebies, sorting through the stuff to keep that I will never look at again as opposed to the stuff that I can throw away that I will never look at again.

There was a time, when the exhibitor hall could be walked round in a day and you would see everything. Now you would be lucky to walk round everything in a day if you didn't stop to look at things. This thing is big, and I mean big. At the last count there were 362 booths on the exhibition floor ( and no I didn't walk round and count them), and that does not include the tables in the corridors upstairs or in the sails pavilion where a lot of organizations and TV/Movie stars set-up tables to promote their latest book or project.

This year I must say I am very impressed with the organization. 2 years ago when I went to the preview night (last year I was on the Rezolution booth) collecting 4-day passes was absolute chaos. A very slow moving queue, a check-in process that consisted of proving who you were and then having to mill around with the crowds while the badges were printed of at another location and your name called out when it was printed. Total chaos ensued. I had my id checked more times a that years registration than I have when traveling through the airport. This year, we turned up at just before 5, book in hand expecting to be in a queue for an hour, and we walked straight in, directed to a check-in point where they checked ID and printed out my pass on the spot. Within 10 minutes of stepping through the door, going upstairs and going back downstairs to queue at Starbucks, was 10 minutes. Ironically we spent more time in the queue at Starbucks trying to get a coffee than it did to get our badges. So, hats off to the Comic-Con organizers.

So come 10:00 am tomorrow morning I will be outside the convention center, eagerly awaiting the opening of the doors, so I can add to my pile of stuff that is now scattered all over my office floor.

OK, so I need to stand up:

My name is Tony Kenealy, and I am a geek.