At one point, yesterday, Day Three Comic-Con 2010, Max and I were trying to sit down and drink a cup of coffee. I don’t mean relaxing in a rattan chair at an outdoor table admiring the world as it passed by. I mean, like, crouched on the dirty carpeting of a darkened convention center hallway, backs to the wall, weary and exhausted, hoping for just two seconds to avoid the endless crush of eager people (eager for what, exactly?). When we tried to do this, to SIT DOWN, we were told that we weren’t allowed to sit in the hallway because the hallway was reserved for lines into the panels, but where we were sitting there was no line, and if we were to just sit there, then people would THINK there was a line, and then we would start a fake line, and you can’t have fake lines sprouting up all over the place just because two miserable friends want to drink some coffee before throwing themselves off the roof. To clarify: long, insufferable lines are so commonplace at Comic-Con, that were you to simply stand in the wrong place, people might LINE UP BEHIND YOU FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON. Good grief. This is not the way things should be. No wonder dude got fucking stabbed.

Comic-Con is for two types of people:

The “fans” and the “industry.” The fans are the ones in the costumes, and the ones trailing their children, and the ones who wouldn’t bother to ask any questions before getting in line behind two people drinking coffee who, it might turn out later, are not in line at all for anything. The discomfort for them is part of the fun, somehow, apparently. The industry are the cast of Bones and the writers of People Magazine, who spend the week moving from one poolside party to the next, and if they do bother to catch any of the panels, it is only by being ushered to a prime seat at the hand of a headset-wearing publicist. Not so bad, probably. And then there are a few unfortunate souls (hi!) who fall between these two categories: who are neither here out of the sheer love of panic-inducing crowds, nor courted by the marketing teams of Showbiz. These middle people are left to rot. Rot until their heads fall off.

Of course, the weird thing is that the “fans” are also left to rot. Despite the Convention’s pride in being for and about the fans, and the democratization of most admission badges (“press” is a meaningless designation, for example), it’s really not for or about the fans at all. If it was, then the dreaded Hall H, for example, would have an overflow room with a projection screen where people could actually see what the fuck was happening. I guess it’s neat that Mark Ruffalo is going to play The Hulk in Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie, but if you end up finding out this information by reading someone else’s Twitter/blog post from a coffee shop half a mile away, where you’re probably stuck at the end of some OTHER line for some OTHER thing that you ALSO won’t get into, what’s the point? They could have just announced it the way they announce everything else, by having Billy Bush say it on Access Hollywood, and saved everyone some trouble. The restrictive nature of each event to the exclusion of thousands of eager fans who just want to be a part of the excitement seems entirely contrary to the stated attitude of the Convention, not to mention just kind of rude. But even more importantly: WHAT THE FUCK IS COMIC-CON ABOUT? Let me explain my question:

Ostensibly, when Comic-Con began in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, or whatever, it was specifically designed as a haven for social outcasts to come together and celebrate the things that they loved (superheroes, plastic weaponry) without the constant feelings of shame or fear of bodily harm. Basically, it was for nerds. And theoretically that is still true. There are definitely plenty of nerds at Comic-Con. But then will someone to explain to me, for example, the EXPENDABLES PANEL? At what point did nerd culture and Sylvester Stallone’s melt-face come together? Or is it the collaboration of Jason Statham that really thrills the fanboys? Step-by-step, not only at the convention center itself, but for two square miles around the convention center, nerds are being aggressively marketed to in the most lazy and manipulative and disheartening ways, and step-by-step, the nerds seem to be loving it. Come on, nerds! You have finally gained a quasi-social acceptance, and you’re complacently letting that acceptance be used against you in the crassest attempts to make you buy garbage. I thought nerds were supposed to be the smart ones!

As a social experiment, testing the limits of human patience, trying to find just how little personal space a person needs before they stab someone in the fucking face, determining with scientific finality just how many fliers and postcards and stickers and other garish publicity materials someone will carry around in an oversized garbage bag slung over their shoulder (which itself is a garish publicity material), Comic-Con is not without its fascinations. But ultimately it is mostly just an exercise in psychic and physical pain. AND IT HURTS.

Goodbye, Comic-Con 2010. Goodbye, Comic-Con forever.

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Comments (94)
  1. Whatever, Gabe, you still shouldn’t have stabbed him.

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  3. Gabe’s just upset they ran out of Vampire Diaries towels, you know you can make your own Gabe right

    • A lot of places give free or low-cost screenprinting classes, all you need to provide are the towel and the high-quality image. That’s how I got my Twilight sheet set.

  4. Obviously this stabbing is getting more attention because it was a real weapon. I’m insulted. I stabbed a man with my full-scale mint condition replica of Cloud’s Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII and everybody just giggled and took my picture.

  5. Thats why the real event this year was Aweosmecon 2010.
    Thats where the real nerds were.

  6. Sounds like you need to cheer up, Gabe! And I know just the thing to do it: The 11th Gathering of the Juggalos! After experiencing the Gathering, you’ll look back fondly on Comic-Con as That Time You Avoided Serious Bodily Harm.

  7. The suspect was later seen being led away in handcuffs. He had on a blue “Harry Potter” T-shirt.

    Thank you, CNN. I was nearly SHOUTING st my screen- “But was he wearing a Harry Potter shirt?? And if so, what color was it??”

  8. OK but how about THE HOUSE THAT DRIPS BLOOD ON ALEX guys? Eh? Eh?

  9. After decades of being social outcasts, I think the nerds just showed up to the Expendables panel under the assumption that it was a film about them.

  10. This comic book convention coverage needs some Zazz.

  11. Yet STILL…I am so goddamn Jealous (the capital J symbolises the scale of the feeling).

  12. I just feel bad that you had to come to San Diego and this is what you got stuck doing. Seriously, this town rules. We have strip clubs that are so hard core Marines can’t handle them. Like honest to god, battle-weary, war torn Marines who cave in one night under the extreme boobage. But no you got stuck at the Convention Center in Hall H with a bunch of coked-out publicists and nerds who think being “coked-out” means running out of soda.. I’m so sorry dude.

  13. So, Gabe, what you’re trying to say is that this was the worst…Comic-Con…ever?

  14. I’m with you, Gabe. In the middle and left to rot. I was so relieved to be back home last night it was unreal.

  15. At least we got the nerd movies thread from this debacle. We’ll always have that.

  16. I’m still in shock from the amount of photobombing Gabe accomplished. Well done, good sir.

  17. Sounds like it’s time for me to make that “Bring Comic-Con Back to Deadwood!” Facebook group I’ve been thinking about

  18. We’re sure you were at SDCC and not the Worst Fire Drill Scenarios Convention?

  19. Hang in there! less than 4 hours to Mad Men! NOT THAT I AM EXCITED

  20. It’s because there wasn’t a Starbucks inside the convention center. It’s the Herald Square of convention centers!

  21. this was gabe’s Katrina.

  22. Good luck getting the smell of Code-Red and cheap plastic out of your hair-cut.

  23. I guess what I liked best about these comic convention posts is that the whole thing reads like a so-called “graphic novel”, but without the graphics.

  24. You know what would have made the experience better Gabe?
    The Trueblood Panel.
    Imagine the story you could have told. If only you had stood up and told Charlaine Harris how horrible Tara is, she may have killed her off next episode and added some characters viewers could actually root for.
    Oh well there’s always Comic Con 2011

  25. I am conflicted! Not that this convention doesn’t sound like a horrible nightmare convention of greedy awful shoddy-convention-organizing a-holes taking advantage of the innocent nerd market (that’s a big market) by the bucketful. Because it does.

    I remember way Back In The Day when Gabe went to that Louie C.K. show and then had a Long Dark Night of the Soul on the train ride back as he struggled to find things to hate on about the experience, and I feel like that was a real pivotal moment in our lives and the life of this blog and probably something we will all remember forever and ever like a president exploding or a space shuttle getting shot.

    But this is different — Gabe seems to have visited this event just to hate on it, *specifically* to hate on it, and what’s worse some of the innocent nerds (who probably just wanted to dress up like superheroes and drink a little bit) have gotten hit in the splash damage of Gabe’s white-hot, fully justified hate on the doubtlessly greedy shoddy-convention-organizing a-holes. So, conflicted.

    • I don’t know; I feel like the all the nerds are victimized by Big Comic-Con (call it that from now on, plz) regardless of what Gabe has to say about it. I also don’t get the sense that the videogum presence at Comic-Con was just to hate on it so much as to give a perspective on it that mirrors what I come to this blog for in the first place: thoughtful critique.


    • The idea that I would travel across the country and spend four days wishing I was dead just in order to “complain” about something that most people in the world don’t even know exists is ridiculous. As everyone here knows well enough, I can get plenty of complaining done from the comfort of my own home. While I certainly expected aspects of Comic-Con to be “less” fun, I was really looking forward to this trip. It was not until I stepped out onto the Convention floor that I realized perhaps things would not be going as hoped/planned.

      And as far as “hurting innocent nerds” is concerned, I assume you are talking about the Photobomb gallery, and, again, I strongly disagree with you. The single constraint we placed on ourselves when talking about how to cover Comic-Con was that we had no desire to make fun of people in costumes, because a) that is extremely tired and overdone, and b) that is mean and there is no reason to make fun of them. This is the time of year where engaging in that particular hobby is not only allowed, it is celebrated, and it is a very small person indeed who would like to take that pleasure away from anyone. So, I disagree with you. I think that posting a gallery of Photobombs is a fun and funny way to cover a well known aspect of Comic-Con without ANY malice or ill-intent or mean spirit whatsoever. On the other hand, if you AREN’T talking about the Photobomb gallery, then what are you talking about?

      • Gabe, I criticized you on the Inception post, but I’d like to say here that these Comic-Con posts have been wonderful, and when you said posting would be “very light”, I figured there would be only one or two posts, and that would have been totally understandable. Not only did you go beyond expectations in the number of posts this weekend (on a weekend!), but the articles and pictures were all hilarious. Bravo!

      • I would like to get very seriousgum here for a moment and thank Gabe for his service.

        I’ve read blog posts on SDCC for years and have always wanted to go. Those posts were always about getting to see the stars of your favorite TV shows/most hotly anticipated movies, grabbing tons of free stuff, and watching cool videos. They were never about waiting in line for hours upon hours half a mile away from the convention center.

        It is entirely possible that one of these days, I would have saved up the money to go on my own and been severely disappointed. So thank you, Gabe (and Max!) for saving me my vacation days. I’ll go someplace where you can sit and drink your coffee without worrying about lines spontaneously forming behind you.

      • Gabe, I don’t want to be the PaPa to your Madonna, but as an experienced “non professional, half ass fan”, I would have loved to preach to you about how to enjoy Comiccon. I never once set foot in that Hall H line. I didn’t go to see Sylvester or Angelina, I went to see Joe Ruby and Ken Spears explain how they came up with the name for Scooby Doo (there was no line and easily 25 empty seats to hear them and Sid and Marty Kroft try to get their mouths close enough to a microphone so that we could hear them. And we saw a clip from the 1970′s classic horror film “Rumpelstiltsken”.) I went to walk down the main hall and see 25 year old Jessica dressed as “Quail Man” from Doug, and stop her and take a photo with her and say “this is the best costume I’ve ever seen at all my Comiccon’s”, and she was genuinely complimented! I went to sit next to 17 year old Linda (who obviously rides the short bus to school) on the trolley and she showed me all of her photos and said “How do you like that COS play” and I just kept saying “I love it!”. I went to be the last in line at the Tommy Wiseau autograph signing and when we took a photo together, he said “what do you want to do?” and I said, “you’re the director, what do you want ME to do?” and we of course made the “shaka bra” sign…three times! I went to hear Doc Hammer at the Venture Bros. panel spend 8 minutes of a 15 minute question period talking about his best, worst movie ever. He finally said, “I’m gonna go ahead and ruin the ending for you…” and then someone held up a sign “you have 5 minutes left” and everyone cracked up because it was only question #2! I bought a super cute Star Wars Leggos pin and gave it to a 6 year old on the trolley Sunday morning (he and his brother had fake blood in their hair and I asked if it was real and they were so stoked!) I went to sit next to a semi professional soprano at the Dr.Horrible Sing Along and he sang sooooo loud and well that I was able to sing at the top of my lungs, and not one person looked at me! And I took a picture of a 5 year little girl who knew every word to every song from Dr. Horrible with a 6 year old little boy in a perfect Evil Dr. Horrible costume that his mom made for him. And I stopped Joss Whedon at the bar at the Hilton and told him I loved his panel, and he stood around and talked to us for like 20 minutes. Just us and Joss! I went to hear Harry Potter fans talk about shit I’ve never even heard of…and I’ve read the books at least 10 times. I bought the latest Walking Dead and finished it while I waited in line for a sneak peek of I”ts Always Sunny In Philidelphia”, and it was hilarious and soooo fun to watch with a crowd of fans, including the young guys behind me who wanted to run to the nearest liquor store, so they could have shots while they watched the “very special episode”. A tatooo artist invited me to his room for a beer, Rob Cordry leaned over my shoulder to admire a poster I was looking at and said “that is reallly cool” and three gay guys sitting next to me knew every call out line to the closing Buffy sing along. Every time Michelle Trachtenberg came on screen they yelled “die bitch!” That was my Comiccon…I wish you could have shared it with me!

      • Well, I apologizegum, I guess I didn’t get that you were genuinely (initially) excited to be there — it seemed like you were suddenly “there” and suddenly “complaining,” which to be fair is how most of us travel as well.

        • That’s the funny thing about conventions. Sometimes you get lucky and actually end up seeing something cool and other times you feel like you stood in line the whole time and saw nothing. That being said, I enjoyed reading Gabe’s bitching. Maybe you should have been drunk Gabe, that helps.

  26. Gabe was so weary, exhausted, tired, and bushed that he started writing sentences full of words that meant the same thing. #pedantgum

  27. Whhaaaaaaa?!?!? The Internets are complaining about someone else complaining?!? How meta!
    Oh, Internets, you are in TOP form!

  28. Let’s all just go to Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con instead. Set phasers on fun!

  29. Shark Week is over?

  30. In law school I knew a woman who had moved from San Diego, and she told me some great stories about attending SDCC with her first husband the comic artist back when it really was just a comics convention. The best one was about helping Stephen King escape from his fans in the early ’80s by sneaking him out a back door and into their van. She made it sound like actual fun, back then.

    Nowadays, I am probably the nerdiest geek (geekiest nerd?) on the ‘gum and I still doubt I’ll ever go. Seeing famous people from afar < not being trapped in crowds of anxious Fans desperate to see said famous people.

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  31. I spent 3 days at comic con as a member of the “press” (which, truthfully, didn’t mean anything) and actually enjoyed myself. I got into many panels in “the dreaded” Hall H, without complaining. I even spent 2 hours waiting to get into the True Blood panel, only to be turned away after the room (Ballroom 20) reached capacity. I shrugged it off, and moved on with my life. I wasn’t expecting much from Comic Con, and I was surprised by the things I did enjoy. (The Expendables panel…who knew Stallone was such a nice guy? I could have listened to him for hours).

    I saw Max and Gabe as I was on my way to the True Blood panel, sitting on the floor by a window, typing away on their computers and phones. If you spend your time at comic-con that way, of course you’re going to walk away disappointed. I just want to stick up for comic con, since it seems nobody else is here… The nerds had fun (besides the guy who got stabbed) and isn’t that what really matters here?

  32. When I heard about the stabbing, the first thing I thought was “Oh no! Please not Gabe!”

    PS Thanks for doing this. You do your job well.

    • So did I, but then I saw that the suspect and victim were both in their 20′s and knew it couldn’t be our favorite sexagenarian.

  33. watch comedy highlights from Comic-Con 2010 here:

  34. “Is this the line for people with graduate degrees?”
    - Gabe

  35. This guy knows what Gabe’s talking about:

  36. I had a great time at Comic Con. You know why? because I actually read comics. I agree completely that it’s pointless to wait to get into hall H when you can read it on twitter in 3 minutes. Instead I got to meet a lot of my heroes like Grant Morrison and Chris Claremont. Incredibly talented people like Gabriel B and Fabio Moon (seriously, read “Daytripper”) didn’t have a line around them at all and you could just walk on up and have a normal conversation.

    I just want to know when this steampunk business got out of hand. Just call it Victorian and get it over with!

    At my worst point, I had the misfortune of genuinely liking “Umbrella Academy” but being trapped in a panel of squealing teenage emo girls who love Gerard Way and have no concept of comics.

    • comiccon has become the convention equivalent of camping out for an iPad. Its not really for people who like comics, just people who want to be the first to hear the news. I would have loved to get to meet some of the creators that were there.

  37. Bro- I bumped into you in said hallway- I was the Boba Fett with the ridiculously authentic blaster. They didn’t have a problem with you just “sitting in the hallway drinking coffee”. They saw the pokemon cards and thought you were in the middle of what could be a long battle…

  38. maybe i’m blowing my own cover here (of not being a terrible person) but I am a publicist.

    AS A PUBLICIST (i’m sorry) I have to let y’all know with the kind of traffic that videogum gets on a regular basis, it’s incredible coverage of pop culture and the fact that people crosspost the shit out of this site (not to mention the commentary by you lovely monsters) those jerks in their headsets should have been falling all over themselves to usher Gabe & Max into the front of those panels. I don’t understand WHY those pr flacks could be stupid enough to let them wait in those lines and blowing potential coverage on a well read site.

    Not to belittle any of the fans that attended comicon who waited in those lines because I admire the fact that people can have that much passion about anything. I’m just blown away that Max and Gabe were largely ignored. I understand that those people have target lists that are a million miles long and maybe the LA/NY Times/People Magazine is more at the top of their list but what a missed opportunity to engage with the people who are actually interested in this stuff. You guys could be reading about how AMAZING comicon was and about all the relevant awesome stuff that was there but ultimately I guess that would be more misleading. Comicon sounds terrible!

    Yours truly,
    a professional asshole

    • Maybe I missed this part of the Comic-Con coverage, but did Gabe & Max try to get on said lists beforehand? Or were they trying to experience the “real” Comic-Con (haha) by not being bumped ahead of the lowly nerds in line? I assume that getting seats involves a)talking to an organizer and getting on a press list prior to the event and also b)talking to an usher at the event and telling them you are on the press list. I didn’t see any mention of b) in these posts, though that may be because whining about not getting special treatment wouldn’t seem sympathetic or funny in print? My only experience with this kind of thing was attending (small) film festivals as a (shitty, student) journalist, where press badges did mean slightly more than nothing, so I do not really know what it’s like at a huge, poorly planned event.

      Also, as you said, Gabe’s point about Comic-Con sucking would still be true for everyone, unless you decided to embark on a career in entertainment journalism just to get special treatment there.

      • sure but typically pr people do the research and the outreach to INVITE people to these panels so they can secure coverage for the event. You can’t just expect people to hit you up unless you are working with something exceedingly popular and even then you might not get requests from the people you want/need to come. Also, pr people can be provided with attendee press lists so they know exactly who bought a badge and for what. sketchyyyy.

  39. My brother stabbed me in the face with a pen once.

  40. From the moment we arrived on Wednesday at our hotel to the minute we left on Sunday, I felt like a non-person. I basically went because my 19 yr old son had made the dean’s list for the year and I had promised him that I’d take him. let me say that I attend about 130 trade shows per year. At least 10 of them have between 120-150K attendees (CES/SEMA/AAPEX/FOSE) and this is possibly the worst case of logistics I’ve ever seen. Even cross the street was a nightmare. There are two sides..make one for crossing one way and one for cross the other.

    I didn’t go near H and we got there early enough that I was able to stake out a seat at one of the tables in the Sails or downstairs on the show floor at the cafe. After I was shoved by a security guard who decided to make a aisle one-way and shove everyone coming at him down a tiny row, I gave up trying to see anything.

    On another note: We booked though Travel Planners and when arriving at our hotel we were told our rooms were not paid for even though we’d booked a package and could clearly bring up our reservation. The clerk at the hotel was rude and told her she’d have to bill our AMEX again until we could straighten it out. There is going to be a very strongly worded letter going out to all parties involved because really all I wanted to do is reward my son for a year of hard work on his part. he was able to get into at least 3 of the panels he wanted to and that made his experience worth it.

    I too was wondering why shows like Burn Notice & White Collar had “panels” as I’ve never seen them in print.

    Great take on this show.

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