Let me start with a confession: I have never been to Comic-Con before. Moreover, I have never had more than a faint desire to go. So why did I do it? My 15-year-old autistic son takes all the credit, he had been asking me to take him for the last four or five years. Finally, I just couldn’t put him off anymore. Comic-Con San Diego 2012. Let’s do it.
I was prepared to feel like a fish out of water. At the very least, I thought it would be a great people-watching event, and I knew my son would have a good time. We arrived in San Diego on Wednesday afternoon and made our way from our hotel to the first floor of the convention center to pick up our passes and take part in the exhibition sneak preview at 6 PM. We are directed to climb a flight of stairs to the second floor, where we get into a huge line of expectant attendees and press buzzards (like me).
Just before 6:00 the line starts to move. We wind around the entire perimeter of the second floor…and go downstairs right back where we had started. I am amused by this deft bit of crowd control. Into the main exhibit hall we go. I’m impressed by the size of the crowd, and am even more impressed when I realize that, for this sneak preview, only those with press passes or 4-day passes (at $175 per) are allowed, which means an awful lot of people purchased 4-day passes. I know tomorrow’s crowd will be much bigger.
I am not quite sure what to make of it. Some people are rushing around in an almost frantic way, but most everyone else is relaxed and strolling around, enjoying the all there is to see. There is a vibe going on here that I can’t quite place, and then it hits me: these people are HAPPY. Most of the people here are smiling, the kind of smile you see on a kid’s face the first time she or he goes to Disneyland. It occurs to me that Comic-Con, not Disneyland, might be the happiest place on earth: the adults I see at Comic-Con are having a great time; the same cannot be said for many of the
adults I’ve seen at Disneyland.