I Love You, San Diego Comicon by Rama Hughes

I wrote the following article (and drew this comic) for Sari Sari. Sandy, the San Diego Comicon monster, is based on Tim Biskup's gorgeous artwork. The mascot was inspired specifically by the Comicon logo and a giant "Helper" monster that Mister Biskup displayed at this year's convention. To see more of Tim Biskup's work, please visit his website, TimBiskup.com.

The San Diego Comic Book Convention is the Mecca of geekdom. Comic book collectors and science fiction fans from around the world converge here for one long weekend every year. From pimpled teenage Jedis to over-the-hill Green Lanterns with socks in their shorts, it is a haven or a laugh-riot depending on your point of view. It is also a great date destination for you and your Wonder Woman.

My girlfriend and I have attended Comicon every summer for the past three years. On the shuttle from the hotel, she snuggled my arm and asked "Do you think anyone finds this as romantic as we do?" I considered my fellow passengers. "No way," I said. Just then, another couple boarded the bus. Hand in hand, they smiled down the aisle. "Maybe," I changed my mind.

A comic book convention is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think "Romance." The day we arrived, boyfriends were dragging their girlfriends around like tugboats. The girlfriends were rolling their eyes and frowning at the sky. To enjoy the convention with a loved one, remember one thing: You can find that exclusive Holographic Leia on Ebay. Make the Comicon a date, not a shopping spree.

Here's how:

Navigate the Crowd: The first thing you will notice about the convention is that it is huge! The second thing that you will notice is the crowd. The sea of bodies has its pits: It is hard to move and some people smell. It also has advantages. You MUST hold hands to stay together. She must hold your belt loop. You must link arms. When you do find the areas where you can stride easily and breathe deep, you may find yourself squished together anyway.

Hob Knob with Celebrities: Besides comic book celebrities like Stan Lee or Chris Ware, Comicon is attended by novelists and movie stars. Hollywood banks on comic book fans to make their films a success. Directors, producers, and stars from Lord of the Rings to Ghost World have attended Comicon for panel discussions. TV and movie stars hang around to sign autographs and browse the convention. So, keep your eyes peeled. You may find yourself elbow to elbow with Charleze Theron, Viggo Mortenson... or Wil Wheaton.

Marvel at the Spectacle: Fans go nuts at Comicon! It is one of their few opportunities to dress like a Transformer or build a remote control R2-D2 out of legos. Include all those celebrities, a Stormtrooper Elvis, XXX Sailor Moons, Spider-Men, and seven-foot-tall Tim Biskup monsters. The convention is a page out of Where's Waldo. You might even find Waldo himself.

Appreciate the Art: Whether you think of comic books as art or not, a comic convention is basically one gigantic gallery show. Artists and writers set up shop to show you their work and hope that you buy it. Even fine art galleries like AFSA show their clients' paintings. Just like a fine art show, you can find prints, sculptures, books for your coffee table, and a lot of free stuff. If you don't want to buy anything, you can still discuss the artwork... with the artists themselves if you are bold.

Share Your Passion: Think about it. By even coming to this event with you, your disinterested girlfriend has taken a big step into your world. Make it fun for her. Take her to your favorite exhibits. Show her your favorite books. Tell her why you like them so much. If she gets excited about something, pursue it! Ask her about it, show her more things she might like, buy her a present. Passion is contagious. She might catch the comic bug too.

Enjoy the Comics: Despite public opinion, comic books are not just for girls and grown-ups. If you or your date haven't found a comic book that you like, I am willing to bet that you haven't even looked. Super heroes dominate the industry but, at the San Diego Comicon, they can be seen for what they are: a big fish in a much, much, much larger pond. Alternative publishers are especially popular here. Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, and Top Shelf offer some of the most beautiful and literary comics. Adrian Tomine can be found at the D/Q table every year signing books and acting -unintentionally, I'm sure- like a character out of his series, Optic Nerve. In "Artist's Alley," you can find independent artists and their comics, zines, buttons, wallets, prints, and t-shirts.

For a romantic experience true to you, pick up a few of these books:

Summer Love ::: Paul Has a Summer Job by Paul Rabagliati
That Painful Crush ::: I Never Liked You by Chester Brown
High School Confusion ::: Summer of Love by Debbie Drechsler
First Love ::: Blankets by Craig Thompson
We're Just Friends ::: The Complete Bone by Jeff Smith
Long-Distance Relationship ::: Goodbye, Chunky-Rice by Craig Thompson
Marriage ::: American Elf by James Kochalka

If you take my bet but can't find a comic that suits you, check out the video game booths, the toys, the posters, the old cartoons, and the t-shirts. GAMA GO GET'M!

Recover Together: The San Diego Comicon is a four day event. It will exhaust you even if you only stay for one day. Take a lunch break in downtown San Diego. It is within walking distance. Just follow the crowd across the street. At night, treat yourselves to a fancy dinner. If you can afford it, spring for a local hotel room. Check in early to mingle with celebrities at the bar and enjoy the pool. At night, you and your Supergirl can hang over the edge of the bed and read a comic book together.

'Nuff said.

© 2005 rama hughes