Thursday, July 23, 2009
I took the trolley from Qualcomm to the convention center for my first day at Comic-Con. In years past, I've parked blocks away and lugged my gear through sidewalks packed with excited fans. The trolley is a far more civilized experience. First of all, I know people generally read on the trolley, but I suspect it's not always the reading material I spied today.
And, I actually got to spend some quality time with other Con attendees, which rarely happens at the actual convention. Take Carl here.
Carl McCall is one of the "permanent volunteers" who works for Comic-Con most of the year now that he's retired. During the Con, he works four-hour shifts in the gaming room, "making sure they don't kill each other" in the heat of battle. At Comic-Con, there are specific rooms where gamers take up arms in the form of role playing, cards, video games, etc. Carl watches over them: part enforcer, part referee, part gamer guru. Why the Santa hat? Carl runs a website called Software Santa, where he says it's like "celebrating Christmas every day."
Sitting next to me was Elena Herzen from the Bay Area. I often don't know all the characters people are dressed as, so when I asked Elena who she was, she replied too softly and I didn't hear her. I asked again, and the woman sitting across from us impatiently yelled "Silk Spectre #2" (from Watchmen) and rolled her eyes. Apparently this was terribly obvious and Silk Spectre #2 is as easy to spot as Mickey Mouse. Silly me.
Elena was lovely, and admitted that the latex outfit was terribly hot. Her friend, Captain Kirk, aka Christopher Erikson was quite the gentlemen and helped her off the trolley with her four-inch heels.
He was also quite proud of his membership card.
Elena gave me what's called a badge label, which she says are very popular at other Cons (like WonderCon) and events in the Bay Area. They have a phrase on them that a character might say and costumed folks carry a stack of them around. Elena might give a couple to people she meets who then spread them around and recipients put them on their badges.
Then, throughout the convention they look for the character that matches the quote. It becomes a game and a way to meet people. Elena was unsure if it has taken off at Comic-Con, but she gave me one anyway.
All in all, it really was a pleasant ride and set the tone for the rest of the day. You stand in line with people all day long and it makes it more bearable to have a chat. So take the trolley, save the parking fees to buy yourself a new T-shirt or action figure, and be nice to your fellow travelers, especially if it's hot and they're wearing latex.