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San Diego Comic-Con 2009: The 40th Anniversary
by David Maddox

San Diego Comic-Con Convention Center For the last forty years, fans of every genre of SF, fantasy, anime, movies, art, comic books and anything else pop culture has managed to work into the public mindset have been able to gather once a year at the San Diego Convention Center to revel and enjoy the experience that is the San Diego Comic-Con.

This year, the 40th anniversary of the Con's inception saw the biggest turnout of fans that have ever attended, close to 125,000! The dealer's room was packed shoulder to shoulder and fans literally camped outside in lines to see specific panels and buy the sought after exclusives. Heck, some even camped out INSIDE spacious Hall H all day long just to see one particular panel out of dozens. Actually, for a Con, this is nothing out of the ordinary.

However, this was the first year that complete coverage of pivotal moments during the Con were broadcast on the G4 network. Olivia Munn and Kevin Pereia from Attack of the Show were on-hand during a variety of panels and events getting exclusive interviews and coverage for fans who were unable to make the trip.

Yet there was a very somber feeling to this particular Comic-Con, possibly having to do with the economy. Many of the retailers in the expansive dealer's room were not selling nearly as much paraphernalia as in past years, and the amount of SWAG available was really limited to a few ad fliers, not counting the impressive 40th Anniversary Comic-Con collector's book.

There were fewer fans in costume this year than any other year I've experienced, yet more fans personally blogging for unknown audiences. And a rift had definitely developed as fans of the film Twilight "invaded" the festivities, filling up panel halls and blocking lines. This lead to protests, anti-Twilight signs and a general unpleasantness between certain fans. Comic-Con is a place where every fan of every genre element should be able to feel free to enjoy their fandom. It just seems hypocritical to single certain ones out (and I say this as a guy that was not NOT a Twilight fan… or much on Anime for that matter, but that's another story).

Condorman at San Diego Comic-Con Bender at San Diego Comic-Con Daleks at San Diego Comic-Con Outside the San Diego Comic-Con
The overall complaint of filling up halls before panels brings to mind a fundamental change that might need to be looked at as the volunteer staff is under no obligation to empty the halls between panels. Maybe this is something to consider for future years.

Transformers at San Diego Comic-Con The few "exclusive" collectibles were rather tough to come by, especially the multi-colored Green Lantern action figures that were released at a mere 1500 units each day. I attempted a line for the Red Lantern figure on the last day, only to realize there were probably more than 1500 people in line and if each one got two… well, you get the idea.

As far as panels went, there was the usual stuff from Steve Sansweet talking about all the upcoming Star Wars products and shows (including a little dramatic read by C-3P0 himself, Anthony Daniels) to Kevin Smith's always hilarious ranting. These events were extremely difficult to get into, what with the aforementioned camping of various fans in the bigger halls throughout the day. However some of the standouts included the Marvel Panel with Jon Favreau on Iron Man 2 and the surprise appearance by Doctor Who David Tennant at the Planet of the Dead and Torchwood: Children of Man screenings. Ray Bradbury was seen moving around the convention floor and some fans got to see John Hughes as well.

Overall Comic-Con has grown beyond its humble beginnings as a get-together for fans to a true multimedia explosion. In fact, I was hard pressed to locate an old issue of the Star Wars Insider (numbers 96 and 97 actually… never found them…). But it has become a Mecca for those into every element of SF and Fantasy. It is an experience that everyone who labels themselves a "fan" should have at least once. Though you might find yourself hooked, which in the long run is the whole point.

Copyright © 2009 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories while acting on stage, screen and television. He can sometimes be seen giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood and occasionally playing Norman Bates. Really.

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