Comic-Con Stretches Its Long Tentacles To The Valley And Beyond

By Chris Furguson
For five days, from July 20th until July 24th, the residents and businesses of downtown San Diego were, for the 42nd time, invaded by fans of animation, science fiction, fantasy, television and comic books for the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.  All in all, over 130,000 men, women and children of all ages, visited the city during the five-day event.
People like Keiko, a 19-year old student from the Akihabara district in Tokyo, Japan.  Keiko is an aspiring “manga-ka,” or Japanese comic book (manga) artist.
“I came to San Diego to expose myself to the Western-style of comic books,” said Keiko.  “The more I learn about other styles, the more I can do and better I will be in my career.”
Others come to Comic-Con to indulge in their hidden hobbies when being a fan of certain things does not quite meet what the “real world” demands.
Ernest, a copyright attorney in California, spends his time at the convention wearing a Ghostbusters costume, complete with movie-accurate proton backpack and other props.
“My clients and peers would give me a second look if they saw me here,” said Ernest who admitted to owning his own replica of the Ecto-1 car and other movie props and replicas.  “I love the Ghostbusters, though, and I can express it here with no worries about being judged.”
Still, others come for the opportunity to buy items they can’t find anywhere else.
This year, Gentle Giant Studios, a company known for making action figures using laser-accurate life scans, had several figures available for sale, including statues of characters from the recent film “Sucker Punch.”  Mattel, the toy giant, had figures from Ghostbusters and other projects for sale as did Hasbro and other manufacturers.
Jay, a toy seller, had some of his new and old stock available for sale in the convention’s outer areas.  Jay owns a comic book and toy business in the Northwest part of the country.
“Sure, I come here to get my hands on the exclusives the major players sell,” explained Jay.  “But I’m also here to get rid of some of my stock from home.  I always leave with less than I brought in.”
Then, there are those who express their devotion by waiting in line.  Jessica, a young woman just past 19, had been waiting in line to see a panel discussion on the new “Twilight” film “Breaking Dawn” since Wednesday night.  Many before her had been in line since Monday, prior to getting their badges.
“I love everything ‘Twilight,” said Jessica, clutching her pillow.  “But I don’t love it as much as those guys,” she added, pointing to the ones in front of the line.
Surprisingly, the next morning saw members of the “Breaking Dawn” cast provide breakfast (muffins, bananas, apples and water) to some of the faithful along with photo opportunities and autographs.
“That was so cool of them,” added Jessica the following morning.
The 2012 San Diego Comic-Con will run from July 12 through July 15 with Preview Night on July 11, 2012.