By Jason Strangis
Ridiculous. Nonsense. Foolish prattle.
Let me be clear right now: Comic-Con International belongs in San Diego. Always has. Always will.
Recently, there have been rumors and reports about Comic-Con International moving away from San Diego to a new location. Anaheim and Los Angeles seem to be the two biggest cities in play, but those large metro areas already have major comic cons.
Anaheim has WonderCon in the spring, and L.A. now has Stan Lee’s Comikaze in the autumn. One major comic con per city is enough.
The thought of the San Diego Comic-Con without San Diego is hard one for legions of fanboys and fangirls to swallow. Since 1970 Comic-Con has been a summer staple in San Diego. The event has grown from humble beginnings to a world-wide phenomenon that attracts more than 130,000 fans who love comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and all things pop culture.
If you’ve never been to the San Diego Comic-Con, you’re missing out on a seismic event that is truly life-changing. Personally speaking, I’ve been lucky enough to attend Comic-Con four times overall. The first time was in 1998. The enormous size of the San Diego Convention Center and hordes of crazy fans blew me away back then, and it’s only been getting bigger and bigger. My next visit to San Diego was 2004, my favorite year at Comic-Con. The previous year they added more space to the already-gigantic convention center. There seemed to be no end to the amount of cool stuff, jaw-dropping displays, and sensational costumes. And then there were the hundreds of incredible panels featuring legends of the comic book field.
One of the main things that separates San Diego from other conventions is the dizzying amount of panels taking place four straight days and nights. The San Diego Convention Center is unique in that it literally has hundreds of rooms and super-large stages to hold the countless number of meetings during the weekend.
And then there are all the events and awards shows at night. Can you imagine the Eisner Awards any place other than San Diego? It just wouldn’t seem right.
The main auditorium at the SDCC is big enough to hold thousands of people, as was the case when legendary author Ray Bradbury was a featured speaker in 2004. Bradbury has always been my favorite writer, and getting the chance to hear the master speak in person was something I will never forget.
I went again to San Diego in 2005 and 07, but haven’t been able to get back yet due to its ever-growing popularity and difficulty getting tickets. But I’m hoping that changes soon.
I’ve attended many major comic cons around the country including Wizard World Chicago and Megacon in Florida, but nothing beats the San Diego Comic-Con.
What makes SDCC so special? For starters, it’s in an ideal location. San Diego is a great city, very clean with friendly people and beautiful beaches. It’s long been an ideal tourist destination.
The convention center where Comic-Con is held is located near the San Diego harbor, with hundreds of hotels nearby. It’s invigorating to walk along the harbor in the morning and check out the ships that are docked. And tourists can even take large boat rides around the bay area.
It’s only about a mile or so to the convention center, an easy walk or you can get a lift in a bicycle carriage ride. After show hours, fans file out and into the popular Gaslamp District where there are many trendy restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The San Diego nightlife really comes to life at that time. All the restaurants and clubs are within easy walking distance from the convention center, and that’s a gigantic reason to keep Comic-Con in San Diego.
Another advantage San Diego has going for it is the ability to attract movie studios and television networks from Hollywood. A-list stars and celebrities have an easy time getting to San Diego to make appearances at Comic-Con.
For comic book fans, it’s five straight days (counting Preview Night) of non-stop fun and fantasy. Just making it through Comic-Con is quite an accomplishment in itself.
Over the past few years I’ve heard some fans complain that Comic-Con has grown too large, and the space inside the San Diego Convention Center is over-crowded. Hopefully, they’ll be able to expand the convention center to make everyone happy. As it stands, San Diego already has one of the biggest convention centers in the country, but a new expansion probably would help.
And they also need to make it easier for first-time fans to get tickets. Every passionate comic book fan needs to experience Comic-Con at least once in their life. And they need to experience it in San Diego.
Jason Strangis is a freelance writer who enjoys superheroes, sci-fi, and attending comic book conventions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org