Just like that and San Diego Comic-Con is over. All the weeks of prep and the days just blew by once the event was finally here. I’m sure you’re already seeing a ton of comic-con recaps out there, covering everything from upcoming movie releases, breaking news, reunions and limited-edition collector’s items. Here’s my update on all things related to food. “Food stuff at the Comic-Con? Come on, Darlene!” It may have been a stretch in previous years to make the connection to food and comic-con, but this year it was easy. The hardest part was paring it down to a digestible size.
The first and possibly the biggest announcement coming out of Comic-Con — at least in my eyes — was the appearance of Anthony Bourdain. With the release of his new comic, “Get Jiro!” by Vertigo Comics (an offprint of DC Comics), everyone was a buzz with Bourdain’s panel and two days of signings. I managed to meet him, shake his hand and give him a copy of The Girl with the Donut Tattoo and a Cool Jerk canvas panel reproduction (featuring him) to which he proclaimed “Wow! Best swag ever.”
Bourdain was gracious and very congenial to everyone, even when interviewed by YouTube personality Chef Bigfoot. Surprisingly, Bourdain was much more reachable than most celebrities who hit the floor. I guess in the world of comics, Bourdain is a much smaller fish than Shia LaBeouf, who was swarmed by wanna-be paparazzi in Small Press while trying to give away his book. (Check out Keith Knight’s experience sharing the table with LaBeouf told in comic-form.)
Word has been out for a while now that companies don’t have to buy a booth at the convention center to promote their stuff. Outside the venue, loads of companies were offering tons of freebies. Vitamin Water, 5-Hour Energy Drink and Jarritos were just some of the vendors offering free full-sized samples, hoping to get some future business from thirsty attendees.
Among them was Sprinkles Cupcakes. The Sprinkles Mobile was tweeting their location and giving away cupcakes specially decorated for Comic-Con: Wonder Woman, Avengers, Spider-Man and X-Men logos were printed on fondant and topped four different cupcakes. The cupcakes were a welcome sugar rush for many, including myself.
One event outside of the convention center that was open only to attendees was the History Channel’s Cookoff by Island Ave. For two days, they gave away free sausages to people, who also had a chance to taste/judge some BBQ ribs and burgers and play some yard games. Local eateries Phil’s BBQ and Hodad’s also participated in this event.
Down the street from the cookoff, Ralphs transformed their storefront. They replaced the patio seating on one side to allow for the easy purchase of drinks, chips and sandwiches. Regardless of the popup street-side convenience, sales were still brisk inside the grocery store.
The Gaslamp Quarter was again a blaze with restaurant deals or comic-related menu items to take advantage of hungry attendees.
MaryJane’s Coffeeshop must have a deal with the Syfy network. In previous years, it was transformed into a restaurant for their show, Eureka. This year, their new show Defiance took over the location. A building wrap for Defiance was also plastered on the side of the Marriott.
Even fast food joints were trying to get a piece of the comic-con pie. From a distance, who I thought were a pair of Raggedy Ann cosplayers were actually promoting Wendy’s. These gals were handing out coupons for combo meals and strawberry-inspired desserts.
Inside the convention center, there were hundreds of food-related curiosities as well.
Possibly the grossest and most realistic thing I would never consider getting would be the plastic wrapped, rotting zombie foot. Apparently these were hot merchandise and flying off the shelves. And just when I thought the zombie trend was coming to an end.
I’ve been coveting these robot donut prints from Eric Joyner for a few years now. At $80 a pop per a limited print, it’s bit too rich for my blood. Some day… some day…
On a more manageable price level, Kid Robot was selling blind boxes of Yummy Dessert or Yummy Breakfast keychains for about $6. It’s a nice gift for any food fiend who enjoys cute food stuff like myself.
Ron English’s Fat Tony vinyl figure was sold out by Saturday. It’s a funny-but-sad commentary on childhood obesity.
On display with other movie memorabilia is Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka outfit. Close by were Golden Tickets and replicas of the chocolate bars featured in the movie.
As usual, it was cosplay galore (with a big population explosion on Saturday). Doctor Who and steampunk were still pretty popular, along with super-heroes from all walks of life. I loved seeing the Breakfast Princess and Flame Princess from Adventure Time. Everything on this Breakfast Princess was on par with her cartoon counterpart: bacon belt, bacon crown and toast top. Adventure Time was huge at this year’s convention; from blocks away you could see Finn’s big inflated head atop the Children’s Museum.
And I never would have understood this costume if I hadn’t binge-viewed Bob’s Burgers weeks before the convention. It’s a more grown up version of the Bob’s youngest spawn, Louise. Cute-as-a-button Kristen Schaal does the voice on the show.
Fast food was represented inside too. This crossplay of Ronald McDonald was spotted wandering the aisles with a burger purse slung around her neck. This woman must really love her Mickey D’s.
Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster may not be eating cookies all the time now, but the costumed guy inside was ecstatic to receive a free donut cookie. The donut cookies — free with purchase of The Girl with the Donut Tattoo — were baked by Jenny Wenny Cakes. They were enthusiastically received by many people.
Speaking of food bloggers, there were a few in Small Press besides myself.
Our friend Jenn of JustJenn Recipes was selling a four-pack of recipe cards at her table, alongside her popular recipe comic, O.G. Favorite Recipes. Everything can be found and purchased online if you didn’t make it to the convention.
New-to-me food blogger was Sarah Becan of Sauceome, who flew out to San Diego from the “great state of Chicago.” (That’s a Dan Quayle-ism btw.) Sarah was selling her books and fantastic-looking food prints, including Sausages of the World. It was great talking food with her for a few minutes. I can’t wait to read more stuff on her site.
On Saturday, a woman came up and bought two copies of The Girl with the Donut Tattoo for her 89-year-old grandmother, Beatrice, who was unable to attend the con. She came back Sunday to say how much her grandmother enjoyed it and wanted more. It was touching, to say the least. Several other people came by to buy several copies for themselves and friends throughout the show.
While we weren’t able to linger downtown after hours like many conventioneers, we made it a point to grab dinner Saturday night while soaking in the festive nightlife. We wandered from place to place, finally deciding on Sultan Shawarma. The line was long but we were rewarded with a recreation of the shawarma scene at the end of The Avengers. Sure, half the Avengers were lean Asian crossplaying kids, but it was adorable. (The person relegated to sit on the floor was apparently Loki.) Check out the face on the Twee Hulk!
A very hearty thanks to everyone who came out and purchased a copy of the comic The Girl with the Donut Tattoo. On Sunday, it was completely sold out. If you didn’t get a copy and would like to order one, we will have a second printing that will available for sale at Cool Jerk very soon!
Related: Culinary Culture in Comics: Comic-Con 2011 Wrap-Up;
Why Did Snoopy quit the comic strip? Because he was tired of working for Peanuts (2010);
A Strange Conversation At Comic-Con (And It’s Food-Related) (2007)