There was no defining moment or image to this year’s comic-con. There were no extraordinary costumes that I hadn’t seen before. Many vendors had the same thing and even the theme of comic-con was a menagerie of different pop culture touchstones.
In previous years I had seen zombies make a big play, Adventure Time was huge last year and steampunk made a big leap to mainstream somewhere in between. This year had all of that including the random sightings of Star Wars stormtroopers, uniformed Star Trek officers, Doctor Who and comic heroes. Frankly, this comic-con seemed like a rerun of previous conventions on constant replay for 5 days. Very enjoyable reruns but reruns nonetheless.
Even with that, my experience at the convention wasn’t diminished. I saw and made new friends. Everyone I spoke to, of course, talked about food. Paul was selling his new Cool Jerk book, Thinkulus (Cool Jerk Vol. 4) which made quick sales even during the few hours on Wednesday night. A lot of people came by the booth just to tell him they saw his feature on the front of last Sunday’s U-T San Diego Business section. (You can read the entire piece here.)
Much like last year, vendors were selling food-related merchandise. I spied Evil Ice Cream plushes, toasted marshmallow vinyl figures, zombie bacon, a shirt with cartoon depictions of how to eat cookies, donut hairpins, and a play on Count Chocula changed to Count Calorie. (The artist Ron English did a similar thing last year with Captain Crunch.)
The market this year seems to stocked with silicon ice trays. Kotobukiya originally broke the market a few years ago with their Star Wars line of ice trays and offered more this year with a Millennium Falcon and Death Star. Other vendors had ice trays but with a different slant to it.
I did a double take on this shirt that swiped the Wendy’s logo and changed it to zombies. I was tempted to get this for Paul with the intention of wearing if we ever stepped into that fast food franchise.
Aside from helping Paul man the Cool Jerk table, I planned to attend only two events. A Feast For Your Eyes: Creativity in Comics and Cuisine showcased bloggers Jenn Fujikawa (JustJenn Recipes/JustJenn Rants) and Rosanna Pansino (Nerdy Nummies), both two well-known geeks. Rounding out the panel were San Diegans Brian Malarkey (Seersucker) and Ignacio Cervantes (Pizza Port), and Justin Warner (Food Network Star winner) and C.B. Cebulski (Marvel Comics) from New York. It was an fun panel that showcased everyone’s insight into their creative process.
Outside of the convention center, my friend Marc and I checked out the Godzilla Experience for the upcoming American-made Godzilla movie. The interactive experience was located in a building on the corner of 7th Ave. and J St. Once we were ushered in, we found ourselves in downtown Tokyo but with a “Godzilla Really Exists!” vibe. There was a ramen restaurant with Godzilla-themed menus and placemats and “Destroy All Hunger” on its signage. It was very much like a walk through Star Tours, ending on top of a 25th floor and Godzilla passing by, peering into the windows. Paul was envious when I showed him all the photos.
Downtown was a flurry of activity. Restaurants were competing for dollars and some even had employees dressed up as characters.
Even Donut Bar got into the act. I helped them come up with a few ideas for comic-con-themed donuts and from there it was all them. Among my qualms about it was spelling Spider-Man without the hyphen (a major peeve among comic folks) and using a banana-flavored frosting on their Wolverine donut. Wolverine is from Canada. I think he deserves a maple donut to go with his alternate brown and ochre costume.
Yet again, you didn’t have to go far to get free food. In conjunction with the TBS show King of the Nerds, a cereal bar took root in an art gallery and offered choices of more than 30 cereals, 20 toppings and four kinds of milk between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. An ice cream truck was also seen giving out a choice of ice cream bars for Insidious 2 and free pizza for Animation Dominination.
In the opposite direction of free, I couldn’t help but shake my head at the Carl’s Jr. food truck at comic-con’s interactive zone by Petco Park. Combo meals were going as high as $10! It’s a ridicious price just for fast food.
Walking around Gaslamp, I would also catch these unique, multi-seated bicycles promoting Edgar Wright’s new film, The World’s End.
Off hours, I only managed to go to one well-anticipated dinner that was thrown by Dos Equis. I attended last year’s dinner and was blown away with the food and conversation. This year did not disappoint. It was again orchestrated by Craig Thornton and every plate wowed the diners. It was just hard to chose just one standout but the plate with quail and beet puree had many at our dinner nicknaming it The Dexter Plate. (You can read about last year’s dinner here.)
As I mentioned earlier, the costumes were largely unimpressive. There was a multitude of zombies and costumed folks but the one head-scratcher was this guy dressed as a pizza ghost. It seemed like a half-hearted attempt on his end but it was unique and memorable to me nonetheless.
Like all previous San Diego Comic-Con’s — despite the long hours and little sleep — we had a great time. I can’t wait until next year.