San Diego Comic Con 2017: Freaks and Geeks?
Part 1-Getting There:
For the uninitiated, what exactly is San Diego Comic Con (SDCC)?
San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has been about way more than just comic books for a long time now. SDCC did indeed start in 1970 with only 140 attendees as a gathering strictly devoted to comic books. Over the decades however, it has evolved into a multi-genre entertainment juggernaut hosting more than 130,000 attendees every year covering a huge range of the pop culture and entertainment landscape from horror and science fiction to animation, anime, manga, video games and fantasy novels. With over 130,000 attendees, is it any wonder that SDCC has been crowned the largest popular culture gathering in the world?
So, I look like a pretty sane guy, why Comic Con?
True confession, I’m not a huge fan of comic books or anything comic book related for that matter. So why Comic Con you ask? Well, my oldest son has always been a lover of comics and all things derived from comics (TV, movie) along with video games and just about any thing else popular culture. For a long time now I have been taking each of my children on a one-on-one daddy-daughter/daddy-son trip. In 2012, my son, who was 13 years old at the time, asked me to take him to Comic Con. So for our 2012 daddy-son trip, Comic Con was the plan. I diligently booked flights, got a hotel relatively close to the convention center and then started trying to figure out how to get tickets for the actual event.
In retrospect I did things a wee bit backwards, event tickets definitely should have come first. A bit of research quickly got me up to speed. Apparently Comic Con was really popular and getting tickets last minute was literally impossible. Heck, even getting tickets in advance bordered on impossible. People literally plan a year in advance for this event, usually as soon as the current Comic Con ends. And to make matters worse, you have to be a registered Comic Con member which we definitely were not at the time. Even as a registered member, you only have about a 5% chance of getting a ticket in the lottery that takes place a few months before the event.
So yeah, we clearly were not going to actually get into Comic Con. None-the-less we went to San Diego and we had a blast soaking up the whole Comic Con vibe that takes over the city. The entire Gaslamp district and much of downtown San Diego transforms into a surreal fantasy world with tons of cool things to see and do. Sans Comic Con tickets, we still had four full days of fun and I left San Diego a total Comic Con convert. Okay, rookie lesson learned, as soon as we got home I registered each of us for Comic Con IDs with the hopes of returning in 2013.
The ticket lottery however had other plans and 2013 just didn’t happen. Surely that was just a bad flip of the coin and 2014 would be our year, right? Nope, no dice in 2014. 2015? nope and 2016? fugetaboutit! Now comes spring 2017 and my 18 year old son had pretty much given up on the idea of ever getting tickets. My wife will tell you however, that I am nothing if not tenacious. If need be, I was going to submit my fate to that damn lottery every year until I was 80, but come hell or high water we were going to go to Comic Con even if I was going in a wheel chair with my balding 50-something son pushing me around.
So with little hope I entered the random lottery and wouldn’t you know it? luck was actually on our side this year and we were among the lucky 5% who got tickets in the general lottery. And so 2017 would be our year, no wheelchair or Rogaine required.
PART 1: GETTING THERE
There really is no exotic or interesting way to get from Chicago to San Diego. There are no “five star” airlines, no five course meals, no lie flat seats and no 100+ channels of inflight entertainment. Living in Chi-town however, we do have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to nonstop domestic flight options. There is Southwest at Midway Airport while United, American and Spirit have extensive networks out of my preferred airport, O’Hare. For better or for worst (and mostly it has been for better), I usually remain loyal to United Airlines and Star Alliance. So United it was for our trip to the left coast and the largest popular culture event on the planet.
Be sure to check out part 2, our time at “The Con” HERE
Be sure to check out part 3, our journey back home HERE