When you’ve been to San Diego Comic-Con, explaining the experience to anyone who hasn’t can be difficult. Describing the sheer volume of people feels like an exercise in hyperbole. It’s not a place for the faint of heart. It’s not easy. And when it’s over, when reality comes crashing back in on you, the sinking feeling in your stomach that you have to wait a whole year until you can go back makes one thing clear: this is your home.
Comic-Con may never matter to you, but for me, my obsession with the largest Con in America began about two years ago when I conceived an idea for a screenplay set there. Like all my stories, this one began with a character and a question. Those two elements, who and why, set me on a path to fervently investigate this mythical beast, this magical place where writers, actors, artists and their fans come together for four days of insanity, united.
This research created in me a deep fascination. I am a card-carrying member of many fandoms. I love my shows and my books and all the flawed and fabulous characters with a sometimes rabid passion. But going to Comic-Con isn’t something you just do. It takes forethought. It takes guts, and it is not easily achieved. It does not happen on your own.
Stephanie, my sister and best friend, and I agreed that if we could get badges to Comic Con, we would go, and not only that, we would start a YouTube channel to chronicle our journey.
Our road to Comic-Con was filled with struggle, but also, allies willing to help make this thing happen.
The first was Melissa. A friend of Stephanie’s that dreamed of going to Comic-Con as well. We linked up, agreeing that whoever got sent through registration would buy badges for all three of us. Melissa was the Chosen One, from a lottery that resembled the Reaping. And in less than a minute, we had acquired a one-day badge. We didn’t care that it was just Sunday. We were going. Melissa ended up not being able to attend, but if not for her, our journey would have stopped there. Melissa has favors she can forever call in.
The second was the Internet of Comic-Con Nerds. Once we started vlogging, tweeting, tumblring about the Con, we quickly found there was a plethora of experts at our fingertips. There was a Comic Con fandom. There was a blogger named Tony B. Kim, maybe better known as Crazy 4 Comic Con, who has made a career out of going to Cons. His insight and passion became a guide to surviving, maybe even winning, San Diego Comic-Con. To all those who dedicate themselves to this fandom, we thank you. You made this unknown monster a little less scary.
The third was a woman we affectionately call our Jedi Master. A volunteer we befriended before the Con after meeting her in our hometown. Jedi Master taught us the ways of her people, and gave us the gift of Friday and Saturday passes. She took us under the arm of her cloak, imparting her wisdom and making us believe that Con Magic exists. Con Magic was real. And we, for some unknown reason, were being touched by it.
We conquered the unconquerable lines of Hall H and Ballroom 20. Walking into the darkness of Hall H, surrounded by 6,500 other humans there for the same reason we were — they were fans — my heart exploded with feeling. I had built this place up in my mind, something that could have gone terribly wrong, but when it came to it I had no idea just how powerful it would be. How the weight of this world would rest on my shoulders like a cloak of invisibility, allowing me to feel, for a moment, completely invincible.
And when I lost my wallet, the person that turned it in, leaving my cash and cards intact, gets the credit for finally making me cry. It was more magic than I deserved, too much kindness, after days of unforeseen blessings. I was unworthy.
Comic-Con isn’t just a place to spot celebrities, or fight for exclusives, or listen to panels. It’s about more than seeing unreleased footage or blooper reels from favorite shows. Those things are awesome, but not everything. Comic-Con is a place where, if only for a few moments, you are not alone in the world, you are not misunderstood, and you can become a hero.
I am a fan that aspires to be a creator, to one day sit on a panel and have fans of my own. But I am a fan first, and I need other fans. I needed to be reminded that human beings are capable of greatness.