Gabe Zaldivar | July 26, 2016 12:00 PM ET
Finding The Joy In San Diego's Crazy Comic-Con
The Doctor Who costume stayed packed away. It was just too damn hot on Friday in San Diego. It’s not like any of the thousands who flocked into downtown missed me, because the 2016 iteration of Comic-Con was replete with Harley Quinns, Stormtroopers and Reys.
Now it was only my third time at this epic geek fest but it felt like my 30th.
This nerd party welcomes with such wide arms that you can’t help but fall helplessly in love with the entire glorious mess and feel a sense of familiarity from the start.
At any other time of the year, claustrophobia sets in the second I’m in the middle of a pack of people. Concerts, festivals and, hell, even Costco give me immense unease.
But here, for some reason, the crush of cosplayers and convention goers doesn’t bother me in the least.
Then again, perhaps I know the reason. Now this might sound a little cheesy, but there is so much goodwill pumping through the halls that the feeling is palpable. Every single person is there to have a good time and dress accordingly.
OK, that was a city-wide block of cheese, but it needed to be said.
Do you adore little pop-culture bobbleheads? Well, there is a place for you. Do you enjoy classic comic fare like Jim Davis’ Garfield? Yep, there was a panel geared to your geekdom.
How about video games, card collecting or anime artistry? Yes, you can sate those needs if you so choose.
Or, like so many did, you can walk the streets with your smartphone in front of you and grab every last Pokémon in sight. No need to worry about odd glances, because everyone had their eyes firmly embedded on yet another geodude or infernal zubat and not on you and your peculiarities.
You can head on over and stand in line for star-studded panels in Hall H, the convention floor or simply sit and people watch. Trey Parker may just walk on past as he did while I sat trying to recuperate from the onslaught of awesome the immediately led to sensory overload and very tired feet.
I’ve tried to explain to some like my father-in-law just exactly what Comic-Con is, but have had some difficulty.
You see, it’s everything in a very specific form of that word. Perhaps the best way to explain it is a convention that breeds inclusion and frivolity.
There. Succinct and absolutely vague, just as you would expect from a four-day convention that nurtures as many food and bar deals as it does obscure pop culture references.
There are myriad columns, reports and videos out there that will illustrate specifically what Comic-Con is, but many fail to capture the allure that keeps so many coming back.
It’s that knowledge that you can hop out of your Uber near Petco or by the convention center and put on a smile and immerse yourself in your childhood for a weekend.
Nobody will fault you for being a big geeky kid because everyone around you is playing along in this fantasy world that is so very much a reality.
If you haven’t taken the plunge down the rabbit hole yet, please consider doing so. At its best travel is about sparking the wonder we once had as kids. Every summer, San Diego hosts a soiree dedicated to that exact thing and every year it fails to disappoint.
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