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Above: The Display Stand at the 2011 Long Beach Comic Con Expo (LBCC EXPO) with the copies of 'The Unauthorized San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide by Doug Kline!
TODAY'S FEATURE - Blog #3401:
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Long Beach Comic Con Expo, (LBCC EXPO), with my youngest son, and this Friday through Saturday, I'll be attending the 2011 Wizard World Anaheim Comic Con. So as you can see I'm at several comic cons here in Southern California, as well as sci-fi / fantasy cons & other cons such as the 2011 AnimeConji that was held recently in San Diego.
My official comic con going experience goes way back to August 3rd of 1970, when I was told there was some sort of 'comic show' at the U.S. Grant in downtown San Diego. I was working at the San Diego Zoo at the time, and I got off early to go check it out. At that time this 'show' was known as the 'Golden State Comic Con', (with approx 300 attendees).
I missed the 1971 'Golden State Comic Con', as it was during the summer, and up at Muir College on the UCSD campus. I was still at the San Diego Zoo, and the Summer (August 6th-8th), was a difficult time to arrange time off... And I needed the dollars to continue attending San Diego State College. (That year there approx 800+ attendees.)
It wasn't until August 20th of 1972 when I first bought out a comic book dealer who had to leave to go back home on a Saturday, that I first set up as a comic book dealer on Sunday at the 1972 'San Diego's West Coast Comic Convention' - note change of name. (Attendance approx 900+ at this show.)
It was during the August 16th - 19th of 1973 at the Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island in San Diego that I first set up as a comic book dealer with my own booth. This was the first year that the 'con' became known as the 'San Diego Comic-Con'. (With approx 1,000+ attendees.)
I'm not going to bore you with the in-between years of the SDCC being held at the El Cortez Hotel and then moving to the Convention and Performing Arts Center in Downtown San Diego, but I am going to mention the explosion in the number of attendees at this con starting in 1991!
The final year at the Convention and Performing Arts Center, (held August 2nd through 5th of 1990), saw approximately 13,000+ attendees.
The first year at the new San Diego Convention Center for the SDCC saw an increase to approximately 15,000+ attendees. This was held during the July 4th Weekend of 1991, which did affect attendance. I remember seeing the fireworks during this con, which was a great opening for this con to be there for the first time.
I jump to the year 2001, when I first brought my then-fiancee, Tina, to her first ever comic con of any size. The con was now called 'Comic-Con International' officially, as it had changed to that name in 1995. The number of attendees was approx 53,000! That was the year that Hollywood 'discovered' Comic-Con! It was at that point that Comic-Con started become even more wilder and craizer than in the years before that!
I've thought how much harder it has become over the years for me, as a 'local' to attend this comic con. Last year the 'pre-paid parking' program started... You should have seen the looks Tina and I received after leaving the elevators that took us up from the underground parking at the convention cneter to the street level. We were asked repeatedly how we were able to obtain underground parking! Which I blogged about the availability here last year, !
It's even 'worse' this year. The underground pre-paid parking was not available online for Preview Night this year. We have to park over at the Hilton Garage and walk over the exhibit hall. So there WON'T be any purchases of comics from the dealers section for us to resale on that 'Preview Night' for sure! I made the 'mistake' of buying a long box of comics a few years ago at 'Preview Night' from a NY comics dealer who 'flipped' it to me, and I had to walk it out to the Hilton Garage Parking Structure. Never again! No matter how Great a deal it is!
I've posted blogs about the recent Comic-Cons in San Diego that we have attended, as seen in the thousands of links found at Google, but never formatted them together to put together a 'Guide' to this Comic-Con...
Which brings me to my thoughts on this mini-book I found at last Saturday's LBCC Expo. Seriously, at the LBCC Expo in a display rack on a table that the exhibitor was missing at, temporarily!
The author, Doug Kline, was sharing a table with comics creator, Luis Calderon, in the Artists Alley section. Luis was kind enough to talk to me about the book, but I had already 'seen' it at the Facebook Fan Page that I had temporarily 'Liked', until I could come back and check it out further.
Luis allowed me to thumb though the book, which I did, and saw the table of contents. For $4.99 it seemed a fair amount for what purported itself to be 'The Unauthorized San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide'.
Glancing through it, I could see that the author knew quite a bit about attending the Comic-Con International: San Diego convention, although the title called it by one of the popular names 'San Diego Comic-Con'. I had thought that only 'old farts' like me called it that anymore, or others that had been attending for many years, LOL!
The naming problem of the Comic-Con International: San Diego is basically that those running the con, chose the generic name 'Comic-Con' several years ago. Heck, there were even attempts to make the name 'Comic-Con' theirs and theirs alone. However the usauge of 'comic con' had already grown to common usage such as 'kleenex' for 'facial tissues', or 'xerox' for photo-copying, so that didn't go too far...
Here's just a few thoughts on this Survival Guide.
Last year, the Comic-Con had grown to over 130,000+ in attendance. Way too big for the San Diego Convention Center. Way too big for anyone, and I mean anyone to see it all. Last year was the first time when attending, that I didn't walk every aisle at least once during the four day + preview night.
This 'mini-buk' is going to help the first-timer to this comic convention see most of what the first-time should / could see, with tips on how to get to the con, stay near-by, possibly park close, and where and how to stand in line for those panels / programs that are near impossible to get into!
Please note that this book is copyrighted 2010, so the information is as 'current' as at the time it was published.
The front cover is pretty cool in that it shows the Gaslamp Quarter signage along with the SD Convention center. Because that is where 'life' is during the 5 days of the Comic-Con.
The inside title page adds the Twitter name for this book, (mini-buk), as well as the Facebook Fan Page. Which you should keep on your smart phone.
The Contents page has the following chapters:
Acknowledgements, Foreword, and Introduction, which are good to read once to find out the background of this book's author. There you will find that he has been attending since 2004, which is right during when Hollywood came down 'in force' to help over-size this con into the two wings of the SD Convention Center.
Before the Show - A good chapter that first-timers should read. Plus those of YOU that even think you may want to attend a future Comic-Con.
Acquiring Lodging - Tina and I are lucky in that we are locals and that this Comic-Con is in our own 'backyard', only 30 miles South of us. For those of YOU that aren't that close, this chapter contains important info. I can't comment too much on the topic, but I do know that I wouldn't want to be in Mission Valley, which has the rooms for usually a lot less cost, but don't have the close facilities where you can drop off the swag that you pick up during the day. Plus the 'After-Con Events' are not close at all to the Mission Valley hotels.
Transportation To San Diego - Again, I can't evaluate the info in this chapter, as I haven't had to fly in, or take a train to the Comic-Con. However the tips about driving there I can relate to. In fact, I was at my Doctor's office in 'Uptown San Diego' and the receptionist there asked me what days the 2011 Comic-Con was running, as she always takes a different way leaving work because of the traffic! So read this chapter carefully!
Make A Game Plan - This chapter is worth the cost of this minibuk alone! Tina and I always double check our 'Game Plan', before and during the 5 day Comic-Con!
At The Show - 'Getting around San Diego' and 'Getting Into The Show' are sub sections that you should read and study.
Daily Necessities - And trust me... These 'Daily Necessities' are necessary! Doug does a fine job on going over what you will need during the con. If you don't have pre-paid underground parking, and have to carry around all this stuff with you... You may opt not to bring it or carry it with you, in lieu of picking up 'swag'. After reading this chapter, you'll think twice about that...!
Panels - Doug does a good job on this long chapter, with several sub-sections. You should read it before you get to the con. The only notable exceptions would be a comment or two by my wife, Tina, who has been a Hall 'H' goer since 2001. She says that the attendees there, in between panels are more like a 'pack of rats, not a flock of birds' as Doug calls it, during those times, LOL. So it is even more serious in obtaining good seats. She also stated that Doug didn't mention 'line buddies', which we always make during the Comic-Con, but that may have been on purpose. We have made many 'line buddies' during the years, and couldn't enjoy the Comic-Con as much without them!
Exhibition Hall - This is a good 'read' on what to expect on the floor. There are so many attendees there now, that aren't interested in comic books, (what?!), that there are sections of the floor that I am intending on staying away from... Now that I no longer feel the need to see every aisle, after breaking my string of successive years of doing so. Blog readers: This place is as good / bad as Disneyland... You can't see it all in one day, and anymore you can't see it all in four days even with 'preview night', as the Comic-Con is now also held at the Hilton next door, and the Marriott on the other side of the SD Convention Center. My words to you... Read. This. Chapter.
People Management - It used to be when this Comic-Con was getting bigger and bigger, I'd say 'What People Management?', but the Comic-Con staff and security was pretty darn good last year. Other than the lines management in the early morning to let people in... Getting there first in the first line doesn't mean that you will be let in first, otherwise how did all those people get in the hall before you?... The people managment aspect has gotten better. More than likely because there is now a more manageable 'cap' on number of attendees.
Night Life - We have attended several 'After-Con Events' during the past years, depending if I brought any of my under-age kids with us. This chapter is good for those that don't, and how you can see more after the Comic-Con officially closes for the day.
Things You Really Should Do - This from the author's POV.
After The Show - Really important for you out-of-towners! You won't believe how much swag you picked up! And what are you going to do with it, when you leave town?!
Whew! For a 'mini-buk', there's a lot of content in this! With 169 mini-pages! Is it worth it? Is there truly a need for a mini-book like this one?
Well... My review rating for this comic book series is a VERY FINE / NEAR MINT (VF/NM) 9.0 out of a 10.0 possible comic book grading scale.
That's because no matter how 'current' a book can be published, there are always 'new' developements that aren't in a hard copy format. Which is good that Doug has a 'Twitter' account and a 'Facebook Fan Page' for updates.
Would I recommend this book for those that would like to attend Comic-Con next year, 2012, as the 2011 event is already sold out?! Yes, I would.
Would I recommend this book for those that have already purchased their Comic-Con memberships, whether for one day or multiple days or all four days, maybe even with 'Preview Night', and are 1st Timers to this event? Yes, I would!
Would I recomment this book for those that have been to many Comic-Con International: San Diego events in the past few years, or have been there a while ago, but not lately? Yes, I would.
Because there is a wealth of information that isn't on the Comic-Con International web site, or Facebook Fan Page that is shared with the reader of this mini-buk, 'The Unauthorized San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide' for only $4.99 plus S&H, (currently $3 at the posting of this blog)!
Oh, for those of you that prefer not to carry a mini-buk (mini-book), you can order the same info as an e-book for download for your computer or mobile device for the same $4.99 without any shipping/handling!
The odds are that you will be spending hundreds of dollars just to come to San Diego... Stay in San Diego... And eat n' play before, during, and after the daily con occurs for all five days. This cost of the mini-buk is negligible in relation to that overall total cost.
You can check out this mini-buk, and see more at:
The Unauthorized San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide web site
The Facebook Fan Page for the mini-buk
The Twitter page for this mini-buk.
Again, my thanks to Luis Calderon for talking with me at the LBCC Expo, (I'm reading your comics next, Luis!), and my regrets for not meeting the mini-buk's author, Doug Kline at the same show!
My thanks again to all of YOU reading this blog and our archived blog posts, now at 3,401 total posts in number! I do appreciate your continued reading and support of this Blog!
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~ Michael D Hamersky
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