?Think the craziest of the crazies hang out at the Mos Eisley Cantina or the Legion of Doom’s swamp base? Think again. Every year the cr?me of the geek crop crawl out of their holes and make their way towards the San Diego Comic Con, the world’s largest comic convention (although the percentage of the con that deals with actual comics seems to grow smaller every year). Some attendees are totally awesome, some are sexy, some are disturbing in the extreme. And thanks to SDCC’s massive, ever-expanding pop culture scope, not all of them are even nerds.
If you’re planning on making the journey to the convention center, there’s plenty of thing you need to do, but only this list will prepare you for who you’ll meet at SDCC. We expect you’ll be happy to have this crowdspotter’s guide to just some the colorful folks around you. Some people may fall into more than one category — I admit, I’m a little bit of each of these guys. But I suspect most of the good nerd are as well.
10) Grumpy Old Fan
There’s a badge of honor in attending every convention in San Diego, and there are some guys who win that badge year after year, long after it stopped being impressive. If you hear someone bitching about how Hollywood has taken over the con, and how it wasn’t like this in the old days, it’s this guys.
PROS: A vast resource of con history, great for stories of drinking with Bob Kane.
CONS: Will name drop like it’s going out of style, and punctuate with incessant bitching about the hordes of Twilight fans.
9) Little Big Blogger
San Diego is more than accommodating with members of the press, large and small. Perhaps too accommodating — virtually anyone with a blog can get a press pass. That includes the rabid fan who writes nothing but Deadpool fanfic and lengthy bitchfests about weekly comics jostling for the same position as top talent from Newsarama. They’re one and the same in the eyes of SDCC.
PROS: If you’re looking to hear how much the con sucked because there wasn’t enough Deadpool, check out his blog.
CONS: Grant Morrison only has so much free time at a convention, and this guy will try to monopolize as much of it as he can. Also, he’ll argue that his presence at a panel is somehow “more important” than yours.
The convention is both a place to see and a place to be seen. For some fans, more the latter than the former. These guys start working on their costumes for one con the day after the last one ends, thinking that people are dying to see what they come up with next. It’s a runway for the Clotheswhores, not a convention.
PROS: These guys look damn fine, and who doesn’t like seeing a fully decked out Mr. Freeze or Mojo walking around? And high visibility means attention from the opposite sex.
CONS: 90% of his day is posing with folks, although if you’re a girl, it’s more like 99%.
Originally, comic cons were about the comic books themselves, and dealers were the stars, not creators. Some fans still look to San Diego as a place to dig into back issues, rather than panel attendance. You’ll be able to identify these fans with their checklists, full plastic bags, and their tendency to argue about a little spine wear.
PROS: They’re not taking your seat at panels, and they’re keeping the collector’s market alive.
CONS: They will bite if you pick up that issue of Impulse they wanted.
6) The Amateur Pro
These guys aren’t here for the books, the panels, or the booths. They’re here for the guests, specifically to get interviews with them, show them portfolios, and try to get a job orreel them in for their own project. They’ll spend all day at the Marvel booth, trying to get a job drawing Avengers despite never have done any professional art work in their life, or trying to convince Mike Mignola to do a cover for their indie book, despite having no funds to pay him. The Amateur Pro is identified by his business card, his art portfolio and handshake, all of which he’ll get into the hands of as many people as he can.
PROS: If you don’t want to talk to Chris Claremont, this guy will happily occupy his time.
CONS: Lack of interest in most things going on around him, not interested in you unless you’re working for a publisher.
5) The Lover
If you’ve ever watched a convention panel, you’ve seen The Lover. He’s the guy that starts off a question with two minutes of “I just wanted to say, I love your work, it got me through tough times, you’re my favorite creator, blah blah blah.” They probably won’t even ask a question. They are why lines to get to signings run so long and why only three people get to ask questions at panels.
PROS: Hey, who doesn’t like praise?
CONS: Everyone else has to wait for them, can be kinda creepy. Like DeNiro in The Fan.
4) The Brainiac
This is a guy who shows up at every con, one at every panel. He knows his continuity, and expects every panelist to know it as well. Easily identified by his “one question in three parts,” he’s not afraid to tell creators his thoughts on plotlines and characters in front of large crowds. I first became aware of The Brainiac when I passed by some creator’s table (I think it was a Wolverine writer) and overheard a fan tell the writer, “You know what you should have done…”
PROS: Loves what he does, although the rest of us don’t.
CONS: Gives the rest of us a bad name, you want to strangle them, any one of us could turn into Brainiac with enough social withdrawal.
3) LL Cool Geek
LL Cool Geek isn’t a die-hard comic book or sci-fi fan, but he does love conventions. He and his ever-present friends bounce from booth babe to booth babe to get just one more picture of all of them not smiling. He’ll wear his Superman logo shirt, but he’s there for the women, plain and simple. Will he score? Nah, he’s not outgoing enough. But will he cop a feel with female cosplayers and booth spokesmodels? Most definitely.
PROS: Their attention to booth babes ensures that booth babes will be a con fixture for the foreseeable future.
CONS: If they’re not touching your girlfriend, they’re staring at her.
2) Swag Thing
Once you’ve bought your tickets and got into the convention, you don’t have to spend another dime to have a good time. Panels are free, and if you stay away from pricey back issue bins or celebrity autographs, you have your day full. In fact, booths give away a ton of free swag from comics to sketchbooks to posters. Take as much as you want, but if you take too much, you become Swag Thing. You’ll recognize him by his plastic bags full of everything that isn’t tied down. He stops at every booth, doesn’t say a word, and grabs as much as he can.
PROS: At least someone’s taking those free coupons for 25% of back issues from a store halfway across the country.
CONS: His swag bags will usually take up one to three seats at every panel he attends.
There’s a big difference between the Cosplayer and the Clotheswhore. While the Clotheswhore is only there for the attention, the Cosplayer is just…there. Dressed as a cat, or a whatever. She doesn’t care if anyone approaches her or takes a picture, she just likes the opportunity to dress up in public. For the rest of the con, she’s browsing through manga, bootleg anime, and dealers selling pieces for even more costumes.
PROS: Generally cute, always smiley.
CONS: If you want to approach one for their phone number, you need to speak Japanese and know the backstory of every character in Fruits Basket at minimum.