One of the Fans

GameSpot's Carolyn Petit shares her feelings about attending Comic-Con for the first time, and what really sets the experience apart from attending trade shows like E3.

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I've never been hugely into comic books. I've read and admired some classics of the medium--things like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns--and I went through a period as a kid where I was obsessed with collecting every issue of Marvel's The Transformers series. But my experience with comics is pretty limited, and so I wondered if a show called Comic-Con could really have much for me.

What a fool I was.

Everywhere I looked, there was a celebration of something I'd once loved, something that part of me still did.
It only took about 15 seconds on the show floor to realize that this show is totally for me. Everywhere I looked, there was a celebration of something I'd once loved, something that part of me still did. A large Castle Grayskull sheltered figures that celebrated the Masters of the Universe toys and Princess of Power toys that I'd coveted as a child. Nearby, Ghostbusters figures fought valiantly to protect the people of New York from the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. And just a short distance away, life-sized, fearsome-looking replicas of the trolls from The Hobbit looked ready to crush passers-by and turn them into stew.

As much as I love this stuff, though, it would all feel crass and corporate, if it weren't for the fans everywhere; the people who, like me, were just brimming over with enthusiasm for these stories and characters.

My god. It's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

It was just over a month ago that I was at E3, and in some ways, being at Comic-Con feels similar. The show floor is crowded, and everywhere you look, stimulating displays compete with each other for your attention. But the energy at Comic-Con is completely different. There's an electricity in the air at E3, but it's a frantic kind of spark that comes from the fact that nearly everyone there is working, scrambling around the convention center to cover the daunting amount of stuff that needs to be covered.

Comic-Con, on the other hand, is a celebration. Most people here aren't here to work; they're here to celebrate the comics, the movies, the TV shows and games they love. I know that sounds obvious, but there's a difference between seeing pictures of cosplayers and actually being at Comic-Con in person to feel the energy in the air. At no time has that energy been more apparent to me than during the game-related panels I've had the pleasure of attending.

Of course, one would hope that those of us who have the privilege of attending shows like E3 are enthusiastic about games, and indeed, there's no shortage of whoops and hollers during E3 press conferences. But during the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary panel that I attended on Thursday, there was an unbridled enthusiasm in the air, a pure, unfettered love for the franchise of a sort that you rarely feel at trade shows. Corny as it sounds, you could feel the love in the air, and that's something special.

Look Mr. Frodo! It's Mr. Bilbo's trolls!

Knowing that millions of people around the world share that affection is great. Actually being in a room with hundreds of those people and feeling it is incredible.
At the Assassin's Creed panel I later attended, I felt chills run down my spine as the audience cheered Connor's sneakiness, his grace, and his brutal effectiveness. I felt those chills because the intensity of their enthusiasm mirrored my own. I'm incredibly lucky to work every day with people who love games, and I never take that for granted. But nonetheless, being in a room full of hundreds of people who share your passion is a rare occurrence, and for me, the experience is a powerful reminder of the pure joy that brought me to games in the first place, of the childlike affection that has been with me for so long. Knowing that millions of people around the world share that affection is great. Actually being in a room with hundreds of those people and feeling it is incredible.

A few days ago, I wondered if Comic-Con was for me. Now, I know that the people who attend Comic-Con are my people, and that I am one of them. I won't come away from Comic-Con with lots of cool merchandise. Much as I might like to, I won't go home with any of those awesome He-Man toys or Ghostbusters figurines. But I will take with me something better: a memory of how it feels to be one fan among many, and to know that you belong.

Discussion

26 comments
dorkgeniuz21
dorkgeniuz21

I was there and you couldn't have said it better Carolyn...

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

This is just the kind of first-timer personal impression I needed to get interested in Comic-Con. I kept feeling awkward associating games with the convention's name. You've convinced me it's more than that, and the name is just, well...

Drake2013
Drake2013

Well said:) I want to go to Comic-Con just one time.

hunter8man
hunter8man

I agree with your sentiment, but I don't know if I'll be going back to Comic-con anymore. I went this year for the first time, and it's just so much of a hassle to get through the tons of people. However, the majority of them were nice and big geeks like myself. I had my share of fun times and gathered lots of cherished memories. If they could get it organized a little better regarding lines and crowd control, then it would really be a fantastic convention.

pokecharm
pokecharm

I wish I could go to Comic Con...just once...why must it be so far away??  great article, Caro!

BeateDrabing
BeateDrabing

One thing I will admit that was fun was the Cos-Play........not the good ones mind you, but the bad ones. Aint nothing like watching a couple of storm troopers going about 2 and quarter each try not pass out on the floor.

BeateDrabing
BeateDrabing

Not going to lie, I dug Comic Con about 10 years ago when you didnt have to smash someone in the face just to get to the next aisle. Really would like the convention to be more about, I dont know, comics and less pop culture bull. Still, it is what it is now, and thankfully the 5 times I went before it mutated into what it is now were enough for me. 

 

sirkibble2
sirkibble2

I'm still looking forward to the day where I can go to E3 and Comic-Con. Good article.

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

I used to have those ghost buster toys when I was a kid. If only I kept them.

RealHarry
RealHarry

I really want to go next year to attend all the panels. But I don't think I'll survive the experience, there are just too many panels that I'm interested in.

fatee
fatee moderator

Carolyn, where there per chance any Samurai Pizza Cats on the floor? be It toys, or whatnot.... Just curious because I was thinking about them the other day, and NO ONE KNOWS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT!

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

I know it not the same but I loved last year NYC comic con and can't wait to go this year :)

bamir0
bamir0

Cheers for being a 'fan on the floor' for a lot of us Carolyn. I loved the pictures of the bits and pieces of the show floor you found entertaining and shared on twitter, From the gender-bending Han and Leia to the trolls you mentioned in your article. Keep up the great work.

Keledron
Keledron

That's awesome! I plan on going next year to cover it for MentalityMagazine.com :) That sounds like a freaking blast! Great pics too!

NTM23
NTM23

I live in WA, and I've never even been to PAX. I at least hope to go there some day.

AnGiTheGamer
AnGiTheGamer

Wish I could go to E3 and Comic-con so much it's unbelievable. Must be nice to go. Happy you liked it. Think you can take me next time? =}

yeah_28
yeah_28

I never got the chance to go to this type of events, must be as perfect as you describe it.

thekazumalord
thekazumalord

It's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man! quick, someone get a few trunks of graham crackers and a few tons of chocolate! we got a giant smore to make! 

mayatola
mayatola

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I've been to E3 twice, and I've been to Anime Expo a few times, so I think I understand the difference you're talking about. Comic-Con is definitely on the top of my list of things to do (has been for some years now), and it's my hope that I can go next year and experience the same feeling again.

trollkind
trollkind

 @immortality20 "Most people here aren't here to work; they're here to celebrate the comics, the movies, the TV shows and games they love."  "...one fan among many..."Nothing is keeping you from going there too. I don't get that from the article at all. The only difference is she has a platform to share her experience with.

carolynmichelle
carolynmichelle moderator staff

 @fatee I'm sorry to say that I am only vaguely familiar with Samurai Pizza Cats. I don't recall seeing any stuff for them on the show floor, but it's also possible that some stuff was there and that I just didn't notice it. If I am fortunate enough to attend SDCC again next year, I will try to bone up on my SPC ahead of time and keep my eyes peeled for any related things!

carolynmichelle
carolynmichelle moderator staff

 @bamir0 Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed my snippets from the show floor. :)

fatee
fatee moderator

 @carolynmichelle Yeah it was a shortlived early 90's cartoon - I just remember watching the ghostbuster movies and animations the same time as that SPC was around was all. I feel old... 30 is close =P I remember being 18 just yesterday.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @fatee Yeah, you're old.... But I'm older, and that CARTOON WAS AWESOME!!!!!!

You should find a copy of Turtles Forever if you remember a show like SPC. BTW, do you remember the cartoon "C.O.P.S."??