My hometown of San Diego, CA is home to many things—the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Sea World San Diego, the San Diego Padres baseball team, and miles of beautiful beaches that bring much needed relief from the summer heat. It is also the originator of the “California Burrito,” a carne asada burrito stuffed with guacamole, sour cream, and french fries. I could go on and on about the many things I love about my hometown, but one annual event that takes place there every year during the summer has a special place in my heart. It is an event so big it encompasses almost five days out of the week: San Diego Comic-Con, a behemoth of a convention. It attracts over 100,000 attendees, brings in millions of dollars of revenue to the city, and makes downtown San Diego come alive with all things geeky and nerdy. Born out of humble beginnings as a small trade expo, San Diego Comic-Con has attracted and won the hearts of thousands of geeks and nerds alike, including myself.
At first, I wasn’t into the geek culture. I had no interest in attending San Diego Comic-Con. However, year after year, I saw many nerds and cosplayers hanging out and enjoying themselves. It got to where even non-geeks were having fun there, so I gave it a try on the suggestion of a couple of friends. My first Con was in 2008. I went on a Sunday, the last day of SDCC. All the booths, panels, merchandise, and cosplayers amazed me. I even got to take part in one of my favorite podcasts. From a first timer’s perspective, it was quite the sensory overload. I walked all over the San Diego Convention Center wearing shoes without arch support and my legs gave out after four hours, but it was just so cool. I came home tired that day and realized this was something I wanted to attend again. Little did I know that this was something I would do every summer.
I give credit to SDCC for introducing me to cosplay (a portmanteau of the words “costume” and “play”), the act of dressing up as your favorite superhero or fictional character. When I first attended SDCC, I brushed this off. I thought it was weird and bizarre. Slowly but surely, this also grew on me. Then I donned the iconic red bow tie, blazer, and fez of the Eleventh Doctor from the BBC show, Doctor Who (played by Matt Smith). I also ended up dressing up as Waldo from the Where’s Waldo book series and “Fat Thor” from the film Avengers: Endgame.
What makes San Diego Comic-Con unique is it expands to multiple genres of entertainment. Everything from anime to fantasy novels to video games graces the floor of the Convention Center; there is something for everyone. It gave artists wanting to break into the industry an opportunity to work with comic companies like DC and Marvel. Collectors flock to booths to purchase the latest Funko pop exclusive or action figures. People dressed up as their favorite fictional characters pose for photographs with other attendees. This convention isn’t just about comics, but about pop culture. It attracted me and turned me into a geek. I love watching superhero films, get excited about anything Star Wars, and being introduced to new and exciting things I wouldn’t come across otherwise. Because of SDCC, I have now gone to other similar conventions, such as Los Angeles Comic-Con and WonderCon Anaheim (organized by Comic-Con International, the same organization behind SDCC) throughout the year. I look forward to the new San Diego Comic-Con Museum opening in November 2021. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they canceled SDCC for the summers of 2020 and 2021, but I look forward to attending SDCC 2022 next summer.
San Diego is a beautiful city and a great place to live. I’ve spent my entire life here and enjoyed many things. I’ve been to some of the tourist spots, but San Diego Comic-Con is dear to my heart. For someone who doesn’t even like crowds, SDCC is a paradise to me; a place where I can fit in with fellow geeks and have fun.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shannon H. lives in Southern California where she spends her time reading, listening to music, attending comic conventions, and coming up with ideas for a few novels. Follow her on Instagram at Writer4God.