San Diego Comic-Con

Hard to believe, but it's almost that time. San Diego Comic-Con time. Its imminent presence looms over the industry like a dark cloud, bringing with it colossal workloads, frantic preparations and a collective sense of doom. I've attended consecutive shows since 2003, making this my seventh appearance. Yet I'm still a relative rookie; many people I know--the missus included--are such long-standing fixtures they're almost part of the furniture. But with each passing year I tell myself the same thing: the con can't possibly get any crazier next year. Like, no fucking way.

Yet it does. Each and every time.

I'll never forget 2003's visit, which, coincidentally, was my first ever US show. Humble (by comparison) UK conventions were my only frame of reference, along with various 'dude! It's fucking nuts!'-type warnings. It certainly didn't disappoint; inundations of cool shit, four-and-a-half days of non-stop activity, plus more people to drink with than a liver's filtering function can handle. Sure, it *was* crazy, but the good vibe, social engagements and plethora of Stuff Going On made everything worthwhile. I had a blast. 2004 came around, and lo and behold, more fun was had. But it somehow seemed unlike what I'd experienced previously; after only one year's experience, the atmosphere was... different. More video games? More movie stuff? More TV? Sure, I guess all three were more prominently represented. But the vibe on the con floor was also dissimilar. There were notably more people, too. Often it was uncomfortable, claustrophobic, pulsating with a different kind of ambiance; really fucking intense, basically. 2005 offered more high octane insanity (the first show where comics really took the backseat, if not '04) and each year has upped the brain-devouring ante since. 2008 left me--as well as about 130,000 other people--clinging to my sanity, the Midsummer Mindfuck having dished out beyond even its own lofty levels of punishment.

Don't get me wrong, I still really dig the show. Crazy, yeah, I know. But there's something about it that compels me to attend each year; something I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's the people. Perhaps the elaborate array of Cool Shit available to buy, look at, and/or poke. Might even be the town itself. Whatever the reason, it's a prerequisite fixture for me now, and dare I say it, I'm looking forward to this year's Big Event. Of course, come Sunday afternoon, there'll only be one thought on my mind:

The con can't possibly get any crazier next year. Like, no fucking way.

And deep down, I know I'll be wrong...