Each year, one event commands the attendance of the world’s greatest superheroes and villains – San Diego Comic-Con. Since 1970, like-minded mighty humans, inhumans and other-worldly good guys and bad have stepped out of the comic books and movies, and gathered along with their creators, to discuss their exploits and mingle with general non-superpowered folks.
My son and I often talked of this colossal meeting and to his excitement, I agreed it was finally time for this dynamic duo to leave our native Scotland and engage in some muscle-bound camaraderie. After a failed attempt to obtain an entry badge from their official website, I surfed the internet in fearless determination until I found my prize elsewhere. Its exorbitant fee temporarily sapped my strength – a minor blow I shrugged off in anticipation of the adventure lying ahead.
The sprawling San Diego Convention Centre is the venue for Comic-Con. It is one of the city’s biggest events, attracting on average 200,000 attendees and is impossible to ignore: no escape from its famous eye logo staring at all from posters and adverts around the city. A stretch of downtown’s West Harbor Drive, where the centre is situated, closes to accommodate crowds spilling out onto the streets, perusing festivities beyond the walls. A shuttle bus dedicated to Comic-Con runs to and from the centre from various hotels every fifteen minutes throughout the day.
Clad in our home-made Spider-Man costumes, we braved a July heatwave, bathing in the awesomeness of the Iron Men, Batmen, Wonder Women and a Deadpool or two. The doors finally opened, allowing the megaton of sheer power to enter, officially super-kickstarting our four-day extravaganza. Children under thirteen are admitted free but must be registered, so on entering the beautifully (thankfully) air-conditioned fortress, I took my son for his child’s badge. It was at the registration desk that we received our second and fiercest blow.
A Teachable Moment
“Badges bought outside of the Comic-Con website are considered illegal and can’t be accepted. I’m afraid we’ll have to ask you to leave the building.”
This woman’s words struck like the hammer of Thor, blasting us into the arms of a waiting security guard who hurled us outside, once again into the blistering San Diego desert heat in a perfectly choreographed attack.
Defeated, we returned to our temporary secret headquarters (cleverly cloaked as the Kona Kai Resort & Spa on Shelter Island Drive) to discuss our cliffhanger predicament. I explained to my son: The woman at the registration desk was not the villain. The security guard was not the villain. The real kingpins of this crime were the jokers and riddlers touting overpriced badges to disillusioned crimefighters. We had to go back. But first, we needed a plan of action!
Later, dressed in civilian gear to diffuse any threat of attack, I surprised the guards one by one, using my Black Belt in conversation to subtly break down their barriers, touching their hearts more and more, eventually negotiating a path to their leader, the solver of problems – the one we came to know as “the man in charge of the tickets”.
He empathized with our circumstance, offering an official badge at their standard price. More importantly, he vowed to help in the battle to retrieve my money ill-spent on that other badge of doom.
But that would be an adventure for a forthcoming sequel. For now, it was time to suit up once again.
Written by: Andrew Newall
Andrew Newall writes short fiction as a hobby and has had stories placed in several competitions over the last ten years. He has been published both online and in print. His work has appeared in the pages of Open Pen, Bewildering Stories and, most recently, in the online magazine Theme of Absence in May 2021. Breaking Comic-Con is his first published non-fiction piece. He lives near Falkirk in Scotland.