#2. Asshat Cosplayers
Let me make it clear that I'm not indicting the lion's share of good-natured mummers who attend Comic-Con. Indeed, many of San Diego's cosplayers are fine folks who demonstrate a level of commitment and craftsmanship that leaves me jealous, as I am the shittiest cosplayer in all the land. My costuming skills are limited to "can use hot glue gun" and "tolerates glue burns" (although I probably owe the latter superpower to "inadequate ventilation + rubber cement fumes").
See: October 2012, when my Shredder costume turned out less "ninja master" and more "deliciously flamboyant amyl nitrate salesman." (Note the unfortunate shoulder pads.)
BUT there's a small category of select dildos who treat Comic-Con not as an opportunity to showcase their sartorial prowess, but as a chance to take a day off from grinding on woozy drunks at the Greyhound terminal. If you plan on doing any of the following, don't go to Comic-Con (just hang out in your basement and listen to some Q Lazzarus in the dark):
- Don't use cosplay as a pretense to bandy about your junk in public. I've seen this a few times. Sure, some characters' outfits amount to glorified unmentionables (see: Namor the Sub-Mariner, Red Sonja, Doctor Manhattan), but if your character is "My Civilian Alter Ego, Wearing Alf Underoos," get your shit together. Either buy a pack of Marlboros and go as "Sexy Cigarette-Smoking Man from The X-Files" or start your own Nudist-Con.
Above: your great-aunt Dorcas, enjoying Nudist-Con '65.
- What about store-bought costumes? Eh, they're OK, I suppose. After all, some of us have neither the patience nor the wherewithal to carve a dozen Batarangs out of balsa wood, whereas others would simply like to break out the Hagar the Horrible mask on days other than our wedding anniversaries.
"It is a day to renew our vows, and a night for Hagar the Horrible to totally plow Ziggy."
That said, don't be that guy who jumps in other people's cosplay photographs like you did anything other than visit Party Fair with $40 in your pocket. That guy over there? His Bane costume is actually sewn from vintage Kazakh military surplus, and his mask is getting him high on real analgesic gas. And yours? Your mask only goes around your forehead, because you went for the discount and bought a children's size "Husky Deluxe."
- The only acceptable fur suit is Falkor the Luck Dragon, and even then, he needs a working jaw so he can sing Limahl and shit. Chewbacca does not count as a fur suit. In fact, there can never be enough Chewbacca costumes in any one place at any one time.
Well, except this one. Don't wear this.
#1. Nobody Knows What the Hell It Is Anymore
The main appeal of Comic-Con is that it corrals hundreds of geek movers and shakers into a convention hall (redolent of pretzel-dog farts). Within these precious acres, fans can fleetingly commune with the brain trust behind whatever their pop cultural obsession happens to be. And despite the 130,000 other attendees, it can feel pretty fuzzy and -- dare I say it? -- special.
Sure, you can hazard three hours along the concrete hellscape that is the Hall H queue. But while you were doing that, you could've seen, for example, Bloom County cartoonist Berkeley Breathed reveal that he and his pal Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) used to hold R-rated cartoon wars through the mail.
Yes, that's Blondie getting double-teamed by Bill the Cat (drawn by Watterson)
and Hobbes (later added by Breathed as an up-yours to Watterson).
Mind you, I witnessed the above scene completely by accident. I was sitting in the back of the room, waiting to report on the goddamn Cape panel. This interspecies threesome is my favorite memory from Comic-Con. It represents a purity of spirit notably absent in today's Comic-Con, a Comic-Con where every two-bit PR flimflammer considers "nerd culture" a groaning golem cobbled together out of sticky back issues of Vampirella. Comic-Con stopped being about comics years ago. Nowadays, it's more of a "Things That Aren't Sports And Are Too Confusing for CBS Viewers-Con." Or perhaps, "Shit That Exists in Empirical Reality That We Need to Market to Someone-Con."
"Here at Comic-Con, we are testing The Playboy Club with a fringe demographic we call 'heterosexual men'."
There's fun to be had at Comic-Con, certainly, but you must go in knowing that it's too big for its own good. And those magical moments where you and 200+ strangers gaze upon the funny-pages avatar of childhood wonderment nose-deep in Dagwood Bumstead's wife's vagina? You gotta search for that.
You can find Cyriaque Lamar on Twitter.