I’ve wanted to go the San Diego Comic-Con ever since I first heard about it. I think I was 12 or 13. Finally, this past weekend, I got to go. This is a bit of a long read, so be prepared.

Here’s my trip in point form.

Thursday: Day 1

  • #YYC airport. American customs. This is my first time through since they started requiring passports. A bit nervous, but also really excited to actually use my passport which, by the way, is beautiful.
  • Cleared security. No problems – unless you count the hint of disdain the security agent displays for me when I explain where I’m going and why. I swear I heard the guard mutter ‘nerd’ under his breath as I walk away. Maybe I imagined that (or maybe i’m just embellishing.)
  • Boarding time! Miss Staples let me have the window seat! I dig the window seat – climbing through the clouds is the best part of flying.
  • Land in Phoenix, Arizona for our connection. It’s 42 celcius, but we only really feel the heat in the boarding tunnel. Everything else is icy chilled.
  • We have some American bacon-cheeseburgers. They’re good. I expected them to taste a hell of a lot saltier. Fiona suggests they may have balanced out the salt with a tonne of sugar. My mind is blown.
  • Plane boarded for San Diego. I’m in the middle seat this time but I can still see out the window. Getting very excited.
  • San Diego! As we come in for a landing I notice the airport is in the middle of the city. Very cool landing in an urban area.
  • Stepping outside for a cab. Humidity, like, woah. Makes warm weather feel even more hot. Also, dark so early compared to #yyc
  • Hotel. Very close to the airport and the convention centre. Win.
  • Glass elevators!
  • Our room has a living room and a bedroom! Two rooms!
  • Awesome view of San Diego from the balcony. So many interesting sounds, people and lights in the dark! Some of the building remind me of Green Lantern or Lex Corp.
  • Heading out of the hotel – PALM TREES! I touched one.
  • Settled in. Clothes unpacked. Off to Tr!ckster! The walk is beautiful, the weather is beautiful.
  • Begin to notice that Comic-Con festivities are not sequestered to the convention centre. Comic-Con is EVERYWHERE!
  • Cool independent comics for sale and drinks to be had.
  • Drank a Stone IPA. It’s local and good.
  • Back to the hotel for some delicious nachos and beer. Another IPA. I’m beginning to notice a trend in San Diego’s local breweries.
  • Sleeps!

Friday: Day 2

  • Morning! Brewed some coffee and stood on the balcony taking in the view. Freakin’ HUGE aircraft carriers in San Diego Bay.
  • Free breakfast is not enough of a draw this morning to make us get up early.
  • On the way to the con! The excitement is on. Notice even more off-site Comic-Con-ishness.
  • See the crowds for the first time. Oh. My. God.
  • One of the SDPD guys working the traffic loses it on a guy who crosses the street illegally.
  • Trying to pick badges. Security sent us the wrong way a few times but we finally found where we were going.
  • Minor heart attack – the lady at the pick up desk tells me my bar code has been scanned already. Yikes! Thankfully my badge is with Fiona’s. Whew!
  • Fiona heads off to an interview.
  • I’m on my own at the San Diego Comic-Con for the first time in my life. ZOMG.
  • I’ve got an hour, so I decide the best thing to do is walk around the entire con to get an idea of where everything is.
  • 30 minutes of walking later I hit the end and realize I came in at the centre and still need to go the other way.
  • Walking is difficult; people are pushing, stopping suddenly, meandering but I keep my cool. You just have to let it go if you’re going to survive here.
  • See Stan Lee doing a signing at the Avengers booth! Cool! Check that off my list.
  • Walking by the IDW booth I notice George R. R. Martin signing; I immediately regret leaving (not) my copy of Game of Thrones in the hotel. So I smile and give a little wave as I walk by. That’ll do.
  • Near the other end of the convention centre now things seem to change. I’m in ‘shops’ section now. It’s a totally different feel here as people are eager to hock their wares.
  • Get a text and it’s time to go meet Fiona and we wander the con a bit together.
  • We make a stop at the Square-Enix store where we purchase easily the cutest thing at the entire con – a stuffed moogle!
  • We hunt down Stewart Ng – Rare and Out-Of-Print Art Books.
  • The girl at the entrance to the bookstore wants us to check our bags. I’m a bit of an accidental dick – I have my passport and wallet and cash in my bag and it isn’t going anywhere but with me. She concedes and I promise to keep my hands in the air. Ok, so I was a bit of an intentional dick.
  • Money is spent. Inspiration is found. Coolest bookstore ever.
  • Time to head back to the hotel to rest up – same SDPD guy who blew his top earlier does so again on some different people. I imagine it’s quite stressful trying to handle these crowds. Still, a bit jarring.
  • Fiona and I head to a pub called The Neighborhood for drink time with the very cool and beer knowledgeable Ben from DC!  A few other creators show up as well, Chris Mitten who is hilarious, some of the TX Comics guys, Ben Templesmith and fellow Calgarian and comic-making buddy, Ryan Ferrier!
  • Ben recommends some delicious beer! We try the Lil’ Devil and the Horny Devil from local brewer Ale Smith! So good and so much alcohol in them!
  • Frodo Baggins and Meriadoc Brandybuck sit at the table next to ours at the pub! I’m a Lord of the Rings nerd, so obvs, I nerd out.
  • I admit Elijah Wood is extremely pretty IRL and it’s important to note that he thoroughly enjoyed some corn dogs!
  • Back to the hotel. Some take out from the hotel pub and then up to watch some American television (they’re just like us!)
  • One of us may be a little drunk so, bed time.

Saturday: Day 3

  • Waking up time! One of us may be a bit hung over though…
  • Free breakfast! Well free in-as-far-as the cost probably comes out of the inflated-for-SDCC nightly rates.
  • On our way to the con again. Noticing how terrible the pedestrian crossings work in San Diego. Not used to waiting so long for a turn to cross the street.
  • Heading to the IDW booth so Fiona can do a signing. Crowds are much noticeably more dense today.
  • On my own again. Not sure I want to take on the crowds again I send out a call to Ryan. He’s hanging out having coffee, enjoying the sunshine far away from the crowds. I’m down.
  • After swimming upstream for a while I get to the Starbucks and enjoy some time hanging and chatting with Ryan and the modest (Harvey Award nominated) and very talented Ed Ryzowski. Not a bad way to kill an hour, is it?
  • Ryan and I head off to meet up with Fiona after her signing. none of us felt much like wading through the crowds again, so we head to the roof for some con-food – which is like regular food but, you know, con-priced.
  • We hang, munch, chat and laugh. This was a true highlight of the con; I got to just sit and talk with two of my fave peeps in such a crazy/cool setting.
  • We had back in to the fray so Fiona can get to her panel on creator owned comics. Ryan and I both want to listen to this panel, so we get into a line that wraps around two corners and snakes down a hall. I’ve never been in a panel line before! It’s exciting!
  • We get in to the panel and receive our exclusive Saga SDCC print! It’s beautiful. Design nerds that we are, Ryan and I can’t get over how awesome the paper they’ve used for the print is.
  • My first panel is a great experience! Robert Kirkman talks about upcoming books and takes a few jabs at the “Big Two” to the amusement of all.
  • The new work being announced really cements for me why most of the comics work I buy is creator owned.
  • Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples announce their new, ongoing series for Image called Saga. The crowd is very pleased! So exciting.
  • Some Q&A with the creator owned panel results in a positive reminder for myself that in order to make comics you really need to push other BS aside and just make comics. I’m inspired and excited to work again.
  • I get to meet Brian K. Vaughan! Hands shaken, signature obtained. I’m elated.
  • We head down into the con again after the panel. At some point we get separated from Ryan and I never see Mr. Ferrier again. At least not for the rest of the con. By all accounts he’s back safe in Calgary.
  • I find some guy selling old animation cells (that I have come to suspect might be completely fake) and buy an old Ghostbusters cell.
  • We try to find a She-Ra cell, but they just aren’t very cool.
  • One last stop – I buy a Greedo bobble head. I feel good.
  • That’s it for the con; we leave realizing that with our flight out the next day, we probably won’t be back. We feel content.
  • Back to the hotel to rest a bit and take advantage of the hotel’s free drink offer. Delicious whisky sours!
  • We’re on our way to dinner, but we’re a bit early so we wander a bit more and run into a gigantic and extremely loud Lord of the Rings gathering. The city really goes all out for Comic-Con.
  • Dinner time – with Robert Kirkman, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson and Brian K. Vaughan. To say this dinner is the highlight of my trip is an understatement. I’m so fortunate and lucky to get to go along with Fiona to this. Walking Dead has been the one book I still purchase regularly in TPB and I read the hell out of Y: The Last Man.  I managed to speak clearly and not to wet myself. Mr. Kirkman and Mr. Vaughan have a great back and forth that plays up even at dinner. They are interesting, funny, completely engaging and enjoyable. What’s better than dinner with comic book heroes?
  • As we leave dinner I manage to entangle myself in 3-way handshake with Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Kirkman. Awkward for them? Probably but i’ll never forget that.
  • Fiona and I pop over to Tr!ckster again and I enjoy another IPA. Then off to a hotel to meet another of Fiona’s comic friends. There is some magic performed and my mind is yet again blown!
  • We head back to the hotel and I, unfortunately, spend the night pacing the hotel room and in the washroom with some stomach problems. Boo. But I do finally fall asleep.

Sunday: Day 4

  • Free breakfast again! of course, this time it’s my turn to feel like absolute and utter crap. Oops.
  • We pack, check out and check our bags in at the front desk – we have a number of hours to kill before the flight and neither of us wants to hit the con-proper again.
  • We wander DT San Diego. We hang out drinking cold tea. I experience a Nordstroms. We eat frozen yogurt and visit my first real open-air mall. We shop at Urban Outfitters where I buy a travel edition of Where’s Waldo? It was five Waldo books packed into one easy-to-travel-with package. Awesome! Fiona gets an sweater. It’s pretty awesome but not Where’s Waldo awesome.
  • Chocolate is purchased. It is delicious.
  • Back to the hotel to pick up our bags and then off to the airport. We kill more time poking around shops and eating some McD’s (my call).
  • We board the plane. Fiona gives me the window again. She’s nice like that. And then just like that – we’re flying out of San Diego – a whirlwind trip is over.

 That’s all she wrote.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things and put a few more out of order. It was such an incredible trip full of so many great experiences. I’m obviously extremely lucky, beyond privileged and supremely thankful to get to have this experience. It left me wowed, awed, surprised, wide-eyed, inspired, motivated and very tired.

And I just can’t wait to do it all again next year.