A couple of years ago, on the way to the San Diego airport, the taxi driver asked me and my co-workers if we had been in town for Comic-Con. Yes, we said, we were working. He asked how it was, and we gave the usual "fun but tiring" answer, adding that we were relieved it was over.
The driver laughed. "Yeah, so are we," he said.
Oh. Well then.
It has often seemed to me in my eleven years of attending Comic-Con, both as a fan and a professional, that San Diegans have seemed less than thrilled to host the event. It's not one of those feelings that I can substantiate with facts-it's just a matter of looks and comments like the one the taxi driver gave. (And there was that one time when a pedicab driver took off without giving me change, treating himself to a 67% tip.)
That amorphous feeling firms up in Heidi MacDonald's reporting at The Beat on the relationship San Diego has with Comic-Con, where she notes the puzzling attitude convention center officials have with an event that routinely draws more then 100,000 people a day, for four days, to the city. They have insisted that Comic-Con draws in less revenue than conventions with a fraction of its attendance and spoken of it as if it were a convention of humanoid alien beings.
But that was before the convention's contract with San Diego was coming near its expiration and Anaheim has come a-wooing the convention, which is now firmly established as a major Hollywood event. The convention center suddenly sees the value of the convention-something that some local merchants never doubted.
So why then the contempt? Are these people taking our money while turning up their noses at us at the same time? Is it just my imagination? Or do I think it's real because I feel it creeping into my own attitude?
See, here's the thing-when I check the Twitter updates of many of my fellow Comic-Con-attending professionals, there's a certain theme of being unwilling to venture into the streets because of roving bands of distasteful drunks. I tried to do a little post-work brainstorming in an outdoor cafe one year, only to have to share the patio with a bunch of drunk guys in luchador masks taking turns sloppily making out with an equally drunk woman. And I knew they were all Comic-Con attendees because they were still wearing their badges. (As if the luchador masks weren't enough of a giveaway.)
During Comic-Con, the Gaslamp district around the convention center seems overrun with people who don't know how to "maintain," as my boss, Dan Vado puts it. (And lest I get called out on this, I will admit this is something I had to learn, too.) Perhaps they're people who don't usually drink and use Comic-Con as a once-yearly drinking orgy. Or perhaps they're always disgusting drunks.
Obviously, this isn't something I'm going to change with a column. It's just that I don't like being lumped in with a crowd of people who act like freshmen at a frat party in an ‘80s movie.
But can I get a promise from convention-goers who read this column not to wear their badges outside of the convention center?