After spending the past two days immersed in the nerdiness that is Comic-Con, I noticed a few things. This was the third year in a row we took the trolley downtown to just walk amongst the craziness. We don’t have passes. I tried this year, but newbie that I am, didn’t realize that after spending time hanging out in the virtual lobby, when (and if) my number was called and I was lucky enough to buy passes, I could only buy four. We are a family of five, and while the MMA beatdown over who was going would have been entertaining as hell to watch, probably it wouldn’t be worth it in the end.
There is plenty for non-pass holders to do outside the venue. We were there for five hours on Saturday and another couple on Sunday. Lines were long at the popular events, but even without waiting in line for two hours to go through the Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, we were never bored. Hot, tired, sore feet? Check. Boredom? Not a chance. And after all of this, I noticed a few things with my writer’s hat on:
1) Zombies are Huge
The only zombie-themed thing I’m aware of was The Walking Dead Escape. For $70, you could immerse yourself in the world of zombies, navigating a course among the zombies, or for $90, you could join the horde of the undead. Even though the event didn’t begin until 6:00 PM, I saw more zombies during the day than any other character type. Sure, there were plenty of superheroes, a plethora of Doctor Whos, women walking around in TARDIS dresses, a smattering of video game characters, but zombies ruled the day (and night).
While vampires seem to be all over the place from books and movies to a multitude of shows like True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and My Babysitter is a Vampire, the zombies are striking back with The Walking Dead and now iZombie. A quick search on Goodreads shows that when it comes to books, zombies are very popular – over 13,000 titles!
2) Marketing Genius
One local author was handing out slick cards with information about his new fantasy novel. Over 130,000 people attend Comic-Con and countless more locals, like us, just go down to absorb the weirdness. We were handed buttons, fliers, posters, cards, and bags (although what I really wanted was the foam chainsaw from the Sharknado 2 movie, but they were out). Likely most of these author cards will end up in the trash, but some people will look at them, maybe even visit the author’s site, and no doubt, he’ll sell more than a few books as a result. But as any author knows, name recognition is a huge part of the game. Getting hits, having someone bookmark your site, it all helps. I’m sure the cost was minimal, and if you’re going to be down there anyway, why not join in the marketing freeforall.
3) Girls Want Female Heroes
I saw plenty of little girls dressed as Disney princesses, but I saw many more dressed as Spiderman, Batman, Superman, and even a little Hulk-ette. There were a handful of Princess Leia’s, my own daughter dressed as Katniss Everdeen on Sunday, but when you think about it, there aren’t a lot of good female heroes. Especially in the comic genre. Marvel gets this which is why they announced the next Thor will be female. There were easily as many females as males wandering around outside the convention center. I don’t know the makeup of attendees, but based on the crowd outside, I’d be surprised if it leans too heavily male.
So while I saw this pretty little pink Vader, if you’re looking at the Star Wars franchise, there are only a handful of female leads (I’m include Ahsoka Tano and the Duchess Satine from Clone Wars just to get to an even four) who are heroes. Even looking at Marvel, there’s Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, Natasha Romanov, and that’s kind of it for the well-known characters. And the most annoying thing about the Marvel world is that all of their female heroes feel the need to wear revealing or skin tight outfits, sending the message that in order to be a strong female hero, you must also be sexy. No wonder girls were drawn to The Hunger Games. Katniss proved you can be badass without being overtly sexual.
4) Sharknado 2 is Really Happening
Sharknado 2 was everywhere. They had people following them trying to get their hands on all of that sharky swag. By far the coolest thing they were giving away were the aforementioned red foam Sharknado chainsaws, which sadly, I did not score. But they were working the buzz like crazy, generating long lines at their mobile carts as a parade of hangers on tried to get whatever was being handed out.
What does this mean? Campy is cool. There was nothing good about Sharknado and yet millions tuned in to watch it last year, so much so, that a second movie was not just economically feasible, but likely will be highly profitable. And apparently cool enough that there are a whole host of celebrity cameos in Sharknado 2.
5) History is Cool
History is cool. Who knew? The first thing we saw when we got off the trolley was The History Channel’s attraction. I have to admit, just knowing they were there intrigued me, so we wandered over to see what history had to do with Comic-Con.
They had whole block set up for their Vikings show. A show I didn’t even know about before yesterday. So well done, History Channel, well done. I’m now interested enough to check it out. And if an entire downtown block devoted to fun and games wasn’t enough, they also had this giant mural plastered across the entrance to NerdHQ.
I don’t know if Game of Thrones made history cool or not, but historic shows of epic proportions were well represented in San Diego. Speaking of GOT, they were all over the place. On buses, sides of buildings, even the pedicabs were decorated up all Game of Thrones style. And the GOT experience had a line that wrapped around three quarters of the block. Both days.
So, if you’re a writer and you want to know what the masses are interested in, here is just a partial list from one of the nerdiest and yet coolest, pop cultural events of the year.
Write it and they will come.