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SciFriday: Comic-Con Remains Geekdom’s Super Bowl

Some afterthoughts from the annual San Diego event

On the plane ride from Tampa to San Diego, I was sitting next to Bryant Griffin, doing some last-minute mapping on how our time would be spent at San Diego Comic-Con.

You should know Bryant as the news editor of Rabid Doll, but to me, he’s a friend I’ve known for almost a decade, and not only is he the longest continuing member of the Airlock Alpha team, but he’s also the most loyal.

During this planning session, I stopped Bryant in mid-sentence. “You know, I almost didn’t make this trip to Comic-Con this year, right?” Bryant was a little shocked by that, considering Comic-Con is all I ever talk about throughout the year, even when we’re not actually at it. However, he definitely understood.

The economy has been bad for a lot of people, but it has especially been bad for Internet advertising. Even sites that have strong traffic like Airlock Alpha are suffering greatly (our traffic is probably up 30 percent from two years ago, but our ad revenue is down 80 percent), and all any of us can do is keep doing the best work we can, with our heads held high, and hope that a recovery is in sight.

But making less money in revenue doesn’t change how much is paid out for trips like the one to San Diego. Or the trip I made late last year to Vancouver. Or the one I took a few months ago to Seattle. And my upcoming trips to Chicago and Seattle on the same whirlwind trip to attend a “Stargate: Universe” convention as well as attend some of the filming of the independent film “Judas Kiss.”

I was looking at my hotel bill alone for Comic-Con, and it was close to $800. And we were staying almost 10 miles away from downtown. Bryant and I bunked up, and if there were any other reporters needing a place to stay, we would’ve invited them as well.

So a trip like Comic-Con can easily cost the site thousands of dollars, money that made me second-guess should be spent — especially since a lot of it was going to come out of my own pocket.

But on the plane trip back to Tampa, there was no convention-goer’s remorse. I remembered why I consider this trip the most important one I make each year, and why San Diego Comic-Con is the crown jewel of all conventions not just in the United States, but in the world.

The networks and studios, for the most part, are absolutely amazing. The ones that recognize digital media — mainly Syfy, NBC, The CW and CBS — were more than accommodating. And even the ones that weren’t so open — like Fox and ABC — still had some excellent information to share.

Seeing many of these actors, writers, producers, directors, composers, you name it, becomes more and more pleasurable. I could only smile when Sasha Roiz from Syfy’s “Caprica” sat down at a table with a small group of reporters, including me, and shouted out Airlock Alpha’s name. When Alessandra Torresani from the same show pointed at me, and remembered who I was. When the amazing Eddie McClintock — who I hope so badly wins a 2010 Portal Award — squeezed through a crowd of reporters to give me a hug and say hello.

It was absolutely amazing. Most especially when the great Neil Grayston — who was the tour guide for a small group of reporters including me on the set of “Eureka” a few years back — told a packed house at the “Warehouse 13” panel that they should go and vote for Eddie right away at Airlock Alpha so that he can win this Portal Award that he wants to pick up so badly.

While many might complain that Comic-Con has become too commercialized, too focused on reaching out to the news media, and disconnecting with fans. I, instead, saw the exact opposite. For the actors and crew that visited Comic-Con before, this was there chance to experience how important fandom is, and how it can make or break whatever it is they do. For those who were coming to the convention for the first time, they got to discover the power of fans, the power of people. And they learned that the best thing they can do is embrace it.

I don’t know where Comic-Con will be after next year. There is talk of moving it to Anaheim or Las Vegas … and to be honest, I don’t want to get caught in the middle of that battle. But no matter where it ends up, as long as Comic-Con brings fans together with the people who work so hard to bring great television and movies to them year in and year out, I will find a way to be there. Even if I have to smash open the piggy bank.

I wanted to give a special thanks to all of our reporters who made the trip out and filed some excellent stories for all three of our sites — Airlock Alpha, Rabid Doll and Inside Blip. They include, in no particular order, Bryant, Tiffany Vogt, Terilynn Shull, Debby Andrede and Diana Keng. Also, an even bigger thanks to Alan Stanley Blair and Michele Lellouche, who held the fort on the sites while we were all on-location, and for Nick Chase for hosting the live edition of Alpha Waves Radio.

And believe it or not, we still have plenty of material to share from Comic-Con. Hell, I have more than four hours of raw video footage alone, and tons of interviews. And it could take us weeks, if not months, to share it all with you. So keep reading for all the great things from Comic-Con and much, much, much more.

Oh yeah, and we’ll cover non-Comic-Con stuff still, too. I keep forgetting that there is a world outside of that convention.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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