San Diego Comic Con 2020 has been cancelled. Here’s to Comic Cons past…

San Diego Comic Con 2020 is cancelled.

It’s only been a little over a month since my state went on self-isolation status during the pandemic, and remembering things like going to the movies or going out to eat are beginning to look like grainy silent footage of flapper parties and speakeasies from the 1920s.

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As predicted and expected, San Diego Comic Con 2020 has been cancelled.  I’m not at all questioning the wisdom of that decision, because it will save lives.  Being a 20-year veteran of sci-fi/fantasy convention attendance, there is absolutely no way to safe-distance at these events.  SDCC essentially cordons off an entire seaside chunk of the city of San Diego, and packs 130,000 people there under a humid summer sun.   It’s a virus’ fondest dreams come true.  That said, I am very saddened to hear of the loss of this beloved event that my wife and I look forward to every summer, and have been diligently attending for what seems like forever.

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What I’d like to do now is share some favorite moments of San Diego Comic Con, my past “Musings…” on SDCC, and all of my online Flickr photo albums of SDCC.   This is less about mourning the cancellation and more about celebrating the amazing phenomenon that is San Diego Comic Con.

To quote Sybok in Star Trek V, let’s “gain strength from the sharing…”

 

Favorite Moments from San Diego Comic Cons Past.

From SDCC 2006:  They beautiful, abstract-design booth for the then-newly renamed “SyFy Channel” (formerly “Sci-Fi Channel).  San Diego Comic Con exhibitors usually pull out all the stops for this event…
Catching a glimpse of the legendary Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee (1922-2019).  I would later meet him, ever so briefly, at WonderCon in Anaheim in 2014.  I wish I had more than a second or two to chat with this man who created SpiderMan, Hulk and so many other heroes of my childhood (and movies of my later adulthood!).
San Diego Comic Con 2006: Going to a 50th reunion panel for the cast of 1956’s classic film, “Forbidden Planet.”  Richard Anderson (“The Six Million Dollar Man” “The Bionic Woman”), Warren Stevens (“Star Trek” “Outer Limits” “Twilight Zone”) and Earl Holliman (“Police Woman” “Twilight Zone”) recalled their time working on the film.  There was even a phoned-in message from costar Ann Francis, who passed away not long after.  As of this writing, Holliman is the last surviving member of this group, and I am so grateful I was able to attend this event and meet these gentlemen!  I would later have a delightful 45 minute impromptu chat with Anderson in 2012, but more on that later…
Rosario Dawson, signing autographs for “Clerks 2” back in 2006.  She’s already starred in the 1995 cult movie “Kids”, and as of this writing, she is slated to appear as the live-action version of former Jedi Ahsoka Tano in “The Mandalorian” season 2.
From 2006: Catching a quick moment with Star Trek’s “Lt. Uhura” herself, the amazing Nichelle Nichols (for whom I’d nursed a boyhood crush…won’t lie).  I’d met her several times, the first in 2002 at a Trek convention in Burbank, and at many events since, including a 2015 Star Trek Concert in Los Angeles.   Wonderful lady!
From SDCC 2009: Meeting my childhood idol, Leonard Nimoy!!!   This was one of those “I can die happy right now” moments.  Nimoy was kind, friendly (shook hands) and very personable.  Reminded me a bit of my own father-in-law.  I got into the queue just as it was forming and didn’t have to wait very long (a double miracle!).  I asked for two autographs, one for me and one my sister (who used to have a crush on Mr. Spock).  This was the summer where he appeared in Trek’s big screen resurrection, “Star Trek” (2009), which I loved (despite the fandom polarization).
SDCC 2009:  Headlining the “Women of Sci-Fi/Fantasy” panel were “Avatar” costars Sigourney Weaver (the “ALIEN” movies, “Ghostbusters” “Galaxy Quest”) and Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek” “Guardians of the Galaxy”).  The genuine closeness between the two stars was very nice to see firsthand.  This was one of those “I can’t believe I just saw that” moments that seem to happen quite a bit at San Diego Comic Con.
From SDCC 2009 (an exceptionally awesome year):  Meeting Margot Kidder (1948-2017).  She was ‘my’ Lois Lane, appearing in four of the “Superman” movies from 1978 until 1987.  This was the first year I’d ever cosplayed at a convention (ever), and my then-much heavier self seemed perfectly suited for Fred Flintstone. I was walking through the Sails Pavilion area of the Convention Center (hence the sails on the ceiling), when I heard the familiar sound of Lois Lane yelling, “FRED!”  I stopped, turned around, and saw her running toward me with her camera.  She said she’d loved my costume and asked to take my picture.  Since this was my first time cosplaying (thanks to my brilliant wife’s sewing skills), I was flattered.  We posed for pics for her camera and mine.   Her blouse even matched my costume!  It was kismet.  This was one of my all-time favorite spontaneous moments in my two decades of convention attendance.  I was heartbroken to hear when she’d passed away.
SDCC 2009: Attending the panel for the Battlestar Galactica prequel series, “Caprica”, star Esai Morales (“La Bamba”) welcomed his ‘son’, actor Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica” “Blade Runner” “American Me”), kissing him on the head and calling him “mijo” (my son)!  My usually too-slow fingers actually captured the spontaneous kiss on my camera!  Truly a magic moment for fellow fans of “Battlestar Galactica.”
SDCC 2009: Meeting Edward James Olmos!  This was another of those “I can die happy now” moments of my convention-going.  I’d walked right by Olmos the previous day on the sidewalk outside the convention center, but my wiser friend stopped me from making a fool of myself by pestering the talented star.  I am a HUGE fan of Olmos’ work, including “Battlestar Galactica” and “Blade Runner” (and its sequel, “Blade Runner 2049”).   We shared a joke over my Fred Flintstone costume, and he had a great laugh over it.  The young lady to his right is Samantha Hissong, the daughter of “Buck Rogers” star Erin Gray, which reminds me…
2009 was also the year that I got to take a pic of “Buck” and “Wilma” reunited; Gil Gerard and Erin Gray, the two stars of 1979’s “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” I’d met Erin Gray many times at previous conventions.  She is a wonderful lady, and yet another TV crush from my adolescence.  Gerard has a wonderfully R-rated sense of humor, and Gray dishes it as well as she takes it.  It was so great to see these two stars from my childhood together once again.  I’ve seen this particular photo of mine appear all over the internet (including a few YouTube videos) and I don’t mind ONE bit.  I’m more than happy to share all of these memories whenever I can.
SDCC 2009: At a panel celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, one of the guests was my all-time favorite author, Ray Bradbury (“The Martian Chronicles” “The Illustrated Man” “Dandelion Wine” “The Halloween Tree” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and a bazillion other favorites of mine).   I’d first met Bradbury at a Planetary Society event back in 2004 (got his autograph, too!) and again at Comic Con 2005 (got another autograph).   His passing in 2012 was a great loss, both to the world and to me personally.  I’ll forever miss hearing his stories in person at events such as these…
SDCC 2009: No sci-fi/fantasy/horror/comics gathering is truly complete without “Elvira” herself, Cassandra Peterson.  I grew up watching Elvira’s “Movie Macabre” syndicated series in the 1980s, and I swear that woman is ageless.  I’ve seen her both in makeup and without, and she’s just amazing.  Her TV series, which riffed on bad horror movies, was conceptually similar to the 1950s Vampira show, and was a predecessor to “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and “Rifftrax.”
SDCC 2010: Meeting Malcolm McDowell!  The star of SO MANY sci-fi/fantasy/horror films, including “A Clockwork Orange”, “Time After Time”, “If”, “Blue Thunder”, “Star Trek: Generations” and so many others!  I got an autograph from “Time After Time” (1979), as it was (IMO) his most charming performance, when he played a time-traveling fictional version of Victorian era sci-fi author H.G. Wells.
SDCC 2011: Richard Hatch (1945-2017), the affable star of 1978’s original version of “Battlestar Galactica” (and a costar in its 2004 reimagining).  I’d met Hatch many times at previous conventions, and we actually came to recognize each other on sight.  I’d chatted with him about his Battlestar Galactica books (which he loved talking about) and we’d also discussed his work in independent fan films.  He was a very laid back guy, who seemed to love his fans as much as they loved him.  His unexpected loss in 2017 genuinely broke my heart, as I’d actually got to know Hatch a bit.  I even ran into him at 2016 SDCC, when I was at a local San Diego shopping center.  We were standing far from each other, but he smiled, waved, and I waved back.  That would be the last time I’d ever see him.  To me, Hatch was the very embodiment of sci-fi/fantasy conventions; that wonderful give-and-take you get the talent and the fans.
SD2011: The cast and writers/producers of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”  Steven Yeun, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Andrew Lincoln, producer/makeup supervisor Greg Nicotero, creator/producer Robert Kirkman, producer Gale Ann Hurd and producer Frank Darabont.  Darabont actually left the show somewhat acrimoniously shortly after this panel (only days after, in fact!).  I was once an avid fan of “The Walking Dead”, but fell out of love with both the graphic novel and TV series a few years ago.
SD2011: The entire cast of “The Big Bang Theory”, Melissa Rauch (offscreen), Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik.  “The Big Bang Theory” was another series I used to enjoy before it wore overstayed its welcome after a few years.  The best moment of the panel was seeing Melissa Rauch and Simon Helberg doing dueling versions of Howard’s mother’s voice.  Rauch won.
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From 2012: One of my fondest memories of attending conventions five years ago at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con.  A much-heavier me was relaxing at one of the table in the Sails Pavilion area.   The tables were a bit crowded when I noticed an elderly gentleman (one of the few attendees wearing a tie!) and his celebrity ‘handler’ come over to the table where I was sitting and relaxing.  Well, the gentleman was none other than “Forbidden Planet”’s Quinn and “Six Million Dollar Man”‘s Oscar Goldman himself, Richard Anderson (1926-2017).  He was all of 86 at the time, but still dapper and sharp, even if his voice was a bit thinner.  They sat, and I tried not to stare or appear ‘overly geeky’ at the prospect of sitting next to Anderson, whom I’d been a fan of since I was a kid.  I kept my cool (what few crumbs of it I might’ve had left).   After awhile, Anderson’s assistant wanted to see more of the convention, and he asked me if I wouldn’t mind looking after Mr. Anderson for a few moments.   I agreed, course.  Anderson and I began chatting about all kinds of things (medicine, politics, his distinguished career, etc).  I then asked him what he thought of Comic Con, and he was just amazed at the outpouring of fan affection and creativity.  He told me that “if they had one of these in every city in the world… there’d be no wars.”   Words of wisdom.  Wonderful man, priceless memory!
SDCC 2012:  Film producer extraordinaire/legend Roger Corman (“Death Race 2000” “Battle Beyond The Stars” and countless others) talks with one of his ‘discoveries’, William Shatner (“Star Trek”) who has his first breakthrough film role in Corman’s 1961 movie, “The Intruder.”  The panel was moderated by none other than San Diego Comic Con mainstay, writer/director/producer Kevin Smith (“Clerks” “Chasing Amy” “Mallrats”).
SDCC 2013:  My wife’s brilliant cosplay of Medusa, on vacation, in California.  She used a fishnet stocking to carefully apply scales to her arms, and strategically various toy snakes in her black wig. She looked amazing!
SDCC 2014: My wife’s cosplay of “Lucy” from the classic 1966 Peanuts’ special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”  She hand-sculpted the mask, and I carved her (fake) pumpkin.  Both mask & pumpkin were the closest possible matches to the TV special itself that we could manage, given how much their looks changed between (the hand-animated) scenes.  She wore the costume to an anniversary panel of Peanuts, where it received all due attention!
SDCC 2014: Actor R.J. Mitte, aka “Walt Jr./Flynn” from one of my all-time favorite TV shows, “Breaking Bad.”  He was a gracious and sweet guy.  I can easily see why the entire cast loved working with him.
SDCC 2014:  Batman cosplayers;  Catwoman, the Riddler, Batgirl, Batman, Robin, the Joker and the Penguin!
SDCC 2014:  Sharing an off-site coffee chat with my friend Nick Abadzis, a graphic novelist, writer, illustrator and all-around wonderful guy.  Nick won an Eisner award for his beautiful fact-meets-fiction chronicle of the real-life canine Soviet space pioneer “Laika” (2007).  Nick’s other works include “The Cigar Who Fell In Love With a Pipe” “Hugo Tate” “Pigs Might Fly” and the Titan Doctor Who graphic novels.  nickabadzis.com  Whenever I need a quick pick me up, Nick is always there with a witty text.   Big hugs to ya, Nick!
SDCC 2015: My wife and I celebrated the US legalization of same-sex marriage by cosplaying Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble as a same-sex couple.  Despite my wife’s pitch-perfect Barney Rubble costume, people still kept calling us “Fred & Wilma.”  Oh well… we tried, and we had fun doing it.  This was us, with our stone bowling ball, exiting the Doctor’s TARDIS into the ‘future’…
SDCC 2015: Author Andy Weir (“The Martian”) and myself as “Fred Flintstone”; his book is a favorite of mine, and I loved every minute of reading it. I told him that his “The Martian” bested Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series. He autographed my copy, too!   The caveman meets the Martian…only at San Diego Comic Con!
SDCC 2016: Me, in my “Breaking Bad” Los Pollos Hermanos costume, with Gigi Edgley (“Farscape” “Star Trek Continues”). She suggested we pose for various types of funny pics together (she was a huge fan of “Breaking Bad”).  This was us doing our ‘tough guy’ faces.  Hers looks great; mine looks more like a bad case of Bell’s palsy.  Sadly, I’ve never seen much of “Farscape” but I loved Edgley’s work in “Star Trek Continues.” See all “Star Trek Continues” episodes HERE.
SDCC 2017: Tony Stark “Hulkbuster” suit with a “Wonder Woman” cosplayer.  Yes, that is the level of detail that cosplayers at San Diego Comic Con cosplayers put into their work.  San Diego Comic Con is the creme de la creme of cosplay.
SDCC 2018: A screen used X-wing miniature and a lightsaber from the original “Star Wars” (1977).  These were both under glass (of course), but are typical of some of the rare exhibits you see in the Dealer Hall of San Diego Comic Con.
SDCC 2018: This was a shot I took from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” 25th Anniversary panel, which was moderated by no less than Neil Gaiman (“Good Omens” “Coraline”).  Right after the panel, I’d asked the movie’s production designer Bill Boes if he’d kindly let me take a few pictures of this screen-used ‘Halloweentown’ miniature up close for my wife who teaches animation; he graciously obliged.
SDCC 2019: “I’m not even supposed to be here today!”  Me, as Fred, meeting actors Brian O’Halloran (“Dante Hicks”) and Marilyn Ghigliotti (“Veronica”) from 1994’s “Clerks”; Halloran also returned in “Clerks 2” (2006) and the animated “Clerks” TV series.  Without my glasses, I am  blind as a bat, but luckily O’Halloran is sighted.

 

Three years of ‘Musings of a Middle-Aged Geek’  San Diego Comic Con coverage.

The main Dealer Hall of San Diego Comic Con.

My site has only been around since December of 2016, but I’ve covered SDCC extensively in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and here are all of those related posts.  The majority of these were written during the events (thank goodness for fast hotel wi-fi) while the memories were nice and fresh.  Enjoy!

San Diego Comic Con, Preview Night/Day One 2017.

San Diego Comic Con final recap 2017

San Diego Comic Con 2018: Preview Night Megapost!

San Diego Comic 2018 Day One Megapost

San Diego Comic Con 2018 Day Two Megapost

San Diego Comic 2018 Con Day Three Megapost

San Diego Comic Con 2018: Last Day…

San Diego Comic Con 2019: Preview Night and Cosplay…

San Diego Comic Con 2019 Megapost 2: Star Trek, Marc Zicree’s Space Command and a BIG shark…

San Diego Comic Con 2019, final Megapost: Memories of Apollo 11, the Star Trek pilot, and The Night Gallery…

 

Flickr Albums of San Diego Comic Con.

Some of these Flickr galleries of mine are also linked in the posts above and most of the photos are captioned for ease of perusal.  I’ve been putting together these Flickr San Diego Comic Con albums for years now, beginning with my pics from SDCC 2006.  Someday, I hope to locate, scan and post my pics from 2004, 2005 and 2008 as well (I couldn’t attend San Diego Comic Con 2007, but that’s another story).

I hope to put those ‘lost photos’ together in a digital medium for a future post (?), but for now, to paraphrase Star Trek’s Scotty, “I’m givin’ her all I’ve got, Captain…”   Anyway, here’s a dozen years’ worth of San Diego Comic Con memories I’d like to share with you.

San Diego Comic Con 2006 album.

San Diego Comic Con 2009 album

Star Trek Comic Con 2010 album

San Diego Comic Con 2011 album

San Diego Comic Con 2012 album

San Diego Comic Con 2013 album

San Diego Comic Con 2014 album

San Diego Comic Con 2015 album

San Diego Comic Con 2016 album

San Diego Comic Con 2017 album

San Diego Comic Con 2018 album

San Diego Comic Con 2019 album

 

The Future (?).

If and when they reopen Comic Con, I have no doubt they will have to do a serious rethink of how these events work. In the past, I’ve had multiple handshakes and hugs at Comic Con, not to mention the number of times I’ve been sneezed and coughed on as well.  People.  Big crowds.  It happens.   In 2012, I caught a serious case of “Comic Con crud”; a mystery illness that laid me out for almost a solid week.  Fever, chills, body aches, the works.  Another friend of mine caught pneumonia there.   I can’t even begin to imagine the casualty rate, not to mention lawsuits, if SDCC reopened with no additional safety protocols.

The exterior of the San Diego Convention Center.

In the future, will (non-cosplay) masks be mandatory?  Will celebrity meet-and-greets be off limits?   What about line queues where 6 ft/2 meter interval spacing simply isn’t possible?  What about all of those shared surfaces, such as public restrooms, or concessions areas?   Unless there are effective treatments or a forthcoming vaccine, these are definite challenges that have to be addressed before San Diego Comic Con (or any other conventions like it) can ever safely resume.

The Dealer Hall: This is why social-distancing at Comic Con would be a tremendous challenge…

Whatever the future holds, I sincerely hope that one day I will one day bring you more convention coverage (I also cover WonderCon, Star Trek Las Vegas and many others), but for the meantime, I humbly thank you for reading and sharing my geeky musings.

As usual, I sincerely hope each and every reader stays safe, avoids unnecessary contact, follows strict safety protocols (masks, hand washing, etc) and looks out for the safety of others (stay home as much as possible!).   As of this writing (April 18th, 2020), nearly 40,000 people have died in the United States and over 161,000 people have died worldwide.   Let’s not assist the virus in its grim mission.

Take care and be safe!

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All photos: author

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul Bowler says:

    Its a shame so many big events will be cancelled because of COVID 19, but its understandable I guess considering the current situation. We are still in lockdown here in UK, so expect several more things here will be cancelled as well, conventions and sporting events. I think we will look back on 2020 as the year we had to put everything on hold for a while, and I’m sure things will get back on track in 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope so, but the ‘pack ’em in’ culture of conventions will need a serious rethink unless a vaccine is developed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Paul Bowler says:

        I agree. I’ve never been to a really big convention like some of the ones you’ve visited, but they do seemed jam packed. I must admit I’m not a fan of being in large crowds anyway, so think that’s why I’ve never been to any of the really big events. I’m sure things will return to normal, but I think many industries will have to change their approach to how they operate.

        Liked by 1 person

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