Monday, July 26, 2004

San Diego Diary, Day 1

Thursday, July 22

Going to San Diego was different this year for a couple of reasons. I was a little nervous about flying. By coincidence, this would be the first time I'd flown since 9/11. In fact, the last time I'd been on a plane was the 2001 Comic-Con.

I'd also skipped the '02 and '03 Cons because I was too busy getting engaged and married to afford going out there. Ironically, though, my wife would be flying out of town about 90 minutes before I was supposed to get back, so after I left the house Thursday morning, we wouldn't see each other for a week.

I'd also bought my first cell phone, which made navigating the con a lot easier. I go mostly as a guest of my buddy Sam, who's part of "the industry." This means I get a pass which marks me as "professional" -- or, this year, just "industry" -- and it means I have to explain why an attorney with no discernable professional connection to comics has such a tag. Because I hate sounding like a hanger-on, I usually just tell people I've represented Sam in the past, which is true. This year I have the new blog, but old habits die hard. Anyway, Sam schmoozes while I go to panels and scour back-issue bins, so we get separated pretty quickly.

Left the house at 5:40 a.m. and, after a brief stop to pick up Sam's portfolios, headed for the airport. Security was not a hassle at all, although I did have to take off my running shoes. Saw a couple of people from church at the gate and talked to them about current church events. A group of high-spirited teens was also there, and since I have little tolerance for peppy people before sunrise, was very glad they weren't on our flight.

Thunder had awakened me initially, but it passed through before I left the house. Now, however, a second wave of strong storms was moving in, and the airport was caught in a pretty good deluge. Our flight was delayed to make sure the fueling truck wouldn't be hit by lightning. I want to say there were other electrical problems which almost forced us to deplane, but those were cleared up (still leaving us passengers a little nervous) and we left 30 minutes late, about 8:00 a.m.

The flight was routed through Dallas, so with the lateness of our departure from Lexington, we got to the gate at DFW just in time to see them boarding. We literally had no time to sit down. The plane from LEX to DFW had fewer than 50 seats, making the 737 we flew to San Diego a pleasant, roomier change. The flight to San Diego was uneventful.

It's not like I am an experienced air traveler, but the San Diego airport is almost like a mall. The crowds are managed well, there's a lot of sunlight, and the Delta terminal is situated very close to the ground-transportation plaza outside. When we landed at 10:30 Pacific time, we did see a long line stretching from the security checkpoints out the doors and across the skybridge, so we resolved to get to the airport early on Saturday night.

We shuttled into town with a couple of beautiful people who had flown in for a wedding. They were from Houston. We explained that we were from Kentucky, and had come to the convention a few times before. For some reason they asked our opinion on why property taxes were so much higher in Los Angeles than in San Diego. Not knowing why they thought two Kentuckians would know, we faked an answer that seemed to satisfy them. What with dropping off the rest of the shuttle passengers, it took us about an hour to get to our hotel, the Marriott Coronado Resort.

We had originally planned to stay at the Marriott next to the convention center, but the travel agency overbooked rooms and Sam wangled the Coronado at the last minute. It is located across the bay from downtown, meaning we had to take a water taxi to get to the show. The Coronado is a fairly nice hotel, but it suffered a little from not being on a beach. I am probably being slightly unfair to it because we didn't spend a whole lot of time there -- the water taxi kept a strict schedule and cost $5.00 one way.

This meant I missed the first panel of interest ("Focus on Walt and Louise Simonson," about a married couple who between them worked on Fantastic Four, Thor, and Superman), but I got my badge (my name was misspelled) and started shopping. Within about an hour I'd bought most of what I came for, so I headed back to the room to drop off the heavy stack.

Spent the rest of the day Thursday going to panels. I had wanted to ask a couple of Robin-related questions at the Batman panel (the last one of the day) but boiled them down to "Will we see more Robin in Batman and Detective?" The answer was a vague yes. I get the impression from the Batman writers and artists that they joke a lot about Robin, which is understandable. Besides, these panels are not Meet the Press, although sometimes you can start to think they are.

We had dinner Thursday night at The Yacht Club, a Marriott restaurant next to the convention center. We were there with Sam's colleagues, who were waiting for a couple of guys to arrive. These guys were sculptors who would be staying with us. By this time it was 10:00 p.m. Eastern and I was starting to get cranky. I didn't quite fall asleep at the restaurant, nor did I snap at anyone, but came close on both counts. (At 2:30 EDT I grumbled, "Why stop now?") We finally got back to the Coronado around 3:00 a.m. Eastern, and after getting the two other guys situated in our room, went to sleep.

No comments: