Comic-Con

Comic-Con 2011: A Dispatch From The Rabbit Hole

Fans arrive during Preview Night at the Comic-Con 2011 convention Wednesday, July 20, 2011 in San Diego. i i

Fans arrive during Preview Night at the Comic-Con 2011 convention Wednesday, July 20, 2011 in San Diego. Denis Poroy/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Denis Poroy/AP
Fans arrive during Preview Night at the Comic-Con 2011 convention Wednesday, July 20, 2011 in San Diego.

Fans arrive during Preview Night at the Comic-Con 2011 convention Wednesday, July 20, 2011 in San Diego.

Denis Poroy/AP

This is my war zone.

That's what I told a producer the other day who has worked in many real, actual war zones right before I left for Comic-Con. He had the good grace to laugh. "It's probably worse," he said.

This is a crush of nerd passion, a pop culture city-state as regulated as Singapore but with vastly worse food. ("Costume swords must be tied to your costume in such a way that they can't be drawn," the event guide instructs sternly. I'm looking at you, giant bearded guy dressed up like a character I don't remotely recognize whose costume sword is tied so as not to clank against his costume machine gun.)

Comic-Con is overwhelming. There are thousands of people here salivating at the opportunity to witness Mark Hamill (yes, Luke from Star Wars) explain the challenges of voicing a character in a Batman video game. Sarah Michelle Gellar, geek goddess of Buffy fame, is here to flack her upcoming TV show Ringer, and the line is already forming two hours ahead of time.

Word is, this year's Comic-Con is already a bit of a bust. Harry Potter is over. There's no huge movie coming out this year as exciting as, say, Avatar. So there's a lot of absolutely frantic promotion of splashy 2012 films, like the next Twilight, or the next Spider-Man — which has commanded building-sized posters on nearly every edifice facing the San Diego Convention Center.

Inside the exhibition hall, though, it doesn't feel like a bust at all. Here, people are doing something old-fashioned, simple and pure. They are buying comic books.

NPR arts reporter Neda Ulaby is reporting from Comic-Con for the next several days.

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