And every time I look at it I get really sad.
In case you don't recognize it, that is the San Diego Convention center. It is the home for the largest comic convention in the United Stated, The San Diego Comicon (or as they call it now, Comic-Con International.)
I started going to SDCC in 2000. That wasn't that long ago, but it seems forever to me, like I can't imagine a time when I didn't got to San Diego. And it seemed so, magical. It was awesome.
Hotel rooms were super easy to get. One year, we didn't decide to go until late and we still got a room for under $100 right across from the convention center. And there were a ton of restaurants and some of them were very affordable. There were crowds at the con, but if you got your ticket early, you avoided the only real bad line, the ticket line.
If you wanted to get your portfolio looked at by one of the big companies, it was mostly a matter of just waiting in line or getting there early to get on the list. Which was easy to do.
Like I said, it kind of felt special. Like Disney World for comicbook fans.
But something changed.
The first thing I noticed was the hotel rooms. The prices kept getting higher every year, but even worse, harder to get. In '08, we ended up staying in Point Loma. It wasn't too bad, but you know what it's not the same as it was. And just getting back and forth was a hassle.
I also noticed the restaurants have gotten worse. One thing I noticed was several had a special 'convention' menu with comic book style graphics. My friend thought it was cool until I pointed out to him that I'm sure the prices where higher in that menu then the normal one!
However really the last straw for me was the crowds. In '06, it was so crowded, it was impossible to move around on the dealers floor. But it wasn't the volume of crowds, but their attitude. The con has changed to more of a celebrity thing and the locals come out in waves. And they are terrible.
I saw a father encourage a child to throw a glowstick into a crowd at the costume contest. The manger of the hotel in Point Loma told us how he bought on pass and used it to sneak in his buddies. My friend's cellphone got stolen. I almost got into an altercation with a guy who claimed I ran over his toe in a crowd (Who wears flip-flop in a crowd of 100k+? Oh yeah, a MORON!)
I'm not sure what they could do to fix the con. More hotels would be nice, but the locals will still see us as cash cows and jerks will sneak in. And thieves and morons looking for a toe-stomping.
I'm afraid my beef with the con may have to do more with the changing nature of California in general.
Maybe one day, it will all be fixed, but until then I'll just look at my photos, think about my memories and weep for what's been lost.