A long time ago (not that long actually) in a galaxy far away, (actually it's the one you are currently in) one man pursued his dream of getting paid to be a full-time geek. For Geekscape
creator Jonathan London
, what started as a fan podcast from his living room has exploded—like a “BAM!” comic bubble—into a nerd empire with his very own online magazine. Out of this passion for illustrated storytelling, he landed himself a deal to pen Miami Vice
, the comic book reboot based on the classic 80s TV series.
Jonathan at Comic-Con, images courtesy of Jonathan London
Miami Vice reboot blasting on the scene
Since then, Jonathan has become a San Diego Comic-Con savant with 13 years of experience (five times as a fan, eight as a vendor) under his proverbial shiny spandex belt. Over the years he’s seen a lot of change.
There are way more women attending in recent years and I think the male fans are better for it. There is more diversity coming back into the types of comics that are being published, it’s not just superheroes anymore. Looking back to the earlier days and all you would see is hyper-sexualized women with tiny waists and huge chests, now we have characters like Squirrel Girl
,” says Jonathan.
With the 48th San Diego Comic-Con upon us, the coolest geek we know lays out Comic-Con do’s and dont’s and even a workout to survive the zombie apocalypse …
Jonathan’s Comic-Con Survival Tips
1. Sleep. You’ll be on your feet all day and there is so much to see. Make sure you get enough sleep before you go and while you’re there or you’ll burn out early.
2. Bring a snack or pack food, food is expensive in and around the convention center, and sometimes you just won’t want to waste your time standing in line for it.
3. Bring Purell. There are so many people from all over the world crammed into one space—Con-Flu is very real.
4. Bring and drink lots of water.
5. Plan ahead but be flexible. It’s a lot like going to Disneyland. You aren’t going to be able to do it all, so plan out what you really want to see ahead of time, but don’t get upset if you miss something. There is so much going on; sometimes you just need to go with the flow.
Heroes and villians agree, bring a book. Image courtesy of @comicconhq
5 Comic-Con Dont’s
1. Don’t expect to park downtown. You’ll never find parking. Park outside and Uber in.
2. Don’t bring a lot with you. You’ll most likely end up with a lot of stuff by the end of the day and it will be a pain to carry anything extra around.
3. Don’t be a jerk. As strange as this sounds to say (like it should be common sense) but I have seen people pushing and fighting. It’s just not worth it. Keep a level head.
4. Don’t underestimate the lines. You’ll be in a lot of long lines, bring a book or just wait and watch the panels online, they are always available after.
5. Don’t burn yourself out in one day. There are parties and you’ll be there for long hours. Be prepared and pace yourself.
How is San Diego different from other Comic-Cons?
Jonathan London: All of the cons have different personalities. The New York Comic-Con has the best artists’ alley which is great for getting autographs. Stan Lee’s Comikaze is better for people who want a chance to meet and hang out with celebrities, but San Diego is the monster of all Cons. It’s different because it’s not just limited to one location. In New York or any of the other con locations, once you leave the convention center, it’s pretty much just back to normal, but in San Diego, the whole downtown is taken over by events, tents, and cosplay. Sometimes the convention center is the least-lively part. The whole city is overrun with fans. There is so much life, and excitement, it’s just different.
Advice for those who don’t like crowds but love comics?
JL: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade Park behind the San Diego Convention Center is great a great spot to chill out. A lot of people camp out the night before, you have to be really dedicated to get into some of the events, sometimes there are giveaways in the panels, but most things you can catch up on oline after so don’t bother standing in line. Ultimately if you are not a fan, get the hell out of San Diego. You will not have a good time, it’s too in your face and there is no escaping it.
Promenade Park. Image courtesy of @zepness
To cosplay or not to cosplay?
JL: I love seeing everyone’s costumes, but I don’t dress up myself. I’m all for it but it’s a lot to carry around, which is one reason why I don’t. My best advice is order stuff offline ahead of time, costume creation can be pricey. Most important thing to do is be creative—put your own twist on the design. There are always going to be a million Jabba's palace Princess Leia’s, but I'm the kind of guy who loves the Iron Man made completely out of toilet paper rolls. Be unique.
Steam-punk Chewy and Boba Fett.
What's your pre-game Comic-Con workout look like?
JL: I think it’s important to stay in shape, especially considering the long standing hours and walking around you’ll be putting in. I am a part of November Project Los Angeles. We meet every Wednesday at 5:27 a.m. or 6:27 a.m. at the Hollywood Bowl and every Friday at 6:27 a.m. in different parts of the city for free workouts! It’s great because all my friends go and we are done in time for everyone to get to work. We try to accommodate every level—some people are training for marathons, some people are beginners or just trying to lose weight, there will always be people at your level and people to help you get the workout you want. I like to think of it as ‘getting in shape for when zombies happen.’
Jonathan's zombie workout. Image courtesy of Jonathan London
Your favorite comic books shops in Los Angeles?
JL: House of Secrets is my personal comic book store, I'm there the most. Amy and Eric are really knowledgeable and the store always has a lot of books stocked. If I’m missing anything for my collection it’s always the first place I look. Collector’s Paradise, in both Winnetka and Pasadena, are always run very well. Ed’s friends with a lot of creators so there are weekly signings and appearances, usually for whatever is released that week.
Earth 2 Comics in Sherman Oaks has a really enthusiastic staff. If there’s a big event book coming out, they sometimes do a midnight release party so it’s a great store to go to if you want to meet other fans. I visit The Comic Bug shops in either Culver City or Manhattan Beach for their owner Mike Wellman. Not only is he a comic book creator himself but he’s also one of the most enthusiastic guys I know and holds a lot of signings. Plus, he just loves comics and his customers. When a car drove through the front of his shop on release day a few years ago, he brought the comic books out and sold them in the parking lot!
Best places to “geek out” in LA?
JL: Barcades have really become popular and more common in recent years. There are a lot of great places to grab a drink and be a geek. There are even some board game bars around the city. Button Mash is one of my favorites, it has great Asian-fusion food and a really chill atmosphere. Meltdown Comics is the “cool” LA comic book store. It’s got a comedy club in the back (NerdMelt) and always hosts tabletop and roleplaying games. Plus they’ve got a huge selection of indie books, toys and zines. Every time I’m in there I see a celebrity.
Booze and video games at Button Mash courtesy of @buttonmashla
Find your own geek-squad at Meltdown. Image courtesy of @meltdowncomics
House of Secrets is a nice spot because it is more open. You can hang out and read more easily there than most other comic-book shops. And Blastoff Comics is also a really good spot because it’s a smaller store that a lot of creators frequent.
You say there’s a comic books for everyone—even for Grandma Shirley?
JL: There are literally comic books based on everything. Start with what movies or genre of TV shows you like. Search by what interests you the most. Don’t feel like you have to go for superheroes. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy. Oh, and check out the Voltron reboot on Netflix, it’s intimidatingly good and that’s coming from someone who writes these things for a living.
If you could pick two superheroes to get together and have a super baby, who would you pick?
JL: I would like to see two smart, good people mate. Not Tony Stark, he’s kind of a jerk and would be a terrible father, not Batman either. I would want it to be two people who would make good parents. I guess I would chose Ray Palmer (Atom) and Storm. Then the kid would have a good balance of science and spirituality.
Alethea Cho is a writer and content manager by day and supervillain by night. You can try your damnedest to catch her on Instagram under her evil moniker of @LadyLovesblood or Twitter @Lady_Lovesblood. Heros beware—this villain knows how to be both cunning and elusive.
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