The plaza near the Gaslamp Trolley station, 5th Street and L, bracketed by the Omni, Hard Rock Hotel, and Hilton Gaslamp, has become the main hub of off-site Comic-Con activity over the last few years. It’s the most direct route between the convention center and Downtown San Diego. Unlike the crossing at 1st, there’s enough space to set up displays and businesses willing to undergo a SyFy makeover…so they can set up the Green Hornet Car (and the Green Hornet girls), the Cafe Diem, and the Scott Pilgrim Experience (with free garlic bread!). The city has started blocking off the area to cars to make room for pedestrian traffic, but since people still need to cross two trolley lines, a railroad, and a street, the crowds are a captive audience.
As a result, the place is packed not just with people attending the con, but also with promoters handing out flyers, postcards, temporary tattoos, comic books and goodie bags. The Beat describes it as the “heart” of the con, or possibly some less savory body part. It’s sort of like walking down the Las Vegas strip, only instead of sketchy-looking men handing you trading cards* with pictures of hot women and phone numbers, there are hot women handing you cards with pictures of spaceships and sketchy-looking men with website addresses.
Stay classy, San Diego!
And then there are the people there not to give you stuff, but to be advertising. The ones in promotional costumes, like the Fandango paper-bag puppets or the Chik-Fil-A super-hero cows. Zombies promoting The Walking Dead.
This year, a new group joined in: those who weren’t really here for the convention, but just wanted to get the attention of a large number of people: Vegan activists. The “God Hates Everyone But Me” scumbags. (The con crowd fired back with a creative counter-protest.)
I never could figure out whether the man with the “CIA Is Evil!” sign was serious, or part of the same viral marketing campaign that had a legion of Men in Black handing out “confidential” envelopes to everyone who walked by.
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*Go ahead. Tell me they don’t look like stripper trading cards. Though I remember some webcomic where the cast decided to use them for a collectible card game a la Magic: The Gathering.
See Also: Convention Photos & Write-Ups