The Washington Times - July 16, 2008, 02:16PM

By Brant Bridges

I first attended San Diego Comic-Con in the summer of 2003, and I’ve attended every year thereafter. In just a few short weeks, it will be time for the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con International, and the excitement is palpable around the Sideshow office. There’s no event like SDCC, nothing even close.


At the show, you can hear ‘old-timers’ talk about the glory days, the early years of the show, when the convention was really about comic books. The show has been running annually since 1970, but it exploded into a massive pop culture event in the early 2000s. While you can still find a few vendors hawking old and new issues of your favorite comics, the show has evolved into something much more. It has become a celebrity magnet, attracting even the biggest names. The film studios set up incredible booths - in 2007, Disney’s booth took form as a nearly full-size pirate ship. With the semi-death of E3, formerly the annual highlight of the video game industry, more and more of the big names in video game entertainment are getting in on the action with incredible displays and the opportunity to play upcoming titles.

At the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, Stan Lee stopped by the Sideshow Collectibles booth for an interview.

And on top of all that, you have the fans. They’re the real reason to go to the show - to bask in the glow of the masses, all united by love for pop culture icons ranging from fantasy to superhero to sci-fi. Costumed fans run amok, some dreaming of launching their own film franchise by wearingthe costume for whatever character they’ve invented, and some donning the wardrobe of their favorite hulking hero or spandex-clad villain. The costumes may be cardboard and campy or fantastically real, and the fan inside the costume may have the perfect proportion or they may offer a very ‘alternate-universe’ look at their hero. However they fill out (or over-spill) the costume, it is FANTASTIC.

The show is nearly entirely run by volunteers, everyday folks that enjoy bringing a touch of organization to the madness of the event. Without them, the show could not go on. It’s a show by fans for fans, and because of its home-grown nature, it’s tough to imagine the show moving out of San Diego.  The show has outgrown the city, and there simply aren’t enough hotels or restaurants to satisfy the ever-growing number of people wanting to attend. If you’re even the least bit tempted, get to work now on your hotel reservations, and buy your passes for the show. It may already be too late - but there’s always SDCC 2009!

Brant Bridges is a production manager for Sideshow Collectibles.