For the past 15-20 years, I've been watching Comic-Con unfold more-or-less in real time via the internet. I recall watching intently when Wizard Magazine set up the show's first video feed from their booth. Well, "video feed" is a slight exaggeration. It was a small, desktop camera with no audio that only took one picture every five seconds or so. It looked like they had the camera just sitting on their booth table (about waist height) pointed vaguely in the direction of the aisle.
I really wanted to be there, but I simply couldn't afford it.
Ten years ago, Diamond named me "Comics' #1 Fan" for the general comics promotion work I did surrounding Free Comic Book Day. They sent me a prize package made up of loot from many different publishers, retailers, and general industry folk. It also included four five-day passes to that year's Comic-Con. I sat down and did some number crunching, and figured I could probably afford it. But it was still a big expense, and I probably wouldn't be able to get much once I was there.
I couldn't bring myself to justify spending the money for the trip.
The past couple of years, I've been in a position where I felt I could comfortably afford the trip out there. It's still not an insignificant expense, but I've gotten my finances to a point where that's not going to break the bank or cause me to lose my home or starve or anything. But I've chosen not to go this year because, well, I don't really want to any more.
Thanks to the internet, all of the news that comes out of San Diego is available pretty much immediately. Those first shows I watched online unfolded quickly compared to prior years, but it would still take a week or two for all the news and photos to trickle out. Now, things are literally streaming in real time in many cases. So one of my original reasons for attending -- getting the news as it breaks -- is no longer relevant.
Also thanks to the internet, the shopping portion of the con is moot. Between Mile High, Lone Star and eBay, I can find just about any comic ever published without getting off the couch. There's always something to be said for hunting back issue bins for neat bargains, but any more, I'm looking for quality books, not just cheap ones.
The discovery aspect has waned considerably, too. You used to wander the Artists' Alley seeing what cool, new indie books might otherwise slip under your radar. And while you can still do that, the hugeness of the event overall has made that a little too expensive a proposition for many smaller guys any more.
And on top of all that... 130,000 people!!! Let me tell you, I am NOT a fan of crowds. There were 50,000 at C2E2 this year and I was uncomfortable with that. I don't think I'd get into a fetal position or anything with 130,000 but I'm not eager to test myself on that. I like my personal space, thankyouverymuch. (The running joke between the S.O. and I right now is that, once we close on this house, the first thing I'm going to do is have a moat put in.)
I think I would've liked to have attended the show ten years ago or so. Better yet, twenty years ago when I could've still met Jack Kirby. But the show as it stands now doesn't interest me all that much. I want to be a part of fandom to meet and be friends with other people, to be a part of a niche community. Not to be subsumed by an avalanche of every fan group in existence. I'm okay with the media guests and all that, but I want a con to be a personal experience where I interact with people, not one that's just a whirlwind of "Hey, how are you"s.