Highlights for me included meeting some of my favourite artists including Simon Bisley (with me, below), Ashley Wood (with Murphy, below), Travis Charest, Howard Chaykin, Bobby Chiu, Adam Hughes and Bernie Wrightson. I've been a huge fan of them all for years, some of them back to my callow youth. I also got to see people like Lou 'The Hulk' Ferrigno, John 'Captain Jack' Barrowman, Jonathan 'Commander Riker' Frakes and Kitt ... er ... the car from the new Knight Rider.
For two days we wandered up and down aisles and in and out of stands, always seeming to find ones we hadn't seen before. We found stands for fetish gear and real swords, Wacom graphics tablets and witches' potions, life-sized statues (who buys these things?) and very rude T shirts. And all the time we walked past people who'd made the effort to dress up. Many of the costumes were fantastically detailed, real movie quality. Others were just plain silly, like the guys who cut out some cardboard shapes, painted them silver and pinned them to their tops in order to look like shoddy TIE fighters.
We immediately knew we were in a different country. Apart from the obvious, such as everything being in Spanish, the place looked down-market and shabby. We were now driving through the suburbs of Tijuana and it did not look like the sort of place to get out of the car and soak up the local culture. The buildings were scabbed and peeling, there were beggars everywhere and small knots of wild-eyed Latino youths hung around on street corners. One was actually cleaning his nails with a worrying looking knife. I don't have many photographs as I was nervous about showing off my camera. A resounding clunk told me that Murphy felt the same. He had deadlocked the doors and I saw him wrestle his Rolex off his wrist and drop it into a glove box.
"This may have been a bad idea", he said.
"Oh yes", I replied. "What's worse is that I think we've just illegally exported a car."
"Bugger", said Murphy.
"And I think we may not be insured now either", I said. "Shall we head back to America?"
Murphy nodded enthusiastically and we started looking for a way back to the freeway. It wasn't easy. We were driving around side-streets, many of which were blocked off or one-way, in a city we didn't know, that our SatNav didn't know, and where all of the street signs were in a foreign language.
"How long have you been in Mexico, gentlemen?"
"Er ... ten minutes. Plus an hour queueing to get out."
"The reason for your visit?"
"Accident. And some small degree of stupidity."
"Are you importing anything? Do you have anything in the car that you shouldn't have?"
"Nope. We were too scared to get out of the car."
It was a wonderful long weekend. Without exception, everyone we met was kind, helpful and loved our accents. I can recommend Comicon and, indeed, San Diego to anyone.
I really must go back one day. But maybe I won't leave it 10 years next time.