Comic-Con 2012 Marvel stage preview
July might mean summer doldrums to some, but if you love comics and pop culture, it can only mean one thing: San Diego Comic-Con. CNET's checking out the geekfest in full force, and we'll be on the hunt for the hottest news in comics, TV, and movies, and, yes, the best cosplayers.
Along with stories and galleries, CNET TV and The 404 are doing giveaways on location, and CNET's once again hosting its Base Station for the True Believers at the convention. If you're in San Diego, you'll be able to recharge your phones, play video games, scarf down free food and drinks, and -- if you're lucky -- win some hot tech prizes.
So what are we superexcited for? There's tons of entertainment media on display, and complaints that the show has been co-opted by nearby Hollywood are not without merit. But there's still tons of comics to geek out on.
The Marvel Comics booth is a must-see spectacle from the largest comics publisher around. Last year Marvel offered a first look at the helicarrier from "The Avengers" movie, so it'll be interesting to see how the House of Ideas can top that this time.
The must-get comic book of the show will be "Walking Dead No. 100." The book's creators, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, will be at the Image Comics booth signing autographs. There will be a 40-minute "zombie run" at PetCo Park, and a preview of the upcoming "Walking Dead Season 3" is highly likely. How popular will the comic be? Early preorders place it above 325,000 copies -- bigger than last year's "Justice League No. 1," and easily the most preordered single issue since President Barack Obama showed up in "Spider-Man" in 2009.
Superstar creators like Kirkman and Adlard aren't the only people behind your favorite comics worth meeting. San Diego still attracts the widest variety of talent of any American convention. While you probably won't run into Mad Magazine artist Al Jaffee -- he's in his nineties -- you never know who'll show up, from your favorite current Web comics creator to 1960s underground "comix" artist Gilbert Shelton, creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Brian Tong's Top 5 favorite things from Comic-Con
However, the convention floor is an enormous space, and the cacophony can be overwhelming. More than 130,000 attendees were estimated at the 2011 show, the full capacity of the San Diego Convention Center. If it gets to be too much, the "counter-con" Tr!ckster is worth your time. With its emphasis on comics and art, and held across the street from the con itself, Tr!ckster offers a less hectic approach while still attracting the top-shelf talent in town for the big con.
And without fail, professional and amateur cosplayers make Comic-Con a feast for the eyes. And as this printable bingo card hints, you'll see a mix of character-accurate costumes, as well as home-brewed variations. Some are genuinely cool; others can be best described as "the sexy Jawa."