We asked people why they came to Comic Con. Here's what they said

Despite long lines and sleepless nights, 30,000 people crammed into a convention center in San Jose, California, to celebrate the world of cosplay, comics and superhero culture. Here's why.

"I never thought I'd be happy to be half-naked."

This from a costumed, midriff-baring woman squeezing her way between conference-goers on the humid, jam-packed show floor of Silicon Valley's first-ever Comic Con. The registration lines were long, and the few lunch lines felt even longer.

And that's about right.

An estimated 30,000 attendees came to check out the costumes, hear their icons speak, pose for photos and, above all, buy a lot of gear.

I struck up conversations with some attendees to get their stories.

That's sacrifice

A plucky, helpful volunteer dressed as One-Punch Man, a character from a Japanese series, helped the CNET team find the press room when we first rolled up to the show. He said his name was Preston, and that he's a college student who stayed up all night working on an exam.

"I got 15 minutes of sleep last night," he said. Oof.

Costumed community

Julie Shepard, left, and Julian Leiserson as Dot Matrix and Princess Vespa from the Star Wars spoof Spaceballs.

James Martin/CNET

Clad in gold paint and a shimmery gold dress, the "droid" dropped to her hands and knees on the drab carpeting of San Jose's convention center.

"My name is Dot," she said to a little girl, Audrey, who'd I'd peg to be about 5. "I'm from a planet called Druidia. My face is made of metal."

It isn't. Her name is Julie Shepard, and just a few seconds before adorable Audrey stampeded by me to touch her, Shepard was talking to me. I asked her if this has happened often at the three Comic Cons she's attended.

"Sometimes," she said. "It was my Disney princess moment."

Back to basics

Alan Pamoleras and Eunice Aquino have attended San Diego Comic Con since 1991 and 1992, respectively, but they made the 500-mile trek from San Diego to San Jose to steep themselves in a "purer" show.

"This is a younger Con," Pamoleras said. "It gets you back to looking at the comics and visiting the artists, buying their toys." He's drawn to the show by its more laid-back feel -- there's less Hollywood influence and easier access to the show floor.

"San Diego [Comic Con] is a big hoopla," Pamoleras said, noting that promotions for big-name companies are high there and celebrities are hard to get near. But in San Jose, "we saw Woz on the floor!"

"It's only right to have a Comic Con that spotlights tech and culture," Aquino said. "A lot of the ideas in tech come from comics."

Star power

Meanwhile, first-timer Jillian Cosgrave came for the people. "I'm really interested in seeing Nichelle Nichols speak," Cosgrave said. "She was the original Uhura on 'Star Trek.'" Also Nathan Fillion, actor on sci-fi Western "Firefly" (and also ABC show "Castle").

Meanwhile, her husband, Adam Klopfenstein, is all about "Back to the Future" and meeting a few of the 15 cosplay personalities he follows on Facebook, maybe even buying a signed portrait (which he'll keep at work, his wife said, "So I don't have to see it").

And let's not forget Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, and the man credited for getting Silicon Valley Comic Con off the ground.

"Woz is a hometown guy," said Cosgrave, a San Jose resident. "He goes to the IHOP in Cupertino to eat pancakes. You know it's not going to be a shi**y Con."

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