Why am I not at Comic-Con, asks Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday? It's only the biggest convention of it's kind in the world, and host to some of the most exciting record holders in pop culture
San Diego Comic-Con International – the annual festival in celebration of comics, sci-fi, cult TV, collectible card gaming and videogaming – opens this week in Southern California's beautiful coastal city.
SDCC, as it's known, is the largest annual comic and pop culture festival in the world, attracting around 130,000 registered visitors over the four-day event and giving a boost the local community each year.
I've had the pleasure of visiting Comic-Con a couple of times, and in 2010 was honoured to present Publicity Director David Glanzer the Guinness World Records certificate confirming the event's record-breaking status.
Held at the San Diego Convention Centre, Comic-Con at times accommodates 140,000 people when attendees, exhibitors and staff are counting, with only the venue's legal capacity stopping thousands more descending on the site.
It's difficult to appreciate the scale of the event – the Convention Centre offers more than 1 million sq ft (102,900 sq m) of floor space, and Comic-Con seems to use every available inch (Trust me, you get an exhaustive workout running from event to event, covering what feels like many miles a day!).
It's a colourful, long weekend, with thousands of fans dressing up as their favourite TV or comic stars, and the many halls and room buzz with excitement as new releases are announced, celebs make unannounced appearances and limited edition comics, toys and games go up for grabs. You'll find more than 600 different scheduled events over a typical long CC weekend, including movie screenings, TV show previews, panel interviews with the world's biggest stars, workshops and autograph signings, as well as a vast exhibit of comics, graphic novels, anime and art. It's truly epic.
Comic-Con is a great place to hang out with the best in the business. At my last visit, I caught up with Matt Groening of The Simpsons (longest running sitcom, most Emmys Awards won by an animated series, most guest stars in a TV show) and Futurama (highest rated animated sci-fi TV show), whose producer David X Cohen was also present to receive his Guinness World Records certificate.
Talking of animated sci-fi, I also had the pleasure of attending a Star Wars event and presenting Dave Filoni, Supervising Director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, his certificate for the most viewed sci-fi animation TV show.
As a big steampunk fan, I was excited to help The League of S.T.E.A.M (Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management) - a collective of "Steampunk Ghostbusters" based in southern California – organize the largest gathering of steampunks (185 incredibly dressed individuals).
I also ran into a few other random record holders, such as Randy Couture (most UFC heavyweight championships), "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (most wins of the World Wrestling Entertainment Royal Rumble).
Then there was Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill – the First Hollywood star to top both film and video game charts thanks to his role of Colonel Christopher Blair in the No.1-selling Wing Commander PC games.
I also had the fun of surprising Sylvester Stallone during his panel chat to award him his certificate for Rocky IV (highest grossing boxing movie and highest grossing sports movie), which he accepted on stage with his movie opponent Dolph Lundgren.
And I overcame my fear of the Jigsaw killer to present Saw actor Tobin Bell with the certificate for the most successful horror movie franchise.
Comic fans will be envious that I got hang out with Todd Klein, winner of the most Eisner Comic Award wins in one category (the comic equivalent of the Oscars, the Eisner Awards are held during SDCC each year) and, in a real coup, my childhood hero Stan Lee, creator of – among many others – Spider-Man and holder of the record for the Most movies adapted from the work of a comic book creator. My dinner with Stan remains one of the highlights of my job so far.
Sadly, I've not had the time to make it San Diego this year. But I'll be scanning the daily updates for record-breaking achievements. I've no doubt it's going to be a record-breaking con, and can't wait to see some of this year's superlatives in the next book.