I don't know what got into me, but a few weeks ago we were sitting around the living room talking about one random subject or another and we started talking about Comi-Con. For the uninitiated among us, Comi-Con is a gigantic comic book conference where people go to worship at the alter of comic books, super heroes, and really all that is nerdy. They dress up as their favorite characters, look for first edition issues of their favorite books, check out new stories to which they will now become addicted and add to their collections.

I was never much into comics as a kid. Hence, I never grew up and began insisting my comics were no longer comics, but rather graphic novels. But it was a part of The KingofHeart's life, so when were talking about the San Diego conference a few weeks back and we wondered what kind of craziness it would be like to attend Comi-Con.

Him: "I think it would be kinda cool to go see it once."

Me: "I wonder how much it is to attend?"

Him: "Well, you've got the Knowledge Box on your lap. Google it."

Me: "Hey, there's actually several of these all over the country."

Him: "Is there one near us?"

Me: "There's one in Baltimore next month."

Him: "Is it expensive?"

Me: "Not really. And kids are free."

Him: "Hmm... I might like to try to go somet....."

Me: "I just bought tickets."

Lord, how I love the internet.

Anyway, despite an aborted attempt to try to attend the weekend before the actual convention (note to self: compare date on calendar to date on tickets for future appointments), we finally got there last Saturday.

How can I explain the madness that is Comi-Con? This subject is probably best served by a photo essay. Strap yourselves in; this is going to be a long one.

I was amazed that this many people did not purchase their tickets on-line beforehand. You would think that THIS demographic would have been at least as web-savvy as me.

I eventually learned the unwritten rule at a Comi-Con conference: if you are dressed up, you are there to have your picture taken and have no problem posing - even if you are just some schmoe who really likes a comic book character and paid for his own admission. But before I figured that out, I took pictures with the long range lens from the balcony.

I really wish I'd run into these guys before Toyota recalled the Matrix.

I do not know what the dude with the gold lightening bolt is supposed to be - other than AWESOME!

Kids are always welcome at Comi-Con. It's just that everything inside is not necessarily appropriate for them. I bought a book from an artist I really liked who suddenly got worried when The Dormouse asked if I would read it to her and I said yes. As soon as she was out of earshot, he took me aside to show me a page in the book where he'd used the word "tit" and told me he just wanted me to be aware it was there in case I felt it wasn't appropriate for her. It was nice of him. But not nearly the worst thing my daughter could have seen that day. Let's just say you should steer carefully around the exhibit hall.

This might have been one of the best costumes we saw.

You've heard of Flat Stanley? Meet Flat Aztec. (I'm not kidding. That's this guy's name. And this is a Thing.)

I don't know what was up with The Dormouse and all her weird/creepy poses this day. Every picture is pretty much the same. I know if *I* had just met a girl in a Wonder Woman suit made entirely of duct tape, I would have had a GIGANTIC smile on my face.

Some of the comic books on display were a little... shall we say... random. And yes, The KoH bought one of these.

People keep asking if my girls were scared of all the people in the costumes and masks. To that, I say, you don't know my girls very well, do you? After a couple of hours I didn't even have to ask people to pose for a photo, The Dormouse did it for me.

I'm sure someone will come along to school me about this in the comments, but I do not know who these two were supposed to be. They were, however, experts in posing.

This guy is supposed to be Mal from Serenity. It's more of a tribute, I'd say. This probably should have been a picture of Mal with The KingofHearts, because he has a tremendous guy crush on this character. But this way, Mal didn't have to wash chapstick off his face after the photo was taken, so it's probably for the best.

This guy at the sword booth used a katana to shave the coating off his business card...

and give his monster creations to the girls.

I have not even a clue why SuperGirl is hanging out with Sir BigHeadoftheMarylandBlueCrab, I'm just happy she was.

The Matrix meets up with the Iron Man, who looked pretty hot (not hot as in hott, hot as in sweaty).

I. Have. No. Words.

There were quite a few yellow-spandex Wolverines and they were all painfully sad, overweight dudes in a flimsy see-through costume which was obviously thrown on over their street clothes and held together with velcro patches in the back. So when this guy walked by, I was duly impressed. Check out those blades on his hands. I want to know how he did that.

Dr. Jean Gray and some benevolent Ninja. (See? I've learned one or two things about comics in my fourteen years of marriage to a self-proclaimed geek. But only one or two things)

This gal was thrilled to get asked to pose for a photo by The Dormouse and she had us take one with her own camera too... proof that she was "corrupting the youth" for her friends.

For some reason, The Village People were there (see soldier above). Though the Indian Chief seemed to be missing. Maybe he was lunching with the Flat Aztec.

It was shortly after this photo that The KingofHearts and looked at me and said, "Well, we've been here most of the day and no one has had a meltdown yet. We should probably high tail it out of here while we're on the plus side." But he should know you never, ever say those kinds of things out loud, because as we headed for the door, The Caterpillar threw a Gigantic Fit. While she was throwing her Gigantic Fit, some kid at one of the booths saw that she was sad and came over to ask if he could give her a package of mini-muffins. We said sure, what the heck, but it probably won't make a difference. He leaned over and handed them to her and I've never seen her sober up from one of her Gigantic Fits faster. We looked up to thank him and he was gone. Who was that masked man?

When I was telling people that we were going to this conference, I kept explaining, "The KoH is going for the comics. I'm going for the prime mocking opportunities." And I won't lie, there were mocking opportunities. But surprisingly not really more than you can get at your local mall on a Saturday afternoon. I was actually pleasantly surprised by what a nice time I had even though this really wasn't my Thing.

What I really expected before going to my first Comi-Con: a bunch of goofy guys who still live in their mothers' basements running around, wiping their noses on their sleeves, fighting over the last Superman #27 issue available, and arguing about whether or not Batman would have joined Dr. Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters if they'd only gotten to him before all that split personality business.

What I experienced at my first Comi-Con: a bunch of people who are passionate about something. Maybe sometimes a little more passionate than the average person, but passionate nonetheless. In reality, I saw and talked to very few people with no social skills who were living in a dreamworld or their own making. Mostly there were talented artists who were funny and super sweet to my kids. People who gave The Dormouse every encouragement to draw and write and create, took time out of their convention experience to talk to them, pose with them and ask them questions about their favorite stories or heroes.

People who may or may not live in their mothers' basements; I didn't ask.