It’s the early 2000s, and I’m working at a bar across the street from the convention center where Comic-Con is held. At the time, Comic-Con was big, but the locals hadn’t embraced it and its multitude of people who can recite every episode title of The X-Files in sequential order, the way they have now. The locals tried to keep San Diego “bro.”
If you haven’t spent a lot of time in San Diego (I’m from there), it’s basically Boston if the weather was great and 40 percent of the Massholes swam in the ocean a few times a week. If the city had a mascot, it’d be a 5-foot-7-inch shirtless dude calling someone a homo as he’s being held back by a girl in 6-inch platform sandals. The town is also heavily military, and that was most of the clientele of the bar where I worked.
So one night during the convention, it’s busy as hell, and all of a sudden I hear some angry shouting out on the patio. I go out there (to watch, not to try and break up any potential fight, because fuck that: I made $6.25 an hour, and I look like Jason Biggs with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s), and I see a a military-looking dude with a cocktail napkin in his hand, screaming at a pretty stereotypical-looking Comic-Con attendee.
The usual homophobic slurs are being tossed by the military guy, interspersed with an “I will fuck you up bro” every 10 or so seconds. The bouncer walks over and gets in the middle and asks what’s going on. The military dude goes, “I’m gonna fuck this nerd up. That’s what’s going on.” The bouncer chooses not to accept that as an answer and asks a few more times, and finally the military guy goes, “This fuckin’ nerd got mad that we took his table and he fuckin’ drew a picture of me sucking Spider-Man’s fucking dick, bro!”
He hands the cocktail napkin with the picture on it to the bouncer. And it’s quiet for a moment as the bouncer looks at the picture, and then all of a sudden the Comic-Con attendee, who hasn’t said anything the whole time, goes, “It’s Daredevil. Not Spider-Man.”
And the military dude leaped over a goddamned table and tackled him to the ground, and all hell broke loose. And that is my favorite Comic-Con memory.
Justin Halpern is an author and a San Diego native.
Photo by Getty.