Christopher Paolini looks back — and forward — on Comic Con in this exclusive retrospective!

As we all prepare to head out for San Diego Comic Con, Christopher Paolini has written an exclusive article for Shur’tugal fans looking back on his six trips to the pop culture convention! As we mentioned yesterday, Shur’tugal and Lytherus are teaming up to cover all aspects of San Diego Comic Con starting today, running through Sunday!

Kvetha Fricaya! Greetings Friends!

Right now I’m getting ready to head off to the San Diego Comic-Con this week. This will be my sixth time attending as a presenter and as a fan. Hard to believe.

The first time I went to Comic-Con was in 2004, only six months or so after Random House/Knopf published Eragon. Readers were just starting to find the book, and I was still brand new to the whole author thing. Heck, I’d never even been to a convention before, much less one as huge and overwhelming as Comic-Con.

Comic-Con has gotten larger over the years, but even back in ’04 it was massive. Everything you’ve heard about Comic-Con? It’s all true. I walked into the convention hall and my jaw dropped to the floor. A full-sized X-wing was hanging from the ceiling. Half-a-dozen guys in homemade Gundam suits were patrolling the aisles. Squads of Stormtroopers, both male and female, hung out by this booth and that. Klingons in full regalia shouldered their way past Hobbits, X-Men (and X-Women, I should say), and uncounted numbers of Narutos and Sailor Moons. Superheroes and heroines over there. Furries over there. Miserable-looking booth babes scattered throughout. And of course there’s always at least one guy dressed up as Dark Helmet from Spaceballs.

Down this aisle was a life-sized statue made out of engine parts of the Predator and the Alien fighting to the death. Down that aisle swords and fluffy animals and first edition comics, all on sale. At the far end of the hall, booth after booth of painters, sculptors, pencilers, inkers—many of them the artists who illustrated the stories of my childhood.

So many people filled the hall that it was often standing room only. The air conditioners could barely keep up; in some places a swamp-like miasma seemed to settle between the booths. In others, an arctic chill. And as for the bathrooms . . . Friends, let me tell you, the bathrooms of Comic-Con contain horrors no person should speak of.

For most of the convention I walked around geeking and gawking and generally acting like the fan I am. The coolest part, though, was getting to meet other authors, most of them long-established within their fields. Terry Brooks, for one, was charming and generous; he took me under his wing and gave me lots of very sound advice about writing, touring, and how to handle the attention that comes with even a semi-successful book. Along with him, I also got to hang out with Peter David, China Miéville (what a great name, eh?), and many others.

Comic-Con isn’t always fun. It can be tiring, frustrating, and again, overwhelming. But like so many conventions, it provides a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the things they like. It’s really an amazing thing. Where else in life do tens of thousands of people gather to praise artists, artists of all kinds? To my mind that’s something worth cherishing.

Besides, where else can you go where you probably aren’t the most knowledgeable person when it comes to Battlestar Galactica or Twilight or the lesser-known works of Ursula Le Guin? (Mind you, I’m still the world expert on Alagaësia. Ahem.)

No doubt I’ll return from this Comic-Con with a suitcase full of books, comics, and paintings, and I’ll return having met as many of my fans as possible and having enjoyed as much good conversation as time allows. If you happen to be there, be sure to stop by the Random House booth and say hi. If not, no worries. In either case, I hope you get a chance to attend the convention. It really is worth it.

Just try to avoid the bathrooms.

And don’t anger the Wookies. They tend to tear off arms, doncha know.

Christopher Paolini