The biggest comic book convention in the world starts today in California, "Comic-Con International: San Diego." This is the convention's 40th year now. It has become a well-known event in recent years, even among the general public, and an important centerpiece of the City of San Diego's annual civic calendar. Tickets for the four-day convention now sell out months in advance and are highly prized, as are nearby hotel rooms.
What is less well known about it, however, is "The Funk."
What is The Funk? Well, "The Funk" is a smell. An odor, really, and an overpowering one at that. It's a terrible rolling fog of concentrated body odor. Like the bottom of a high school gym locker. But unlike most teenagers who eat fairly well balanced meals at home under parental supervision, this odor also betrays a fearsome collective ill health: bad diets of fast food, perpetual under-hydration and more than a hint of "spice" derived from chronic halitosis.
The Funk comes from packing thousands and thousands of comic books fans and D&D players, whose collective hygene is suspect at the best of times, into one large room for an entire day. As the day goes on, and as the convention fills up with its over 30,000 daily attendees, the big hall becomes hotter and hotter, to the point where even the industrial air conditioning can no longer fully compensate. Fans, many of them heavy-set, begin to sweat ever more profusely into their hawaiian shirts and trench coats and Bobba Fett costumes, as the temperature rises and as all the walking around the Con carrying bags of new purchases takes its toll.
Then in the early afternoon, maybe you step outside to get some lunch or a drink or whatever. When you return an hour or so later and push open the doors to the convention hall: pow, that's when The Funk hits you square in the face. Maybe you actually recoil, a little staggered. But then in an instant you steel yourself and thrust back into the hall for more "fun."