The folks here at Convention.Life had the amazing opportunity to catch up with one of San Diego's most beloved personalities: AJ Machado, from San Diego's Energy 103.7FM's "The AJ Show."
As a long-time resident of San Diego, and an unabashed fan of everything pop culture, AJ shared his thoughts on SDCC San Diego Comic-Con, comic books, movies, Con swag and helping the kids. -JF
CL: When was the first time you ever attended San Diego Comic-Con, and how many years have you been attending?
AJ: I moved to San Diego in 2001 and was thrilled to attend my first Con that year. I haven’t missed a year since.
CL: What comic books or graphic novels are you currently reading, and what can you recommend to someone looking for the “best thing they’ve never read?”
AJ: Lately I’ve been getting caught up on Saga which I was totally missing out on! I’ve really been liking Suicide Squad since the “New 52” , I’m always down with all things Batman and I follow too many Marvel titles to mention. As far as my “Best thing you’ve never read” recommendation: If you somehow missed out on “Locke and Key” you need to run through that series. On a more obscure note, “Global Frequency” was a super fun and original series written by Warren Ellis. “The Map” is a fun new post apocalyptic title written drawn and distributed by Chad Cavanaugh who I should say in the interest of full disclosure, is a friend of mine. I’d like to add that one of my favorite geeky reads of the last couple years wasn’t a comic at all….it was the novel “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.
CL: Typically, part of the universal pre-Con ritual is packing in preparation for long days and countless miles of walking up and down aisles and standing in panel lines. As a veteran of comic convention life, what would be your ultimate survival Pro Tip for attendees new to the scene? Something you could not survive a Con without?
AJ: I always wear a backpack. Yes, some would consider it sacrilege to pass on the giant collectible Con back but I like having my hands free to maneuver the floor.
CL: What would you consider your most treasured item picked up at Comic-Con?
AJ: I thought about this and laughed because the item that came to mind was actually “the one that got away.” Several years ago, I came across a set of limited edition Alex Ross “World’s Greatest Heroes” prints with matching numbers at a great price. My friend and I BOTH almost picked them up and we both walked away and every year we talk about them like they are are own personal Moby Dick.
CL: Conventions are ultimately more enjoyable when attended with friends - people to hold your bags, stand in line for you, maximize your chances at exclusive Con swag, etc. Do you usually attend as a lone wolf, or in a pack of wild, nerdy beasts?
AJ: I generally roll with a pretty small pack may up of my buddies Vernon, Dave and I. I have two daughters who haven’t been old enough for the Con yet, but that’s going to change soon!
CL: Favorite place to eat when attending Comic-Con?
AJ: We usually hit up The Old Spaghetti Factory.
CL: Best comic book movie adaptation? Most anticipated comic book movie adaptation? What would you love to see adapted?
AJ: I’m going to avoid picking a single movie and say that everything Marvel has done since Iron Man 1 is the best comic book body of work ever. I loved Nolan’s Batman series but it was a whole different genre…it was the comic book trilogy that did everything possible to not feel like a comic trilogy. As far as things I’d like to see adapted, I like the idea of Runaways being part of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. I’s also like to see Fables as an HBO series.
CL: A-List celebrities and legendary comic book creators all breathe the same air and occupy the same personal space for four magical days at San Diego Comic-Con, allowing for the possibility of a chance meeting with one of Geek-dom’s elite. Favorite person you ever had the chance to meet at Comic-Con?
AJ: Meeting celebs is never a huge part of my agenda, but as a big martial arts/MMA fan I did get a kick out of running into Randy Couture, Gina Carano and Cung Lee.
CL: Winding down from Comic-Con can hold its own set of obstacles, like trying to rid yourself of the collected germs of your 130,000 fellow attendees. How long does it typically take you to recover from the post-Con plague that has affectionately been dubbed the “Nerd Flu?”
AJ: I fight the good fight against Nerd Flu by taking plenty of Emergen-C and using hand sanitizer like a maniac.
CL: 2014 was the inaugural year for Crane Con, a comic book / toy / cosplay mini-convention held in conjunction with your AJ’s Kid’s Crane toy drive for charity. Both events were highly successful in helping you achieve your goal of raising over 100,000 toys for charity. How fun was that to be able to bring together two things you love, comics and kids?
AJ: It was amazing. At the end of the day, geeks are just people who made it to adulthood without losing our childlike enthusiasm for the things we love. Seeing so many people who love toys and costumed heroes and stories and comics come together to celebrate all of those things so that kids at the hospital could get more of them….it just felt like we were looking out for our own. When I got on the mic and asked if everyone wants to make “Crane-Con” and annual tradition and that sea of glorious geeks went nuts!!…………total goosebumps
CL: Thanks, AJ! Great spending some time with you! Keep up the good work on "The AJ Show" and with the Kids Crane! Looking forward to 2015 Crane Con!