David Arnold (game name Sir Rhys Crispin) and Lara Wong (Dame Aeoife) pose in period garb before a sword-fighting demonstration outside the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con Thursday. "It's a time period in history that's fascinating," Wong said. "This is kind of a good way to bring out the fun in history."Link
Members of the Adrian Empire, a group that studies Western European culture from the High Middle Ages to the early Renaissance, demonstrate rapier combat outside the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con on Thursday. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)Link
Comic-Con in San Diego attracts fans of many genres, such as these members of the Adrian Empire, a nonprofit group dedicated to the study and re-creation of Western European culture from the High Middle Ages to the early Renaissance. Here, members participate in rapier combat Thursday outside the San Diego Convention Center. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)Link
Players try their hands at Guardians of Middle-earth, a "Lord of the Rings"-themed arena-fighting game out this fall, in a tent outside the San Diego Convention Center. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)Link
Noah Hoffman, 4, poses in front of a Batmobile on display Thursday outside the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con 2012. (Holly Hoffman)Link
The original Batmobile -- Adam West's 1955 Lincoln Futura -- from the classic TV series and the 1966 movie stands on display Thursday outside the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con 2012. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)Link
Christian Bale's Camouflage Tumbler, to be seen in "The Dark Knight Rises" later this month, stands on display Thursday outside the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con 2012. (Noelene Clark / Los Angeles Times)Link
David Arnold, clad in medieval armor, ran a leather-gloved hand across the dents in his steel helmet outside the San Diego Convention Center on Thursday.
While thousands of attendees sweltered in long lines to see the big-studio presentations in Hall H and Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con — the annual gathering of pop-culture creators and enthusiasts — Arnold and others found their entertainment on the fringes of the event, no badge required.
Arnold, whose “game name” is Sir Rhys Crispin, is a knight in the Adrian Empire, a national nonprofit dedicated to the study and re-creation of Western European culture from the High Middle Ages to the early Renaissance. On Thursday afternoon, Arnold, 48, prepared to demonstrate his sword-fighting for a small crowd on the convention center’s Bayside Terrace.
“Our daily lives are just kind of ho-hum,” Arnold said. “And in a lot of our worlds, we don’t have the ability to be brave, to show chivalry. … We get out here, we fight our friends. We hit people with three-foot pieces of steel that without armor would cave in a skull.”
Arnold learned about the Adrian Empire four years ago when his teenage daughter expressed interest in learning how to fence. After seeing a demonstration, Arnold, his wife and his two children joined. Now, they visit schools, libraries, malls and events such as Comic-Con, educating people about the historical period and practicing combat.
“We’re a teaching organization,” Arnold said. “To anyone who goes, ‘Well, I’d like to do that,’ we say, ‘Well c’mon, we’ll show ya.'”
A short walk away, another melee unfolded in an air-conditioned tent in Bayfront Park, only this battle was virtual. Here, Nicholas Siegle maneuvered one of 10 characters facing off in “Guardians of Middle-earth,” a multi-player arena fighting video game out this fall.
Siegle, 22, wore a promotional cardboard wizard’s hat as he played Galadriel (the elven queen from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy), teaming up with Gandalf and Legolas to take out the bad guys, including Gollum and the Balrog.
“I was just sort of messing around with buttons, seeing what I could do,” he said. “It was easy to figure out.”
Siegle, who works in security, describes himself as an avid gamer. This is his first time attending as a fan — he worked the event last year — and while some panels are on his agenda, he said was enjoying his time on the sidelines.
“I’ve gotta say, this is a really fun game,” Siegle said. “We got to work together and do a strategy to take down a whole army. We got to make up our own army of our own little guys, and then we got together and started kicking butt and taking names.”
Just outside the Middle-earth tent, Batman fans snapped photos in front of each of the six on-screen Batmobiles, from Adam West’s 1955 Lincoln Futura to Christian Bale’s Camouflage Tumbler from “The Dark Knight Rises,” which opens this month.
Here, Noah Hoffman, 4, struck superhero poses in his Batman armor, cape and mask. Noah’s family flew in from Washington, D.C. This is their first Comic-Con., and checking out the Batmobiles was the first thing the Hoffman family checked out.
“He loves superheroes, so this is the place for him,” said Noah’s father, John Hoffman.
– Noelene Clark
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