Saturday, July 30, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 2011, Pt 1

Ah Comic-Con, the time of the year when geeks and nerds loose their minds and stand in lines for hours for the chance to see their favorite TV/movie/comic stars or stand in line for less than hours but still a long time for the chance to buy some limited edition collectible or toy.

This was my first year. I've been hearing for years how cool it was and I thought I needed to do it at least once in my life.  So that bucket list item is now complete.

My first paragraph may sound a bit snarky, but that's because it is. I wouldn't say I hated Comic-Con but it's not the Nerdvana that I thought it would be.  I read the blogs and 'how to survive Comic-Con' guides, but they simply cannot prepare you.

That said, here are my tips for anyone thinking about going in the future:

This wasn't even the half way point. There were about 2500 people ahead of us at this point.
  1. Be prepared to stand in line. Lots of guides will tell you that but you stand in line for everything! You stand in line to get your badges. If you don't stay right next to the conference center, you will stand in line to get on the shuttle to get to the conference (and to get back on to go to your hotel later). You'll stand in line, often for hours, to see ANY panel. During the panels you may get 'swag' tickets; you have to stand in line to redeem those tickets. You'll stand in line to buy most of the items on the show floor. You'll stand in line for food. You'll stand in line for the bathroom. These are not exaggerations. If you hate standing in line, you will hate Comic-Con.

    If I ever go again I will bring a folding stool. Even then you will still be on your feet a lot. The lines move, but slowly, so you need to be able to move quickly. You will not be able to sit on the floor. In many cases you may not be allowed, be it by security or simply because the line keeps inching forward.
  2. Have a good bag. You will get large swag bags when you pick up your badge but they are large and unwieldy. You'll notice that veteran attendees will have nice multi-use back packs.  That said, there are posters, art, comics, toys, clothes and other items that you'll want to be able to carry around safely. Back packs are good for some but not all of these things. Most vendors will only have plastic bags (the grocery type). These not only get tiresome to carry after awhile, but pointy cornered boxes and comics will start to work their way through the bags.  If you buy posters or art you'll want a protective tube. Some vendors will sell these but the artists probably wont have anything like that so be prepared.

    You'll also want to carry provisions; water & snacks. Water is expensive at events like these. Why spend $4-6 for a bottle of water when you can find a store and buy a whole case of water bottles for half that. Same goes for snacks. Standing in line for hours you may need a pick me up. Sure you can buy pretzels and nachos or cookies, but unless you have a line buddy you may be stuck.
There are many other smaller tips I could give but those two are pretty big and worth sharing.

The first day was overwhelming. The show floor was PACKED. I pretty much just rode the wave of people trying to absorb as much as I could. I came away from day one wonder what the hell I had got myself into.

Day two was much better. We had a plan of attack and it went smoother.  The realization that you had to get in line for a room early and pretty much stay there until you had seen the panel you were interested in was an important one.  You can't just show up 10-15 minutes before a scheduled event and expect to get in. Even the obscure ones might be full because people are filling the rooms early for the next panel or two.

That was something that I still am not sure I like. The rooms are not cleared between panels, so you could sit in the same chair all day if you so desired.  So again, you have to plan ahead. If you think your panel is going to be popular, you have to get into your room early or risk not being able to get in.  We were lucky in that every panel we got in line for we were able to attend, but others were not so lucky. The very popular rooms had lines that were up to 6000 long (again, no exaggeration). The rooms aren't that big so some people simply didnt get in. And since the rooms are not cleared between panels, it's possible only a few hundred or so may be able to get in after each panel, depending on the subjects.

You will get to see celebrities, but don't expect to get to talk to them. You can go to signings, but they are scheduled also and just as difficult to get. We didn't even try these. In the panels, depending on the size of the room you may be a few feet to so far they have to project the panel members onto projection screens. On the show floor or even milling about outside you may see more. Here is who I saw:
  • Hulk Hogan
  • Lou Ferrigno
  • Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
  • Adam Sessler (G4 TV host)
  • Seth Green
  • Allison Scagliotti (Claudia, Warehouse 13, Syfy Channel)
  • The cast of Fringe
  • The cast of American Dad
  • The cast of Family Guy
  • Doc Hammer, Jackson Publick, and James Urbaniak from the Venture Brothers
  • LL Cool J
  • The hosts of the Totally Rad Show (Alex, Jeff, & Dan)
Alex Albrecht and Dan Trachtenberg of the Totally Rad Show

There were probably lots of others that I didnt recognize. There were a lot more celebs there mingling with the crowds too. Celebrity spotting is definitely a fun part of Comic-Con.
Hulk Hogan

More to come... In the meantime, here are some more celeb, pictures.

From The Venture Brothers,  left to right: Jackson Publick, Doc Hammer, and James Urbaniak
From Family Guy,  left to right: Mike Henry, Patrick Warburton, and Alex Borstein
From Fringe, Joshua Jackson and John Noble

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