Every July thousands of comic book nerds, sci-fi buffs, and screaming fans materialize in San Diego for Comic-Con. This year those geeks numbered over 130,000 so those of you who haven’t heard of Comic-Con, the largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world, what hunk of kryptonite have you been hiding under?
For a number of years Jason and I have contemplated attending this event and drooled over all the news footage from it. This time we decided to just go for it and buy tickets. With so many passes available one would think that they would be relatively easy to come by but no, the convention sold-out in less than three hours. We only succeeded in getting tickets by refreshing our browser nonstop in true OCD fashion and by getting a little lucky.
Acquiring passes to this illustrious conference wasn’t the only tricky part of attending. Finding a hotel with availability this side of Mexico also proved to be horrendous but we managed to book one within walking distance, just ten blocks from the convention center, after a lot of online hunting and groping.
All the bother was worth it baby!
Comic-Con has much to keep any movie, TV, or comic book nerd on sensory overload. All day long Q&A panels fill the convention center’s massive ballrooms. And these babies are the real deal; they are headed by the stars, producers, and creators of all the shows and fantasies you love. Some of this year’s big hitters were the cast of True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, Twilight, The Amazing Spiderman, Chuck, The Big Bang Theory…I could continue but I’ve probably made you jealous enough. Did I mention that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were also there? Okay, okay, I’ll stop making you cry.
Although the celebrity panels alone could definitely keep you star struck and enthralled for all four days of the con, visiting the enormous exhibit hall is not to be missed. The exhibit hall is filled with hundreds of booths where you can buy not only practically any comic book from the artists themselves but all sorts of exclusive toys and hard-to-find geeky merchandise. I’ve heard it said that you could spend all your con time in the exhibit hall and still not see everything; that seems pretty accurate. We got sucked onto the exhibit floor far more often than we were planning and yet we saw only a fraction of what was there. I guess it’s just as well that we didn’t visit more booths though because we spent $1000 as it was on cat buses, Data shirts, airship goggles, and signed comic books….how did I survive this long without a cat bus? Yes, if you go to Comic-Con bring lots of cash and plan on blowing it.
Comic-Con isn’t just famous for star appearances and nerdy merchandise though, it’s known for its lines and, although they may seem of mythical proportions, they are definitely no myth. One morning we waited in a line to get into the convention center so we could stand in another line for a chance to get passes to wait in yet another line just to buy some special Hasbro toys. Who wouldn’t wait Triforce, I mean trifold, for a Transformers/G.I. Joe mashup? The next day we lined up for panel sessions with about 6,000 other people in a never-ending row that stretched over two miles. It was madness. If you find yourself at the con expect to spend almost all of your time hanging out in winding lines that extend all the way to the Dead Marshes of Mordor.
Speaking of sessions and session lines, choosing what sessions to go to was difficult. How do you decide between the science of zombies and a Klingon lifestyles presentation? It’s a hard call believe me. A few panels I definitely wanted to be present for: Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and Star Trek: The Captains.
Since this was our first time at Comic-Con we weren’t sure how hard it would be to get into our top panel picks. Twilight was the very first session the very first morning of the con. It began at 11:30 AM but bloggers recommended getting in line before 6 AM for guaranteed seats so that’s what we did. We were up shortly after 4 and in line by 5:30. Our six hour wait was sure to be boring and, judging from the number of fans in line when we arrived, not entirely necessary. But just an hour or so later things began to get interesting.
It all started with Breaking Dawn swag being dispersed: posters and coffee mugs. Muffins, fruit, juice, and water were next handed out to the waiting fans and then, all of a sudden, a great deal of commotion and press marked the arrival of some utterly unanticipated excitement.
Members of the Breaking Dawn cast had appeared to greet their hardcore followers that had been waiting in line for hours or days just to get good seats in the Twilight panel: Ashley Greene (Alice), Nikki Reed (Rosalie), Booboo Stewart (Seth), Julia Jones (Leah), and Elizabeth Reaser (Esme). I got autographs and pictures with a number of them. All the stars were nice but Elizabeth, Julia, and Booboo were especially grateful and accommodating. It was refreshing for this franchise to show such appreciation for its fans. To pass out swag and breakfast was more than anyone expected but to also have the actors make their way through the line was unbelievable. Way to go Twilight for showing those other shows up!
The Twilight panel was terrific but it wasn’t the only session that captivated us. We went to Star Trek: The Captains and met Will Shatner, Avery Brooks, and Scott Bakula. Their quirky personalities, along with session moderator Kevin Smith, made the panel anything but dull. We also got to do a long Khan with Will Shatner. Hilarious. Incidentally, Shatner was promoting his documentary The Captains available on Epix. It looks pretty funny and is definitely something I will be checking out.
We also attended the Vampire Diaries, Family Guy, Simpsons, Futurama, and American Dad sessions and therefore got to meet a host of vampire hotties, including my favorite Ian Somerholder, along with some comical characters such as Seth Green and Matt Groening. Encountering three starship captains did not totally satiate the trekker within me so we also caught Patrick Stewart at a panel for Dorothy of Oz, a cute animated film that he did voice work for. Sir Patrick Stewart was as eloquent as expected. And, as if all that weren’t enough, we got a sneak peak at an upcoming Fox series called Terra Nova too that looks pretty intriguing. Holy panels Batman!
The sessions weren’t the only places to get up-close and personal with celebrities though. Down in the exhibit hall I got to meet a couple members of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast, Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn. My teenage self would have fainted! They were both very nice even though my many years of fandom probably translated into a lot of staring and conversation befuddling. We also ran into Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead, along with such other comic bigwigs as Ian Churchill and Ben Edlund. And we got a chance to chat with some upcoming comic artists. Shane and Chris Houghton, the creators of the Reed Gunther books, were probably the friendliest comic guys I met at the con; I look forward to their future success.
Comic-Con was crazy. The convention center and the streets surrounding it were always congested and overflowing with humanity. The lines were insane and at times I was so sick of sifting through the huge crowds that I had to go back to our hotel room for a wee breather to regain a smidgen of my personal bubble space but it was a once in a lifetime experience. Interacting with some of my favorite stars and meeting other personalities that are sure to become new favorites was a surreal hoot. And almost all of the celebrities we met were very obliging, which was unexpected. Being in the heart of nerdom was amusing too. When you are in line for a session and the people in front of you ask you if you want to participate in a dungeon crawl or you see a gaggle of storm troopers meander by you know that you are living every geek’s fantasy right down to the vinyl clad women.