Notes from my first Comic-Con, part 1

Friday, July 30th, 2010 | General, Life in Czeltistan

So back in late-October or early-November, my friend Bridget and I decided we should go check out Comic-Con. Passes were still available and, we thought, quite affordable. By the time we actually got around to buying them, Preview Night was sold out, but we still managed to get four-day passes.

Next came the hard part: waiting for July.

By the time July came around, we had a booking for a cute little cottage and a vague idea of what to expect from the convention itself. Except that nothing could really prepare us for the Con. It was pretty mind-bending, right from the get-go.

For starters, the convention center was HUGE. (You’re looking at less than half of it in the photo above.) It took us the better part of three days to see everything on the exhibit hall floor. Seemed like every exhibitor had something interesting we had to stop and check out. Our mantra for day one was “we don’t need to impulse buy everything.” (MUCH harder than it sounds.)

We started at the far end of the convention center in a section called “Artists Alley.” It was one of my favorite parts of the show floor. It’s just a bunch of tables. Nothing fancy. But at each table is an artist — some more well-known than others. They’re selling their wares, of course, like just about every other vendor at the show, but at their booths you can watch them actually create their art, commission a quick on-the-spot piece, or get them to sign existing pieces they have with them. Name a style of art, it was there.

A few days before we left for San Diego, I’d seen a retweet by someone on Twitter and followed a link. It led me to an artist named Katie Cook. She had a booth at SDCC, so she was on my little map of vendors I wanted to see (and was the reason we started at the Artists Alley section). Not only did I get the piece I wanted from her, I got a little drawing she did and got two commissions from her (one of Cliff and Norm). Bridget got a few pieces, too. Visiting Katie’s booth was an excellent start to the event. (Later in the weekend, we visited another booth in Artists Alley and bought fab posters of Boilerplate the robot, signed by artist Dan Guinan. It’s the World’s Fair image at the top of this page.)

After that, we wandered into the rest of the exhibit hall floor. The displays were massive and eye-catching. People in costumes were everywhere. There were lights and movie props and giant robots and things going “pew pew pew.” We wanted to buy nearly every cool new thing we saw (and there was a LOT of that). In short, it was to nerds what a bowl full of Pixie Stix and a giant ball pit is to a group of pre-schoolers. I’m surprised our heads didn’t explode.

Around noon, it was time to explore the surrounding area in search of lunch. I’d heard the SyFy Channel turned the nearby Hard Rock Cafe into Cafe Diem from Eureka. I had to check it out. The food was pretty much standard Hard Rock fare, but I enjoyed nerding out on the decor. I may have “liberated” a Cafe Diem pen at the end of our meal. (Oh, dear. Was I supposed to leave that on the table? My bad.)

After that, it was back to the convention center to pick up where we left off. After a bit, we decided to check out a couple panels up in Ballroom 20. We’d heard warnings about the lines, especially for Ballroom 20 and Hall H. Now it was time to experience them first-hand. We thought our first line was huge. It went all the way down the hall and started up again outside! Turns out the hall is massive and the line moved pretty quickly. (It also turns out this was a “short” line for the room.) We got into the room in time to see both of the panels we wanted to see. Hooray! (For those of you playing at home, the panels were for USA Network shows White Collar and Psych.) It was also our introduction to panels with giveaways. Oh, man, do those spoil you for panels that don’t give things away. It’s amazing the lure a couple of t-shirts and a foam pineapple “finger” can have.

After the panels, we made an attempt to check out more of the exhibit halls, but quickly realized we were pretty exhausted from the day. I was also anxious to call home and see how my basement was surviving the massive storms at home, especially in light of the fact there was now a massive new sinkhole farther down my street. (Answer: some water in the basement, but not that bad. Considering how hard many of my neighbors were hit, I was very, very lucky.) We picked up our panel giveaways and set off back into the Gaslamp Quarter in search of a cocktail and some food.

After food, it was time for an exciting game of “get ready for disappointment.” Bridget is a huge Dr. Who and Being Human fan and there was a screening of both in one of the conference rooms. We went back to the convention center and got in line (Line-Con!). We got within six people of the door to the room when they announced the room was full and no one else was getting in. Bummer!

We could have waited around to see if anyone left the room (unlikely) but it was time to call it a night. Eleven hours of crowds was enough for one day. We made a quick run to Ralph’s for groceries (yay for lodging with a kitchen) and went home to crash.

So, yeah. There’s more, but I tire of typing at the moment and this is long enough, so it’ll have to wait. To keep you occupied in the meantime, head over to Flickr and sift through my photos from the weekend. I’ll try to write up the rest over the weekend.

2 Comments to Notes from my first Comic-Con, part 1

mom
8/1/2010

fun read….I love the boilerplate picture at the World’s Fair. It absolutely boggles my mind that there are so many people who not only love this stuff, but love it enough to travel to a convention all in one week.

Jillian
8/5/2010

I love, love, love the Cliff & Norm piece. :)

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