Year 3 was by far our most complete year. The rough patches from 2011 and 2012 taught me a lot about how to go into the convention, and as it has been ever changing and constantly expanding, I learned to readjust my expectations, and plan smaller and more singularly. There is no way to experience everything, but you can have a complete and rich experience. This was also the year that I was able to spend the most time with my group, and I think having all that time together helped to solidify this experience for us.
As a side note, Jeanette and I were in a travel contest, any pictures of us holding up the shield with the year on it was part of the contest.
This year was definitely no different from the other years of badge purchasing. We managed to snag our badges during the extremely stressful preregistration, and this was the first year we bought our hotels during the early bird booking. The early bird is by far a less stressful experience compared to the open booking period, and the hotel circle accommodations are great to lay your head down. I would recommend this to anyone going to SDCC for the first time. The hotel circle area also has a 24 hour shuttle service, to allow you access to the downtown area in less than 20 minutes in the evening.
Our first night, only a couple of us had preview night, so rest of us started our night off right with bar food and beer. It was a great time to sit and eat and get geared up for a week of anticipated glory. The group agreed that Hall H was a must, especially considering our previous debacle. With that, the first day was a lot of exploring and getting the lay of the land. We wandered the exhibition hall most of the day. Without preview night, it was definitely a different experience, and we were roaming around with the traditional crowds we’ve become accustomed to. One of my favorite pieces of SWAG came from the Yu-Gi-Oh booth where they printed your picture on a token card.We also took some time to look at the Ender’s Game experience that was located off the grounds. The experience was awesome as we got to see how the studio interpreted the novel and to see some set pieces. At the end, we were interviewed for the DVD (we weren’t included…).
Friday was definitely more of a panel oriented day. One of the great shocks of Comic Con is how poorly attended some comic related panels were. I walked into a DC Comics panel, full of their star creators: Amanda Connor, Jim Lee, Greg Capullo, Bernard Chang, Gail Simone, and Scott Snyder. As you can see from the photo below, I got a pretty good seat. The room easily seated 200 people, but the room was maybe a quarter full. One of the things I loved about this panel was the personal stories of how these creators broke in and most memorably Jim Lee’s candid discussion of his daily grind (he talked about waking up, going straight from his bed to the desk to work on his skills) as well as his early experiences as a comic fan. I now have a bit of a stereotype now, with the feeling that San Diego Comic Con is really more about all of the other pop culture attractions, and not so much about comics themselves. Not a bad thing though, I get to consistently wander into these events.
We also took the time to visit a panel that was of interest to a friend. The show Nikita was having their final panel as the show was ending. It was a great panel full of hardcore fans eager to get in their last glimpse of the cast and also to ask those questions for the last time. One of the reasons we attended is because our good friend wanted to be one of those people. He had put off asking last year, but seeing as this would be the last time they would be together, he wanted to take the opportunity. The cast was very grateful, answered all sorts of questions as best they could and departed with a great fanfare. As a side note, Stan Lee had the panel before hand and we got to hear him educate some fans, so watching the panel was awesome in a lot of ways.
Friday night was the when we decided to camp out for Hall H. The difficulty of getting in to see this programming has increased significantly year to year. During 2013, we began waiting for Hall H around midnight and found ourselves all the way at the waterfront. I was determined to get in this year, and everyone helped to make sure that was a reality. While we were camping out, we started playing a board game and someone asked where my badge was. The night took a very panicked turn as I spent the next 3 hours of the night searching fervently for my badge. Sadly, I didn’t find it, but I did learn that a lost badge was not the end of the world. SDCC does replace your badge, charging you a fee relative to the remaining days of attendance. I did, however, have to wait in line with everyone that was picking up a badge, and spent the next 6 or so hours in line with strangers to do it. I was fortunate that I was able to get my badge then back in line for an amazing experience in Hall H.
Saturday was an all day affaire, and while I was completely exhausted by the experience, it was great to know and feel the energy of Hall H. I’ve never been in a room of that scope before and one of the pay offs for being there is to be absolutely surrounded my the amazing hype. In retrospect, being exhausted, a little starved and in a new experience is the exact formula that makes hype palpable. I have to say that it felt both long and short, as most of my anticipation was seeing what kind of spectacles were awaiting me from Fox and Marvel Studios. The highlights were hearing about BvS for the first time, seeing the entire cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past (especially Professor X and Magneto from two generations) and getting to enjoy sneak peeks at The Winter Soldier, The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy. A particularly magical moment was seeing the first trailer for DoFP, and crying a little because I was so moved by it. Again, in retrospect, I think this was a culmination of things, but being in a place with people just as eager to see this, it may have been something in the air. I wasn’t the only person in my group to do it, and he had talked about having a similar moment last year. On a lighter note, we ended up getting free swag from Fox, which was pretty damn awesome. It’s like I got paid for my efforts.
Sunday was a calmer day. Jeanette and I tried our hands at cosplay at the convention, but my skills were extremely low, so I abandoned it pretty quickly. It was however, a great day spent wondering the nooks and crannies of the convention and bumping into random adventure. While Hall H was a new and exciting experience, I still love meeting people who I can better relate to, and are fortunate enough to bump into. During this convention, I was learning more about bloggers and cosplayers, so it was nice to see a couple of familiar faces that day. I also got to meet a voice actor on accident, as Martin Olsen was signing Adventure Time books.
This was a great experience for me, mostly because it dispelled the mystery of Hall H, but as with all experiences, it’s how they resonate that makes them most powerful. And in this case, it made some days of future past experiences far more X-citing.