If you’ve ever been to Comic Con, you’ll probably already know exactly what I’m about to say. WHOA! Crazy! This year, 2011, marked my very first Comic Con. I’ve been to many anime conventions, tech expos, and geek cons in the past, but nothing compares to the San Diego Comic Con. If you haven’t been to it yet, this convention that takes place in San Diego every summer, brings together the best in comics, sci-fi, fantasy, games, anime, tv, and movies. This year was quoted at about 125,000 attendees. The con-goers were able to meet their favorite actors and artists, find rare collectibles on the show floor, dress up in cosplay, and watch some great panels on their favorite topics.
I went to Comic Con for my other podcast, Bite Club Show, an audio podcast for anyone who likes vampires, werewolves, zombies, and wine. Over the course of the weekend I got to explore some very new territory.
When I first arrived at Comic Con on my first Virgin America flight, (which was awesome, by the way!) it was way too late to do much other than pass out in my hotel room. Thursday morning, I joined my friend Eileen to get our badges and get in line for Hall H, the largest room reserved for movies and television show panels. After getting my press badge and Comic Con bag (I totally social engineered someone into trading with me so I could get the Batman Arkham City bag), we met in line and stood for only an hour to
get into the Twilight Breaking Dawn panel. The panel wasn’t as exciting as what I was expecting. There weren’t that many screaming teenagers when the three main characters walked on stage. The actors got a chance to answer some viewer questions and we saw some footage from the new movie.
After the panel, we escaped and I found my way to the exhibitor room. I was able to get my hands on a rare Tokidoki vinyl figure, some other odds and ends from exhibitors, Simone Legno’s autograph (Tokidoki creator), and I met Richard Hatch (Apollo and Tom Zarek from BSG). I met up with the girls from Bite Club Show afterwards for the Live Diggnation show at the House of Blues. The show seemed a little mellow to me, but perhaps it is because of my sore feet and upset stomach from eating candy all day.
Friday consisted of Ballroom 20. That’s it. We stood in line for 2 1/2 hours to get into Ballroom 20, where we watched 6 panels: Torchwood: Miracle Day, Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory, Eureka, Warehouse 13, and True Blood. All of the panels were fun to watch, although I will admit I don’t watch all of those shows. Eileen, Stephanie, and I specifically wanted to see True Blood, so we sat in Ballroom 20 for almost 8 hours with almost nothing to eat. By the time the True Blood cast entered the stage, we were 9 rows back and got some great photos and memories! Although we were sitting in a room all day, it was still exhausting. We dragged our feet to dinner later that night at a nice little Italian place in the Gaslamp district, had some wine and food, then went to a couple of bars for drinks.
I left on Saturday night, after a fun day of picking up swag, checking out the exhibit hall once more, and watching a few more panels. I wanted to see the Vampire Diaries panel, so we went back to Ballroom 20 for that. Surprisingly, we were only in line for 2 hours and we got in! Eileen wanted to stay to watch the Fringe panel. Feeling lazy from the convention, Stephanie and I stuck around to watch as well, although we had no clue what they were talking about!
So all in all I learned some important things from my weekend away, some of which Stephanie also mentions on her page:
1. Bring comfy stuff. Good walking shoes, pants, and shirts. You probably wouldn’t need a jacket. Check the weather before coming.
2. Portability. Bring a decent bag. The Comic Con bag makes a cool keepsake for dirty laundry or to take toys home, but it’s way too big for the convention center, and too tall for my short legs.
3. Please, for the love of whomever you worship, bring soap and deodorant. Strange wafts of smelly armpits is really gross at conventions.
4. Food. Con food is expensive. A 20 oz soda cost $4.00 USD in the con center. Save some money and put it towards a sandwich and a good breakfast. Bring tons of water and keep the candy to a minimum. Your body will thank you! And if you are in a hurry to get from one side of the hall to another during peak lunch hours, you’ll stay a happy camper because you can be on the move and eating at the same time.
5. If you get a good seat, keep it. Ballrooms and Halls fill up fast. Get in line SUPER early and be ready to spend a few hours there. If you want to see one panel at 11 and another at 5pm, you better plan on staying in that room all day.
6. If you don’t have a good seat, ninja one! After every panel, Eileen, Stephanie, or I immediately got up and swooped in on the first 3 seats we could find. By the end of the day Friday we were in the 9th row. We started around 100 back. Comic Con does not empty halls between each panel.
7. Bathroom tickets. It’s kind of like leaving class with a hall pass. You have to leave out a specific door, get a ticket, and come back during that same panel with your ticket. Or else you’re screwed.
8. Some panels give out free swag. If you want to get swag for your favorite shows, stick around during the panel and they’ll give out a ticket. Take the ticket to the fulfillment room and you get something. It can be something awesome (HBO gave out bags for True Blood and Game of Thrones) or crappy (a luggage tag from Fringe). If you like the show, it’s worth it. If you don’t, give your ticket to someone that wants it. Save yourself the walk.
9. Time yourself and plan ahead! You can’t do everything. I had to miss out on a few panels and autograph signings. I regret I didn’t get to spend as much time in the exhibit hall as I wanted to. I could spend a whole day in there.
10. Treat your body well. Get a good night of rest. Don’t party all night and get trashed. You’ll regret it the next day!
Will I go back? Definitely. But next year, I want to cosplay.
You can check out all of my Comic Con 2011 photos at my facebook profile!
Shannon Morse is a co-host of Hak5 on Revision3 and she is on the audio podcast Bite Club Show. You can also find her guest hosting various other internet shows now and then. When not geeking out with work, Shannon enjoys video games, anime, manga, traveling, building computers, and spending time with family and friends. Find more info about Shannon here.