This being my 18th year attending Comic-Con (although I mistakenly said 17 to everyone I mentioned it to at the Con), you’d like one would get tired of it. But that’s the glory of Comic-Con, it doesn’t get old. There’s always, and I mean always, something different, something new, to experience. Granted, an event of this magnitude brings out some of the unflattering traits of humanity despite every effort on the part of those involved in organizing the event to make it a highly positive experience for all.
For me and my friends, I believe we’re on the positive side of things. I understand that I cannot possibly achieve meeting the actors that I want to meet and attend the panels that I want to attend and get the autographs of authors that I admire (even though I most certainly try), but what I can get, I am grateful for.
I will try to help convey the pleasantries of this often overwhelming weekend, not to make anyone jealous of my fortune, but to make people aware of one of the many experiences that one can have at San Diego Comic-Con, as well as give anyone who’s planning to attend bits and pieces of what to expect.
Preview Night Highlights
- After spending 5 hours in line waiting for the Exhibit Floor to open (yes, 5 hours, and I wasn’t even in the first 5 rows of the line), my first goal was to grab as many free and interesting items available to me at the publishers’ booths. My most prized free item that night was Cassandra Jean‘s Shadowhunter Tarot Cards of characters created by the wonderful Cassandra Clare. Since they were free and they had only a limited amount, they went FAST. I don’t know if they had a set amount available to give for each day as I only went there first on this night. But freebies are usually first come, first serve and no guarantee that there will be more available.
- Then getting in another long line for my Serenity-themed “Leaf on a wind” Comic-Con collectible keychain from Quantum Mechanix, along with a Millennium Falcon Comic-Con collectible keychain. This line was a bit harder to endure, because the air from the A/C was not flowing well in that specific area of the exhibit floor. As a matter of fact, it seemed that way in many parts of the exhibit floor. But I just couldn’t leave without getting it!
- I stopped by the SmartPop Books booth to chat with the wonderful people there, who were generous enough to donate to the site free The Hunger Games and Divergent buttons!
TIP: Plan accordingly. If there’s one specific thing you want, go directly to it immediately. If there are several, it’s best to plan to hit booths that are close to each other when possible. Publisher booths tend to be in the same vicinity and are less crowded than, say, the movie studio or collectible booths.
Day 1 Highlights (Thursday)
- I spent the day interviewing several authors, so I didn’t get a chance to go to panels. The thing about panels is that waiting in line to get into a panel can take much of your time. Considering I had interviews planned, even if they were in between panels, I wouldn’t be able to make it into the room for the panel as pretty much all of the panels I wanted to see were pretty popular and the rooms would be full. Still, I had a wonderful time interviewing the authors.
TIP: Thursday is one of the least busy days for the big panel rooms like Hall H or Ballroom 20. However, don’t expect it to not be full. You may have to camp out if the panel you want to attend is one of the first in the lineup that day. If you want to be in the front of the room, then you definitely have to camp out.
Day 2 Highlights (Friday)
- Got to see the Mockingjay, Part 1 Teaser Trailer. This was an off-site event at the Hard Rock Hotel. I got to meet some of the actors from the movie, but my favorite was taking a picture with Natalie Dormer, who plays Cressida in Mockingjay, and also Margaery Tyrell in HBO’s Game of Thrones. It sucks that it’s blurry, but it was crowded chaotic, so I’m happy I at least got this.
- I was able to snag a ticket for The Maze Runner Conversation for a Cause at Nerd HQ (my only Conversation for a Cause ticket). This is an off-site event at Petco Park that’s open to non-Comic-Con attendees as well. The issue is trying to get a ticket before they sell out, which can happen at the rate of 2 seconds, considering the room only holds about 250-300 people. If you weren’t able to attend, they made them available as a live broadcast via YouTube, which you can watch here.
- My final event of the day was @Midnight, which actually started at 10:30pm. This was a new thing for me as I had never heard of @Midnight before, a show hosted by the awesome and hilarious master moderator Chris Hardwick. It was a great off-site event which took place at the Balboa Horton Theater, and was also available to non-Comic-Con attendees. Unfortunately, due to the new rules of lining up for Hall H for the next day’s events, I couldn’t attend @Midnight without possibly losing a seat in Hall H or at least losing a closer seat in Hall H as people started lining up that morning for the Saturday panels. Sadly, I decided to opt out of Hall H’s Saturday events altogether, missing out on the The Hobbit, DC, and Marvel panels. Whether or not that was a good call, I can’t really say, but I am not horribly saddened by it.
TIP: You WILL miss out on panels and events that you want to see. It’s just a matter of which ones you’re willing to miss out on, and how much of your time you’re willing to give to being in a line. And be open to going to other events that you wouldn’t have gone to otherwise.
Day 3 Highlights (Saturday)
- I didn’t camp out for Hall H, but I did camp out in the “Everything but Hall H” line, which was also long, just not as long as the Hall H line. I opted to try to get a ticket for The Hobbit autograph session that would take place in the WB booth that day. Unfortunately, I was not close enough in the line to get those as they were out of those tickets a good hour or so before I was at the front. I then opted to try to get a ticket for the Arrow autograph, but they were gone about 10 people before me. Finally, I had to choose between trying for The Flash or Mad Max. I chose, and got, a ticket for The Flash, thus allowing me to meet the cast later that afternoon.
- This didn’t stop me from going to the WB booth when The Hobbit cast were going to do their signing. Of course, that didn’t stop other people either. Needless to say, when the autographs started, flow of traffic around the booth was at a standstill, despite warnings from security that it would be shut down if no one moved. No one moved. But before that, the cast was at the upper level at the booth and were looking at the mob below. That’s when I saw Lee Pace, who plays Thranduil in The Hobbit. He also played the lovable Ned in the quirky short-lived series Pushing Daisies. Anyway, for a moment, no one was really saying anything, just taking pictures. I took that moment to shout out Lee’s name at the top of my lungs. He looked for the caller, and I waved at him. Yes, he waved back. I couldn’t help myself, so I shouted, “You’re my pie man!” That didn’t get much of a response but a smile, however. I can’t say whether it was that he didn’t know how to respond to that or that he couldn’t hear what I was shouting. I’ll go with the latter. I was able to take some lovely pics on my DSLR of him during the signing, though:
- Met the cast of The Flash, told Grant Gustin that he looks amazing for the part of Barry Allen, and got a nifty poster signed by them:
- Took a picture with Baymax from Big Hero 6:
- The final show for me for the evening was going to another Chris Hardwick show, this time, it was The Nerdist at the Balboa Theater. The hardest part of going to this offsite event (as it was the night before) was walking to the theater, because after a long day of, walking a few blocks feels like walking a half marathon.
TIP: Believe it or not, there are great things to see and do outside of Hall H on a Saturday, as well as Ballroom 20.
Day 4 (Sunday):
- Despite going to the Nerdist show the previous night, I camped out for Hall H for the Supernatural panel. Since there was no Doctor Who panel scheduled (as there usually is one on Sunday after Supernatural), the line was significantly shorter when I lined up for it. It was a good thing that I did, because for the first time in the 9 years the show has been at Comic-Con, not once, but twice, a cast member of the show made an appearance at that line to greet fans!
The first one was right before 3am, when Jared Padalecki decided to stop by after visiting with his friend Zachary Levi at Nerd HQ. At one point, he was passing through one of the ropes and it seemed that he tripped slight and almost fell on me. Believe me, I was soooo tempted to hug him right then and there, but he also had a sling on his right shoulder, and his safety was my priority! So, I just made sure he was okay and tried to get my phone out to snag a picture with him. Ironically, I was not able to get one while someone took advantage of my sleepy state to have me take a picture of him with Jared using his phone, before he ditched me and took off. I honestly don’t know how that happened and I still wasn’t able to get a picture with Jared myself. In hindsight, I can say that I saved Jared’s life by both preventing him from falling on me and by not hugging him to death. Jared Padalecki owes me a life debt now.
The second visit was about an hour or so before we were let into Hall H, when Misha Collins, after his morning run around the neighborhood (and past the line earlier), arrived bearing gifts of coffee for lucky fans in the right part of the line.
- The Supernatural panel itself was enjoyable with Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, and executive producer Jeremy Carver. And as is now tradition for the panel, the gag reel for Season 9 was shown. It did not disappoint.
- My last event for the day was another author signing and my final author interview with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
TIP: Appreciate what and who you were able to see and I’ll see you next year!