Friday, July 26, 2013

San Diego Comic Con 2013 (Part 1)

San Diego Comic Con… even now, it seems hard to believe that I was there, in the holy land of geekery. Perhaps it's because I only feel like I got half of the experience, mainly, the half that involves waiting in a lot of lines and slowly wading through huge crowds. Still, it was my first year at Comic Con, so let's go over the trip and see how it worked out for me.

Day zero was spent driving to the convention, which took up the entire day, so we can skip most of that. When we arrived at the hotel, my friends who drove had to use the valet parking, due to the regular parking being filled up from attendees already. When we checked in, there was a bellhop who kindly helped us move our bags to our rooms, although he took me to the wrong tower of the hotel and left me there to drag all my stuff down the elevator, across the lobby, and to the proper room.

Still, as soon as I entered the hotel, I saw crowds of fellow geeks preparing for the upcoming convention. The Nintendo hangout was the closest exhibit, and was already prepared, with the boat from "Wind Waker" set out for attendees to take pictures on. The entire surrounding area, in fact, seemed decked out in preparation for the convention, with statues and signs plastered everywhere.

Still, I've gone three paragraphs without actually getting to the con itself, so let's skip the small stuff, shall we?

I woke up bright and early on day 1 to get my badge. Now, given the size of the convention, I couldn't even hope for a press pass, and I had to purchase a full weekend badge as soon as they were available. Still, the badge pickup process proved to be one of the quickest I've seen; a simple scan of the barcode, then it was printed and handed to me, with plenty of staff members at the ready, as they knew the lines would get even longer as the day went by.

After picking up my badge, I had several options. I could jump in line for a panel (lines were already forming, naturally), wander around, or wait for the dealer's hall to open. After getting food, my first stop was the dealer's hall, where the greatest crowds were waiting.

The hall itself was far larger than any I'd seen before, but they made use of every last inch of that space. Some companies had giant exhibits, particularly the stages and booths run by Marvel and DC. Television and movie studios had giant booths as well, advertising shows and movies that were already popular, such as "The Walking Dead" or the next "Hunger Games" movie, as well as those they wanted to get an audience for. I tried waiting in line for some, but found that there was much more I wanted to see before I spent time in endless lines.

I should mention that I began the day cosplaying as the Dread Pirate Roberts from "The Princess Bride." While I quite like that cosplay, wearing the mask all day (and without my glasses) made it a little tricky to check out everything at the booths or some of the cosplayers I encountered. (It also meant I got mistaken for Zorro frequently, to my dismay.) I switched into Elan from "Order of the Stick" later in the day, a costume which is either awesome if you're familiar with the webcomic, or crappy if you don't know who I'm supposed to be.

My costume choices aside, I spent the greater part of the day wandering around, seeing cosplayers and exhibits, buying little, and generally seeing all the sights. And boy were there a lot of sights.

Sadly, one of them was all-too familiar: religious demonstrators. I have no idea what it is about conventions that makes them think we're all godless sinners, but like with Fanime, SDCC was plagued by a group of demonstrators who stood outside the convention center with signs about how we need Jesus while they shouted at us on their microphones. (It was at that moment that I regretted not having finished my Machine Man cosplay, since that involves a sign saying "Mark Millar licks goat." But I digress.) While it is within their right, it's still rather obnoxious, reflects poorly on them and the faith they're trying to represent, and is often quite offensive to the attendees who would like to dress up as Princess Leia without being called the whore of Babylon.

Leia isn't from Babylon 5, she's from Star Wars, everyone knows that.


The original suit from the Superman movies
Now then, let's move on to Day 2, or as I like to call it "the day of both crushing disappointment and a lot of fun, so I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it."

Not a very catchy title, I know, but in my defense, that really is the best way I can summarize it.

I woke up around 6 in the morning, and quickly dressed in my cosplay from "Avatar: The Legend of Korra." I cosplay as the Pro Bending Announcer, Shiro Shinobi, and I was ecstatic to wear that costume to the Legend of Korra panel and autograph session. After years of seeing my friends meet the creators and staff and have their costumes admired by said crew, it would finally be my turn to do the same.

You can tell that this lead-up is heading towards a failure, right?

The good news is, I got into the panel, and it was beautiful. Before that, I spent quite a few hour standing in line, but I was joined by three other Avatar cosplayers who I befriended. We managed to get into the main panel room, which was already packed to the brim. Several of my friends began camping out the day before to get into the panel, but I opted to sleep in the hotel and just wake up early. I still got in, after all.

The first panel was for "The Big Bang Theory," a show which I have mixed feelings about. While it has some very funny moments, and the science is all proper, I find they rely far too much on geek stereotypes, and fail to do proper research about a lot of comic book facts and trivia. It misrepresents us, and when the characters do something nerdy, the audience is expected to laugh at them, rather than with them, and relate to Penny, the only "normal" person in the main cast. That said, the panel was still a decent one, with a guest appearance by the actor of Leonard, and some good questions from the audience. In hindsight, perhaps I should have said something, but I was too busy waiting for the next panel.

The Legend of Korra panel was wonderful; we saw art and character designs for the next season, heard from the creators and the actors for some of the main characters, and even saw the first episode of the upcoming season 2 (which will air in September). Sadly, they did not answer audience questions, so afterwards, I made my way to the Nickelodeon booth for the autograph session.

That session, however, was a ticketed event, and I could not get a ticket for it, as I was waiting in line to see the panel. I tried to wait in line with other friends, but the staff kept coming around and randomly asking people if they had tickets. By "people," I mean me, since I was constantly pointed at and loudly demanded to know if I had a ticket. When I tried to explain that I was standing in line with my friends, they shouted at me to keep walking. Yet many of my friends who didn't have tickets still got through the line and once again impressed the show's creators, so while I am very happy for them, I weep at my missed opportunity.

Yes, that was the first time I would fail to meet them. It would happen twice more that weekend, as I couldn't get a CD for them to sign, and I missed the signing at the Dark Horse booth. That failure is my greatest regret of the entire weekend.

Around midday, I changed costumes to Doctor Nemesis from "X-Men." I wanted to go to the Marvel cosplay photoshoot/gathering, although I wasn't entirely sure where it was. Fortunately, I found more Marvel cosplayers, and they had no idea where it was either. We formed a group of lost cosplayers, until we found one who knew the approximate way. Eventually, we found the shoot location, and just in time.

The gathering went quite well. It was well-organized, and I met several cosplayers who I hope to see again at later events. My Doctor Nemesis cosplay was recognized and welcomed, and I felt I got some good pictures in, even if they were all group shots.

Afterwards, the Marvel booth in the hall was having a cosplayer showcase, co-hosted by Yaya Han. It took a while for everyone to get the release forms signed before going on stage, but we all lined up and the announcer called out our characters. When it came time for me to go on stage, the announcer apparently didn't know my character's name, so there was an awkward pause as I waited for it. Still, I want on stage, did some poses, and shouted about "SCIENCE," though I don't think the latter went over particularly well.

Once that was over, I continued to wander, got food, and relaxed. At one point, when the day was nearing its end, I saw Stan Lee himself walk by, though I didn't have the chance to talk to him. He was occasionally stopped for pictures with children, but there was no way I was going to interrupt that.

Galactus, devourer of worlds

Mermaid Man (currently lacking Barnacle Boy, who ran off to join EVIL - Every Villain Is Lemons.)

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