Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Comic-Con 2013: Maiden Voyage

Another long-winded post. But also with pictures. Pictures that were taken with my phone because I brought the wrong camera charger. Awesome.

I've been wanting to go to Comic-Con for years, but it never was meant to be. It was mostly a money thing. Thankfully, this year was a different story (even though it wasn't really. I just made it a priority).

My friend Virginia and I had talked about Comic-Con a lot this past year. Her sister, brother-in-law, and their friends (who also happen to be my sister and brother-in-law's friends) have gone the last few years and Virginia said we should try to make it with them. I figured why not, while not really expecting to get a badge.

The time to get badges was quickly approaching and I didn't know if I was going to have a job this summer or even be living in the state so I didn't try as hard as I could have to get onto the website that fateful Saturday morning. 20 minutes after the sale started, however, Virginia called me and said, "I'm in. What's your credit card info?" 10 minutes later I had a 4 day pass with preview night.

We left Tuesday after work and drove down to Vegas. It was a fantastic idea, because while I made that 12 hour trip no problem when I was 20ish, I doubt I'd do very well now. We got into San Diego in time to check in and register with plenty of time for preview night.

I spent most of the time trying to get in the Dark Horse line for a 7" Stark shield replica wall plaque.

I say "trying to get in line" because when I got there they said the line was capped and to come back in 15 minutes. I kept doing that and after about 45 minutes I decided to just hang out near the end of the line until it wasn't capped anymore. I was not the only one doing that. There was a group of us and we got to know each other. One person in particular was especially cool and we decided to become real life friends, not just line friends. For those of you who know me, you know how uncharacteristic that is. But whatever. It's Comic-Con. Everyone around you likes the same things you do. It's kind of awesome. The end of this story is that I got the shield. $30 well spent. 

I also wandered around the artist area for a while. I met the artist that does the Buffy comics and got to chat with him for a while. I also bought my favorite Buffy cover art (the last one) and one of the coolest images of Wonder Woman I've ever seen from another artist I'd never heard of. 

Thursday was going to be a smaller panel day. I was waiting for the superhero music panel to start when I saw a tweet from The World's End official twitter. Several weeks before I saw that they were going to do a scavenger hunt for the chance to go see a pre-screening of The World's End. It's a Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright creation starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, directed by Edgar Wright. Go watch everything they've done if you haven't heard of them (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul, Attack the Block, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to name a few). 

I was sitting there wondering if I should go in search of the 12 cards and decided I might as well. There wasn't anything that I was super excited about until Thursday night so I had time. I got up and left just as the panel was starting. I spent a good 4 hours finding all 12 cards. They released four at a time and gave you 2 hours to find them when it only took about 20 minutes, so there was a lot of waiting around. 

While I was waiting, I decided to head back to the convention center to pick up my Super Best Friends Forever figures. 

I got them signed on Saturday by Lauren Faust (creator of SBFF, My Little Pony, and co-creator of Powerpuff Girls). I'm not one to keep things in boxes when they weren't meant to be, so I took them out for her to sign each one. I then let my four year old nephew play with them. They are his favorite toys now. I really should have gotten two sets. $50 very well spent. 

Back to Thursday. I collected all 12 cards and they told me to be at the theater downtown by 5. There was no guarantee that I'd get a ticket, so it was first come, first serve. Fair enough. 

While I was wandering the Gaslamp district that day, I ran into this gentleman: 

One Tom Lenk, aka Andrew from Buffy. Best member of the Trio. 

After I collected all 12 cards, I headed back to the con and to the Hannibal panel. If you haven't watched Hannibal, go do that now. And add Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Mockingbird Lane, and Dead Like Me to you list. These shows were all created by Bryan Fuller and they are all among my list of favorite shows. Hence Bryan Fuller is my second favorite showrunner/TV show creator (behind Joss, of course). The panel was great. It featured Hugh Dancy (aka Will Graham) and everyone there was a delight. Also, I totally got to meet Bryan Fuller after and got his autograph. 

If it looks like I'm about to cry, it's because I am. I had been waiting in the throng of people for a good 30 minutes and it was looking like I wasn't going to get to him before I left. Persistence pays off! Seriously, seriously love this man. He was super duper nice. 

Friday was my Hall H day. My friend's brother-in-law/my brother-in-law's friend, Jeremy and I woke up at 3 AM and were in line by 4 AM. We dozed on the marina for a couple hours until they condensed the line. When we got in to Hall H it was clear that it was a good thing we went when we did. We were towards the back of the room and that room holds 6,500 people. 

The opening panel was Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost for The World's End moderated by Chris Hardwick, a fantastic nerd/comedian/podcaster and one of my favorite people ever (I feel like I have a lot of those). Easily the funniest panel I saw during the con. 

Next up was Veronica Mars. The entire cast showed up and it was glorious. Jason Dohring (Logan) came out in a "Team Piz" shirt, Chris Lowell (Piz) came out in a "Team Logan" shirt, and Ryan Hansen (Dick) came out in a "Team Dick" shirt. Perfect. 

And in case you haven't seen it yet, here's the footage they showed us:

After that was Kick-Ass 2 and Riddick. Kick-Ass 2 looks great, and I'll have to watch Pitch Black before I form an opinion on Riddick, but let's face it. I'll end up seeing that one too. By the way, Vin Diesel - I want to be his friend. The guy was charming, funny, eloquent, and a giant nerd (he plays D&D among other things). All the things you wouldn't expect from him. But yeah, crazy cool guy. I feel bad that I wasn't expecting that. 

After Riddick I decided to head down to the theater where The World's End would be. I missed both The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones panels because of that, but it ended up being worth it. 

I got to the theater at about 2 and there were 80 people already lined up. I decided I liked those odds so took a seat on the sidewalk. I didn't make line friends that day, by the way. I didn't like the group ahead of or behind me. It was a long 6 hours. Yes, 6 hours. The movie didn't start until 8. So how it worked was the first 30 (or maybe it was 50) people in line with all 12 cards got wrist bands and guaranteed seats. They could leave and come back. For the rest of us, it was first come, first serve. There were hundreds of people in line behind me by the end. It wrapped all the way around a city block. 

By the time the line started moving, I was no longer 81, but about 150 in line. Holding places in line shouldn't be a thing at Comic-Con. That's what I've decided. Anyway, they're slowly trickling people in, and they stop right as I get up to the very front. I looked at the guy and said, "are you serious?" He said they'd probably have room for 20 more people and I got happy. It was at that moment that I realized I hadn't actually seen anything official on Wright/Pegg/Frost being there, but I had invested the time so I was staying.

I walked in and they told me anywhere in the first three rows. I found a seat and started looking around the theater. There were plenty of open seats and I spotted one pretty much right in the middle of the theater. Maybe a little closer to the front, but a perfect seat. 

Everyone around me was press and I apparently took the seat of a press person who didn't show up. Hooray for that! The two men to my left asked me who I wrote for, and I said no one. I told them I had been waiting in line for 6 hours. Outwardly they were very impressed and said I deserved more than an early screening of the movie, but I wonder if they thought I was a little crazy. 

So seating arrangement: three empty seats to my left, two press guys, then me. I noticed a couple people walk into my row where the empty seats were to shake hands with someone behind me. I wondered who it was and turned around. I saw who it was, turned around to the front, and started to hyperventilate a little. After a couple minutes I turned back and asked for a picture. I think what I said was, "I'm really sorry, and you can say no, but can I get a picture with you?" He smiled and said, "Sure, but if it gets awkward, it's your fault." "I can live with that," I replied. I then thanked him and left him alone for the rest of the movie even though I wanted to jump into his lap. 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at Nathan Fillion. And me. A picture of Nathan Fillion and me. NATHAN FILLION! Seriously. SERIOUSLY! Man... seriously. 

A few minutes after that Bill Paxton (of Aliens, Twister, and Big Love) came in and sat down three seats away from me. Very cool, but I had already bugged on celebrity, I didn't want to be that girl. 

Someone came out at that point to introduce Wright/Pegg/Frost who then introduced the movie. 

Edgar Wright and Nick Frost left, but Simon Pegg said we looked like a great crowd and came up to my row and sat next to Bill Paxton, four seats away from me. SIMON PEGG WAS FOUR SEATS AWAY FROM ME! I totally would have gotten up but the movie started right as he was sitting down and he jumped up right when it ended. Turned out he only stayed because he wanted to nudge Bill Paxton when his character made an Aliens reference. Cute Simon Pegg... 

The three of them did a Q/A after the movie and were of course hilarious. 

So many fun facts about the film. Seriously, so many things that no one else is going to notice but them, but that's why they put them in - to make themselves laugh. 

So that morning I woke up at 4 AM and didn't get back to the hotel until 12 AM. Six hours spent in line on the sidewalk that day, and four wandering around the Gaslamp district looking for the 12 cards that I didn't even end up needing. But I wouldn't change a single thing. Unless it was the people standing in line around me. I'd probably change them. 

Saturday was another slow day for me as far as panels went. I didn't want to do Hall H again, although I kind of wish I had, seeing what went on later. I probably won't forego the Marvel day again. Except because I didn't go to Hall H that day, I was able to go to the Joss Whedon panel at Nerd HQ offsite at the Petco ballpark. It was $22 extra because it wasn't a part of the official con, but again, something I wouldn't have changed. There were only 250 people there so it was a lot more intimate and there was a lot more time spent on audience questions. 

If you want to see the happiest moment of my life, skip ahead to 56:38 (or thereabouts). 


Seriously, one of the coolest things I've ever been able to do in my entire life. Don't roll your eyes. This man is my hero. I love everything he does both in terms of writing and in his activism. If I knew what he did in his personal life, I'd probably love that too. And yes, I totally wore my 'Women of the Whedonverse' shirt on purpose that day. 

I headed back toward the convention center in search of the autograph area. There were two autographs I wanted the entire con: Claire Kramer and Nicholas Brendon, or as I know them, Glory and Xander. 

They were both more awesome and more patient of my fangirling over something that happened 10 years ago than I hoped. Especially Nicholas Brendon. He was so, so friendly and came around from his table to give me the biggest and best hug I've had in years. Really, he hugged me like we were old friends. It was such a great moment. Lots of great moments at this con, actually...

Also, I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to buy two new discs for season 5 since I'm not going to want to stick these in my PlayStation anymore ever again. 

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the con and the surrounding area with the friend I made in the Dark Horse line on preview night. That was the day we got Lauren Faust's and Craig McCracken's autographs. There were a lot of Bronies in that line and a few of them were... let's say interesting. My new friend and I noticed how tired both of them looked when they were talking to people in front of us (we were very close to the front so they hadn't been doing it that long), but when we got up there and I started talking to them about Powerpuff Girls and SBFF, they both kind of lit up and became very engaging and excited to talk about those things. I kind of think they just don't like talking to Bronies. And I shouldn't generalize like that. I now have 2 friends that are Bronies and they're both very normal and cool guys. Plus another guy in line that we talked with a bit also seemed cool. But other people around us... I bet Lauren Faust does that for the few little girls that come and are genuinely excited about meeting her as opposed to the grown men who get mad at her because she identifies as a feminist and treat her like their signing slave so they can resell her toys on eBay. A very fun day overall, though. 

Oh, and I also randomly ran into this guy on Saturday too: 

Matt Mira. If you know the Nerdist and Chris Hardwick, you know Matt. I was so startled to run into him that I don't think I actually finished a sentence. The conversation went something like this:

"Hey! You're-"
"Hi! How are you?"
"Holy crap! Can I get..."
"Of course!" 
"It was awesome-"
"Good to meet you too!" 

He was delightful. He wasn't cutting me off, by the way. I would just stop talking and he'd fill in the potential awkwardness. I've always liked him better than Jonah (sorry, Jonah), but now I totally have a crush on him. He was awesome. 

That night my new friend went to go meet up with another new friend, so I went to the bar across the street to charge my phone, eat free food, and drink free soda (right!?). I was going to the Nerdist podcast taping that night (it was fate I met Matt earlier that day) so I wandered around looking for a restaurant with room for one at the bar. I stopped by a lot of places and I finally found an open seat at 8 (the podcast started at 9:30). I sat down and looked at the menu and saw that the cheapest entree was $26. "Well," said I, "go big or go home." Then I ordered the $32 filet mignon and talked with the two couples sitting on either side of me. Comic-Con made me surprisingly outgoing. That's probably too strong of a word... friendly, maybe? 

When I got to the theater I saw Matt again outside. People were standing around chatting with him and I thought smugly, "Heh. I totally met him this morning." I bought my shirt, found my seat, and realized how crazy tired I was. I probably would have enjoyed the podcast a lot more had I not been so tired. The guest was Matt Smith and he was pretty fun. My expectations were low because I haven't heard the best things about him, but it was clear he wanted to be there, so that was good. It was another late night. I didn't get back until about 12:30. Bad idea during Comic-Con, but I'll probably end up doing it again. 

This is why I only took one picture. But from left to right you're looking at Chris Hardwick, Matt Smith, Matt Mira, and Jonah Hill. 

Sunday morning I headed off to the Godzilla Experience that Legendary Entertainment was putting on to excite people about the movie. It did its job. I had no thoughts on the film whatsoever, and now I'm pretty excited. Godzilla looks fantastic. This isn't the Godzilla in the new movie, but it is the original suit the guy wore: 

Plus I got this awesome Mondo poster: 

Mondo, for those of you who don't know, creates fantastic posters like this one that sell out in about 30 seconds. And no, I'm not exaggerating. This is probably the only Mondo poster I'll own because they're so hard to get your hands on. 

After that I headed back over to the convention center and wandered around for a little while buying more things to hang on my walls and getting free posters before getting in line for the Neil Gaiman panel. I don't know why they put him in such a small room. Probably only a few hundred people fit in there and the line was crazy long. I got there at 12:30 and his panel wasn't until 3, but it wrapped down a couple of hallways and it turned out that most of the people there were in line for him. Virginia joined me soon after. I know I said line-holding should be a thing, but she was only one person whereas the guy directly in front of me for The World's End brought eight people over. Eight! 

The panel we had to sit through before Neil Gaiman was Ben 10 on... I think Nickelodeon. It was actually really cute though, because a lot of little kids got up to ask questions. One boy gave the actor that voices Ben the wristband Ben uses to turn into aliens because he saw that the actor wasn't wearing one. The last little kid was a girl no more than probably 5 who just ran up to the microphone, said "hi" and ran back into her dad's arms. Her dad went up to the mic and said that she just wanted to say hi to the real Ben 10. I generally don't like kids that aren't related to me, but those kids were the cutest darned children ever (besides the ones that are related to me). 

After Ben 10, pretty much no one left. Only a few more people got in and they lined the back wall with people waiting in line, and Comic-Con never does that. Neil Gaiman was fantastic. He's my favorite author right now and he did not disappoint. He talked about his novels, short stories, comics, TV episodes, and everything they're turning into a miniseries or movie (American Gods, Graveyard Book, Ocean at the End of the Lane...). Plus, he was hilarious and deep and very down to earth.  

During that panel we started to hear music and periodic cheering from the next room. After a bit I realized it was the Buffy musical sing-along. I knew I was missing it and it was a conscious decision to see Neil Gaiman instead of Once More With Feeling. When we got out of the panel there were about 20 minutes left in the episode so I went in. It was awesome and definitely something I'll be doing next year. A good 500ish people singing along to Buffy. What is not fun about that? 

We met back at the hotel around 5:30, grabbed dinner, and headed back to Vegas again to stay the night. It's amazing how much nicer the Vegas hotels were and how much cheaper. But that's just part of the price you pay for a fantastic experience at Comic-Con. 

I really do think this will be my favorite con ever for a long time. Because come on, how often do you meet and/or talk to 8 of your favorite famous/semi-famous people and be in the immediate vicinity of 5 more? Even for Comic-Con I think that was a fluke. The Comic-Con gods were smiling down on me though, and it was a week well worth the money, lack of sleep, and constantly achy back that still hasn't fully returned to normal. 

Here's to Comic-Con 2014! 

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