Holy smokes… These recaps are a lot longer than I thought they would be. Here’s the first half of Thursday:
So. Thursday at Comic Con. After a late night on Wednesday, it was up and at it bright and early. I showed up at about 5:00 or so to get into a line. Not a specific line. Just a line.
Like I said before, Comic Con is not something you do, it’s something that happens to you.
I met the first of many, many, many wonderful people in that line – Maria. Maria ended up being something like my line wife for the weekend. At SDCC, you wait in a lot of lines for a long time, especially early in the morning. A line buddy has been a must for me in past cons. We were both planning for the legendary “Hall H” line Friday morning and agreed that whoever showed up first would hold a spot in line for the other one.
There are many unwritten rules of Comic Con. Line protocol is chief among them. I could easily do a thousand words on the unwritten rules of lines at Comic Con, but then they wouldn’t be unwritten any longer.
Maria and I chatted, we talked to our line mates, and then eventually I went to get coffee/hot chocolate for all of us when Starbucks at the Hilton opened at 7:00 am.
I was torn between two panels – “Getting into Comics the Marvel Way” and the “35th Anniversary BSG” panel. The Battlestar Galactica panel in 2011 was awesome, so I decided to hit up the BSG panel again. Besides, I knew that’s where Justin and Michelle were headed anyway. Since the doors open at like 8:00 for people to get into specific lines for 10:00 panels, knowing if there’s anyone in line to talk to can be an important guiding factor.
BSG 35th Anniversary Panel
Richard Hatch always hosts the Battlestar Galactica panel. He also always looks like he just sprinted across the entire convention center and tumbled through the curtain just in the nick of time. But I kid, Richard. Mr. Hatch is one of the best people you can find at Comic Con each year. He’s almost always up in the autograph pavilion, and I’ve found that, as long as there’s not a big line, he’s usually willing to chat for a while about Battlestar and everything else he has going on.
Joining Richard on the panel were a bunch of people who worked on various recent incarnations of BSG and Caprica. The “surprise guest” was none other than Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos. Kevin Grazier, science advisor/consultant for many sci-fi shows was also a treat.
Two big reveals stand out to me. When asked about things in the show that caused controversy, Kevin Grazier related that he got angry mail from viewers asking how, as a science advisor, he could let pass an ending that ultimately advocated a theistic universe. In response, he said that the theistic viewpoint was something the creative team agreed on at the outset as governing rule for the fictional universe of BSG and, thus, the viewpoint of the series was completely consistent with the rules they set out at the beginning.
Also, for BSG fans, it was said that the conclusion of the first “So Say We All” speech that Adama gives was a creation of Edward James Olmos. The reactions of the actors are genuine as they slowly join him in the chant since it was the first time they heard it and weren’t sure what to do.
They ended with a trailer for Richard Hatch’s new web series “Cowboys and Engines”, which I include here not as an advocate of the quality of the series, but as a favor to Mr. Hatch for being such a nice guy throughout the weekend.
The next panel I saw was “The Blacklist”, a new program set to air Monday nights on NBC in the fall. The Official Comic Con program calls it “highly anticipated”. I don’t know whether I believe that.
I mostly went out of curiosity, since the show’s star, James Spader was in attendance. I’ve always thought he was an interesting actor who has gradually come to play a caricature over time. Based on his comments at the panel, I can tell you that’s because he loves that caricature so much, he’s chosen to live it in public.
The premise of the show is intriguing. Twenty years after a government agent goes rogue, he inexplicably returns and surrenders himself. He’s got a lot of intelligence on terrorist operations and appears to want to cooperate with the authorities who, of course, don’t trust him.
There’s a weird Silence of the Lambs homage in the show. I was going to call it an “undertone”, but it’s right there on the surface. They lock him up and he refuses to speak to anyone except a young woman who is new to the agency. The first scene where they meet is visually lifted from the Silence of the Lambs.
The show had a few unexpected moments, but the pilot was still ultra-cliché. Lots of questions, not a lot of answers. How is Spader’s character related to the young agent? Can she trust her husband? What is his agenda? Will the show be on the air long enough to answer any of these questions?
Megan Boone did a great job in the pilot, and I hope this helps her career take off. I just don’t know that network TV can support another show like this. I’ll wait until the first season ends before watching the whole series, just in case it gets cancelled mid-season.
So, there’s more SDCC highlights to come. Plus polls and more. Stay tuned…
So, I was walking down Artist’s Alley at Comic Con and turned a corner to head to the rest of the convention floor when I saw this guy hunched over a paper, arms flying and whirling.
Bordin has to be the fastest artist that I saw that day. His work is incredible and he’s got a great style. For gifts, I commissioned three separate comic covers – Hulk, Spider-Man, and Iron Man.
When I handed him the first book, he asked what character I wanted, and I replied, “The Hulk”. He then asked “Which one?”
My reply? “Uhhhh… the incredible one?” (Apparently there are more Hulks in the Marvel Universe now, which I did not know)
These pieces are on actual comic books that are printed with blank card stock wrapped around the regular cover. They were also each done, beginning to end in under 20 minutes each. To which I say, “Bordin – YOU are the incredible one”.
Wednesday was just a travel day for me. Flew in around 1:00. Got picked up by Anthony Fankhauser, my movie producer friend and roommate for the weekend.
Anthony was late to the airport, foreshadowing our roommate relationship for the whole weekend.
I had planned to meet up with my SDCC friends, Justin Bolger and Michelle Gilness, a couple of cool people that I met at SDCC 2011. We haven’t met in person since then, but such are the ways of SDCC. It unites people across space and time in a magical vortex of insanity and fun.
Awesome Coincidence #1 of SDCC 2013: when I called Justin, he and Michelle were already at the hotel where I was staying – the Town and Country Resort. Why were they already there? Apparently four-day badge pickup was available on Wednesday night. And of all the places to have early pick-up, it just happened to be at my hotel, five miles away from the Convention Center.
So, instead of waiting to get in a huge line Thursday morning and waiting to pick up my badge, delaying my Comic Con adventure, I was able to pick it up as soon as I arrived.
I showed up. The people I was planning on meeting were already at my hotel. My badge was ready and waiting. All completely unplanned by me? Score one for the good guys.
Wednesday night was spent chilling out in San Diego’s Gaslamp district.
Now, here’s the deal. Even if you’re not one of the lucky people able to put your hands on a Comic Con badge? If you’re a pop culture fan, just go anyway. The whole Gaslamp is on fire with people in for Comic Con, and there’s always something cool happening.
Our Wednesday consisted of dinner at The Yard House, followed by two parties of wildly varying quality.
The SDCC Blog held “Enchantment Under the SDCC – The SDCCBlog & Outside Comic-Con Fan Event!” (10 internet points for the reference). The title is quoted from their web site, and I left the exclamation point because it assuredly deserves at least one, if not more.
First off, if you’re even thinking about attending Comic Con, you should follow their blog. Also, if you want recaps of the coolest panels, swag, and costumes, they are also the hub for you. I know that Casual Comics Guy is pretty alright, but SDCCBlog is the beginning and end of my preparation and debrief for SDCC.
They also throw a pretty wicked party. I walked away with a pretty sweet T-shirt that also served as a useful tool for remembering where and how to check Twitter for updates on line status. Got some free Pop Chips, too.
We then walked over to another nearby party and almost immediately walked back. The “Super Hero Party” at the Side Bar was deadly. Side Bar : Geeks::Snakes: Indiana Jones
There was no one there for a while. Then some “bros” showed up. Then, even though there were only about seven people there, including four people in my party, they started turning people away at the door for “dress code”. At Comic Con. Dress Code? At Comic Con? What? Here’s my advice. Do not ever go to the Side Bar.
(Did I mention that the Side Bar is terrible?)
We went back to Enchantment Under the SDCC for a bit. They raffled off some cool geek gear, a couple of one-day passes to Comic Con, and the number on most desired item among the crowd gathered… a “front of line” pass for the Hasbro booth.
Are you kidding me? For those who have never been to Comic Con, the Hasbro booth has a ton of exclusive merchandise. You have to get in a line outside at 4 a.m. in order to hope to get a spot in their line inside that lets you have a chance to stand in another line for an hour, hoping that whatever you want isn’t sold out by the time you’re at the register. (By the way, the Boba Fett Black Series sold out the first day)
So, after that, we were more careful. We wandered over to McFadden’s and spent the rest of the night at “Nerdioke”, the best and most fun karaoke party I’ve ever attended. As we walked in, we heard a demonic voice growling Green Jelly’s “Little Pig, Little Pig”. When we hit the main floor, we were shocked to see a slight, short girl bellowing with rage into the microphone to enthusiastic applause.
It was like a normal karaoke bar, only good. And the highlight of the night was when this guy took to the stage – he must’ve been a Broadway or Las Vegas performer – and blew the crowd away. His voice was spectacular and he had the whole song down pat. Emotion… passion… He had it all. By the end, the crowd was following him around the floor and dancing arm in arm. To wild cheers and bouncing, he led the cheering throng in a dance of glee around the whole bar.
The song? “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast.
And that, my friends, is why Comic Con is the BEST.
Thursday was a light day for costumes. At least it was for me. I spent almost all of Thursday in panels, so I didn’t get out to the floor too much. There are 19 new photos in the SDCC 2013 Gallery, though, for your viewing enjoyment. More to come as I upload and catalog Friday and Saturday’s cosplay collections.
As referenced in an earlier post, every Comic Con experience becomes its own thing. Comic Con isn’t something you do. Comic Con is something that happens to you. You set a course, pick a few guiding principles, and go along for the ride.
2013 is the first Comic Con I’ve attended since I started watching Doctor Who. I was always aware of the presence of the Doctor at the Con, but heading into this Con, I was determined to connect with some Who fans and get photos of the costumes.
A few notes to begin. I‘ve watched only the new Doctor Who. Of that, I’ve seen only the first two seasons. I am madly in love with David Tennant in the role of the Tenth Doctor. Even though I can’t imagine why any person would like anyone else in the role, I am determined to give Matt Smith fans the benefit of the doubt. After all, if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching Doctor Who, it’s that everyone should chase their passions with their whole heart and soul, no matter how daft they seem.
That’s actually the one thing that I enjoyed most at SDCC in my search for other Who fans this year. Whovians (as I discovered we are called) have an unbeatable zest for life. We are the Wolverines of zeal. There’s a relentless, optimistic view that informs the television series, and that infects the lives of the Whovians I met. I’m not saying every single Who fan is this way, but the ones passionate enough to dress up and head to Comic Con sure are.
I heard no arguing about which Doctor was the best. No one seemed to care who knew the most about Doctor Who trivia. New Who fans were always welcomed with open arms.
Even though some of my best friends are MSTies, I still hear a Joel vs. Mike debate on occasion at Comic Con. That never happened with the Whovians, even though there are literally 5.5 more incarnations to argue about.
Instead of arguing, there was a relentless drum banging of super-passion for their own favorite Doctor. There wasn’t a negative word spoken about any of the other Doctors, companions, or anything else. Sure, people grumbled about certain episodes being stronger or weaker, but overall if you had your favorite Doctor, people were content to listen to you rave about him until it was their turn to spread some love for their own favorite.
So to all of you who had to listen to me rave about my man-crush on David Tennant, go ahead and comment with your own favorite below.
Now, a couple of notes on the costumes.
When I downloaded my photos, I was not surprised to find only photos of the Fourth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors. First off, I haven’t seen the classic series, so it’s entirely possible that there were Doctor Who cosplayers that I missed because I didn’t even recognize the outfits. I did take pictures of a couple of people that I thought might be classic Doctors, but people later told me I was wrong. It was easy for me to spot Nine, Ten, and Eleven, since I’ve seen them the most. And, Four’s scarf is instantly recognizable.
Also, I was not surprised that I didn’t spot a Nine. The dress doesn’t really seem distinctive, and there isn’t as much geek love for Eccleston as for the other new Doctors. I would guess that there were no Nine costumes in the convention, but I would be glad if someone could point me to a photo that disproves my hunch.
That said, there were a lot of Doctors at the Con. It’s a great costume and is easy to pull off. Talking to the people, they also love the fact that it’s not bulky, awkward, or hot. It’s easy to walk the floor, look, shop, and attend panels in the suit. Plus, everyone immediately knows you are ready to have a conversation about Doctor Who as you’re standing in line for the next panel. I had even thought about going as the Tenth Doctor this year, and I’ve never done a costume for Comic Con.
That’s the good news for Doctor Who cosplay. The bad news is that there are so many Doctors, it’s hard to pull off something unique or different from the others. Some people managed a distinct look by getting a different prop from a specific episode and/or being a girl. But, it’s tough.
The really bad news, though, is that I got some great advice on where to get a Ten costume for next year. (Sorry, I should have said that the “really bad news” was specific to my wife).
So, on to the pictures. Go the the SDCC Photos page. There’s commentary on all the photos. Be on the lookout for a poll on the Doctors. Just be aware that Gerry and Marty are the best Doctors of all time for reasons you will learn when I post my daily recaps.
As always, questions/comments are not just welcome, but are appreciated.
Let’s get this out of the way. To anyone who has never attended San Diego Comic Con, no one calls it “San Diego Comic Con”. For people who attend, it’s just “Comic Con”. The first, biggest, and the best festival for pop culture and visual arts in the universe, it will always be simply Comic Con.
2013 marks my fifth Comic Con, and each one is a unique experience. It’s not just that the panels, vendors, and booths are different year-to-year. That’s part of it. But, as the long weekend plays out, each Con develops its own storyline. Thinking of it like a movie, each year isn’t a remake or a sequel, it’s a reimagining of the Con. And, it’s so big that everyone’s story is one-of-a-kind. There are people who could read my upcoming accounts and think to themselves, “it’s like this guy was at a totally different convention”. And that’s true – each of us who attended does have our own, personal Con.
And to any of you who attended, please reply with links or comments on your own Con experience. I’ll be searching out other stories of SDCC to capture the mosaic that is 2013.
Going into the Wednesday, I had bold and optimistic plans of live blogging parts of the Con. A variety of factors prevented me from doing so. First off, let’s be honest, for a Casual Comics Guy who’s just getting back into this, that scheme was a bit #lofty. I still don’t have a 4G phone and for much of the convention days, I couldn’t even send or receive text messages because of bad reception in the halls and an overcrowded digital network. Wifi reception was spotty to say the least, and phone batteries ran down quickly when searching for active hotspots.
With that said, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff. Over the next several days, you’re going to start seeing posts coming fast and furious about SDCC 2013. Of course for me, at this time, fast and furious might mean two updates a day. Please subscribe so that you’ll get notified when updates are posted. That way, I can stop bugging everyone on Facebook when I post something. My wife will thank you.
As I said, each year’s Con has a different story. My SDCC story this year is one of unexpected delights. Over the next week, you’ll hear the story. Along the course of the weekend, I came up with the maxim “You don’t always get the Con you want, but you usually get the Con you deserve”.
One thing… as I’m writing this right now, I’m on a plane to Dallas, hoping to get back to Omaha at a reasonable hour. I missed my flight this morning. So, that means for now even I don’t know how this Con story is going to end. Based on the long weekend, though, I’m sure I’m going to get the Con I deserve. For better or worse. You and I will find out together very soon.
You will start seeing a day-by-day recap. There will also be a ton of fun photos; I promise. I’ve got over 150 on my camera right now. I’m sure not all of them are in focus and some are duplicates, but there are plenty to share. Plus, I’ll be linking to pictures of things that I saw that others took pictures of as they put them up on their sites.
Regarding the daily recaps, I’ll tell you the same thing I told my wife when we got engaged. I can’t promise you it will always be fun, but I can promise you it will be an adventure.
I’ll leave you with some common themes and topics I’ll be discussing in both the daily recaps, as well as standalone posts:
The people – Between the attendees, the vendors, the volunteers, and the staff, Comic Con genuinely has the happiest, most accepting, friendliest, and most helpful human beings in the world. If you’re reading this because we met at Comic Con, THANK YOU! Ain’t no people like Comic Con people.
The joy – Because of the people, but somehow also separate from the people is this overwhelming joy. Even when you run into a rude person or a bad situation, it’s not possible to stay mad.
The surprises – There were a lot of panels and places I just “ended up”. Things I didn’t set out to see or do that really caught me off-guard. There are things I knew that I would love that totally exceeded my expectations (Spoiler Alert: It was the World’s End panel. #lofty). There were also unexpected bundles of happiness dropped in my lap from nowhere. I have so many new web sites, authors, and comics to follow-up on that it will take me straight into 2014.
I’m going to end with a couple of shout-outs and then say a little prayer that I make it home to Omaha at a reasonable hour.
A few people that I knew were going to be tremendous people to hang with at this Con: Anthony Fankhauser, the semi-reliable roommate. Justin and Michelle (check out Justin’s blog here) lifelong Con buddies. The Con would not have been the same without the magic, guys.
A few people that I had never met before this Con, but that I am positive I will see again: Maria, my morning line BFF and coffee pal. If you’re reading this, Maria, I’ll never forget the sugar again. Marty and Jeremy the coolest Doctors at the Con, and the ones who traveled the farthest (Australia and Ireland, respectively. Mary, my “mom at the Con”. You are tremendous people. Thanks for the great times.
The artists. So many talented people: Tess Fowler, Chris Guttierez, Mike Sanchez, Sara Richard, Russel Walks. You’ll be seeing links to their art in the coming days. Visit their pages. If you see something you like, buy it. Some of them have active Kickstarters, so I’ll be listing them first. These people are ultra-talented and we need to support them with both our words and our dollars so that they can keep creating.
Thanks for reading and stick with me. I can’t promise it’ll always be fun, but it will be an adventure.
COMIC CON PEOPLE ARE THE BEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD! PEACE, OUT SAN DIEGO!
*drops the mic* BOOM!