WARNING: THIS BLOG HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BOOKS. BUT I MIGHT MENTION TEA AT THE END.
It’s that time of the year again. That one time during the month of July when 130,000 people get together for four days to celebrate the popular arts, when 130,000 fans of comic books, science fiction/fantasy film/television, horror, animation, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels come together, forget about the real world, and bond over panels about Star Wars and Joss Whedon while waiting in ridiculously long lines…discussions they normally couldn’t have on a daily basis, and lines you wouldn’t see at Disneyland even on its busiest day.
In other words, four days spent hanging out with your best friends. Who happen to be dressed like superheros and zombies.
My husband and I have attended Comic-Con International every July for the past four years (excluding 2008 when I was nine months pregnant and my due date was the first day of the convention. Not sure my husband has forgiven me for this), and each experience is different. I could write a book on all we’ve done at Comic-Con, but I’ll keep things short and sweet and give you some highlights of each year, ending with this year’s con that we attended last week.
This was our first year, and we only went for one day – Saturday (it starts on a Thursday and goes through Sunday). We had been to much smaller cons prior to this, but Comic-Con was definitely an eye opener. SO MANY PEOPLE!!! We had come specifically to see the Battlestar Galactica panel and then see Joss Whedon in the next panel. The panels were taking place in Ballroom 20, a room that holds 4,250 people, and a couple of hours beforehand we decided to see if there was any line.
Well, we found out that a “couple of hours beforehand” is definitely not early enough. There was a Heroes panel before the BSG one, and turns out that everyone in line was still in line for that one, and most of them weren’t getting in. And since they don’t clear out the rooms between panels, we were convinced we weren’t going to see either BSG or Joss Whedon that day.
But someone was watching over us that day, and we did get into both panels. We also learned our lesson when it comes to Ballroom 20, and also the legendary Hall H (more about that soon). Two words: COME EARLY.
In 2009 we went for two days – Preview Night, where everyone gets a sneak peak at the ginormous exhibition floor and buy a bunch of toys, and Thursday. We decided to tackle the infamous 6500-seated Hall H on Thursday due to the panel put on by Entertainment Weekly – The Visionaries – where they invite two of today’s hottest directors/writers/producers in Hollywood. This year? Peter Jackson and James Cameron. Jackson was there to talk about District 9, and Cameron was there promoting what would become that year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, Avatar.
Mind-blowing as that all was, it didn’t even come close to the OMG-I-CAN’T-BELIEVE-THIS-IS-ACTUALLY-HAPPENING extravaganza that took place the following year.
Big things were to happen in 2010. The final Harry Potter movies were coming out, and Marvel Studios was prepping for all of their releases that will eventually lead up to The Avengers: Captain America and Thor. Hall H was bursting out of its seams last year, and my husband and I were up everyday at 4:00 in the morning to get into line. In the real world, having to get up at 4am is horrible. I can’t imagine a worse way to start your day. But when you’re at Comic-Con, for some reason getting up before the sun is no big deal. It’s just part of the experience. You get up, throw on a pair of jeans and whatever witty pop culture t-shirt you can find, steal a blanket from the hotel, join all the other crazies in line, and find something to do before they open Hall H at 9am (or depending on when the first panel is). Some people sleep (some people have been sleeping there all night), some people strike up conversations with the people around them, some people bring games, and some people just sit there and stare at their watch. Bottom line: the line for Hall H is totally insane, but it’s no big deal. And in 2010, it was definitely worth it.
We camped out in Hall H everyday last year. On Thursday we fell in love with Scott Pilgrim, on Friday we got to hang out with Nathan Fillion, and on Saturday…well, on Saturday all hell broke lose. The Hall H line was extra packed at 4:00 in the morning, mainly due to the fact that the first panel of the day was the Harry Potter panel and there was a rumor that the main cast (Harry, Ron, Hermione) were going to show up. That rumor, unfortunately, turned out to be false. But we did get Draco. And we got to see awesome footage from the final two movies.
After the few panels that followed, the excitement began. The Eye-Stabbing of Hall H. Apparently there was some sort of altercation over seats after the Resident Evil panel, resulting in one fan getting stabbed with a pen in the eye. Of course this delayed things a bit, and many were afraid they would cancel the rest of the panels, the Marvel panels that everyone wanted to see. But THANK GOD that didn’t happen and after everyone settled down, the extravaganza continued.
Harrison Ford showed up.
33 years after Star Wars, the man who was know as Han Solo and Indiana Jones – who has never attended Comic-Con – showed up with Jon Favreau and the rest of the Cowboys & Aliens cast. And 6500 fanboys and fangirls wet their pants.
We thought nothing could top Harrison Ford. To this day, very few things can. After the panels for Thor and Captain America, we all thought the day was over. We got to see a lot of great panels that day, and after the excitement over stabbings and Han Solo and upcoming Marvel superheroes, we thought we couldn’t take anymore.
We were wrong.
As soon as the panel for Captain America ended, we suddenly see Samuel L. Jackson appear on stage. Crowd freaks out. He introduces Robert Downey, Jr. Crowd freaks out even more. And then before we know it, he’s introducing the entire cast of The Avengers, including the writer/director – my fave – Joss Whedon. It was a totally unexpected moment, and no one who was in that hall at that moment will ever forget it.
As you can imagine, this year had some big shoes to fill after last year. Of course it’s also the year that the big studios decided to pull out of Comic-Con, two of those studios being Warner Brothers and Disney. They still had a big presence on the exhibition floor (exclusive toys, signings), but no panels. So after going through the schedule with a fine-toothed comb, my husband and decided that we wouldn’t spend the entire con camped out in Hall H. This year we were going to spend more time on the floor, more time mingling with the insane crowds, and hopefully attending a few small panels that we normally wouldn’t be able to make it to.
Of course it wouldn’t be Comic-Con, though, without at least one trip to Hall H. Especially when Steven Spielberg is involved.
Yes, this was the year Spielberg finally made it to the con, and if it wasn’t awesome enough, Peter Jackson joined him. So there I am, watching two directors who have made all my favorite movies, and pinching myself constantly. Because stuff like this shouldn’t happen to me. But it did! I got to see Spielberg and Jackson talk about their upcoming movie The Adventures of Tin-Tin. And it was awesome.
The rest of the con this year was low-key when it came to panels, but it was still totally fun. We spent more time with the people – people who are fans just like us, and who share one thing in common: We love to be entertained, whether it’s by movies about vampires or tv shows about zombies or comic books about superheroes…we’re all fans. And that’s the one thing that will bond us together once a year, if only for four days.
See you next year!!
P.S. I’m currently drinking Lipton’s White Mangosteen and Peach Superfruit Green Tea. It’s quite refreshing when hot.