Comic Con is a little like making a go of writing—it’s not for the faint of heart. It is a trial from the moment you decide to go to the moment you stumble back through your front door and do a header into your bed. I could do an entire blog on just the ticket-selling lottery. Last year we used seven computers to optimize our chances, and this year, owing to more restrictions, three computers.
I could do an entire blog (okay, rant) on the hotel lottery and booking process. Like how this year, although I put my request in within a half hour of the lottery opening, I didn’t get a hotel. When it opened up a second time, I got one several miles away. At registration, the clerk told me that not only was I paying $13 a night more than I would have had I gotten the early-bird special (i.e., booking the first time when I was spit out of the lottery), but that we did not get breakfast vouchers. Breakfast is huge because food at the con, with 150,000 of your closest friends, is another challenge.
Next is packing. I once went on a biking vacation with formal-enough clothes to hit a nice restaurant or two in a pair of standard-sized biking panniers. But I was going to Comic Con in costume—heavy multilayer costumes, chainmail, extra stage makeup, bulky boots, a case of jewelry (hey, where better to wear my collection), prosthetics, glue, and remover, and enough hair product to fill a small suitcase. When we were done packing the car, my husband wanted to know if we were vacationing in San Diego or moving there.
All this and we haven’t made it to the con yet! Inside the convention center you will face more challenges such as security people who yell constantly at you to keep moving (even when I was in a line for the bathroom). They have only enough seating outside of panels for maybe a couple hundred people (Starbucks and the upstairs Sail Room tables).
Perhaps the worst drawback are the crowds. On Saturday, you could not breath and move at the same time…not enough room: pick one. The lines are mind-numbing. I was going to video tape the line for the biggest hall, Hall H, but (whining alert) it was too long, and I didn’t want to walk that far! See that tent in the picture, that’s all for Hall See those people along the side of the convention center? That’s where the line winds around behind it! To add insult to injury, if you don’t camp out overnight, you likely won’t get into Hall H, and that’s where they do the good stuff. Last year Hall H was where Dr. Who held the 50th anniversary panel. This year I don’t know who was in there. I refused to look; I didn’t want to get depressed.
Scare you off yet? Screw your courage to the sticking-place and suck it up, because despite all the challenges, Comic Con International in San Diego is AWESOME. All around you, literally on all four sides of you wherever you move, are people just like you, who love what you love. I had a great conversation just waiting at a light and crossing the street with someone who saw the Dr. Who panel last year. He knew how to work the line for Hall H. His story involved pizza and beer. He was on his way to set up for this year. Ahhh, youth! My fifty-year-old bones aren’t cut out for sleeping on cement, or even grass, as the young man happily shared with me, nice soft grass… He’ll be fifty someday.
All my favorite shows have panels, some of which I even managed to attend: Falling Skies and Sleepy Hollow, for instance. Falling Skies wasn’t so hard to get into. Sadly, they announced next year is their last season. I don’t think I would have gotten into Sleepy Hollow if we hadn’t been in Falling Skies beforehand. Sleepy Hollow is doing just fine. If the crowd attending didn’t tell you that, the decibels of the screeching teenyboppers would have…oh, and the fifty-year-old woman in the middle…Hey, if you scream with them your eardrums damp down, and it’s less loud. Just self-defense!
The dealer floor is unimaginable. I would tell people just to go for that experience alone. It is so large that although I walked it every day, I saw only about half of it. I concentrated on the big publishers most of whom were giving away free books. But be warned, if you visit the long table for Penguin (Roc, DAW, Ace) stick to the right side as you face the table. On the left side was witchy lady with nonfunctioning brain. I asked if she had a book recommendation for XYZ, and she said we don’t take pitches here. I said I’m not pitching, I’m looking for a book on XYZ. Didn’t end well, she blew me off with a scowl. But the two editors on the right side, they answered my question. Thanks Left Flipper of Penquin! Visited Simon & Shuster, for whom I used to work, and the nice editor there took a couple of minutes to talk to me. Floor was busy so I moved on. I had another mission after all.
Mission two was JEWELRY! Which won’t surprise anyone who knows me. Last year I rediscovered two former loves from years gone by, Angelwear Creations and Willow! I was all hot to buy more, but Willow didn’t show up this year and Angelwear didn’t have the piece I’d hoped for…so I ordered it! While I was shopping, I saw this really cool bracelet.
You could spend days wandering the floor looking as such things as the Lego display with such life-sized statues as the raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy. You could drool over wonderful statuettes from dozens of talented artists. This one booth was even giving several away! One statue was a life-sized Hans Solo in carbonite. I didn’t enter that one. My hubby trotted up and proudly told me he did. He better hope he doesn’t win; only room for one adult male in the house—him or Han. Hmmm…let me think that through.
I met and talked with Nene Thompson, whose fairy calendars I’ve bought from local bookstores. Her husband and she are putting out an epic fantasy series, and we geeked out over that; I was in heaven. The range of the art is magnificent. Anything from high-quality dollar postcards to original oil paintings in the thousands. There was this one white dragon I saw… But I’m afraid I would have needed a loan from Smaug to buy that original…
Which, if Smaug were the generous type, would have been doable, because he, and much of the cast of the Hobbit, were there! Now if it had been Lee Pace/Thranduil in carbonite…Well, James should just be glad that wasn’t an option!
The masquerade fashion show with skits was more fun this year even than last year. Some were gorgeous, some were funny as hell. Game of Thrones and Frozen seemed to be the theme this year…or GOT meets Frozen. This was one of my favorites: #35, The Frozen North. The Best-in-show winner was another favorite, clever, cute skit, and the costumes looked impeccably made: #27, Giant Monsters All Out Attack.
But the stage didn’t have all the killer costumes. Check out Iron Man! Er…Brass Man? Oh forget what to call it, this is one cool steampunk suit! And since I couldn’t take Lee Pace home, I snapped this cosplayer in his Thranduil costume and then snapped Loki! Is it getting hot in here or is it me? Don’t tell hubby! Oh, never mind, he’s busy being all excited over finding his first booth babes.
So despite the preparation, the expense, and the crowds—and partly because of the latter—Comic Con San Diego is worthwhile. Some of you know, these past few months I’ve really struggled through writing my last few chapters, but when I finally got in the zone, I was floating a mile high. Comic Con is like that. A struggle and then a walk in the clouds…
Hey look, I made it to Comic Con!
Look for a future blog about my experience as a writer at Comic Con.
photos by Matthew J. Carson and Jennifer L. Carson.