A few weeks ago the king of conventions, Comic-Con, was held in San Diego. The 5-day experience that engulfs downtown San Diego has something for everyone:
- exclusive premieres and first-looks for the “I saw it before anyone else” braggarts
- star-studded panels for those want to hear their favorite stars banter, and ask questions
- professional panels for aspiring artists, writers and those looking to work in “the biz”
- amazing costumes and a 3-hour-long masquerade (costume contest) for cosplayers and photographers
- a sea of swag, geeky and exclusive items galore for the gatherers
- video game demos and gaming areas for the gamers
- autograph booths with current and former Hollywood stars, artists and authors for the signature seekers
- celebrities walking the streets for the celeb-hounds and those looking for a new Facebook profile picture
- and of course, boxes upon boxes of comics for the collectors.
With an attendance capped at 125,000 and tickets selling out in hours, getting in was no easy feat. Luckily, Chrystie and I were invited by an awesome person with connections.
We were unable to make preview night, but hopped on the first plane Thursday morning to make Thursday’s festivities. Figuring there was plenty of time to get to the convention only 3.5 miles away from the airport, I decided we should walk it. While I did enjoy walking the San Diego waterfront and seeing the Star of India – the world’s oldest active sailing ship, I greatly underestimated the lines at the convention.
Arriving perhaps half and hour after the convention doors opened, we made our way to the line for Ballroom 20, assuming three hours was enough time to get in to see a panel for the upcoming TV show Ringer starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Nestor Carbonell. To my astonishment, it was not enough time, not even close. It was easily the longest line I’ve ever been in and at several points we considered just leaving, but we decided to keep at it. We waited…and waited…and waited, our faces and arms began burning from the sun, and then, finally, four hours later we got into the Ballroom…right after the panel we were trying to see.
Unlike PAX or other conventions I have attended, Comic-Con doesn’t clear rooms after panels, so one could sit in a room all day and see every panel. The obvious problem is this encourages sitting through panels you care nothing about to see the ones you do, depriving seats to the true fans and leaving thousands of people to sit outside for hours with the possibility of not even getting in.
The first panel we saw was for the HBO show Game of Thrones, an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic medieval fantasy novels. Martin himself moderated the panel and his explanation of why he kills off so many main characters got me really interested in reading his books. He said readers get too comfortable expecting their favorite characters to always survive, so killing them off keeps readers on the edge of their seats, and I couldn’t agree more. As luck would have it, the panel gave tickets redeemable for a bag of Game of Thrones swag, which included the first book.
The next panel in Ballroom 20 was the TV Guide Fan Favorites panel. On hand were Johnny Galecki from The Big Bang Theory, Nestor Carbonell and Jorge Garcia from Lost along with Zachary Levi, Matt Smith, Kristin Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Leslie Hope, Julie Plec, and Kevin Williamson. Debra Birnbaum, head editor of TV Guide magazine, moderated the panel from the center of the table, giddy by the stars surrounding her. She was a perfect moderator as she seemed to know every detail of each of the shows and a great deal about each of the actors personal lives and endeavors. She gabbed with the stars as any big fan would. Galecki seemed quite humbled as he was congratulated for his very recent Emmmy nomination with a roaring round of applause.
Shameless piqued my interest as it sounds like a pretty raunchy drama involving an incredibly dysfunctional family – several times they proudly recalled William H. Macy getting peed on in the season finale. It seems like Malcolm in the Middle on crack (perhaps literally) for adults. However, I scoff at Showtime calling the show a “Showtime Original” when the series is clearly an Americanized version of the British version by the same name.
The second panel of the session was Homeland, from the writers of 24, a very 24-esque drama involving an American soldier thought to have died many years ago in Iraq, but recently found to be alive during a raid. He is brought home a national hero, but some suspect he may be working for the bad guys. Morena Baccarin, of Firefly and V fame stars as the soldiers wife. The sneak peek they had wasn’t too intriguing, and sending only one star to represent the show, it would seem even Showtime doesn’t expect it to be a hit.
Chrystie and I just finished watching all 5 seasons of Dexter, so it was great to see Dexter (Michael C. Hall), Masuka (C.S. Lee) and Batista (David Zayas). Colin Hanks was also on hand, unable to divulge much information on his role. They told us he would not be the seasonal villain, although the clips they showed made him out to be an ominous figure.
While taking questions from the audience Mos Def came to the microphone, he said he loved the show and asked if he could come on stage, and it was revealed that he would also be in the upcoming season.
In a humorous slip only a geek would get, an audience member mistakenly announced that their question was for C.S. Lewis (meaning C.S. Lee) and the crowd roared with laughter.
Was it worth four hours in the sun for the five panels? No, but we learned our Comic-Con lesson, get in line super early or don’t bother.
After the last panel of the day in Ballroom 20, we headed to dinner and passed people already camping out for the next days panels on the lawn next to the convention center. I have a feeling that some people don’t bother getting hotels for Comic-Con, they just sleep on the lawn – the low temperature for the nights was around 65 degrees that week, and they had the security of sleeping in a large group of people.
Stay tuned for Day 2…
See more of my photos from Comic-Con here.