by Karen Veazey
So Much to See, So Little Time
A tweet from film and television composer Bear McCreary sums up the last day of Comic Con for everyone, “Comic Con exhaustion setting in… Still… Must… See… More…” Sunday is children’s day so the panels were dedicated to programming from Cartoon Network, Disney and Nickelodeon, and panels on topics like “Science Fiction in Education” and “Heroes for the Middle Grade Reader.” The few television panels for adults included the shows Fringe, Supernatural, and Sons of Anarchy.
A fan tribute during the Fringe panel reminded me of another spiritual theme popping up in mainstream entertainment (see yesterday’s blog post for more on this.) Early in the series, John Noble’s character Walter said he would know of God’s forgiveness by the presence of a white tulip. As the cast took the stage for their last visit to Comic Con – the final season launches September 28th – fans greeted them with a sea of white tulip drawing. A touching farewell to this brilliantly written mindbender of a show, and interesting proof that spiritual themes can have lasting resonance even in mainstream entertainment.
The Exhibit Hall
My one goal today was to get through the exhibit hall, which is no small feat since the thing is 460,000 square feet of sensory overload. Here you can buy every imaginable collectible – this year’s hot item was a limited edition Super Helicarrier from The Avengers – browse rows of independent authors and publishers, or test out the latest games and gaming technology. Artist’s Alley is an area set aside for independent graphic artists who sell their pieces or, for a donation, will draw in your sketchbook. The talent is considerable and I always find several new artists and authors of interest.
Autographs and giveaways are big business in the exhibit hall, generally hosted by the movie studios or television networks. For the most popular autograph sessions a line will form hours prior and will be capped at a few hundred people. Standing in line in the hall isn’t easy; the crowd will jostle and push and you’ll be slammed by backpacks and costume weaponry, so think hard about how important those autographs are to you!
When you pick up your badge for the Con, they give you a massive bag that will become your best friend in the exhibit hall. This thing could hold children (do not try that at home.) I’ve seen it made into a dress. In the bag will go every business card, flyer, pamphlet, and free comic that will be shoved into your hands as you walk through the hall. I only mention this because these things are fantastic and Comic Con is the only place you can get them!
Because I’m on a budget, and I don’t want to carry things home in my luggage, I only allow myself small purchases in the exhibit hall. Last year it was a set of twittering Tribbles, this year a limited edition R2D2 necklace charm that will remind of the fun of the Con every time I wear it. And a few books, I mean how could you pass up an animated book called Darth Vader and His Son?
Griping Back to the Con
For years we’ve said we should attend the feedback panel that closes out the Con and this year we finally did. It’s always kind of surprising to hear what people complain about. Some good suggestions were made to help handle the massive overflow of people who can’t get in to see the panels they want in Hall H and Ballroom 20, but the Con organizer (I think I’ll call him Oz) seemed skeptical about the logistics. Someone with some obvious computing background offered to help set up a way to broadcast the most popular panels over the convention center wifi, so people in line could watch. Suggestions ranged from the silly – lower the seat protectors in the bathroom so kids could reach them – to the very serious. The vast majority of complaints came from people with isolated complaints about contracted security staff, or those asking for improvements in arrangements for the disabled. Overall, not bad for a non-profit organization that has to please 120,000 attendees and myriad studios, exhibitors, celebrities and contractors. Yes, Comic-Con is a non-profit, founded in 1970 to create awareness and appreciation of the popular arts. I think they’ve succeeded.
If You’re a Gamer
While there are gaming opportunities in the exhibit hall the booths are busy and crowded; if you’re a gamer you’ll definitely want to go offsite. The Sega Arcade transformed the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, BioWare featured Mass Effect 3 at the Hilton Gaslamp and a cool new addition called Shiftylook offered video game classics like PacMan and Galaga. Keep in mind, all of this is FREE, with perhaps an email address required to sign up for their mailing list. You don’t even need a Comic Con badge to participate in these offsite opportunities. The Hard Rock Hotel also had gaming suites set up with tons of game opportunities but I never made it over there to check it all out.
The one offsite event I’m sorry I didn’t make it to was the blood drive, which is in its 36th year. The event has found the perfect sponsor in the HBO show True Blood, and everyone who donates is treated to t-shirts and goodie bags, plus the enjoyment of doing something nice.
Comic Con is bursting at the seams and there were so many more fun things that I just couldn’t get to. Marvel ran a scavenger hunt game called Item 47, related to a special feature included on the upcoming DVD. Tim Burton presented “The Art of Frankenweenie” exhibition as a special behind the scenes look at his next film. That’s the fun of Comic Con and part of what keeps me coming back – it’s never stale.
A few things in the film world you’ll be hearing more about over the coming year:
Warner Brothers – Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Man of Steel, The Hobbit
Marvel – Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant Man, Guardians of the Galaxy
Sony – Total Recall, Looper, Elysium
What to look out for on TV:
Defiance – Syfy’s new game/show hybrid, which can be enjoyed on one or both mediums
Revolution – NBC, what happens when the lights go out? The world 15 years after technology has failed us.
Arrow – CW, based on DC Comics Green Arrow series
And the final rules of Comic Con:
8. Schedule well. For some autographs you must arrive early in the morning (well, like 9am, so early to me) and go through a lottery process for tickets to a signing held later in the day. Before the con starts, find out what opportunities are available for signings and schedule appropriately. Nothing worse than finding out your FAVORITE STAR is signing six feet away from you and you can’t get an autograph.
9. Don’t take it all home. When you go through the exhibit hall you will be able to pick up paraphernalia at every booth and table. Then you either lug fifteen extra pounds of posters, buttons and promo cards home or you pay oodles to FedEx it. Go back to your hotel each night and clean out your bag, deciding if you really want to keep each thing. Everything is exciting in the moment, but most of it, if you run across it in a drawer six months from now you’ll toss it without a second thought.
10. Leave the Con. You’re in one of the most beautiful cities in America. Take some time to get away from the convention center and downtown and sit in one of the lovely parks lining the Embarcadero. Visit the zoo or tour the Midway (aircraft carrier) museum. It helps, and gives perspective on the mayhem, to breathe fresh air, sit in a quiet place and listen to the waves.
And with that, I close out another wonderful Con and wander off to stick my toes in the sand!