San Diego Comic Con 2011

Posted 5 years, 18 weeks ago.

What can I say you guys… San Diego Comic Con 2011 was insane in almost every conceivable way that word could be applied to an event. I have seriously never stood in line for anything as much as I have for Comic Con, but every single time I entered a hall, and when I collected my tickets for 2012, there was an outstanding sense of accomplishment.

Having never been to a convention like this before, I learned a few things very quickly. Basically:

  1. Patience is a requirement. Basically everything has some sort of line or queue to get in: collecting passes, attending panels, buying toys, signings, going to the bathroom, getting out of line, getting into line, crossing the street, going to the bathroom again, collecting freebies, buying food and leaving San Diego. Embrace the spirit of “Line Con” and just assume that you’re there for the long haul; it’s a great chance to meet fellow geeks, catch up on some reading, and get a nice toasty sunburn.
  2. Be prepared for little to no sleep and food. In some cases, lines begin early (read: overnight), especially for Hall H, Ballroom 20 and the getting next year’s tickets. People seriously camped out for these panels (including us for the 2012 tickets) so don’t expect to be able to get a good night’s sleep and also attend things that are going to be popular. Eat when you get the chance, or at least stock up on things to snack on; it’s going to be a long night.
  3. Be prepared for both heat and cold. Carry deodorant, but also carry a jumper. It gets a little cold overnight (and Hall H was heavy on the air-con), but it also got warm outside, especially when queues stretched out into sunny areas. Overall the temperature wasn’t scorching, but it was warm enough to cause a sweat, and no one likes the guy who smells like he’s not showered since he arrived (more so if that actually happens to be the case).
  4. Don’t get upset if you miss out on the things you want. If you miss a panel, or the toy is sold out, get over it. I can pretty much guarantee that you will find something interesting if you walk around for a bit. So suck it up.

Really the whole experience boils down to one thing: don’t get caught up in the stress of it all. There is so much going on, so many people wanting to go somewhere, and so many things happening at once. So relax, chat to the people around you, make new friends, and enjoy yourself. The con is too short to let little things bother you.

Now… for those of you who wish to read my breakdown of my days, please read onwards!

Day 1

Our bus to San Diego arrived at our Anaheim hotel just after 9am, and we jumped on and headed southward. On the trip, I met my first Comic Con friend and we chatted about what we planned to get up to during our time there.

Once in San Diego, and safely checked into our hotel, we headed into downtown San Diego to post off a boxful of items we’d collected during our previous stops. We stuffed as much as we could into the biggest box we could find, and handed it off to the USPS.

From there, we headed up for lunch and then to see Cars 2 at the cinema. As a side note, I really enjoyed Cars 2; it was lots of fun, not to mention that Michael Caine is always pure win, no matter what the movie is.

We then headed to the convention centre, where we caught a shuttle and headed to our hotel for much needed internet access. Oh right, and sleep.

Day 2

The day started with us up early to catch the first shuttle (6am) to the convention centre, to firstly pick up our tickets, and to wander the floor a bit before heading to our first panel. As we headed to join the line, we found that it stretched around the back of the building and then along the water. We joined the queue and sat, meeting our second couple of Comic Con friends.

After a while we managed to make it into the exhibit hall, and as we filed in to the empty hall, we split up to wander the halls alone. I did a quick tour to locate all the booths that I wanted to visit over the next few days, and then attempted to get in line for a Delorian Hot Wheels toy (limited edition, oh yeah) before realising that it was next to impossible. The line had been capped, and they were only allowing people to join at set intervals. I gave up, and proceeded to wander a little more (visiting the webcomics booths and eventually joining back up with Mel) until we decided to head up to the Ballroom 20 line for the Psych panel.

Herein lay my first lesson of Comic Con. Even though we joined at around the time the panel before the one we wanted to attend was scheduled to go in, we found ourselves waiting for quite some time, and ended up missing Psych (Mel had some later panels she wanted to attend).

A little disappointed, I headed downstairs to the floor to wander some more, and decided to visit the QMx booth, where they had some really great toys. When I got there I noticed that one of the girls manning the booth was really quite pretty (and amazingly thin). Amazed at this, but not quite making the connection, I continued looking at the toys until it dawned on me that this lady was Sarah Shahi, the star of one of the many TV shows I watch (Fairly Legal). Noticing that the line was short, I jumped in and got a signature and a photo within 20 minutes.

After leaving the QMx booth (still marvelling about just how gorgeous Sarah Shahi is), I noticed that the line for the Mattel booth (where they were selling the Delorian toy) had shrunk quite a bit, so I asked about joining the queue. The (somewhat undelightful) security guy informed me that they were opening up the queue every hour or so, and that I would have to come back then. I decided my best bet was to wait near by, so I sat down in the lounge area nearby, in a seat where I had a decent view of the line gate. Within 15 minutes, they started letting people in, so I grabbed my stuff, and quickly walked over and (finally) joined the queue. Not long after, I walked away with a Delorian.

About this time I was carrying about as much as I possibly could, but I had at least one more thing to do. I found a seat in another lounge area and relaxed a little while I waited. At around 2:40, I headed towards the Oni Press booth where I got Brian Lee O’Malley to sign the first book in a Scott Pilgrim collection I picked up earlier in the day.

Content with my haul, I headed back to the hotel for the day (after grabbing some lunch at Café Diem), kinda tired, and carrying SO MUCH STUFF. Mel arrived back from her Game of Thrones panel (blech!) not long after.

Day 3

We got up and headed into the Convention Centre at around 8, thinking that we’d be safe getting into Ballroom 20 nice and early. Once again we were OH SO TOTALLY WRONG and found that the line stretched halfway to infinity.

We ended up missing the Big Bang Theory panel, but made it in in time for Eureka and Warehouse 13, both of which ended up being fantastic. On the way into the room, I passed Colin Ferguson (from the TV show Eureka) who smiled at me and greeted me the way you would greet a mate on the street. It was nothing more than that, but it completely made my day.

I left Mel in Ballroom 20 just before the True Blood panel began, and headed to start lining up for the following day’s 2012 Pre-Reg (essentially registering for tickets for 2012 Comic Con).

Scoring a place at around 25th or so in line, I waited until Mel finished up and arrived to take the first camping shift. I then went back to our room and got a few items, played with the internet and showered before heading back to the line to swap with Mel at around midnight.

Then the real test came: it got chilly overnight, and while I had brought along my jumper and long jeans, it wasn’t really enough to help with the cold and I only managed an hour or so of restless sleep.

Day 4

After that glorious hour of sleep, I shot the proverbial breeze with some of the others in the line until around 4 when we were told to gather our things and prepare to enter the Pre-Reg hall.

Mel arrived at around 5, and just in time too, as we were soon ushered into the hall to continue queuing (and I slept on the gloriously soft carpet) until just after 8, when we were allowed to head to the computers to process our tickets. We soon walked away in victory, having scored ourselves 4 day tickets with preview night, which are a rather rare commodity.

We then headed to Café Diem (it had some seriously good food) for breakfast where we met Courtney (the same one as from Anaheim) and Co. I then split from the group to re-attend Ballroom 20 while they went off and attended some panels in the Indigo Ballroom.

Linecon on this day was fantastic. The line moved quickly, and though I missed the Chuck panel, I managed to get in for the rest of the day, catching Terra Nova, Futurama, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, Vampire Diaries (super blech!), Fringe and finally Alcatraz. A lot of the panels were fantastic (especially Futurama and Family Guy) and I walked out totally wiped and ready for a good night’s sleep.

I met Mel outside the Fulfilment Room (which it turns out gives away the freebies for panels, it doesn’t fulfil life dreams) and afterwards we headed back to the hotel, showered and then collapsed into bed.

Day 5

Sadly, the final day of Comic Con, and possibly also the day of the best panels. We lined up outside Hall H for the Glee, Supernatural and Doctor Who panels. The line was long, but not long enough to keep us out, and we managed to get seats.

Eventually the extreme air-con got to us, but we managed to suck it up until after the Doctor Who panel, which is when we left, and headed out to the Exhibit Halls for one final tour of the booths. Afterwards, we headed into downtown San Diego to find lunch and then headed to the cinema we’d been to a few days prior to catch Captain America.

Captain America was a fun movie, and really the only criticism I have is just how plasticy the Red Skull makeup looked (what is this…. Toy Story?). Otherwise there were plenty of ‘splosions, lots of fun action and chase sequences, and plenty of the deadpan humour that Tommy Lee Jones is so good at.

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel, and I once again collapsed into bed for the night.

Day 6

Wait… that’s today! Today has been all about getting to Los Angeles for our final flight. We caught the Amtrak to downtown Los Angeles and then a bus from there to the airport. We’ve been sitting in the terminal ever since, and our flight takes off in a few hours, headed to Sydney.

Highlights

Comic Con 2011 was truly a great experience. Even with all the lining up and camping. I loved getting the chance to see some of the people I’ve admired on screen, even if it was from the back from a crowded hall.

I also managed to pick up a Wacom Cintiq much more cheaply than I would have from Australia, so that’s also a huge benefit. Really, all of the swag I managed to collect is stuff that I will enjoy for quite some time (assuming I get it home in one piece).

This stop was the last hurrah for our visit to the US, and it definitely has allowed our vacation to end with a bang. Fear not, America… we’ll be back before you know it!