For the uninitiated, San Diego Comic Con can be a bit overwhelming. There’s simply so much to do and see, and while 5 days in paradise seems like enough, well, it’s not. SDCC 2013 marked my fifth year attending the con, and as always I was accompanied by my sister, Nikki, and my girlfriend, Lauren. 130,000 people (read:nerds) made the trip this year, and as one of those lucky few I wanted to detail a week in the life of a con-goer. Read on!
Wednesday: BEFORE MADNESS
If Comic Con could be described in one word, it’d be: expensive. Yes, it’s fun, mesmerizing, exhilarating, etc, but hot damn your wallet takes a beating. Knowing that, we tried to minimize our overall food/utility costs in order to maximize our junk and bitchin’ merch purchases. Hotel wants to charge $50 a night for an air mattress? Buy your own. A slice of pizza is $5? Make a sandwich and bring it with. Having been on this rodeo before, Wednesday was spent stocking up on the necessary essentials. We made a list of what we needed, checked it twice, and then headed to San Diego for Preview Night.
The con technically runs from Thursday thru Sunday, but for those who have a 4 day badge an extra day is tacked on; Preview Night. It’s only for a few hours Wednesday evening, 6-9pm, but it allows badge holders to get in the day before the madness begins. This may not seem like much, but when you’re trying to track down hard to find exclusives every extra hour counts. The plan was to get down to SD early, check into our hotel, and get to the convention center before 6pm to get a jump on the exclusives. Ah, best laid plans…
Upon arriving in SD we hit our first snag of the trip; Lauren had lost her driver’s license. This was a huge boo boo, as a valid photo ID (with coinciding address) is required in order to obtain your badge. This discovery led to many “OH NOES, WHYYYY, WTF??” conversations, but eventually we put a plan together and hustled over to the nearest DMV. TWO HOURS later, Lauren gets her ID and we’re off to the hotel. Fun!
Finding a hotel in SD during Comic Con can be an arduous task, as you’re competing with thousands and thousands of others for primo spots. Luckily, Lauren was on the job and found us a sweet place in the heart of the Gaslamp District. It was a bit pricey, but being only seven blocks from the convention center paid huge dividends as we were able to easily come and go for costume changes and merch drop-offs. Licenses acquired, bags dropped, we were at the con by 6:30. Aaaand…it was nuts. Preview Night is considered “lighter” in terms of overall crowds, but this was one of the busier nights we’d ever seen. We quickly initiated “Operation Get Stuff,” moving from booth to booth looking for the sweet, sweet exclusives. I had hoped to obtain a good chunk of my planned purchases Wednesday to get them over with, but alas many had the same plan and I walked away with just one. Still, Preview Night allowed us get a lay of the land as we prepared for:
If you suffer from claustrophobia, agoraphobia, or a fear of cooties–SDCC will test you. Crowds of people clog the streets, eventually combining into one mass that slowly creeps up and down the con floor. Thursday marked the first full day of the convention and it was a doozy. We had decided early on that our cosplay days would be Fri and Sat, so Thursday was Merch Madness. I had already taken care of the Diamond exclusives, which left Funko, Entertainment Earth, Hasbro, and Factory Entertainment. Those that know me know I take my toys pretty seriously. So when I’m hunting for figures, I am HUNTING. The problem is, you never really know what will be popular at any given time. The Hasbro booth is pretty much guaranteed to be a fuck fest, but the other booths were unknowns going into Thursday.
Well, I learned pretty quickly that Funkos have a MASSIVE following, as within minutes the line was wrapped around a few hundred people long. In those instances you have to make a choice; do you sacrifice precious con time on one particular item (in this case a Walking Dead POP!) or do you try and retrieve others off the list? We opted for the latter, moving onto the (slightly) shorter EE line where I came out with two naked Brock Sampson’s. Another hour yielded another find (Archer‘s Pam dolphin puppet) and I was feeling good.
The window to Funko and Hasbro closed, the girls and I moved onto our other passion; art. SDCC’s Artist Alley features an amazing lineup of new and proven talent, offering everything from signed prints to completely personalized commissions. It’s great getting to talk up close and personal with these creators, as you get to share in their passion for what they do. As we walked through the aisles, our money came tumbling out; a print here, a sketch there. We love our art, and by days end we had commissioned a number of works by some truly talented artists. Still, there are some artists who are a wee bit popular these days, and to get stuff signed by them you need to get in line. A long line. Nikki, Lauren and I are all huge fans of J. Scott Campbell, he of the magnificent females, and every year we mob his booth. This year was particularly special, as Nikki had requested we cosplay as his creator owned team, Danger Girl. Today wasn’t cosplay day, however, so Lauren opted to get some more prints and a sweet calendar. Damn J. Scott and his money taking abilities!!
Our wallets lighter, we left Artist Alley in search of free stuff. We stopped at various booths, talking with creators, checking out upcoming games and tv shows, marveling at the newest slate of toys. SDCC is a like a visual orgasm, and baby, it was good. Eventually we made it over to the publishing area, which is a great place to meet the cream of the comics crop. I had brought some comics to get signed by certain artists and writers (yes, I’m that guy) and I was hoping I’d chance upon a few in the signing line. I soon realized, however, that there was a new wrinkle to the signing process–wristbands. That’s right; no more walking up, “here’s my book, thanks for the memories.” To meet some of the higher profile creators you had to get to the booth in the early AM to grab a wristband that would allow you to get something signed later that day. Yeahbuwhaa? I had seen this process before, but it was usually reserved for celebrities, not comic folk. Still, with the ever present push in social media I suppose creators are celebrities now, and that’s a bitch for a tadpole like me. Dejected, I did the Charlie Brown shuffle of shame and promised myself I’d get that wristband tomorrow. Knowing that the following day would be even nuttier, the gang and I opted to leave a bit earlier in order to steel ourselves for:
You’ll have to wait and see! Stay tuned for part 2!