Saturday: MADNESS PART III: THE MADDENING
Oh. OH. Oh God. Oh God, why… With the Saturday morning sun came one wicked hangover, as the no food/all drinks combo hit me like a brick swinging a sack of bricks into a cannon that shoots bricks. Picture any zombie from the Walking Dead getting its skull blown out, and you'll have my morning; I was in rough, rough shape and still a tad drunk. Adding further insult to injury, Nikki and Lauren were fine, peachy even! They were up and gabbing at the crack of dawn as I lay unmoving in bed, praying for the sweet release of death.
Unfortunately, I couldn't allow myself to die, at least not yet. I still had some wristbands (!!!) to grab as my comics weren't going to sign themselves. Saturday was also the day we planned on unveiling our Avengers costumes to the con public, so taking it easy was out of the question. I'd like to say that I took all of this in stride; that I steeled my resolve and approached the day like a champ. I'd LIKE to say that…but that's not what happened. I was goddamn miserable, a walking curmudgeon who hated rainbows, puppies and the world at large. Thankfully, Nikki and Lauren were sympathetic to my plight and took charge in planning the morning. Sprawled across their shoulders like Frodo on Sam, we set off to the con.
Even now I can't quite remember the walk to the convention center, which makes our decision to save the costumes for later that day all the wiser. We got in line, and as soon as the doors opened we stampeded over to the DC booth to get our wristbands. Despite going there straightaway, by the time we joined the line it was already wrapped in one full circle AROUND ITSELF. I'd seen this before, where people seem to apparate out of the fucking void, but in my condition this was seriously upsetting. It wasn't looking good, and within minutes a plucky gal came over to announce that “all the wristbands have been given out, try back tomorrow!” To the moon, plucky gal…
Despite yet another setback, we remained optimistic in our quest. Our failure the day before had proved instructive, as this time Nikki and I had the foresight to bring our comics with us. Knowing that Snyder and Capullo would have multiple engagements throughout the day, we decided to camp out in one of the DC rooms in hopes of catching them after their Zero Year panel. For those who care (ie, everyone) Zero Year is the duo's take on Batman's origin story, set in the world of the nu52. It's kind of a big deal in comicdom right now, and the team sat in to tell us all about it. If you haven't guessed by now, I'm a bit of a Snyder fanboy. This panel only further bolstered my admiration for the man, as he spoke at length about what he was trying to accomplish and how much he revered the characters. I was as hungover as a man could be and still hung on his every word, enraptured by the passion that he and Capullo shared in their property. It was inspiring stuff, so much so that even Lauren (who's never read a lick of Batman) was pumped. And that’s not even the best part! At the end of the panel, Nikki and I bum rushed the stage along with the rest of the crowd, FINALLY coming away with those coveted autographs. Boomshockalocka!
Clutching our hard earned spoils, we raced back to the hotel to suit up (insert costume assembly montage here). As I pulled my mask over my face I was reminded of the immortal words of one Ron Burgundy; “I look good. Hey everybody! Come see how good I look!” Seriously, we looked awesome. While the Danger Girl costumes were fun, our Avengers gear was legit; we noticed the difference as soon as we hit the streets. We attracted, nay, COMMANDED attention, barely able to take 10 steps before yet another photo op. Lauren and Nikki were already used to this level of attention as they had worn these costumes the year before, but for me it was brand new and damn fun. We posed with kids, jumped into group shots, even took the stage in the Marvel Costume Contest. In fact, our costumes were so well received that IGN.com added us to their “Top Costumes of SDCC 2013” list, with Nikki cracking the top 10! That's going on the resumé.
The only drawback to our popularity was how much it impacted our con day. We wanted to strut our stuff, sure, but there were also a couple panels we wanted to get into. I personally wanted to make the Arrow panel, if only to start some shit with Ollie Queen over who was the better archer. We soon learned, however, that making panels was going to be difficult, as our constant start and stop pace made it hard to make it anywhere quickly. Obviously we could have denied photo requests, but the whole point of going all out was to represent some of our favorite characters in a way that would be appreciated. In the end, we decided to just enjoy the con floor and mingle with the other cosplayers. I was hoping to run into Matt Fraction (current writer of Hawkeye) but it wasn't to be; luckily, I was popular with a lot of his fans and by days end had met a lot of Hawkguy peeps. Cool, bro.
Exhausted but content, we met up with the dudes for our last dinner together. The trip had flown by, and before we knew it it was:
Sunday: MADNESS PART IV: AFTER MADNESS
Readers, Sunday sucks. The con itself is fine, though its definitely more kid oriented. No, Sunday sucks because it means the con is over, the bus has stopped and the party must come to an end. It's downright gloomy, kids. Still, we had one last day in San Diego and were determined to make the most of it. After an excellent breakfast at Brian's 24, we checked out of our hotel and loaded our treasures into the car. The business end done, we hit the con, each with different goals: Lauren had to pick up her commissions, Nikki needed to grab some gifts for various friends and coworkers, and I wanted to find something stupid and unnecessary to blow my remaining cash on.
This leads me to my final con tip; if at ALL possible, try and wait till Sunday to spend your money on extras. Walking the con floor, you're bound to see many books and prints and toys that will cause you to reach for your wallet, but if you wait till Sunday you'll likely be able to nab the same items at a discounted rate. Packing stuff sucks, and most retailers would prefer to leave the con with as little left over as possible. This can lead to some pretty sweet deals, and with that in mind we set out to hunt.
I'll spare you the narrative here (basically I walked in a lot of circles) and just say that my hunt was quite succesful. Not only did I get some discounted prints and figures, but I also got a copy of Daredevil signed by Mark Waid and a Marvel print signed by motherluvvin STAN LEE. Whoo! Old Stan has always had a spot on my comics bucket list, and at long last I had his scribble for my collection. Nikki also did quite well, getting an awesome array of prints and merch, and Lauren was incredibly happy with all of her personalized art. Still I was missing something, something stupid and unnecessary; enter Kevin and the gang! Meeting up for goodbyes, Kevin and I went off into the sales area one last time and came away with my stupid purchase of the con–a statue of Deadpool on a motor scooter. Yes, really. Kevin even got them to knock of 30 bucks!
Panels seen, merch bought, memories made; SDCC 2013 bowed its head and returned to the planet from which it came. We had looked forward to it all year and in a flash it was over, reality creeping over the horizon. Working on this retrospective has allowed me to really reflect on the con, and what it means to me. Yes, there's a certain amount of money tossing, bad food eating and general nuttiness that goes into it, but it's the little things that stand out. The con is a getaway, a place where nerds like me can be unabashed in their interests and wave their freak flags proudly. There's a sense of belonging, of being around like minded individuals who share in my excitement, and it can't be beat. I love the panels, the sneak peaks, the fleeting celebrity sightings, but for me the best part of the con is that everyone is so happy just to be there. Nikki, Lauren and I had an amazing time, and even at our most poor, our most tired, our most hungover–we wouldn't have traded the experience for the world.
Anyway, that's it! Hopefully by reading this you were able to gain a glimpse of what a week in con life is like, though by no means is that a cookie cutter view. The great thing about SDCC is that it's completely different for each person; you never know what you'll see around that corner, who you'll run into in the hall or just how drunk you can get off a few shots of whiskey. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all at SDCC 2014!
Looking for more cosplay photos? Check out my feature at comicattack.net here!