Today is the day. After spending countless hours looking over exclusives, planning schedules, figuring out giveaways, and doing everything possible to prepare for this year’s Comic-Con, the event finally starts tonight. So, after all that, do I feel prepared? Not even close. I know I’ll forget something important, find out I missed something awesome, or never even hear about something even better. Inevitably, plans will go awry. It’s the nature of the beast, and it’s what makes Comic-Con both frustrating and unique in every single way. I’ve been to two Comic-Cons so far, and my favorite memories are all a result of something utterly unintentional and completely unexpected.
1. 2011 Ballroom 20 Madness
- What happens when you combine an extremely weak slate of movie previews with a complete lack of awareness of how popular television has become? Answer: a complete clusterfuck. In 2011, Hall H found itself struggling to fill seats for the film panels, while Ballroom 20’s TV sessions were packed to the brim. And the less said about Community being put into the Indigo Ballroom, the better. Seems shocking that Comic-Con goers would skip the panels for such great films as The Raven and The Immortals (*gag*), but that is what happened. Poor planning all around—including on my part, as I showed up to the line for the Game of Thrones panel at noon on Thursday. That line was my first real Comic-Con experience, and it will always be my favorite memory from SDCC. The line was endless, and reports of its numbers have grown again and again in the telling. On arrival, I spotted the endless Ballroom 20 line, and looked at the schedule to see the Game of Thrones Panel started in 4 hours. So into the line I went. What followed was an epic quest toward Ballroom 20. They wouldn’t let us sit down, barking at us like drill instructors. I watched as a thousand people left after the Psych panel (my heroes), allowing me to get into Game of Thrones just as the panel started. I can think of no better way to begin of my first Comic-Con than in a ridiculous line, riding patience to victory.
2. Dark Knight Poster Giveaway Contest
- At last year’s Comic-Con, Warner Brothers gave away a variant of Jock’s Mondo Dark Knight Poster. To win one, you needed to find the bat signal being displayed late one night during the Con and tweet a picture of it. Now I was not what you would call a tweeter (I’ve since made some progress), so I paid the contest no mind. That night, however, as I wandered San Diego looking for something to do, I ran into a group of old friends who were questing to find the bat signal. With a shrug, I joined them. The chase was on. What followed was completely surreal: one by one each of us was able to win a poster, including myself, until only one poor posterless bastard remained. We went to the final signal, hoping that the last of us would win as well. As the bat hit the night sky, the tweets went out… nothing. Disappointed, we were headed toward the poster pick-up spot when the only one of us with out a poster of any kind got the reply—he had won! Fortune favors the lucky, or something. Some times even wandering around aimlessly while at Comic-Con can lead to great things.
3. Fringe: The Final Panel
- Three Words: Free Observer Hat! Nothing else really needs to be said… but I will anyhow. Being in that room as all the characters said goodbye—characters I had grown to know and love over five seasons of Fringe—the emotions were. I remembered all over again why I want to make movies and television—to build and celebrate these kinds of connections, so rare and so powerful. As panelists began to cry—even Lance Reddick, who swore us all to secrecy–it was clear how truly special a show like this is, and how little time they ultimately spend with us. As the panel ended, the lights went up on thousands of people in gray Observer Hats, a surreal vision brought to life from imagination. We filed out of the hall, quiet, thinking about finality, and grateful for the love between the show and its fans, an appreciation everyone should have the chance to experience at least once in their life. RIP, Fringe: gone, but never forgotten.
These memories are so unique and special to me that I will treasure them forever. But Comic-Con isn’t about the past; it’s about the glorious future. It’s time to make new memories, have new experiences, and wander blindly into the awesome and unexpected. Onward, to San Diego, to Preview Night, and to a new adventure.