So updates got out of hand really quickly. I apologize. A combination of a packed schedule and spotty Internet made it very difficult to get anything up. So this post will cover Thursday’s, Friday’s, and Saturday’s various highs, lows, and everything in between while another post will cover Sunday’s activities and a wrap-up.
Things got off to a good, albeit rushed, start. My group and I were able to get the rest of the exclusives we wanted for ourselves and our friends and family. After preview night found the exhibit hall packed to the brim, Thursday actually offered a welcome relief. While still crowded, the floor wasn’t packed to anywhere near the degree I expected. This allowed easy movement for the most part and made the day a solid experience. I had to move quickly, however, as I scheduled an early morning appointment to give blood, which I do every year at Comic-Con. Always a good experience, it serves a good cause and nets me some nice goodies, too. This time it took longer than usual, as a shortage of my blood type prompted a call to action by the staff for people to give double red donations (double the amount of normal red blood cells, but every other part is returned to you). For those that have never done this, the only thing to note is that when the other parts of your blood are returned to your body (along with saline to keep you hydrated), it is absolutely freezing. A chill goes through your entire body, and you get very cold, very quickly. If you are not prepared, it can be a miserable experience. I managed, though, and soon it was back for more con-ing.
Big props to my friend RJ for helping me acquire Drew Struzan’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 poster from the DreamWorks panel while I was giving blood. The poster is absolutely beautiful, and signed, too, so I was very happy to get it. Another pleasant surprise was the accidental discovery (while in line at Fox for a poster tube) of a booth with beautiful spray painted artwork depicting various characters from cartoons, anime and video games. The pieces were fantastic, full of detail, craft, and color. I would highly recommend this booth to anime and cartoon fans. I can’t wait to get the Full Metal Alchemist, Shingeki, and Pokemon prints I bought there framed and up on my wall.
The rest of my day was a mixed bag. Naively trusting the words of a BBC America booth worker caused me mismanage my time and arrive too late to use my ticket for the Sherlock signing—and just the failed attempt caused me to miss two panels I really wanted to go to. Then more mismanagement caused me to arrive too late for the Hannibal panel, so things were a little shaky at that point. Still, Comic-Con always delivers in one way or another, so I took the time to enjoy going through the Dracula experience hosted by NBC, followed by a screening for the new Starz show Black Sails, which will premiere next spring. The creators were there, as well as some cast and crew, and I have to say it was a great time. The show has a lot of potential, and I can’t wait to see it when it premieres. Thursday was a frustrating day for sure, but it ended on a high note.
Friday was a real bummer. I always knew that one year, the Hall H line would be so outrageous that camping out overnight would be necessary in order to get inside. It seems that day has come. The one panel I wanted to see above everything else at Comic-Con was the Game of Thrones panel; it’s always been an enjoyable time and come with great swag to boot. This year, the panel was set to start at 2:50 PM, so we arrived at the end of the line at 6:30 AM. While I thought there was a chance we could get into earlier panels, I only cared about getting into Game of Thrones. Based on how Hall H had gone during the last two Comic-Cons, I believed we would make it. Things started out grim as we made our way to the end of a seemingly endless line, but once it was properly consolidated and they opened up the hall in the morning, the line moved fairly quickly. By the time the first panel started, we were in the final tent before Hall H, just waiting for two groups of people beside us to be let in before our group could proceed. As close as we were, it seemed like we had to get in at some point, as people normally leave the hall through attrition over the course of the day. This year they didn’t. Panel after panel came and went, and no one really left Hall H all day. Everyone in line stayed in the same spot for hours. There would be small glimmers of hope at certain points—everyone standing up as the front of the line seemed ready to move—but invariably only three or four people would get to go in, leaving the rest of us to sit back down, our hopes dashed. Finally the Game of Thrones panel began, and we were still outside. Almost nine hours of waiting was for nothing.
Defeated, we left the line. Trying to salvage the day, I went to try to go to the Falling Skies panel, which was something I was at least interested in seeing. Thank goodness for that panel. It was fun, relaxing, a breath of fresh air. It certainly lightened my mood significantly. Then it was back to the floor for some minor shopping and swag-collecting, followed by the Drew Struzan panel discussing the new documentary about his life. Listening to Struzan telling stories was fascinating and enlightening, and I was even able to get another How To Train Your Dragon 2 poster, which was a nice surprise. The night ended with a great dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with friends. Friday proved once again that Comic-Con is a beast that cannot be tamed. No matter how much you prepare, it can always bite you when you aren’t looking. But as bad as Friday started, it ended well.
After a stressful Friday in which little got done, Saturday was the polar opposite. I tried to do as much as possible, rushing into the Exhibit Hall in the morning to grab as many signing tickets and as much swag as possible. Free books from the Penguin Table, posters and other goodies from the Lionsgate booth (whose line management continued to be suspect at best), a ticket for the Lego raffle, and small art pieces purchased from various artists around the floor. I didn’t want to waste any time on Saturday, so I always tried to keep moving. Eventually I was pretty exhausted, and tried to get into the Grimm panel, mostly so I could sit down for a while. Happily, I was able to not only get into the panel (which was a fun time for all), but I was also able to get back to the floor in time to get into a signing I thought I would miss.
Not all went perfectly, as the Orphan Black signing ended just as the show’s creators and stars came into view. Undeterred, I returned to collecting swag, and by the end of the day I had secured quite a haul.
Once the hall closed, I went to the Best and Worst Manga of 2013 panel, which was very entertaining and gave me some great suggestions on new manga to read (or avoid). I also gave the video playback room for the Hall H and Ballroom 20 panels a shot. The playback room is a great idea in theory, but in practice it can get quite frustrating, as you’re not allowed to see any of the exclusive footage played during the panel. This is especially a problem if the playback room crowd decides it wants to watch movie panels, which are so heavily clip based that it’s hard to get a real sense of what’s going on. TV panels rely less on clips and more on panelist interaction, but my room was determined to watch the movie panels. The Marvel panel was entertaining, and I can say it did a great job of making me wish I had waited in line to get in. Loki’s appearance on stage was especially clever, and I could feel the electricity of the crowd even through the video playback. After Marvel ended, Fox began, but my interest had waned. I called it a night and headed back to the hotel to pack in preparation for the final day of the con.
Check back for my final post, featuring Sunday’s activities, photos, and overall reflections about Comic-Con 2013.