Two Man Weave: SDCC Round Up: Part 3

In All, Conventions by David

We are back with the third part of our Two Man Weave Round Up, in which Kyu and I discuss all the highs, lows, and middles of SDCC 2014. Last time we ended with Kyu asking if I had any stories to relay that might equal those he divulged about his experience with the David Fincher panel.

David: Hmm. I don’t have any stories as good as David Fincher talking about being awesome, but I guess I have some personal stories of futility and triumph that will suffice. Let’s start with my continued misadventures with the signing lines. Last year’s success with the Community signing is the exception; every other year I have failed at getting into a signing session. I’ve wasted so much of my precious time in these lines for nothing. To be fair, this year I didn’t actually ever make getting into one of the signing sessions an absolute priority. Both days I tried, I actually went to get tickets from the Bandai line first (where I was at least able to get a guarantee purchase for one of their exclusives). Still, I erred both days in what I selected. The first day I decided to go with WB over Fox, even though Fox was a shorter line, because I liked every single one of the WB shows on offer (compared to two of Fox’s). For a while, it looked like I would be fine. While I chatted with line buddies, we made slow but steady progress toward the front of the line… and then about four shows ran out all at the same time. Once that happened, the remaining two went away in blazing speeds, so I was left without a chance to even draw for signings. The next day I decided to go with Fox over WB, but that also proved to be a mistake; Fox’s drawings started much later than WB’s, so while WB’s finished in about thirty minutes, I had to wait another hour or so for the Fox booth to even start. This line moved much slower than the WB line yesterday, and with only three shows available for signing, spots were limited. I listened to the people in front of me complain about a lot of stuff, which got annoying rather quickly, but eventually we made it to the last couple of sections. The door was in sight! The final section beckoned like the light at the end of the tunnel! And then, of course, that light was snuffed out, as spots for the signings ran out when I was about 15 people away from going inside to draw a ticket. Alas.

Lines, lines, and more lines...

Lines, lines, and more lines…

Then there was the Lego line. The Lego mini-figure line is probably run better than anything else at SDCC. The line is long, and you do have to accept that you will likely be in line for an hour or two, but the line is constantly moving and completely fair. This year the fairness was taken to a new level. Everyone lines up and walks toward a designated area. A staff member will eventually scan your badge (so you can only participate once per day), and then there are two more people with iPads. You walk up, press a button, and the cop character from the Lego movie appears. If he’s Good Cop, congrats! You win an exclusive mini-figure. If it’s Bad Cop, sorry, you will have to try again for a different prize. Sure, it’s completely based on chance, but there is no preferential treatment for those that get in line first. As long as there are figures, everyone has a 50/50 chance of winning. I’m not saying I want the entire con to run this way, but it’s a refreshing departure from the punishing first-come, first-served systems you’ll find elsewhere. This year’s mini-figures were Bard from The Hobbit, The Collector, Batman, and Unikitty. On Saturday I got in line, my head full of dreams, and made slow progress as the sun beat down on me (I really, really should have remembered to bring sunscreen to the con). My long trek ended with failure, Bad Cop’s sneer mocking my dehydration. Undeterred, I returned on Sunday to try again. This trek would be even more high stakes, as I skipped all the panels I wished to see on Sunday just so I could be in this line. Failure would be especially painful. Exhausted and ready to go home, as SDCC was winding to a close, I walked in line until I once more earned my chance. This time I was met with—success! I won the Unikitty mini-figure. This tale of hope and chance may not be as cool as those Fincher stories, but it means a lot to me. It felt good to finally win something. (Even if my time in line is probably one of the things that contributed to me feeling so sick that evening.) Compounding my good fortune was the news that I won a Blood Drive raffle for the first time, getting myself a really nice new set of dice.

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Sweet, sweet success.

Still, I know what you really want to know about: the Masquerade. Usually, I don’t bother trying to go, as the cosplay aspect to SDCC isn’t really my thing. While I enjoy seeing the costumes that others make, I don’t care to dress up myself, and I don’t go to SDCC or cons in general to see other attendees. That said, when a friend of a friend offered me a ticket this year, I figured I should give it a shot at least once. Things got weird when my group decided not to bother going into Ballroom 20, where the Masquerade is held; instead we headed to Sails Pavilion, where there was food and a big screen for watching the Masquerade. Hey, nothing wrong with free food. Then the Masquerade started, and, well, it’s, umm… something. The event is some sort of weird hybrid between cosplay contest, talent show, and skits. A contestant walks up in cosplay, and performs something either related to what they are cosplaying or something else entirely. The result this year was loads of contestants cosplaying and performing Frozen (not surprisingly, quite a popular choice), a wrestling ring skit that involved introducing Deathstroke and Deadshot as if they were about to wrestle in the WWE, a comedic spoof of Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” called “I’ll Make a Fan Out of You,” and so much more. I was never entirely clear exactly what qualities were being judged. Did the cosplay costume matter the most? The performance? Or some combination of both? What I can say is that the Masquerade is very unique as far as con events go, and I am glad I got to experience it once. When the Masquerade was over, it was time to party! SDCC through a dance party for everyone in Sails Pavilion, so even though I was exhausted, I danced as much as I could. I had a great time there before my friend and I headed off to meet some of his cosplayer pals at the Hilton. Our late night took a funny turn, as we met various people who are heavily involved in the cosplay scene, and even saw Sam Witwer, who starred in Being Human and Smallville. And in an awesome coincidence, we even met up with people we had sat with in line on a previous day, so it was fun to catch up and see how their Comic-Con had gone.


The world of the Masquerade is a strange, wondrous place.

All and all, it was a fun night, but if I could do it again, I wouldn’t have gone to the Masquerade. Instead, I would have gone to the WB Showcase in Hall H. The showcase had great swag bags, and showed three pilots of upcoming WB-based shows (The Flash, Constantine, and Gotham), plus a lot of the stars of the shows were there to watch along with the fans. Some of my other friends went to that, and it sounds like it just would have been a better choice for Saturday. I was so exhausted by that point that partying probably wasn’t the wisest move. Still, that’s SDCC for you. You always have to make choices. The choices are never necessarily good or bad, but they do force you to give something up in order to do something else. My biggest regret this year is that I didn’t head to as many of the off-sites as I had originally intended to. The line for the Gotham zipline was always too long, and I never got a chance to head to the off-sites by Petco Park, like the Sin City exhibit. I think I really would have enjoyed them, but you can never do everything at SDCC, so that’s just how it is. What about you, Kyu? What was your greatest disappointment and/or missed opportunity at this year’s con? Would you have done anything differently if you could have redone your time there?

Kyu: If only I had a mushroom, I could re-do it all… (Seconds reference!) I could skip trying to get into the Archer panel. (What was I thinking, only getting there three hours early? /sarcasm) I could bring more water and snacks this time, instead of being forced to go without or, as I did more often than not, waste ridiculous amounts of money on con food ($3.50 for a bottle of water? Piracy’s been illegal for a while now, SDCC). With enough research, I could re-attend the entire con in state of perfect prescience, Edge of Tomorrow-ing my way through every line, dodging the slowest cosplayers, getting up front and center for every surprise giveaway, winning every trivia contest, buying all the right exclusives. But of course, I can’t do that. Magic mushrooms don’t exist.

Which leaves us with what? A four-day marathon of opportunity cost evaluations. Nothing will clarify your fandom level more than a split-second decision between panels. What do I care about more, video game history or Quentin Tarantino? Would I rather have the chance of finding something amazing on the floor (hidden cost: claustrophobia) or the certainty of seeing the Community panel (hidden cost: having to watch Under the Dome)? How much did I really like the second season of Orphan Black? Enough to fight the crowds, cross the center, and wait in line until my eyes bleed? I discovered this year where my priorities were, and they weren’t in exclusive footage or tons of swag. Most of all, what I wanted was to listen to people I admired talk about their creations. I wanted to enjoy myself, sure. But I think I also felt hungry for that inspiration I talked about in our last post. I mean, when you go to these panels there are dozens or hundreds or thousands of people with you, and in all but the smallest rooms the panel is being filmed and the video is being broadcast on a screening hanging on the wall or above the seats so you can see the people you’ve come to see in person on television instead. Again and again this year, I forced myself to look at the real human beings in real space, right over there, even if they were far away from me. I think I did that to prove to myself that they were real, and so was I; that they were people, just like me. In my own way, I could do what they’ve done. You just have to evaluate the opportunity costs, to give up something you want to do for something you want to do more. Is there anything I want to change about my Comic-Con experience? There still aren’t magic mushrooms. But hopefully I can be in a better place by the time I’m heading to next year’s con. What about you, David? Is there something you got wrong at this year’s SDCC that you’re hoping to do different in 2015?

David: Hmm, now that’s a question to ponder. What about next year? We’ll discuss that in more in the final part of our SDCC Round Up. Until then, I’ll leave you here with more photos from our guest photographer, RJ.

Monopoly’s Uncle Pennybags sure has changed over the years.

It all makes sense now! No wonder Waldo and Carmen Sandiego were so hard to find.

Quite the trio indeed.