We are back with the finale 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 what I would do differently at next year’s SDCC, or just generally what I am looking forward to.
David: Ahh, that is always the question. What will you do differently at next year’s SDCC? What do I look forward to doing? Broadly, something new. Each year I try to mold the focus of my con experience toward something different. The first year I went, for example, was all about panels, while the next was more about the floor. Last year was about making sure I got into a signing, while this year I tried to do as much of everything as possible. So what about next year? Well, I would really like to take even more advantage of the stuff happening around SDCC, whether that be off-sites or late night events. This year I was able to stop by Nerd HQ for the first time, and though I wasn’t there for long, it was really cool. There were couches, tons of cool photo opportunities, sweet swag (including an awesome Guardians of the Galaxy poster), and a totally different feel compared to SDCC proper. I didn’t really make an effort to buy tickets to any of the panels at Nerd HQ, which are apparently just awesome people like Nathan Fillion or the cast of Orphan Black talking about whatever for an hour or so. The talks sell out pretty quickly, but I would really like to try and go to one next year if I can.
Along the same lines, this year was the first time I went to a night event, Funko Fundays. In case you’re not plugged into the weird world of pop culture merchandising, Funko is a company that makes figures based on all sorts of movies, TV shows, and other fandoms. Their following is huge, so much so that I never got into the Funko booth the entire time I was there until they were essentially out of stock. I’m not the biggest fan of them in general, but I do like a lot of their figures (including the Exclusive Glow-In-The-Dark White Lantern Flash I got this year), and the event promised lots of swag, free food, and drink tickets. Getting to the event wasn’t easy, as the hotel Fundays was being held in was much farther away than I expected. Still after navigating a hotel with many towers, I finally got to where I needed to be. After checking in, I was given a Mystery Fun Box full of three special Freddy Funko Pops. Then I entered a room brimming with people sitting, eating, and conversing. Being by myself (the tickets sell out quickly, so I had to grab one before I could get anyone to go with me), I searched for a table that seemed friendly enough to let a random person sit with them. After some time, I found one near the back, and I definitely chose wisely, as everyone at the table was awesome and we all had a great time. After getting food and drinks, the event started, and it was intense. Funko has grown quite a bit over the years, and they revel in how much their fans love their products (maybe a bit too much–they go out of their way to really encourage and reward fanaticism, but I suppose there are worse things a company can do). Finally it was time for the giveaways… oh lord, so many giveaways.
The first involved about 2,000 colored stress balls. The blue ones were duds, but any other color gave a special prize. When first introduced, I thought it was a clever system, as I expected people to walk around with buckets of stress balls letting attendees draw one or two until the buckets were empty. Yeah, no. Instead, a group of workers just started throwing the balls into the crowd. As you can imagine, this was an intense experience. People were diving to the ground, trying to grab as many balls as possible. The people in front greatly benefited, not only because the throwers concentrated on them more, but also because many times even when they tried to throw to the back, the balls would just hit the ceiling and return to the front. Eventually, workers moved to the back and started throwing more to us. There was a scramble, and I found a green ball with “proto” on it. Later I locked eyes with a thrower and he launched a ball right at me. I jumped and caught it, and then threw it to a tablemate who had had much more trouble getting to a ball. It, too, was a green ball, so I was pleased. At one point a whole bucket was thrown with a yellow ball in it, but someone else must have grabbed it in the mad scramble. Finally it was time to see what we won.
The green balls meant we got a Pop figure prototype, an early version to test before the figure is mass-produced. They were all laid out on a table, which was somewhat of a clusterfuck. People rushed towards it without any real order, and then grabbed a proto figure. I walked up calmly and waited until they let me go to the table. Seeing as I don’t know a ton about Funko figures, I wanted to see everything that was on the table before grabbing one. Apparently, that is a far greater sin than running up to be the first to grab something before someone else can get it, so I got yelled at for taking to long. They told me to grab something or lose my prize, so I grabbed a figure without choosing, and walked back. Not one of my friends know which character my proto was supposed to be, so it became a great mystery until I was finally able to ascertain the figures identity on the very helpful Funko Fanatic forum (the answer turned out to be Tate, from season one of American Horror Story). Still, it is a cool figure, and it’s better to win something then nothing. Oh, and that yellow ball I saw? It was for Can-O-Corn: each person is given a can of corn, and they then have a choice. They can either trade the corn in for a semi-rare figure, or chug it for a super rare figure. Everyone who got one chugged it, of course, because, come on, super rare figure.
I got lucky again later, when the workers were just handing out the rest of the figures to people in the crowd at random. One of them handed off a My Little Pony proto to me like a football, so I claimed another prize. Many of the other giveaways were geared more toward people who were already massive collectors, much to the disappointment of everyone at my table. The event was still amazingly fun, though, and a very different way to spend one of my nights at SDCC. Being in the belly of the Funko beast was certainly strange, but seeing the passion of both the fans and the creators was a unique experience. I met a lot of new people, too, and that is something I always want to do at Comic-Con, where there are so many cool people to meet if you only give them a chance. I definitely plan to go back next year, and hopefully I can go to even more events like Fundays as well. Too often at SDCC you get trapped in a very specific path. You go after exclusives, or only try to get into the big panels, or only do autographs, and so you don’t really get to experience everything SDCC has to offer. I want to continue to venture onto new paths so I can gain as many unique experiences as possible. That is also why next year I don’t plan on trying to do Hall H on either of the big traffic days.
Last year’s attempt to get into the Game of Thrones panel was a disaster where we waited outside for nine hours and still didn’t get in. This year we camped out and made it. That vindication made it worth the effort, but I don’t think I need to do it again. If I am going to camp, it is so I can get up front in panels in other halls and like you, Kyu, actually see the panelists as more than just talking heads on a screen. I agree that seeing them as people and not simply larger than life icons that you can never reach is the only way to achieve one’s goals going forward. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will have taken giant steps toward being a creator of my own, and when I do, I want to be able to look my fellow creators in the eye. Also, I will get into one of those autograph signings again, dammit! I will not be denied!
Are you looking forward to anything in particular at next year’s Comic-Con, Kyu? Are there any goals you want to achieve so that you can treat it more like a vacation this time?
Kyu: Whether I’ll have anything to look forward to definitely depends on what goals I’ve accomplished in the interim. I know I’m going back next year, because I want to do the con at least once with my brother, who has never been. But if not for that, I’m not sure I’d go back. Last year I remember I was starting to get a little down on Comic-Con; I enjoyed it but I was starting to feel diminishing returns, I think. Still, and you can go back and read my post, I concluded anyway that it was worth it to go again this year. My stance on the issue has changed a little. Partially because of the way the con has shifted over the years, but also because of the way me and my situation have changed. In the end, I’m just not sure I can sit there again and look at people who reached out and grabbed the brass ring I never caught. This time I either go there because I have made progress, and treat it like a vacation and just enjoy my time there, or I stay home. No half-measures.
It may seem silly to some of our readers (what readers, ha ha) that this ridiculous event is so meaningful to me. But it speaks to the core of who I am and what I want out of my life. I know there are people out there, plenty of people, who don’t make things. They go to work, they watch television, they raise families. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But I’ve told myself all my life that that’s not what I’m going to be—that I will make a contribution beyond existing and enjoying. That’s what SDCC means to me. It embodies that tension between the part of me that wants to make a movie (or a comic, or a game, or…) and the part of me that would rather watch one. In its purest, most distilled form, Comic-Con is about love. If all I ever do is send love, if all I ever amount to are the people in costumes or the fans clapping and cheering or the guy waiting in line all day to see his heroes up on the stage, then, good time or no, I’ve failed myself. I’m not just going to be the person who sends that love. I’m going to be the person who earns it. So next year that’ll be me. I won’t be on stage. But I won’t mind that anymore. 11 months and counting.
David: A noble goal indeed, Kyu, one hopefully both of us will have achieved by next year. Well, that’s it for SDCC coverage for 2014. As always, it was a blast, but I am glad to have been able to sleep again. Still, I can’t wait until next year’s edition. Until then, I’m off trying to make something of my own. I’ll leave you with some final pictures from guest photographer RJ.