I had really wanted this to go up while SDCC was still happening, but the juggling of getting ready to go on Saturday night and then the combination of going to the con and actually leaving on Sunday made doing so just too difficult to manage, so this will, alas, have to be the first of two post-con pieces (at least we got one post in, plus lots of Instagram posts and tweets). Anyhow, Friday and Saturday were mostly full ups, but there were also a few downs.
Before you ask, no, I didn’t go to the Star Wars panel. After camping out last year for a Hall H day, I just didn’t have it in me. Do I regret that decision, considering the Star Wars panel was one of the best Hall H panels ever, and also possibly one the greatest mic drops in pop culture history? Maybe a little, but not nearly as much as you might think. Why, you ask? Well, the answer is Conan, Conan, and Conan. Conan O’Brien has been doing shows throughout SDCC, and due to some luck I snagged the chance to get some tickets for my friends and I. So much of my Friday was framed around obtaining the physical tickets to the show combined with continued failures when dealing with Funko (sigh…), but finally getting lucky with Marvel merch booth (Huzzah!). Conan, though, was a blast. I have been to one of his shows before, but seeing one in the Sprekels Theater just had a different feel to it. The energy was great, and Conan clearly relished being in the middle of all things Comic-Con. Plus his guests were from the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, so it allowed for a mini-Friday Hall H experience without going to Hall H. Now, was it a free lightsaber, concert, and firework show? Not quite, but we were given a special Conan Funko Pop that was made specifically for SDCC. Ours was the Zombie Conan, and it is quite awesome. So overall Conan saved the day.
Of course, that is not all that happened on Friday, as the Marvel booth finally let me into its line. It took a couple of tries, solid timing, and some just plain stubbornness, but I finally got into the line. Why all the fuss? Pins, of course! That’s right, Marvel had Scottie Young pins for sale, and they are amazing. Especially the Women of Marvel Pack, with Electra, She Hulk, Thor, and Squirrel Girl, which I was determined to get a hold of. So while hanging around the booth without looking like I was hovering I waited until I could I secure my place in line, and ultimately my prize. As one of the few exclusives I actually really wanted this year, it was nice to get a hold of the pins, and well worth the effort.
It was not all good though, as Funko and I continued our dance. The booth was still impossible to get into, but worse, the running of its Bryan Fuller Pop signing and sale was a disaster. Look, Funko, if you want to run your booth wrong, and not simply have tickets or wristbands like everyone else, fine, but don’t lie to people. Don’t say no one can line up until one, and then when I show up there is clearly a line. And then when called on it, don’t just say, “Raise your hand if you are here for Bryan Fuller,” and then let the first 100 people rush in in a giant crowd. Funko does a lot right, but how it handles its booth at SDCC is terrible, and how it handles things like the Bryan Fuller event is even worse. Hasbro may be crazy, but its ticketing system for after Preview Night is the fairest system there is, and doesn’t clog up the con. Funko will probably never switch to this system because reasons, but dear lord, it really should (…except then they did on Sunday, so expect an update about that in the next post).
Of course, Funko and I may be evening back out, as I have been able to find some of the Pops I wanted for myself or friends at other booths for the same price as Funko was selling them, including Golden Frieza and Unmasked Flash. And of course I gained the Zombie Conan, so all is not lost. Combine this with the pins, and Friday proved to be quite the successful and unique experience.
Saturday is when things got weird. So, while Friday was not nearly as apocalyptic as it could have been for Hall H, it was still rather crazy, so it seemed likely that something similar would happen on Saturday. Sure, Marvel wouldn’t be there, but WB was ready to step up, Fox had numerous projects, including Deadpool, Legendary was bringing Warcraft, and Quentin Tarantino would be there so Hall H still had a stacked lineup. Instead I find that wristbands are still being handed out when I arrive in the morning. Not wanting to spend my whole Saturday in Hall H, I decide to stick with my plan to go to the WB signing line to see what I can get. So as I am in the WB signing line—what’s that? What about Hall H? It doesn’t give out all of its wristbands before its time to start, so people who just show up now can get in as well?
Meanwhile, I stay the course as the WB autograph line slowly moves… What about Hall H? What again? But the wristband… doesn’t that sound more… no? Fine. Long story short, I get to the main area with only two signing sessions left. I proceed to cycle through, and achieve… success! in the form of a Containment wristband. Not the best score, but I will take it. Hall H, meanwhile, has now just barely filled. I can no longer make WB, but what about the rest of the day? Well, things get weirder. The line outside Hall H is rather small, so I explore the floor for a bit, and then eventually get in, hoping to make the next couple of panels before my signing. This doesn’t work exactly as planned, as I do miss a chunk of the Screen Gems panel, but I do eventually get in with minimal effort.
I could go into details about the panels I see, but really that would be rather boring at this point. Instead, some quick points. Quentin Tarantino showed off The Hateful Eight and it was awesome. Guillermo del Toro showed off Crimson Peak and continued edging me closer to watching a horror film, even though I am not a huge fan of the genre. Duncan Jones showed off the power of Warcraft, and if nothing else, it looks it could be quite fun. Then I left, because, well, I wanted a break, and planned to return to for the WB Television presentation later that night. Does that mean I also missed the Fox presentation, and thus the Deadpool trailer? Yep. Do I regret this decision? Not really. That’s just how it goes.
Honestly, what is more fascinating is that everything was just so easy. After last year, SDCC seemed destined to become a bigger and bigger slog, as the required time to wait for the marquee panels in Hall H would just get longer and longer. Sure, the Friday Hall H panels required quite a wait, and more than likely there won’t be a panel like Star Wars every year (or really, ever again, if we are being honest) that makes such a wait worth it, but all things considered, if you were willing to sacrifice another day of SDCC, the wait wasn’t that horrific. So the question is, why did all this happen? Is this a one year blip or a more lasting trend? It’s hard to say.
One thing for sure is that the wristband system is improving things. Last year’s version merely prevented people from waiting nine hours for nothing, but this year’s system took it a step further by making some key changes. First, spending the night was no longer required if all you cared about was getting inside Hall H. Sure, you had to wait during the day instead of the night, but if you wanted to sleep in a bed once you obtained a wristband, that was fine, as long as you returned by a certain time the next day. This made the waiting time more manageable, but also probably caused many people to just not get in line the day before and instead show up early on the day of (especially on Saturday). This simple step made things a lot easier to deal with, because now only those who really care about getting the best seats are lining up super early. And that’s fine, because if you want it that much, you deserve it.
The next change made was that a line for the following day was made behind the convention center, which helped keep people out of the way of the rest of the con if they wanted to wait to get in. This cleared up a lot of confusion and chaos from previous years. Finally, wristband distribution was made much more efficient. It started at a set time, and didn’t end until all wristbands were handed out. Last year if you went to the bathroom during the set time for handing out wristbands you were out of luck, but this year, distribution was constant. All of this made the lines work much more smoothly.
All of this still doesn’t explain why Saturday went so smoothly. Well, the short answer is because Marvel wasn’t there. This seems silly, seeing as WB and Fox still brought huge super hero presentations, but neither is at Marvel’s level yet, and may never get there. Combine this with Star Wars being placed on Friday—presumably to separate it from Saturday, in case Disney ever decides to send Star Wars and Marvel in the same year—and Saturday’s Hall H just didn’t have the punch it normally does. Don’t get me wrong, the Hall still filled up to capacity, but unlike last year, enough people left between panels that people could go in throughout the day. This kind of Hall H is what SDCC has to hope for in the future, as I heard far too many people this year didn’t even bother trying, because they simply assumed Hall H was impossible and would require them to sacrifice too much of their con for a chance to get in. There will always be parts of SDCC that are harder to get into than others, but you want people to believe everything is an option for them, even if obviously you can’t do everything.
What about the rest of my day, though? Well, I went to the signing. It was fun briefly talking to the cast. They were all very nice. Then I wandered the floor a bit, and went back to Hall H for the DC Television Event. This year’s was a bit different than last year’s, as it served as the panels for all the DC TV shows, as opposed to simply pilot screenings. Still, it was an amazing event that started with Stephen Amell coming out in his new Green Arrow suit and talking to the crowd as Oliver Queen. The panel ended with a screening of the Supergirl pilot (which, despite its issues, was good mainly because Melissa Benoist is going to be a great Supergirl, and the rest can be fixed). So overall, my Saturday was quite the success.
That’s all for now. Check back soon for a recap of Sunday’s festivities, and then an overall recap of all things SDCC 2015. Until then I’ll just be chilling with the Colonel.