When I lucked out and managed to get badges for San Diego Comic-Con 2013 earlier this year, I was excited, scared, and intimidated at the same time. I was excited that I had a chance to go to an event I had been wanting to go to for years. I was scared because I was traveling to it alone, forced to meet new people and make friends. I was intimidated by the enormity of the event. Being interested in many movies, television shows, video games, and comic books, I had to figure out how to best manage my time there without any first-hand experience.
So how did my experiences at SDCC 2013 turn out? This series of articles should give you a better idea.
This first article will contain my thoughts on general topics regarding the event, and then future articles will provide anecdotes and short stories. Throughout this series of articles, I will be including image galleries of related photographs.
The People: Nerds Assemble!
I hate to admit it, but I was expecting a giant sausage fest at SDCC with a huge chunk of those attendees having horrible body odour. To my surprise, the people at SDCC were quite diverse, and I would say the male-female ratio was close to 50-50. I do not remember many stinky people either.
People from around the world in all shapes and sizes, all age groups, and different areas of interests come to SDCC to enjoy and appreciate their favourite television shows, movies, comic books, video games, or whatever. I made it a point while at SDCC to not negatively judge anybody, since I respect anybody willing to invest their time and money to appreciate something they love featured at SDCC. Most strangers I met at SDCC were very friendly, and I tried to be helpful if anybody asked me questions, to which I knew the answers.
Cosplay: Is this how you normally dress when you get out of bed?
Conventions are well-known for people dressing up in costumes as their favourite characters. SDCC did not disappoint in the cosplay department. Many people put in a lot of effort into their great costumes. Thank you to all who spent time and money to dress up in in costume for SDCC. Since I unfortunately did not have a badge for the Saturday when the masquerade competition took place, I am sure I missed out on capturing photos of awesome costumes.
On the flight to San Diego, I met a person who was carrying a purple lightsaber that could not fit in his luggage and learned that he was going to cosplay as a Blue Lantern one day and Mace Windu another day. I met up with him later that weekend and learned that wearing a costume for a day means a lot of time is taken up posing for pictures for other people, especially if your costume is unique.
I have yet to attend a convention in costume, since the costumes I have worn in past Halloweens (Michael Jackson and Prince) do not really fit with the subject matter of conventions. Since I gained a lot of experience in terms of managing my time at SDCC, I think I will work on a costume to wear next time I attend SDCC.
As a first-time attendee with only badges for two of the four days, I expected to not spend any time lining up to see any of the panels. The lineups for panels for the popular shows and movies often start outside Hall H the night before. The rooms do not get emptied between panels, so you have to hope enough people leave the room after previous panels for you to continue further ahead in line and into the panel room for the panel you want to attend.
On the Friday during the convention, I had met a fellow engineer who spent nine hours waiting in line to go to the Game of Thrones panel. His girlfriend, who did not have a badge for that day, spent three hours accompanying him in line for support. In the end, he did not manage to get into the Game of Thrones panel and settled on being able to go to the Amazing Spider-Man 2 panel. Their story anchored my opinion on lining up for panels. If I do decide to attend a panel next time, I will definitely need a friend to make the wait enjoyable, and a bunch of items to keep me warm, comfortable, and not bored.
Transportation: Where is Jason Statham when you need him?
San Diego’s transit system made it simple to get around town without having to rent a car. With a day pass that normally costs $5, one is free to use the MTS transit buses and trolleys to get to where they need to be until midnight. After midnight, expect to hail a cab to be able to go where you need to go. During the convention hours, there are free shuttle buses that travel to and from the convention center and many hotels.
The trolleys are fairly clean, as food is prohibited at the trolleys and drinks should be in sealed containers. On the other hand, the transit buses were quite disgusting. I saw a cockroach crawl around on one ride that was inadvertently killed by a sleeping rider’s shoe.
Clusterfucks: Crowded Aisles and Long Lines
With so many people in attendance for SDCC, I would not recommend the exhibit hall for people with claustrophobia or people who need a lot of personal space. I have no problems with crowds and tight spaces as long as nobody is grabbing me or feeling me up… without my permission.
Want to view a panel? Get in line. Play a game demo? Get in line. Watch a movie/television show preview? Get in line. Get an autograph from a celebrity? Get in line, unless that celebrity is not really popular.
The booths handle their lines differently and most booths will limit a line’s length at arbitrary points, force people to move away from the lines after the limit, and randomly decide when those lines open up again. Some lineups do not even result in the thing you want and they end up giving you a ticket. The ticket either indicates that you were successful for the item you want and you can come back at a later time, or you get a ticket that says get in line again to try for another ticket. Some lines got so long and hectic that volunteers joined hands and formed human fences to ensure lines were single-file and people did not cut in.
With the craziness of lineups, people would often resort to lingering in booths near the ends of lines and start crowds in the aisles used for walking between booths. In the popular areas, I was often squished in from all sides when walking around. The packed aisles made me super paranoid and I often made sure nobody grabbed my wallet or was going into the bags of loot I was carrying. People with disabilities would cause traffic in aisles with their wheelchairs taking up space, but I cannot get upset about that. Patience is key to surviving the crowds at SDCC and enjoying yourself.
Next Article: Loot-Whoring at the Hall
If you are in one of the photographs I have taken and would like the image to be removed from this article, do not hesitate to contact me.
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