My third consecutive year of attending San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) didn’t disappoint. Though this particular event wasn’t a litany of goodies, panels or stars I was dying to check out, it certainly had enough buzz and energy to keep me coming back. Did I mention San Diego Comic-Con is scheduled for July 8-12, 2015? Hell yeah, I’m going. See you there (unless your initials are D.H.)!
Once more, I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a 4-day badge which includes preview night. What is preview night? For the uninitiated, preview night is a three-hour glimpse of the convention floor. Though a handful of the booths are unoccupied (late arrivals), the overwhelming majority are ready to chat, pitch wares, hand out swag, and show off their best stuff. There is a unique vibe to preview night because everyone is pretty fresh. Feet don’t hurt, no one is hungry, and moods are light, friendly, and brimming with anticipation. The other benefit of preview night: crowds are thin. The convention floor is just over 525,000 square feet featuring hundreds of booths, displays, vendors, and opportunities to buy memorabilia… so off we set.
The last two years I started walking the floor in Artist’s Alley but this year we shook it up and went for the far end of the floor, near the toys and gadgets. If you take a close look at these maps, you can begin to grasp the scale of the convention floor. Notice the large restroom facilities and compare that to the rest of the facility (which had to be divided up for this post). Massive. Absolutely massive.
In actuality, I’ve now realized doing either is a mistake. From my vast (sarcasm) experience, the BEST thing to do is either A) head to the main (middle) convention floor and see what all the studios and television networks are handing out or B) head to that particular toy booth to purchase that exclusive item. Am I much for nerd toys? Not really; however, if you can plunk down $150 for item X, and pull $450 online for that same item upon returning home, it could make sense to mess with it. Hrmmmm, mebbe…
Anyway, started at the far end and the crowds were predictably average. There was plenty of space to move about, stroll casually and generally enjoy the experience. I noticed the energy level was moderate, at least at the far end, but there was still plenty of whooping, hollering, giggles, and “Look at that!” moments-of-wonder. I noticed a significant Xbox One presence but nothing overt from Playstation. I found that curious. Perhaps Playstation is resting on its laurels from being in the lead in console sales? I’m unsure but I was surprised to see a significant line waiting to try out the latest and greatest, as-yet-unreleased offerings from Microsoft. Well, Comic-Con is an entertainment convention so I guess it makes sense.
The rest of preview night went pretty quickly. After seeing perhaps 1/5th of the convention floor in around three hours, the announcement proclaimed the floor would be closing in 30 minutes. Time to get the hell out of dodge and grab a shuttle bus back to the hotel, all while trying to beat the crowds with the same idea.
My standard plan for the first full-day of Comic-Con normally centers around walking the floor (or as much as I can). Normal floor hours are 9am to 7pm and you’d think ten hours should be enough to get it done. Well, it isn’t, not if you’re actually strolling, absorbing, and drinking in the event. One doesn’t have the luxury of taking full strides on the floor from Thursday onward because the crowds only thicken as the convention wears on. Is that a bad thing? Not really. One must expect to be pushed, shoved, jostled, stepped on, leaned on, and frowned at. It is part of the exquisite gravy which sizzles around Comic-Con.
Walking the floor is one thing but panels and brushes with the stars are something else entirely. After checking Thursday’s program schedule, there were some panels which jumped out (i.e., 24, Under the Dome, Scorpion premier, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele) but what actually got my attention was meeting one of my favorite authors of all time: Joe Abercrombie. I found the panel, found a seat, and settled in to watch the “Putting the Epic Back in Epic Fantasy.” Filled with authors of high regard, I was surprised by how much fun Joe was. A friend of mine met George RR Martin three years ago and was less than thrilled by the stoic and seemingly dismissive demeanor of Martin but Abercrombie was in a different league entirely. During the panel he joked and exchanged barbs with Brent Weeks and other panel members. In the book signing later, he was taking selfies with fans, continued cracking wise, and was even kind enough to sign my Comic-Con badge (along with a few books) as I implored him to turn the First Law series into a television experience superior to Game of Thrones. “Got $300,000 in your pocket?” he quipped with a wry smile. The experience did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of both Joe Abercrombie’s books nor his personality.
Thursday finished without any other panels, lots of pictures, a mental note for a couple of prints which caught my eye, two sore feet, and a therapeutic late evening dunk in the hot tub. Just before hitting the sack, I took a moment to flick through my photographs and found cosplay the overwhelming theme. Here is a solid sample: