Friday, August 1, 2014

San Diego Comic Con: Thoughts of a First Time Attendee

So my family of five attended San Diego Comic Con for the first time this year. We only attended two days (Friday and Saturday) because we weren't sure if the kids could handle four days in a row. Turns out we don't know if the adults could have handled it either. We had big expectations and we weren't disappointed. We definitely want to try and go next year, and perhaps we may even attempt four days (if we can get tickets that is - we got really lucky this year).
Here are some thoughts about our Comic Con experience:
1. Day 1 = Overwhelmed:
As a newbie, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, people can tell you what to expect, but until you get there, you just don't know. The number of people, number of booths, and distances to travel were all more than I imagined. So the first day of our experience, even just getting our badges, was a lot to take in. 
2. Hall H = Completely intimidating:
People camp overnight to get into Hall H. The line for Hall H is huge. Apparently Hall H is also huge, but not everyone gets in because Hall H is also the place to be for some truly awesome panels from such epic distributors like DreamWorks, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Marvel Studios, plus goodies like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, among others. But this newbie and her family couldn't quite wrap our minds around its epicness this time around, so we hope to tackle it in the future.
(See those white tents? That's the line!)
3. Plan, revise, and plan some more:
We went in with a plan. I spent a lot of time reviewing the schedule, then going to different author and publisher website and checking if they posted signing schedules, then researching some more. We printed the schedule, plotted our additional time frames of when the exhibit booths would be having their signings or activities, and hoped for the best. Then of course, when we got there, we found out about a bunch of other things we wanted to attend, and had to cross off other things that we deemed to difficult to try to get to, and then later found out we missed some really cool stuff we just didn't know about. Oh well. But I'm glad we started with a plan, even of it did get revised.
4. Cosplay all the way:
Though we are not cosplayers ourselves, we loved how into it so many other people were. And they were everywhere. I mean, Everywhere! But don't hesitate to look, admire, and ask for photos of or with them. They love it. My favorite costume was the Scottish Stormtrooper (yes, that's a Stormtrooper in a kilt). He was awesome, and I'm very disappointed I did not get a photo. Here's the only Cosplay photo I got:
Light-up Transformers. So cool!
5. Divide and conquer:
My husband, sons, and I have some similar and some different interests, so splitting up was unavoidable. This was great because we got to get more things done at the same time, but hard because we would go hours without seeing each other. Feeling like I'd been neglecting the family, I ate lunch with them on day 1, causing me to get into a panel line later than I'd hoped or needed, and despite getting into the line over an hour early, I still missed the panel. Now whether ditching my family or not would have made a difference, who knows, but it was a good learning experience (which we applied day 2).

6. Walking, climbing, and waiting, oh my!
There was no need to fit in a trip to the gym with the amount of walking, stair climbing, heavy bag lifting, standing, and then more walking that we did. The convention center is huge, and the events even extend outside of the convention center. I had sore muscles everywhere. Patience is key, especially when standing (or sitting) in very long lines.

(Waiting in line outside.)
(Hey, at least we're in line inside now.)
7. Commence fangirling:
I love meeting authors, listening to authors, seeing authors. Beyond that, my family just likes seeing and learning about new things and old things in all forms of entertainment. Between the few panels we attended and author signings and celebrity sightings, we got a great taste of Comic Con awesomeness, and only hope we can go again next year and see more. Here are just a few of the authors we met:
Meeting Deborah Harkness
Meeting Lev Grossman

Meeting Scott Westerfeld
8. Speaking of panels:
If you want to see something badly enough, there's a high probability that a bunch of other people do, too. Hence the need to get in line early. Since I missed the Outlander panel on our first day there due to not getting in line early enough, we rectified our approach the next day. I still wanted to see Diana Gabaldon and George R.R. Martin, who were speaking at a group panel, so we got in line early enough to not only see them but the panel before them as well, which luckily for us was the writers of The Walking Dead and Norman Reedus, so though the kids complained about sitting in the panel room for almost two and a half hours, plus the hour or more of waiting in line, it was worth it. But, the kids also got to see the Phineas and Ferb panel, and didn't have a huge line to wait it, so they were happy about that.
Norman Reedus, David Alperts, Robert Kirkman:
The Walking Dead
Norman Reedus smiling :)
Diana Gabaldon (Outlander)
George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones)
Panel: Joe Abercrombie, Lev Grossman, George R.R. Martin, Diana Gabaldon, Patrick Rothfuss
9. Freebies:
So I was hoping for a few free books or advanced copies. Well, I got more than I bargained for, and I loved it. Luckily, many of these lovely publishers also hand out free bags, so as my personal bag overflowed, I was able to carry more of these goodies. Plus, there's swag and trinkets to be collected everywhere. But if you take it, be prepared to carry it. A couple great things to bring with you: a backpack and a poster container.

(All these were free except The Magician King)
10. Did I mention the Exhibit Hall?
Bodies and booths are everywhere. Cosplay, comics, artists, movies, television, studios, publishers, entertainers, gamers, vendors... the list goes on and they are all over the place. Prepare to be jostled, to stop for people taking Cosplay photos, then to be told to keep moving. See great sights, hear all the awesome nerdspeak and geekspeak you dreamed of, and learn about things you didn't imagine. And though we spent very little money, if you're looking for unique finds, bring your wallet.
(This is a mere glimpse at some of the myriad of exhibits.)
Least Favorite Moment:
My middle son lost his iTouch :(
Favorite Moment:
My boys meeting Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters
(They are huge fans!)


  1. I'm so envious! We're going next year, one way or another. It does look as if it could be both overwhelming and exhausting, but so much fun.

    1. Oh Kristin, I really, really hope you get to go next year!!!


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