This year was my first year attending San Diego Comic-Con. Evidently, it was much to the shock of everyone I know, but that’s probably just because I live in Los Angeles which, all things considered, is pretty close to the action.
I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy myself. If you are not one for crowds or strangers, San Diego Comic-Con is probably not the place for you. Being on the shorter side of the spectrum, I got many poster tubes in the face, elbows in the chest (doubly bad as a female), and scooters driven over my feet just because I happened to be standing on the convention floor. This, coupled with the smells, can do a lot to drag a first time SDCC attendee down and it all starts on preview night.
Further to preview night, even if you get in and have your heart set on an exclusive you probably won’t be able to get one because the Exhibitors plant people in line. I never saw a Funko lie that wasn’t capped and I never saw a Hallmark line less than a mile long. Pretty early into my San Diego Comic-Con experience I was feeling pretty bogged down by the blatant consumerism and capitalism on display by a group of people that pride ourselves on passion and acceptance. Nerds were picked on – we’re supposed to be nice because we all love the same things!
Not quite true on the floor, it turns out.
To my great fortune I was rescued by two friends (one of whom I’d met before and one I was meeting at the Convention for the first time), and this is the best lesson I learned about the all-might SDCC. You’ll buy a lot of cool things – and, believe me, I bought some cool stuff – and there will be all sorts of announcements that will blow your mind, but the other nerds you share it with are the best part of the deal. I turned out to be one of the lucky people to see Zack Snyder drive up in the Batmobile while standing with a group of friends (many of whom got better pictures than me with their impressive height).
Perhaps my conclusion is a little bit after-school-special in it’s nature, though that in no way keeps it from being true. Passing Hayley Atwell at the breakfast buffet is nowhere near as amazing as meeting Tom Cavanaugh because somebody you know can make the introduction. Even the new people you wind up speaking to out of necessity and boredom can key you into more information than the programme you get at check in.
Perhaps I’m a grump in my thinking, but I avoided Hall H or anything with an excessive line right off the get-go. There are plenty of cool things going on at San Diego Comic-Con that not everyone and their dog is angling for an won’t risk your health to get into. I know several people who queued up for the Warner Bros presentation at Hall H and they got some of the worst sunburns I saw on anyone the entire week. Additionally, while seemingly thousands of people were queueing up for the Star Wars concert that they were escourted to off-site the entire display could be heard and watched from a few feet away – along with the Star Trek concert the following night.
There is so much to do off-site during San Diego Comic-Con that it is as impossible to do it all as it is to do everything on the floor. The great thing about this is that individuals are left to their own devices. You can make the experience what you want and highlight whichever events or creators you are the most attracted to. As it is in every way impossible to keep up with the news coming out of the convention (everyone at home knows way more than attendees, allow me to assure you of that), it behooves a person to keep in touch with social media whenever a trailer is rumoured to drop or casting suspected to be announced.
Yes, at it’s core, San Diego Comic-Con is the biggest comic book (and adjacent media tie-ins), convention I’ve ever seen and that is a pretty impressive thing in and of itself. It was hot and crowded and full of places for me to spend every dime I have to my name. However, the most joy I experienced was shared with others – laughing at the wrong answer during a trivia panel, having a discussion with an admired creator, spit-balling ideas for projects – it’s all the stuff that Comic-Con International doesn’t advertise that will keep you talking about it for weeks to come.