Tuesday, August 23, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con, Part 1

So I'll be covering Comic-Con more thoroughly on the television blog, but there were some things that are more appropriate to put here. Basically, I'm going to cover a little bit of background and some information about what I saw and did and whatnot. If you want details about what I heard and learned and received, check the other site, it'll be quite a few posts over there.

First off, what is Comic-Con? It's a gigantic (read: 120,000 attendees) convention that takes place once a year in San Diego. It started out particularly to cover comics, but is now a popular culture mecca of sorts. I've kinda wanted to go for a few years now, but it's not cheap (the convention itself is reasonable, but because of the giant influx of people, hotels are all really high, plus travel and food and whatnot), and I didn't want to go alone. So, when my friend Kelly (who is the sister of one of the first friends I made in college - Katie) announced that she wanted to go, the plan started to be set in motion.

Long story short (and really, it IS a long story), we secured tickets and booked a "reasonable" (read: subjectively reasonable, given the other prices) hotel about a mile from the event. If Jonathan and I had two cars out here, I might have driven to San Diego, though I ended up getting a decent price on airline tickets. Amazingly, our flights got into San Diego about ten minutes apart, so it was easy to find each other. Kelly had a friend who lived in San Diego who picked us up at the airport and helped us run a few errands on our way to check-in at the hotel.

Two big things about Comic-Con: you don't leave a room once you're in (the lines to get in are thousands of people long), and food is very expensive (like $4 cookies from a Mrs. Fields kiosk). So, we both stocked up on snacks at the grocery store, which we packed in our backpacks each day. They were lifesavers!

I had originally planned a little sightseeing on Wednesday (Jonathan and I visited San Diego in 2008 and hit the major sights then), but that got scrapped. I had looked up a great place to eat in Little Italy and got take-out: a delicious, fairly-priced dish of chicken parmigiana with bread. Aside from that, Wednesday was hanging out, blogging, and preparing.
Thursday started out early; we left the hotel a couple minutes after 6am, walking to the Convention Center. Several thousand people were already in front of us in line to pick-up registration badges. We started snapping photos of the costumes and the excitement. We sat on the concrete as hundreds of people walked by, heading for the end of the line. About 90 minutes later, we started moving... and kept moving. We weren't sure what was happening, but the line just kept going, and as we picked up the pace and turned corners, we could see the building. And then the doors. And then we were entering the Convention Center. Volunteers and workers barked out orders to close gaps in the line and have our vouchers and IDs available. We assumed the line would stop again at some point, but it didn't. We rode up an escalator, kept moving, and we were in registration before we knew it. Badge pick-up was very quick, and we then split ways.

Kelly dashed off to get into the line for her preferred room of the day (Ballroom 20), and I headed to get into the line for 2012 pre-registration (after what we went through to get 2011 tickets, I wanted to ensure 2012 tickets). Unfortunately, the line was over a mile long, and I actually got to the end and waited about 15 minutes before realizing there was no chance I'd make it to the front by the 11am closing time. So, I moved on and headed to my first room of the day. I was planning on a lower-key panel, so there were only about ten people in front of me in line. I took the opportunity to whip out my laptop and write a bit, plus charge my phone. I was still a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience, and when Kelly texted to let me know there were only a thousand people in front of her, I ended up packing up and started making my way over to join her in line. I quickly learned that you can't get where you want to go via the shortest means possible, and had to backtrack to get to Kelly, as her line started moving. We were soon inside Ballroom 20 and Comic-Con became real.

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