Okay – The Comic Con Experience! This is something I typed up on the plane from San Diego to Seattle and it turned out a little long. Oh well.
San Diego Comic Con 2012 – An Aussie First Timer’s Experience
We arrived in San Diego on the Wednesday afternoon before Comic Con started. Our plane landed at 7.15pm and rather than going straight to our hotel I had the cab driver takes us down to the Hotel Circle and badge pick up location that closed at 8.30pm. I was able to successfully secure both mine and Tim’s Sunday badges and my Thursday badge. We had done our best to secure the four day badge but unfortunately by the time we got through on the website these badges were the only ones left – I think we were lucky to get them really but it is definitely on my bucket list to do the four day experience one year. So long as we can launch a successful military like operation to secure badges when they go on sale.
We then went off to our hotel – called The Keating it was definitely a bit on the posher up scale side of our accommodations so far. It was 250 a night so not cheap and we’d probably choose a cheaper option next time, but what it was good for was locale – it was close to everything which is great because for all the great things about San Diego – their public transit is not one of them. We were located on the corner of F street and 5th avenue about four blocks from the behemoth that is the San Diego Convention centre. It was also good for the service and attentiveness, the modern and art deco feel, the comfort of the bed and pillows was divine and the saucy playful vibe (Condoms, lube, and obstretric?! Wipes provided bedside combined with the dark red velvet lighting to give a certain ambience that had us discussing if indeed this building had served as a house of pleasure in the past ;-)….), there was a very comfortable liberal feel to the place and it was occupied by all types of alternative and family people.
Yep that’s the bed on the right bottom corner and the shower on the left side.
I had considered lining up for panels on Thursday – there were definitely a couple at least that I was interested in but due to only having a two day pass I had to make a decision – do the massive exhibition hall or line up overnight for hours to ensure a seat at the panels. You realize fairly quickly with some very limited research that the panels are very popular and that if you want a decent seat you need to be prepared to do the hard yards in terms of queuing. If you’re happy with just sitting in the back few rows then you can get away with a couple hours of queuing. If you’re like me with the mindset of hell I’ve travelled a long way for this, I have a decent camera, I want to get good shots and I want to be able to see and hear everything well then you queue up the night before. So we made the decision to do the Exhibition hall – which I lined up for from about 7.30 am – they let us in just after 8.30am I think. Why do you need to get in early for this? Well it’s a case of merchandise purchases. There is, for fans, some rather cool collectibles and memorabilia available for sale however due to the sheer size of this event they will often sell out fast. So I wanted to get in early and make sure I grabbed everything I wanted.
To be honest the Exhibition Hall is sooo massive one really needs a very well researched and highlighted map in order to strategise the best way to make sure you don’t miss a thing. I spent from 8.30am through to 1.30pm in there and I still hadn’t covered it all. The range of vendors, displays and stalls is so wide that I would contest that there is something for everyone in there. I viewed art, of all types, illustrators, writers, sculptors, painters, drawers, animators, tatooists, costume designers, jewellery makers, watch makers, steel design workers, clothes design, leather workers were some that I remember. Then there were the masses of comic book sellers, the graphic novels, the children’s books, the adult’s books, the new releases in the sci fi, fantasy genre, really writing of every type and classification, including popular culture psychology and philosophy that had me fascinated. I love the academic take on the impact on society of all these stories that are getting told. The Hall really is just one huge Telling Stories place. Every single stand that you stop at is all founded in the stories told by people. My English teacher, reading fanatic in me was in 7th heaven. At around 1.30pm I came out and gave Tim my badge to use so he could have a good look round. And no this is not the way you’re supposed to do it – but as the badge holder was the right colour and I get called Simon anyway when people don’t know what I look like I figured they wouldn’t be stopping Tim and asking him for ID. In fact in the whole two days ID was not checked once – the only things carefully examined was that you badge looked legitimate and that you had the right day/colour on. They were always checked though to see that you had them before you went through those doors, this year no one was even allowed into the lobby areas without one.
So Tim walked around for a few hours and then I went back in so I could take photos (in the meantime I had dropped back my freebies and purchases back at the hotel to lighten the load somewhat). And I was amazed by how much I hadn’t seen in the several hours I’d spent in the place that morning! So by the time 5.30 rolled around I felt satisfied that I had seen it all and judging from the way my legs were feeling I had certainly covered a lot of ground. It was a good day, even with all the masses of people in the place, foot traffic seemed to move all the time and there open spaces frequently. I do have one MASSIVE regret from the day though. Early on in the day as I was walking around I noticed a guy dressed as Jack Sparrow – no big deal HEAPS of people were dressed up bing stopped every five minutes if their costumes looked particularly good for photo ops. Anyway this Jack Sparrow I noticed with a smile had the whole sway down, full costume, perfect make up and everything, he gave me an apologetic grin as we nearly crossed paths and I moved out the way thinking his drunken staggering was gonna cause a collision, but gees he certainly did a great Jack Sparrow. And he seemed to be going all the same directions I was as he stopped at a table I was at and looked at some art. It turns out that really was Johnny Depp of course. AND I DID NOT ASK FOR A PHOTO! And yet he was happily being snapped all the time as he wandered round the place. Apparently when he wants to check out these sorts of cons incognito he dresses up as Jack Sparrow. Of course. I found out about this on Sunday when several queue buddies informed me that he’d mentioned it in some interview on a panel somewhere. Kicking myself about it! I love his acting and I love a lot of his work so would have loved a pic with him! Dammit. I remember also noticing his rather cute butt too as he swayed off in front of me once. You’d think I would have guessed! LOL!!
Sunday was the other day we had passes for. Sunday started at about 1am for me by the time I got down to the line up which already had about 200 people in place once I arrived at the Hall H line. I was lucky enough to get in line with a Vancouverite chick in front of me and a San Diego chick behind me and somehow the time seemed to pass quite quickly as it was kinda hard to grab any sleep on the paved sidewalk so we wended up just talking about all kinds of stuff but mostly about all the stuff I should do whilst travelling in California and later Vancouver. Also we talked politics and the differences between Australia and the US. We talked schooling and English classes and surfing and avocados and the fact that I was surrounded by Doctor Who fans. Those in the line were fans of one or all of the following shows – Fringe (their last stint at SDCC as they are in their final 13 episode season 5), Supernatural, Doctor Who, The Cleveland Show (Seth MacFarlane) or Sons of Anarchy. The panels followed one after the other and Hall H closed at 5pm. Tim joined me round 5am and were eventually let in at 9.30am for the 10am panel start. Hall H is the biggest panel hall holding 6,500 people. I think we were about halfway back so not a great spot for photos unfortunately. I resolved then and there that when I come back that I would be at the front of the line next time even if it meant camping out from when the last line cleared out on the Saturday afternoon. However we could definitely see everything (albeit the actors looked very small) because the massive overhead screen was very good quality high definition feed. So often I snapped photos of the screen as well. The Fringe panel was interesting and fun with a lot of laughs.
This was one quarter of the line to get into Hall H – they
They showed us two very cool clips, one done just for the fans who attended the panel – no doubt it’s all over Youtube by now but it was clear thought and efforts had gone into the creation of it. I can see how Josh Jackson can come across as somewhat of an arrogant arse sometimes who tends to try and deflect from the more serious introspection with humour. I think he is probably a really nice guy but I think his first impression is often brusque and dismissive. I read that he has no patience for any kind of stupidity and once he’s decided that you are liable to it he simply doesn’t give you the time of day. Some might see that as intolerant but I certainly can understand it. Someone told me that he and Anna Torv (the female lead) absolutely detest each other and I could definitely sense this in their interactions, nothing overt just the way Anna’s body language and deliberate avoidance of eye contact was seen and everytime he addressed something she said it was always to almost make light of it. Also the seating choice was interesting. Anna and Josh are in a strong romantic relationship on the show as Peter and Olivia and yet they sat separately on the panel with John Noble (Walter) between them, I suspect John is somewhat of a buffer for the personality clashes. Jasika who plays Astrid on the show was just as gorgeous and genuine and emotive as I suspected and John Noble just as dry and witty and tonally brilliant to listen to his. His voice is soo unique and unbelievably deep and expressive. Lance who plays Broyles was also a great contributor. The guy who was the panel moderator knew his stuff too and asked all the right questions and interjecting with humour at the right times. Fans asked some great questions and the Fringe fedoras given out to every attendee were great. Fringe is a great show and I haven’t quite caught up yet – still have a few Season 4 episodes to finish but I’m looking forward to watching the final season (brought about by the campaigning of fans partly) and seeing the arc finish strongly and do justice to a great story arc.
These two pics taken by @timtolbin
The following also taken by Tim.
Next up was the Supernatural panel and this panel left me conflicted. I loved seeing all our guys up on the stage – Jared, Jensen, Jim and Misha along with Mark Sheppard and Jeremy Carver the shows new front runner but veteran Supernatural writer plus Ben Edlund (writer and director). The guys were looking mighty fine as usual and Jensen seemed particularly bouncy as he came in.
The guy who was moderating was announced as an Editor for TV Guide and also a huge fan of Supernatural. I’ve forgotten his name (in fact I don’t think I even took the time to try and recall it) and to be honest he sucked. If he was a huge fan of Supernatural well I couldn’t see it. The questions he asked gave the guys NOWHERE to go. It was ridiculous – it should be common knowledge before they even start – they are not going to be giving anything substantial away about the upcoming season. The only things we established were this: Jensen’s episode is a MOTW type one that he’s really enjoying as it is a nice return to the mythology of S1 and S2. Castiel will be in Season 8. In what way? Misha couldn’t say. Jim couldn’t ad anything other than “Anything’s possible”(which he’d mentioned he’d already said those words about seven thousand times this weekend) and the fact that Sheriff “Rhodes” lol should be back and that he should definitely have screentime with her. Mark added that Season 8 should be about investigating Crowley’s loveliness and that his relationship with boys is very give and take and is working well. Jeremy did declare that the relationships the guys form whilst apart (which has been stated is not for very long but longer than a summer – time has passed when S8 starts up but the brothers are reunited quickly) do have a significant impact on their relationship when they get back together. Sam’s romantic interest is confirmed and Jensen concluded that Dean’s only romance is the car pretty much. Misha didn’t really get to say anything other than how uncomfortable he felt due to expectations of forthcoming answers he either didn’t know or couldn’t say anyway. Jeremy was very hedgy about stuff and was no doubt deliberately vague about a lot of stuff. Ben? Well Ben goes off on these stream of consciousness tangents which I get the feeling make complete sense in his head and leave him feeling he has given us all a lot of insight when really I’m pretty sure the audience was just left with a collective sense of needing someone to translate Edlundese for the rest of us. Even Jensen made comments about Ben’s rambling style of talking a lot but saying very little! LOL! I like Ben, don’t get me wrong, I think his head is a marvelous place and he is one of my favourite writers but in a large audience panel like this he really didn’t add a lot of substance to the conversation I must say. I’m sure his more private interviews done with press probably casts a much brighter light on the subject of Season 8.
I felt Mark and Jim were both woefully underutilized in this panel sadly and I couldn’t help thinking they should have got Richard Speight to moderate as he has a very good knock for making sure everyone on stage is contributing and he would know what questions to ask just because his familiarity with the show is quite high not just through his work but also through his interactions with all the fans at cons. SPEIGHT FOR 2013 SUPERNATURAL PANEL MODERATION!!! Both Richard and Rob were in the audience too which was cool. Sebastian was supposedly swanning round the place as well.
Needless to say I felt all the guys up there did their absolute best given the lack of inspiring questions and you could see in particular both Misha and Jensen feeling especially stifled by the lack of material to work with. The fan questions were like a breath of fresh air. Although I did cringe when one asked about Destiel I felt Ben Edlund’s articulation of it so Jensen had an understanding was the best contribution Ben made to the whole panel and Jensen was able to handle what could have been awkward with his usual suave aplomb. There was also an Izzard opportunity for Jensen when one fan asked the eye rollng question of how does the show explain how the brothers look nothing like each other. Jensen responded with “why do you think they made me cut my hair short – because if I had hair like Jared’s we’re practically twins! – so now all you’re left with is this face” And of course everyone cheers and he goes into his alright settle down expression followed by his subtle actually keep going look. This lasts a little while and seems to be a favourite of his from his love of Eddie Izzard’s comedy.
The clips they showed were a recap of Season 7 (no new footage from S8 of course) and then right at he end the gag reel – which was STUPENDOUS!! I cannot wait to see the whole thing – the clips we saw were hilarious and seriously these actors don’t really give a crap obviously about all the fan fantasies out there because they continue to happily provide excellent fodder with their antics in the gag reel (Jensen sen frequently drawing attention to his crotch area, Jared miming bending Misha over and giving it to him to name just a couple.) I was most pleased to see Jared making Jensen break several times with Jensen practically crying over the fact that he could not resist the goofiness of his costar’s face as he pulled all sorts of ridiculous expressions at him. Jensen is much like Jim in terms of being like a rock (Misha finds it very frustrating since Jensen just throws him a smirk and he’s doubled over) during takes so it’s great to know that Jared’s skills at disrupting takes stretches to his best buddy.
They stood up and said a collective goodbye after Jensen was once again the most gracious star thanking all the fans and attendees for turning up, showing their support and just generally being the best bunch of fans out there.
So that was the end of our Hall H experience. I totally enjoyed it, wished a few things were different but in general felt the whole thing is very worth the whole queuing trial you go through. Hopefully SDCC will figure out a way to fix this in the future.