Tag Archives: Comic Con

This Fan Used To Post Tons Of Comic-Con Coverage, Then Stopped. Can You Guess Why?

SDCC Crowd with TVs

Social media has drastically changed the online aspect of Comic-Con. So much is up instantly that you can follow the event live without setting foot in San Diego. But for those of us who are on-site, there’s a trade-off between being part of the conversation and part of the convention.

Because we can post in real time, people want to follow in real time too, and lose interest quickly afterward. No matter how interesting I think my follow-up articles might be, none of them are read anywhere near as much as the half-assed pieces that go up during or right after the con. Even interest in photos drops off steeply as soon as the event is done:

Flickr SDCC traffic graph

But it takes time to write and edit, to curate, crop and adjust, and (dare I say it) to promote — and if it’s not your job, it comes at the expense of other things you could do at the con.

There’s Far Too Much To Take In Here

I’ve been posting my con experiences and photos for over a decade now. At first I’d just post when I had time. Once I had a smartphone, Twitter, and a second blog at Speed Force, I was live-tweeting and live-blogging everything.

Then in 2011, we left our then-infant son with relatives and spent a single day immersed in the pop culture madness. It gave us a new perspective:

  • Comic-Con is gigantic.
  • Your time at Comic-Con is limited.
  • Make the most of it!

I changed the way I approached the convention. No more liveblogging; other people are doing that for their job. No presentations that will just be online by the end of the day anyway. No three-hour lines. I wanted the experience I could only get by being there.

I also cut my social media activity to a minimum:

  • Instagram when I had a minute or two of downtime, set to auto-share pictures out to Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
  • Twitter rarely, again when I had a little downtime. No more stopping in the hall to post a comment. This year I didn’t even check for conversations (which, it turns out, I should have).

Sure, I’m a little disappointed that my SDCC 2014 writeup hasn’t been read by very many people. Our photo album at least got some attention. But you know what? If I’d taken the time to write about it during the con, whether live or nightly, I wouldn’t have had as much to write about, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I think that’s a good trade-off.

P.S. Apologies for the clickbait headline. It seemed appropriate for the subject matter.

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Comic-Con 2014 – Now That’s Better! (Writeup, Photos and Cosplay)

Mecha-BatmanThis year’s trip to Comic-Con International in San Diego went a bit better than last year, when we ended up losing an entire afternoon to an ER visit. That didn’t happen this year. (Well, not quite…) Even better: we managed to catch some fascinating panels, meet some artists and writers, find some cool stuff, see people in awesome costumes, and even learn some useful information.

(For the TL;DR folks, you can jump straight to the full photo album on Flickr.)

Alice (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland style)

The Paper!It’s been a while since either of us attended in costume, but this year Katie put together an Alice costume from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Some parts were collected across weeks of shopping trips, but we made the vest, and she made the necklace and beaded the belts together. It was the most elaborate costume we’d done since my Jay Garrick Flash costume in 2009. I think it came out great, but she was disappointed that so few people seemed to recognize it. For Friday she bought back her Yomiko Readman costume from a few years ago.

As far as other cosplay went, I noticed an unusual number of costumes from Princess Mononoke and Battlestar Galactica (both versions). Katie spotted several women as Quicksilver (X-Men: Days of Future Past–style. By our count there were at least five. There were a lot of Frozen costumes (and before you object, Elsa has super-powers and a character arc that reads like an X-Men storyline — wish I could take credit for this, but I saw someone make the point on Twitter & can’t remember who). One of my favorite costumes that I didn’t manage to catch a photo of was Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-it-Ralph, complete with her race car.

Also: Every Cersei Lannister we saw was carrying around a wine goblet. Every. Single. One. Continue reading

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Five Ways to Use a Smart Watch at Comic-Con

Pebble Smart WatchI was reading up on wearable computing¬†today, and with the SDCC badge presale looming, I found myself wondering whether a smart watch would be useful for Comic-Con. ¬†(No plans to actually buy one, I’m just thinking.) I don’t normally wear a watch these days, but it does get annoying to have to reach into my pocket when I want to check the time. For this reason, I make a point to wear a watch at conventions so that I can see the time at a glance and avoid missing events or meetup times.

So, keeping in mind that the current generation of smart watches (Pebble, Galaxy Gear, etc.) mostly pair up with a phone to do the heavy lifting…what might a smartwatch do better for a con than a phone (or a regular watch)?

1. Messages. Between the noise and the walking, it’s already too easy to miss calls or even texts when you’re out on the floor of the convention. It’s easier to notice a buzz on your wrist than a buzz in your pocket, and less intrusive to glance at your wrist to see if it’s something urgent when you’re interacting with people in the real world. You can also tell instantly when you’re crowd-weaving to meet someone whether that text they just sent is “I’m here,” “Running late,” or “Change of plans, meet me at Hall G lobby.”

2. Schedule reminders. Put the event, time, and room number on the screen. How to make it more awesome: pull down the floorplan and use your location to calculate how long it’ll take to get there, and notify you far enough ahead of time that you can make it, Google Now-style. This is more useful for smaller conventions or at least smaller panels at SDCC, since the big ones require you to line up way ahead of time anyway.

3. Wi-Fi hotspot detector. Even if the watch doesn’t support wi-fi, your phone does, and it can ping the watch to let you know.

4. Breaking news alerts. Ironically, I feel like I miss more news when I’m at Comic-Con than when I’m following along from home. This would have to be very well filtered in order to be useful without pulling you out of actually experiencing the convention.

A step counter would be interesting, but I can probably find an app for my phone.

I doubt I’d use a wrist-mounted camera like the one on Samsung’s Galaxy Gear much. Google Glass would be more practical for the blink-and-you’ll miss-it moments, and if you have time to compose a shot, you have time to pull out a phone or dedicated camera. OTOH, a wrist camera is probably a little less creepy than Glass. (On the gripping hand, maybe not.)

Of course the absolute best use of a smartphone at Comic-Con:

5. Get one that can actually handle calls, and wear it with a Dick Tracy costume.

What uses can you think of?

Photo: Pebble watch by Chris Keene, used under terms of the CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

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How Disneyland is Like Comic-Con

Gateway to Adventure(land)

We took the kid to Disneyland this weekend. It’s been a few years since I’d been to the park, and with NYCC happening at the same time, I couldn’t help but compare the experience to San Diego Comic-Con.

  • It’s expensive to get in, but once you’re there, most of the events are free.
  • It’s hideously crowded.
  • Everywhere you go, people are stopping for photos with people wearing costumes.
  • You spend a lot of time waiting in line. (But at Disneyland, you can usually be sure you’ll get in!)
  • Food is overpriced and mediocre, unless you leave and come back.
  • You can’t possibly do everything in one visit.

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I Survived Comic-Con 2013!

And this year, that’s saying something. (I’ll get into that later.)

Gru's Floating Minion

Sometime Thursday afternoon or Friday morning I concluded that we’d remember this year’s trip more for the circumstances around it than for the con itself. I had no idea.

For starters: We had tickets for Thursday and Friday, and planned to drive into town Wednesday afternoon and drive home Friday evening. Sure, Comic-Con is stressful, but we always used to drive home Sunday evening and I was fine.

Of course, most of those times we weren’t bringing a toddler along.

Under Pressure

Comic-Con is a stressful, high-pressure, taxing experience. Vacationing with a small child is also a stressful, high-pressure, taxing experience. And so many little things went wrong the first two days: Leaving the stroller behind and having to buy a cheap one on the way, the leg cramp in stop-and-go traffic, having to search for outlets to plug in the lamps in our hotel room (and having to unplug them in order to charge more than one phone at a time), the fit at dinner that had strangers commenting on how J must be tired (actually, ma’am, he acts like this regardless of sleep quotient). Getting out too late to take the shuttle back and having to take the trolley instead (though that actually worked out fine, as J loved the idea)…at which point we learned that the routes had changed since we last rode the trolley, and we got off one stop too early to make the transfer.

Thursday morning we had everything planned out: We’d go to breakfast at Broken Yolk Cafe, then pick up our badges, then I’d take J around while Katie tried to catch the first big panel of the day. So what happened? We missed the shuttle because they moved the stop from where it had been last time we stayed on this route. Then I ordered blueberry crepes and managed to spill them on my shirt and shorts. They went into the con while I went back to the hotel to change clothes and try to rinse out the blueberry syrup before it stained.

And the first taste of Comic-Con is always overwhelming. Always. Add in these circumstances and you won’t be surprised that when I finally caught up an hour and a half later, Katie was ready to swear off ever coming back.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Always bring spare clothes. (Done, fortunately.)
  2. Don’t start the con with a breakfast that might stain if it spills.
  3. If you’re bringing a small child, find some way that you can start the con without them, then bring them in later.

Overheard: “It was! It was! It was Reptar!”

Settling In

Fortunately, things improved over the course of the day, and the rest of Thursday actually went pretty well. Friday, on the other hand…well, we’ll get to that.

Continue reading

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