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.

First Game of Thrones cosplayers of the day Calhoun and Fix-it Felix

Around the con

Brilliant Business IdeaSomeone had the brilliant business idea of putting phone charger batteries in vending machines, and putting those vending machines in the convention center. My phone held up pretty well — a lot better than my old one used to (I was charging that one twice a day just going to the office), but Katie and I still ended up splitting our portable charger late Friday afternoon.

One of the stranger realizations was that I didn’t actually care about visiting the DC Comics booth. That was a surprise, but I suppose it shouldn’t have been.

Another oddity: we didn’t run into anyone we knew. We usually try to arrange meet-ups with friends if we can, but we always seem to run into people by accident, no matter how big the convention gets. That didn’t happen this year.

I don’t know if I’m getting used to the crowds after five years or so of maxed-out attendance, or if Thursday and Friday were lighter than usual, but the only time I really, truly felt stuck was when I accidentally wandered into the aisle near the Warner Bros. booth when the Game of Thrones cast was upstairs signing, and everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of them. I don’t know how long it took me to shuffle get out of there. Good thing there weren’t any (real) zombies.

Crowd hoping for a glimpse of the Game of Thrones cast

Panels/Events

We did surprisingly well at getting into panels, though when I look back on it, it seems like we effectively went to a sci-fi/fantasy convention instead of a comic convention. Katie figured she had to attend the “Fairy Tale Remix” panel on Thursday. I went to a discussion by urban fantasy authors, and we both followed up with the epic fantasy discussion. On Friday I caught this year’s incarnation of the Science of Science Fiction panel (the topic: depiction of scientists in the media), and Katie went to panels on drawing expressions and advice from literary agents. The only panel that either of us got shut out of was the panel on strong female characters, and Katie figured that even if she couldn’t watch the discussion, it was a good sign that the topic was popular.

Golden Age Flash Backlit Flash

I’d been hoping to catch the Flash TV show premiere at the con, but unfortunately they were showing it Wednesday and Saturday, and I was there Thursday and Friday. So much for that idea.

iZombie Panel

The one big media event either of us went to was the iZombie presentation on Friday. I figured it would be impossible to get into since we got out late that morning, but I walked right in with just a few minutes to spare. Because they’d recast a few of the roles and were reshooting, they didn’t screen the complete first episode, but they did have the producers and the main cast, and showed an extended preview.

I’ve been describing iZombie as a mash-up of the original premise (woman becomes a zombie, but can keep her faculties as long as she eats one brain a month…then starts picking up memories and personality quirks from the brains she eats) with Pushing Daisies (someone able to communicate with the dead in an odd, but limited manner teams up with a detective to solve murders) and Veronica Mars (produced by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero), all of which sounded promising, since I liked the iZombie comic, Pushing Daisies, and Veronica Mars. Based on the preview, that description is (if you’ll pardon the expression) dead-on.

It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun when it debuts mid-season, and while it’s got half-season-wonder written all over it, you never know. I mean, the fact that we got a second season of Pushing Daisies qualifies as a television miracle.

Overall

I felt a lot more accomplished about this trip than this year’s WonderCon, despite attending for fewer days. I think in part it’s because with WonderCon, I still feel like I can do everything if I try, but with Comic-Con, I’ve learned that there’s only so much you can do even under ideal circumstances.

Sergio Aragones SigningSo I didn’t get to do my usual rounds among the webcomics exhibitors, or see much of Artist Alley, but I did manage to stop by Joe Benitez’ table and pick up the limited edition of Lady Mechanika #4. I didn’t make it to Brian Lee O’Malley’s signing, but I did make it to Brian K. Vaughn’s. And while I couldn’t pick up any exclusives at the booths that required you to pick up tickets at 6am, I did manage to find a couple of booths with items on my list that didn’t even have lines.

Basically, it felt like the trade-offs were worth it.

Lego CreationsThe kid situation was better than WonderCon, too: We were able to find more stuff that interested him. (LEGO!!!) We could leave him at day care for a few hours each afternoon. And the specific events that interested us turned out to be spread out enough that neither of us ended up being exclusive guardian for most of a day. Still, I’m looking forward to the year that he’s old enough to either sit quietly with one or both of us during a panel — or better yet, be interested in what’s going on and watch and listen with us.

Outside

We didn’t get to see much of the outdoor displays and events. We were trying to maximize our time inside during the two days we had tickets, and only managed to see enough of the outside to get to and from lunch and dinner. That meant a few streets in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Gaslamp TARDIS

Thursday night we ended up at one of our usual Comic-Con haunts: The Field, an Irish pub on 5th. We sat, with Katie as Alice, across the aisle from a table of Klingons and a man with some sort of light-up fiber-optic hat.

In a Wonderland tavern, after a long day on foot.

Friday we were so tired we made a beeline for Panda Inn at the top of Horton Plaza, hoping it wouldn’t be too crowded.

Saturday was going to be our day to check out the outer-con, grab some lunch (in Little Italy if we had time), and hightail it out of town so that we could get to my high school reunion. Then I got a severe headache — strong enough that I went to urgent care, who sent me to the ER because when the worst headache of your life hits suddenly, they want to make sure you aren’t about to keel over. Fortunately it turned out to be just a really bad headache, but it screwed up our travel day. I’m really hoping there are no ER visits involved with next year’s con.

Ariel and Vanessa

Travel

Last year we learned not to leave town the same evening as your last day at the con (with the possible exception of Sunday, which has always worked out for us before).

This year we learned: Don’t try to drive down the evening before the con. The afternoon is fine. Evening: not such a good idea. Between one thing and another, we didn’t leave until 8:45, and got into the hotel ridiculously late. The car spent three days parked on a dirt lot next to the ocean. They tried to put us in a disabled-accessible room because that’s all that was left. I didn’t want to use a room someone else might need, and we actually did need a bathtub, since we had a three-year-old with us. They found a room with a tub, but the bathroom door didn’t close properly, which I assume is why it didn’t show up the first time. And of course we were all exhausted before getting to the convention!

Tip: ALWAYS check the auto-bar and your hotel bill. After we checked out, the hotel sent us a revised bill claiming we’d used a $32.50 item from the auto-bar. (And since it’s sensor-driven, there’s no good reason that charge shouldn’t have shown up before we left, so we could dispute it in person.) We hadn’t taken anything out of there at all, and when we called, they claimed it was a bottle of red wine — which we don’t even drink. Several rounds of phone and web “service” later, and they grudgingly agreed to remove the charge “as a courtesy,” without admitting that the auto-bar might be wrong. Not that the refund seems to have reached my card yet. [Update: It eventually did.]

But hey, the room had a nice view of the downtown skyline.

Nighttime San Diego Skyline

See Also: Convention Photos & Write-Ups

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