Tag Archives: San Diego

Comic-Con 2010 Sunday: Storming the Castle

And this wraps up the daily reports! Only a month late!

Optimus PrimeSunday morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego. We got up early (though not as early as Katie got up on Saturday) to check out of our hotel, store our baggage, and move the car to another lot. I suspect the Sheraton would have let us keep the car there an extra day, since it was self-parking; but I’d already prepaid for Sunday through the convention, and as it turned out the other lot was cheaper anyway. Of course, since pre-paid parking was new this year, it wasn’t entirely clear what we needed to do other than leave the printout where it was visible. (More on that later.)

After eating rolls and fruit from home for most of the con, we went out to breakfast at the Broken Yolk Cafe. (I keep wanting to type Burnt Toast Diner.) They’d decorated for the convention — including thematic T-shirts on some of the servers — had good food (more varied, if not as good as Cafe 222), and were very busy, but we managed to beat the rush.

Then we walked through the streets of San Diego to the convention center one last time.

Castles

Downtown San DiegoI figured there would be a line for Castle (especially since they had the entire cast present, and Nathan Fillion by himself is a big draw at Comic-Con). I wasn’t expecting it to run down the hall from the larger 6 rooms, out onto the balcony, zig-zag a bit under some tents, then head back along the convention center and wrap around the end, next to the gigantic air conditioners. At least the morning cloud cover hadn’t burned off yet, so we weren’t out in direct sun.

Castle Supporting CastIt took a long time before the convention started letting people in, but when we finally got to the front, I decided I’d head out and make Sunday the day I finally really explored the main floor, while Katie went in for Castle and then Merlin.

Frustrations

Elves or FairiesThe staff directing traffic didn’t seem to know what to do with someone who left a line, though, and treated me as if I was trying to cut through it. This was the only time I ran into this kind of problem, fortunately. The rest of the time, traffic management was a lot better than it has been over the last few years!

Hawkgirl and Green LanternFirst I figured I’d try to pick up the No Ordinary Family T-Shirt for which I’d gotten a ticket at the preview the day before. Sometimes events will hand out freebies as you walk in, or will go down the aisles passing them out to the audience. Sometimes they’ll give you a ticket, which you then take to the “fulfillment room” to exchange for swag. It’s usually somewhere out of the way, and since actual programming has expanded to fill more of the rooms in the convention center itself, this year it was pushed out into a room in a small convention center at the Marriott hotel complex. The line for the fulfillment room stretched out the building, down the hill, and through a parking structure — and wasn’t moving, as far as I could see. I decided I didn’t want the shirt that much. (I went back later and there was no line at all. My best guess: it had only just opened, and the line was the backlog.)

The Floor

Once I shook that off, I headed to Artist’s Alley. I hadn’t quite made it there yet this year, probably because it was shoved all the way to the far end of the convention center. My goal: to find Flash artist Francis Manapul and ask him for a sketch. There were only about five or six fans ahead of me, but it takes time to do a sketch (unless you’re Sergio Aragonés), so it took the better part of an hour.

Green R2D2Around noon, I started my final exploration of the exhibit hall, the first systematic tour I’d attempted all weekend. The plan was that I would start at one end and work my way to the other, where I’d meet Katie and we’d head out for lunch and then home.

I checked out displays by artists and toy sellers, skimmed the movie and game studios, worked my way through the comic book publishers’ area, and finally decided to call it quits with a good fourth of the floor left to go, figuring I’d covered that part well enough on my earlier passes.

Leaving San Diego

Pool and Convention CenterWe ended up having lunch at Bareback Grill, the land of burgers and double entendres (yummy, but be sure to order your burger at least medium, even if nobody asks), then went to pick up the car. The structure was mostly automated, with a gate to get out, and there was no apparent way to trigger the gate without getting a ticket — and no way to get the ticket without feeding money into the machine. Money that we’d already paid ahead of time. Fortunately there was a button to call for assistance, and after we showed the guard our printed receipt we were let out with no further problems. Still, prepaid parking could have been handled much more smoothly. (Maybe by not including structures with this kind of payment system?)

Then a quick stop for coffee, and we were on the road, returning from another year at Comic-Con!

This was Sunday, July 25, 2010.

Conclusion

So, it took a lot longer than I intended, but this wraps up my coverage of this year’s Comic-Con International. Well, almost. We’ve both got notebooks with funny quotes, and we’ve only posted the ones from Leverage, “Twisting Genres” and “Once Upon a Time (Epic Fantasy)” so far, so you can expect a humor post or two at some point. Other than that, we’re done!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series!

»Full index of Comic-Con 2010 posts and photos.

Comic-Con 2010: Saturday. Into the Con and Out Again

Green Lantern Power BatteryYeah, I’m still working through this report. Here’s hoping I can finish before it all completely blurs together! Follow me back a few weeks, to Saturday, July 24 at the San Diego Convention Center.

Hall H Line and HiltonAs usual, Saturday was the big day for big presentations. Katie got up early to wait in line for Harry Potter (and incidentally Sucker Punch and Green Lantern), figuring on taking the first shuttle to the convention center…which didn’t show up. After 30 minutes, it became clear that there wasn’t going to be room for everyone on the shuttle when it finally did show up, so she made the trek on foot. She picked up a spot on the lawn, out where they had canopies (not that they needed them with the morning gloom).

I slept in a bit longer before heading down to stand in line for Leverage, which was, well… Leverage was an experience in its own right.

Bridge Under ConstructionAfterward, I took the opportunity to do a little exploring over by the Hilton now that the sun had come out. Mostly I checked out the views of the convention center, but I also went up to the top of the parking structure to get a look at the pedestrian bridge that San Diego started building two years ago. That’s where I found a portable cell phone tower, showing that at least one network had made an effort to increase coverage for the event.

Experience the Epic

Walking DeadAfter another brief pass through the main floor, I headed out into the Gaslamp again. My plan was to go through the Scott Pilgrim Experience, especially since I’d heard that Saturday was the last day, but the line was hideously long. The line for “Stuff” wasn’t long at all, however, and it took me about two minutes to pick up a T-shirt and some download codes related to the soundtrack.

So I wrote off the Scott Pilgrim Experience (Cinematical describes what I missed) just like I’d written off the Hall H Experience, and kept going. Though I should have stayed a little longer: they were just setting up the truck with free garlic bread as I was leaving!

Lunch

I had some time before Katie and I planned to meet at a shawarma place for lunch, so I figured I’d get some iced coffee first.

Hail to the KingThe convention always spills out into the city. Even beyond the Gaslamp crush of official and unofficial offsite activities, there are ads and banners everywhere…and convention attendees walking to and from restaurants, hotels and parking lots. At one point I walked by a couple dressed as Wonder Woman and Ash from the Evil Dead movies. Wonder Woman was drinking coffee or a smoothie or something, but I asked Ash to pose for a photo. I turned around and saw a couple dressed as Drusilla and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the other side of the street.

So we met up at lunch, showed off swag (my Leverage: Mastermind shirt, her Harry Potter: Undesirable No.1 shirt), caught each other up on what we’d missed (the Green Lantern oath, Parker’s thoughts on Comic-Con, what the heck Sucker Punch is about), and showed each other pictures. Digital cameras have really changed the immediacy of photo sharing!

Back at the Con

Na'vi (Avatar)We each went our separate ways for the afternoon programming. I caught the No Ordinary Family preview, which looks promising, then figured I’d try getting into the discussion on Scott Pilgrim Vol.6. It was at least 20 minutes into the panel by the time I arrived, the series has been extremely popular, and the final volume had just come out a few days earlier; so I wasn’t really expecting to get in, and I wasn’t terribly surprised to find that it was full. I took the opportunity to dash off my first impressions of No Ordinary Family. Katie, meanwhile, caught a group of science-fiction authors discussing: “Welcome to the Future. Are you sure you want to stay?”

Winding Down

SyFy Balloon and OmniWith no specific plans for the evening, but memories of Thursday’s cattle drive, we left about a half an hour before the floor closed so that we could catch a shuttle before the rush. We didn’t really need to, since the driver waited until it was full anyway, and didn’t pull away until almost 7:00. On the plus side, we spent that time in cushy seats instead of standing in a crowd, shuffling along. On the drive back to the hotel, we first heard vague rumors of the stabbing in Hall H earlier in the afternoon.

By the time we got back to the hotel and dropped things off, neither of us wanted to deal with getting back to the Gaslamp, or out to another part of town. Easy route: the hotel restaurant. It had a fixed menu for the evening, but at least it was food we could eat, and as I recall the steak was pretty good. The reason it had a fixed menu was the live music event…which had just wrapped up. Which was also why the restaurant was almost empty when we arrived. (And probably why they offered us extra parfaits for dessert.)

It was the most low-key experience I’ve ever had at a Comic-Con. And that was not a problem!

This was Saturday, July 24.
Next: Sunday. Castle, Merlin and Artists’ Alley.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.

Convention Center End-On

Comic-Con Coffee Quest

Coffee HaloThe first year we stayed in town for Comic-Con, we walked past an It’s a Grind coffee shop every morning on the way to the Little Italy trolley stop. Since then, we’ve always tried to fit in at least one visit to either that shop or the one Downtown across the street from Ralphs. (Sure, they’ve opened a store near home since then, but it’s sort of a tradition.)

I never quite made it this year, though I came close on Saturday before lunch.

I ended up walking by a coffee stand set up outside Lion Coffee. Two years ago, the site had been a Starbucks, before the chain started mass-closing their stores. (Now they’re only on every other corner.) Last year, Lion was in the process of converting this location, but hadn’t actually opened yet. Shrewdly, they had set up a table outside, selling coffee from urns and drinks from a cooler.

This year, they were open, but had set up a table around the corner to catch people walking by. It worked. They didn’t have any iced coffee outside, but the clerk handed me a dollar-off coupon for asking, and I ended up getting a really good iced mocha inside!

Comic-Con 2010: The Gaslamp Crush

The Crossing

The plaza near the Gaslamp Trolley station, 5th Street and L, bracketed by the Omni, Hard Rock Hotel, and Hilton Gaslamp, has become the main hub of off-site Comic-Con activity over the last few years. It’s the most direct route between the convention center and Downtown San Diego. Unlike the crossing at 1st, there’s enough space to set up displays and businesses willing to undergo a SyFy makeover…so they can set up the Green Hornet Car (and the Green Hornet girls), the Cafe Diem, and the Scott Pilgrim Experience (with free garlic bread!). The city has started blocking off the area to cars to make room for pedestrian traffic, but since people still need to cross two trolley lines, a railroad, and a street, the crowds are a captive audience.

Stuff!As a result, the place is packed not just with people attending the con, but also with promoters handing out flyers, postcards, temporary tattoos, comic books and goodie bags. The Beat describes it as the “heart” of the con, or possibly some less savory body part. It’s sort of like walking down the Las Vegas strip, only instead of sketchy-looking men handing you trading cards* with pictures of hot women and phone numbers, there are hot women handing you cards with pictures of spaceships and sketchy-looking men with website addresses.

Super-CowsWell, mostly. One promoter shoved a movie postcard and a condom packet into my hand with the URL of what I hope was a viral marketing website slapped onto it.

Stay classy, San Diego!

Walking DeadAnd then there are the people there not to give you stuff, but to be advertising. The ones in promotional costumes, like the Fandango paper-bag puppets or the Chik-Fil-A super-hero cows. Zombies promoting The Walking Dead.

Pirate BandThis year, a new group joined in: those who weren’t really here for the convention, but just wanted to get the attention of a large number of people: Vegan activists. The “God Hates Everyone But Me” scumbags. (The con crowd fired back with a creative counter-protest.)

I never could figure out whether the man with the “CIA Is Evil!” sign was serious, or part of the same viral marketing campaign that had a legion of Men in Black handing out “confidential” envelopes to everyone who walked by.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.

*Go ahead. Tell me they don’t look like stripper trading cards. Though I remember some webcomic where the cast decided to use them for a collectible card game a la Magic: The Gathering.

Friday at Comic-Con 2010: Art and Downtown San Diego

Na'vi StatueWhenever I walked into the convention center at this year’s Comic-Con International, I felt completely overwhelmed for about fifteen minutes. After that, I relaxed and just sort of went with the flow. It never seemed to fail, even when I left to grab lunch, or to catch an event in a nearby hotel. The first fifteen minutes back? Crazy. After that? Normal. (Katie, on the other hand, felt completely at home with the crowds everywhere but the main floor and just outside the main lobby doors. Not sure whether the latter was more a reaction to the wait for the train, or the rampant smoking.)

RecognizerNeither of us had anything early or popular that we were trying to catch on Friday, so we slept in — which I’m sure really helped after the exhausting first day. Katie went for the design panels, with talks by TV costume designers and TV & movie production designers, while I roamed the middle of the floor where all the comics publishers had their booths.

Bryan Lee O'Malley Taking a PictureI stumbled onto the tail end of a Brian Lee O’Malley signing with only about five people in line, and still had Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour with me. Then I made it to the Studio Foglio booth just before Phil and Kaja Foglio left for an event, so I was able to get them to sign the new Girl Genius books that I picked up.

Exploring Downtown

On the shuttle ride to the convention center, I’d noticed a building with comic-book themed window art all over its first-floor windows. I wanted to get back to it for a closer look at some point during the con. I also wanted to drop off the new and newly-signed books so that I wouldn’t be carrying them around the rest of the day, so I figured I’d try to find the building while walking back to the hotel.

R2D2 Window Art Scott Pilgrim Window Art

Ghostbusters and EctomobileI also found some more window art at the Gaslamp Garage across the street from the Old Spaghetti Factory (one Flash and one Wolverine), a souvenir store flanked with Green Lantern and Sinestro, and, eventually, the building with all the drawings: Batman, R2D2, Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers, The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, etc.

Disney PrincessesStrangely enough, the con had even spilled into the historic Davis House: Alienware had set up a demonstration tent for their gaming systems on the lawn.

At some point during this trip, I stopped in at the Chuck Jones Gallery on 5th Street. In addition to Looney Tunes–inspired art, they also had quite a bit of superhero and Disney-inspired art on display, including several Alex Ross pieces. I’m not sure what their usual exhibits are, but it’s worth stopping by if you’re in the area.

Art Afternoon

Cortana and Soldier (Halo)Originally I’d planned to return for the Francis Manapul/Whilce Portacio art demonstration, but as I wandered downtown it became clear that I wasn’t going to make it back in time. So I stopped hurrying, grabbed lunch, and when I reached the convention, checked the schedule to see what I might do instead. I settled on the Comics Arts Conference panel on action heroines, specifically: where are they? It was an interesting lineup of female fans, scholars, actresses…and JMS, who was there because he’s just started writing Wonder Woman. (He and Cindy Morgan both left early for other commitments.)

Classic DC TV HeroesFrom there I visited the art show. The wide range of both skill and subject really struck me this time for some reason. Also, there were a few pieces I recognized from Westercon. From there, I decided at the last minute to catch the second day of DC Nation. I’m glad I did: Geoff Johns announced a second Flash series to launch next year (though considering I watched him announce both a Kid Flash series and a Wally West co-feature, neither of which actually went into production, I’m not letting myself get too excited).

DC Nation - JMS, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern

Meanwhile, Katie had spent the afternoon first watching an artist’s presentation on drawing animal anatomy, then waiting through Teen Wolf (yes, they’re remaking Teen Wolf…as a TV series) for Falling Skies with Moon Bloodgood and Noah Wyle.

Evening

Stuff!We left the convention center a bit earlier than the day before, hoping to avoid the closing crush, and met up with my parents (who were also attending the convention) for dinner at Sevilla, a tapas restaurant on 4th. Great food, but very dim and very noisy. It’s the one with the suit of plate armor in front of it. It was on the way to dinner that I lost my badge briefly; fortunately it hadn’t fallen too far back, and was still there when I looked.

Afterward, Katie and I returned to the convention center to make use of the wifi for some internet catch-up. We were aiming for the tables and chairs in Sails, but they had been put away for the night, so we settled in on a bench in the Ballroom 20 lobby. The Batman: Under the Red Hood premiere had already started, so the area was mostly empty.

It’s always strange to see the convention center when it isn’t crowded, especially after a full day of Comic-Con. It was quiet, the windows were dark, and most of all there was space. A few small groups were scattered around the lobby like we were. Stragglers wandered through, including three guys singing “Masquerade” from Phantom of the Opera. And over near the corner was a group of twenty or so people in costumes dancing the Macarena. Katie looked up from the computer and wondered if there was a world record for that.

If not, there should be!

This was Friday, July 23, 2010.
Next up: Saturday! Leverage, Harry Potter, No Ordinary Family and more.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.