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Quick Comic-Con Report - RonO's Ramblings

Jul. 24th, 2011 08:46 pm Quick Comic-Con Report

(Due to some technical issue with my Wordpress site, this is originating in Livejournal instead of at www.ron-oakes.us)

Wednesday night went fairly smoothly. The main glitch was started by the fact that a soccer match had been scheduled for Qualcomm Stadium, so the trolley parking there wasn't available. This ment that Tara was going to have to park at Old Town. She called and suggested that she could stop at work and pick me up. This seemed reasonable - and saved me the fare for the Coaster downtown.

But, she got running a bit late, not helped by missing the correct freeway across, and then getting totally confused between my trying to tell her to take a freeway that was in a different direction than she thought. As a result, she gave me a bit more time to tinker in the lab with something. This left me vulnerable to be seen in the lab, which generated more work to finish, and delayed our departure (she sat for about 15 minutes waiting for me to leave).

So, we didn't get down to downtown as early as we'd have liked. But we got our badges quickly and got into the exhibit hall easily. We found the couple of places we wanted to hit up - the booth shared in part by Brad Guigar where I picked up and had him sketch the next Evil Inc. collection, Airship Entertainment where Tara picked up the missing books in her Girl Genius collection, and a couple of other places I hadn't thought about but Tara had, like the WB booth to get the special edition TV Guide.

We were also able to finally get in touch with our next-door neighbor and he agreed to feed the dog and let him out mid-day, allowing us to stay later.

Thursday went pretty smoothly. We left a bit later than we'd planned, and thought (until Friday evening) we'd missed the first special event trolly down (we hadn't - the schedule was confusing, or bad information was temporarily on some website). We got a place in the Ballroom 20 line early - further up than any time before. We saw three panels in there: Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, Covert Affairs and the only one for a show we actually watch - the other are shows we don't watch because of time not taste - Phych. We also did a bit more shopping and still left fairly early.

Friday was the first of two bad mornings. We had planned on getting our 2012 badges (I don't use the term "ticket" since I'm part of the "membership" camp, and Comic-Con doesn't use "membership," so "badges" is a good compromise term). But when we got off the trolley at the stop and walked over to the Hyatt, we learned that people had been camping out for pre-reg since the night before, and the line was already full. Unfortunately, this news became that one extra piece of straw on my emotional back, and I was left needing to walk off my feelings for some time. So I wrote off the panels I'd planned in the morning and early afternoon. Unfortunately, I had most of the snacks and water, so when Tara attempted to get into the line - only to find it already stretching further than we'd ever seen that early - perhaps thought we'd seen, due to changes - and was already having issues from the heat and extra walking, I wasn't around. But we both basically had given up.

The rest of the day wasn't too bad. We did some more shopping - I picked up a copy of the audio book version of Agatha H and the Airship City and was able to get Phil and Kaja to autograph the cover insert. We also stopped by the Fan Table area and spotted that the room 20 line looked reasonable for the later panels on Eureka and Warehouse 13. Alas, after waiting about an hour in that line, we were about 1000 (IIRC) people away from getting in. Unfortunately, we knew that many fewer than that would leave between those two panels - they ran them together last year due to the now shared universe and overlapping audience - so we gave up.

If I hadn't carried the backpack chair we'd gotten - which for me fails 100% as something I can carry like a backpack, while Tara loves her's - all day, including a long walk along the bayfront, and into the East Village, I might have chosen to stay for a 7:00 panel on NCIS: LA (and have partially regretted not staying off and on since). But, instead we headed home early.

Saturday started with a similar repeat of Friday. When we discovered that people who could (i.e. people who could camp all night) had made the line for the Chuck panel quite long - although we might have caught some of it if we'd gotten in line anyway - I found that I'd not unloaded all of the straw, and fell into a short-term depressive cycle which made none of the day's (or at least morning's) panels interesting. Tara went to a panel I probably would have found interesting in a better frame of mind, while I worked through my disappointment walking along the bayfront into Seaport Village. But, by the time she was out of the panel at 11, I'd worked out a strategy that saved both Saturday and Comic-Con for me. (I'd probably dumped much of the emotional factors as well).

I also ended up buying a very large bag of semi-random dice: the first mug full was selected, and the second scooped, since I accidentally bought the big bag. Now, hopefully this will draw the rest of our dice out of hiding.

So, first we went into the Exhibition hall and found Brute Force leather, who gave each of us a nice set of steam-punk goggles and some other stuff in exchange for some money. Then we found The Broken Yolk for an early lunch. After that we moved into room 6BCF - the third largest programming venue - and remained for the rest of the day.

We attended one of two Cartoon Voice panels, for which the highlight is a table reading of a script of a common fairy tale ("Snow White" this year) in which the panelists choose random voices (either characters the've performed or new characters) for each part.

That was followed by the "Cup Of Joe" panel, in which Joe A-something who is now an executive with Marvel brings a bunch of his co-workers to answer questions (and promote several Marvel projects, including some graphic novels that seem marketed at people who aren't big comic-book people, including me). We managed to score a nice Avengers t-shirt as well. (I told Tara that I knew enough to know that this did not refer to Mr. Steed and his various partners such as Emma Peel).

Then the panel Tara was looking forward to about the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender. This series looks both beautiful (i.e. it is a moving work of art) and quite good.

Over the next couple of hours we got two full pilot episodes for upcoming shows, The Secret Circle, which I probably won't watch being about 30 years too old for its demographic, and Person of Interest which we both will probably watch. In between was a panel on Nikita, which was somewhat interesting as a non-viewer.

But the highlight of the day - and missing out by a small bit the weekend - was finally getting to see The Mythbusters. All five were there. It was a fun and interesting panel. They didn't get to blow anything up, except perhaps the limit on accidental and not-so-accidental double entendres.

Sunday, we got going and to the convention reasonably. Once we were off the trolley we headed straight for the line for Hall H, where we missed being in the main group on the plaza next to the convention center by less than a dozen people. For the next hour or so (not counting my trip into the Hilton to use the bathroom) we waited until we were finally moved through the long queues into Hall H.

There we sat through two panels for shows we weren't as sure of (and certainly were unsure why they were in Hall H when others were in the smaller venue, something we learned partially later at Talkback): Glee and Supernatural.

Alas, the Glee panel kind of made me less sure of the show. Confirming that they are depicting a high school show choir performing new, often original or uncommon, songs several times a year, snapped my disbelief suspenders for a supposedly "realistic" show. Supernatural looks like something we might have enjoyed if we'd started watching it 7 years ago, but I'm not going to jump into it now.

But the panel we'd sat through the others to make sure we could see was the 12:30 panel on Doctor Who. The panel was great, and both Matt Smith and Karen Gillen were good panelists, as were the three writers. It would have been nice to have Steven Moffat there, but I'm sure he'd have been as open as most of the show runners we saw this weekend.

After that we got lunch, ending up at The Broken Yolk again, picked up our t-shirts and made one last brief run through the exhibition hall before heading up to the Con Talkback panel before heading out.

Talkback did reveal a few things. Not surprisingly a LOT of long-time attendees were upset with the way pre-registration ran, and the president of the board (IIRC) partially owned up to it but still seemed to have a bit of an attitude that everyone should have an equal chance, not just the current attendees. I can see his (the board's?) point of view, but also see that I am far from the only one - and as only a third year attendee I'm a relative newcomer myself - who felt that we should at least have been able to get the same kind of membership as we had.

I am planning, or strongly thinking about, writing to the ComicCon board about this and other issues - and if/when I do, I'll probably share it publicly. I plan on also making a strong argument that the con should do everything they can to discourage camping of any sort - for memberships, lines or anything else limited - both to make it fair for people who cannot or will not for any reason do it, for the health and safety of the members, and for possibly community concerns. I doubt that the area residents (and there are several multi-family dwellings that overlook the convention center), and even the hotels really want Comic-Con to become a place where people are camping in lines for days or weeks before the event.

At Talkback we also learned that some of the negative things we didn't personally experience could at least partially trace their roots back to a new Fire Marshal (or several, it wasn't clear) changing the rules, and in some cases changing the rules during the event. This will also probably generate a letter or four (since some will need to be slightly different due to audiences). Two will go to the mayor and our city councilor (who are, for better or worse, not standing for reelection due to term limits, but the councilor is running for mayor) addressing both the situation with the fire marshal (which is making the city look bad in a major public event) and the need to expand the convention center - even if the expansion were budgeted to be vacant 51 weeks each year. (I'm pretty sure that the added tax revenue from Comic Con would probably return that investment quickly).

At this point, when online pre-registration opens (hopefully sooner rather than later), we'll make an effort (even if it requires one of us taking all or part of a day off) to get our badges for next year, and hope that by then the follow-up system will allow people to continue to be long-time attendees.

But now, I've got to focus on work for the next few weeks before I have to deal with Renovation and Conjecture.

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