Sunday, July 24, 2011

Comic-Con 2011

I went to Comic-Con International yesterday for the first time. It was also the first time I've been to this sort of Con when I was the one calling all the shots. I learned how not to make a lot of serious and painful noob mistakes, the hard way. But, I got in for free, so I can look at them as low cost lessons, however painful they may have been.

The one thing that I did really right was to get into Comic-Con for free by pre-registering to be a volunteer. You work a three hour shift doing some menial task at some point in the day, and get to play the rest of the day for free. You can get in like this as many days as you want, and they throw in a free t-shirt to boot. (Thanks to for letting me know that this could be done!)

Lessons Learned:

  1. Go more than one day. One day is simply not enough time to even skim the floor if you want to go to any panels. This is the most important lesson I learned. When presented with the option of stopping to get a photo of this costume and to chat with the person at that booth, or to keep moving to see what is further ahead, I usually picked the latter because I didn't have enough time. And even while making that painful choice so often, I still never did cover the whole floor.
  2. A written out schedule is essential. I missed several events I would have liked to see because I had the wrong times in my head and or because I just forgot about them with so much else going on.
  3. Arrive before 7 am. I got there too late to get an early volunteer assignment, so I wasted three hours doing stuff for the con instead of doing stuff at the con after it opened.
  4. Some panels have epic lines, others have none.
  5. Bring a mini-folding chair. There will be time spent in those epic lines. Be ready.
  6. There are boring lines, have a (small, light!) book with you.
  7. Make sure shoes are ready for lots of walking/not-quite-running. A panel on each end of the building and zero time to get from one to the other means you won't always be able to stroll from one place to the next. (Mine needed fresh gel pads.)
  8. Bring paper. I saw several people I would have liked to get signatures from, but had nothing for them to sign.
  9. Check the signing schedule carefully and bring the appropriate books.
  10. Most signings require a ticket/bracelet you have to get before hand, or you can't even get in the line.
  11. Bring more snacks. Between the walking around all day and seeing thousands of people eating plate pizza, etc., I wanted to eat more than I brought with me.
  12. There is a lot going on.
  13. Bring an SLR with some serious zoom. There were some pretty awesome pictures I could have taken if I had a lens with 20x or 30x magnification instead of my paltry 4x.
  14. 20 GB of cards for my camera was more than enough. However, had I gone to more panels, I would likely have shot a lot more video, so 20 GB was not overkill. Also, three batteries was a close call, so bring four next time to be on the safe side.
  15. Rob a bank on the way there to have enough cash. There was a lot of really cool things I could have bought, and not all of them cost an arm and a leg. Admittedly, some of them did cost a few limbs, hence the bank job.
  16. The floor closes early, like a business, and does not stay going forever like a fair. (Hence the "could have" in #15. I was going to go back down to the floor after the Mythbusters panel and buy the things that I thought I was being smart by purchasing later and therefore not carrying around all day.)
  17. You can row hop close to the front of a big-deal panel by arriving several events ahead and moving fast when it empties out after each event.
  18. A volunteer job may be very boring. I was a Human Wall for two hours before I got reassigned.
  19. Get your volunteer shirt as soon as possible after you can, things close down earlier than you may think. 
  20. The Mythbusters are even more funny in real life than they are on TV.
Coolest Costumes Seen:
  1. An older Steampunk Lady with a Predator on a leash.
  2. The Monty Python set of three: A king and two knaves. Massive pack and clomping coconut shells included.
  3. A Centaur with articulated rear legs.
  4. A family of Klingons.
  5. A Death Star.
  6. I think Darth Vader requires a special mention. There were more flavors of him than you might think. There was the Classic Vader, the Mini-skirt and leather Lady Vader, the Black and White with Jar-Jar's head on a platter with lettuce Vader, the Bobble Head Vader, the Hello Kitty Pink and Black Vader and more.
  7. I saw one Captain Jack Sparrow that was so good that I thought it was Johny Depp for several seconds.
  8. I'm not even going to mention the mountains of Stormtroopers, fairies, elfs, zombies, superheros and capers. But there were hundreds and hundreds of them.
People seen:
  1. Molly Quinn from Castle just walked across my path which was very cool.
  2. Jim Butcher was at a signing.
  3. The entire Mythbusters Cast was at their pannel:
    1. Adam Savage (Twice! Once at the panel, and once on the floor in disguise, so I didn't recognize him at the time.)
    2. Jamie Hyneman
    3. Tory Belleci
    4. Kari Byron
    5. Grant Imahara 

All in all, I had a great day and hope that I can make it back next year. With these lessons learned, I plan to have an absolute blast next time around.


Marilyn Holeman said...

Thanks for the details! I'll look forward to the photos later.

Anonymous said...

So what I'm reading here is that, though at Christmas we may or may not se you, we could bank on seeing you near the end of July? :D

~Your sis