Back from San Diego! Since this was our first Comic-Con, we learned a few things.
1) If you want to attend Thursday sessions, arrive Wednesday night.
Like many others, I was stuck in that hellish traffic around Camp Pendleton, due to the Ham Truck Explosion, which The Boyfriend and I agree would be an excellent Rock Band band name but which sucks as a road hazard.
Now of course you can't plan for crazy, newsmaking accidents, but in the future I'll look at Thursday as a real day rather than a travel one and get into town earlier.
So I arrived too late and/or too enervated and annoyed to make it to any of the sessions I wanted to go to, so I just did a quick recon of the neighborhood and hung out at the hotel until The Boyfriend arrived in the evening.
2) You can in fact book a hotel room at the last minute.
We stayed in Old Town, which worked out fine thanks to the handy San Diego Trolley, and I booked that through the Comic-Con site only a few weeks ago. A friend called last Monday, which is when the companies release the extra rooms they've booked, and got a room at the Marriott right next door.
Old Town bonus: No lack of yummy Mexican food. And margaritas!
3) There are two Convention Center trolley stops. The second one, Gaslamp, is closer to Hall H. Save yourself the walk. You'll need your energy.
After getting our badges Friday morning -- Professional registration = shorter line, happily -- we went straight to Hall H. We arrived about an hour before the WATCHMEN panel and I figured we'd have no chance of getting in, but we did!
And it was awesome.
Cool new footage they screened twice, Zack Snyder and the whole cast, Dave Gibbons too. The Q&A was hilarious, and apparently curated for color: first question came from a guy dressed as Batman. Second? The Joker. There was also a pair of twins who tag-team-asked their question, and a Rorshach.
And we each got a ticket for a WATCHMEN t-shirt! Swag!
4) Swag associated with a Hall H event disappears fast.
Which we learned when we went to get our shirts.
After WATCHMEN, we went straight to the Entertainment Weekly Showrunners panel, featuring Josh Schwartz, Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Fuller, and Josh Friedman. It was very entertaining, as you might expect from such an accomplished and visionary and funny group, although kinda LOST-centric, especially the Q&A. No bigs, though -- the panelists made jokes out of the situation, and everyone on the panel was having their own session later in the con anyway.
So we didn't flock to the floor right after the WATCHMEN panel, and they were all out of t-shirts.
All three of the booths with the shirts. Out.
We got to one booth just in time to see the last two shirts given out to people right in front of us.
I was in a really bad mood after that.
But we kept our tickets.
5) Swag gets resupplied over the day.
Never say die! We wandered back to the WB booth later and saw WATCHMEN tickets and t-shirts changing hands. Sweet! So, all ended well.
(Of course, those same precious shirts were probably getting handed out willy-nilly on Sunday, no tickets required, so the exhibitors wouldn't have to ship them back.)
We spent most of the rest of Friday checking out the floor. On our way out to dump swag at the hotel and freshen up before dinner, we ran into my bosses from MOONLIGHT, who were on the writing for genre TV panel that night. I was glad to have the chance to catch up with them there because...
6) If you arrive at a popular panel late, or even right on time, forget about it. It's full and they won't let you in.
So, bah. Coming back from Old Town we were late to the genre writing panel, and couldn't get in. We couldn't even get into panels that hadn't started yet, because they were already full. So we people-watched for a bit before getting dinner.
And we got plus-oned into the DC party! It was loud, not too crowded. People emerging from the VIP area had tote bags with stuff in them, but we had to content ourselves with drinkable swag in the form of specialty cocktails named after DC characters. I had a vodka and Red Bull-- erm, I mean a "Booster Gold."
7) Get your floor time in as early as possible. And not on Saturday, if you can help it.
Mob scene. MOB SCENE. We made a final pass through before meeting friends for lunch, but were glad we'd seen most everything on Friday. Thursday would've been better yet.
Saturday is clearly better spent in panels, and we did catch Mike Mignola and the HELLBOY team (The Boyfriend is a fan from way back).
Then we picked up the car and our luggage back in Old Town and hit the road, which was happily free of incinerated meat products. That means we missed the Masquerade, which was Saturday night, along with a bunch of other panels. Next time we'll leave on Sunday, I think.
8) Miss something? If it's relevant to Hollywood or is big news in comics, it's probably online.
After getting home Saturday evening I glutted myself on Web coverage of the missed panels, including DEXTER, BSG, Joss Whedon, and HEROES. Announcements from the big comics publishers and presos by the industry's heavy hitter creators also got liveblogged/recapped/etc.
Whew! It was a ton of fun, and we're looking forward to next year. In the meantime, I have my own comic book to write.
Oh, and while as noted we skipped the Masquerade, there's no reason I can't hand out a few costume awards of my own. The envelope, please!
Best Costume, Male: Tie! A picture-perfect Davy "Squidbeard" Jones from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and a Borg-assimilated Klingon
Best Costume, Female: An all-chixx0r squadron of Rebel pilots
Most Desultory Costume: V FOR VENDETTA mask. Dude. Make an effort.
Most Popular Costume: DARK KNIGHT Joker
Zeitgeist Award: Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer (one with groupies!), alone or together
Best Use of Cardboard, Runner-Up: Weighted Companion Cube
Best Use of Cardboard, Winner: Two guys dressed as TIE fighters, wings on arms
Best Game-Inspired Costume: HALF-LIFE scientist, complete with lab coat, Black Mesa badge, and plush headcrab hat
Least Effective Costume, Runner-Up: All the anime and Final Fantasy outfits, which only make sense if you're a devotee of those series and games
Least Effective Costume, Winner: Anyone with a "Free Hugs" sign
Guy Who Probably Regretted His Costume the Minute After He Put It On: Colossus, face and arms covered with silver paint, who was unable to put his arms down for fear of smearing