Our final day

27 JULY 2014

Sunday is here and if you are anything like me, you could barely drag yourself out of bed this morning. I think we're all ready to go home.  So what is everyone doing to wind down today?

It's our first Doctor Who-less Sunday in Hall H in a while, but people still camped for Supernatural. Mischa Collins handed out coffee to people in line, which is half-adorable and half like feeding wild raccoons.

It's Kids Day, so you parents will probably have a whole list of places to take your offspring, but one panel that will be popular with everyone is "Sesame Street& Pop Culture: 45 Years of Spoofs on the 'Street'  with parodies of Comic-Con and Star Wars - moderated by Chris Hardwick.  10:15 in Room 6A.

Then we have a smattering of random panels that don't follow much of a theme. 
"The Fifth Beatle: The Beatles, The Big Screen, and Beyond" should be popular with fans of the graphic novel. 10:00 in 24ABC.

"Robert Kirkman's Skybound Comics" will draw people in. 11 in 7AB. So will "Image Comics: I Is for...Innovation" at 2:00pm - 3:00pm Room 7AB and "Fictionalized Nonfiction: The Art of Combining Fact and Fiction" will share experiences by
Gilbert Hernandez, Mimi Pond, David Lasky and others at 3:00 in 32AB.

Marvel has "Marvel: Next Big Thing" is at 12:30 in 6DE, followed by "Marvel Comics' 75th and Daredevil's 50th" at 1:45.

"Nerdist News Live" should be fun. 2:00 in 24ABC.
Quentin Tarantino will be at the very long-titled “Dynamite 10th Anniversary Panel Featuring Quentin Tarantino as He Comes to Dynamite! The Sequel to Django Unchained-Django Meets Zorro”  2:15 in 6BCF.
We have the "bullying panel" people keep talking about: "End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in Our Culture." This is about geek bullying, LGBT bullying, cyber-bullying and such. 3:00 in 24ABC.

But if you're not in the mood for healing, you can go to "Comic-Con Talk Back" and share all of your most vivid opinions on SDCC with John Rogers, president of the Comic-Con board of directors. Go ahead, be honest, be bold, be firm. It can only help. 3:30 in 23ABC.
If you're still sticking around by 4:00, go to "Full-Time Creative Work on a Part Time Schedule" to get a one-year subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud. 24ABC.

Writers get a last hurrah with "How to Create Your Own Novel: From First Idea to Publishing and What You Need to Sell your Work to TV and Film" at 4:00 in 7A - or they can learn "The Secrets of Writing" at 4:00 in 30CDE.

Finally we have "The Battle for Multicultural Heroes" at 4:00 in 28DE.

Also, remember that a lot of vendors mark down their stuff on Sunday. If something caught your eye earlier but its price tag scared you off, this is the time to go back and see if you can negotiate.

Enjoy your last day in nirvana, nerds.

Be a Comic-Con explorer

27 JULY 2014

Comic-Con is almost over.  Hopefully you got to buy and visit and experience all the things you wanted.

You might even have hit the point where you achieved your objectives and now have some time on your hands today. In which case, I want to make a case for exploring an area that isn't one of your interests. There is no better entry point in the world to get into gaming for the first time, or pick up a comic book, or try anime. Maybe you want to see if you like science fiction or find out about self-publishing. So many people have a "first time" story at Comic-Con that opens up a whole new avenue for them.

My point is, this is a giant, multi-dimensional resource vibrating around you - take advantage of it. Boldly go where other nerds have gone before. And on that note, I'll sign off with pictures of several of my favorite Comic-Con explorers who were gracious enough to let me take their pictures: space engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, comic book legends and first-time Eisner winners Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, and visionary genius Grant Morrison.

Tonight's Hall H line

27 JULY 2014

I just passed a multitude of people carrying pillows and blankets toward the convention center. Apparently the Supernatural fan camp has staked their claim. In light of today's events, you might want to grab a few hours of sleep in your room before heading down; people are under the tents but it's really not that bad so far.

What we learned about lines this weekend

26 JULY 2014

So we had some epic lines last night. And it turned out that the waiting was a waste of time for many people - either because they could have gotten in without waiting or because they wouldn't have gotten in no matter what.

Some people reported spending 20 hours in line (which I hope was an exaggeration) and some reported spending 30 minutes in line for the same Ballroom 20 panel. I don't know if that's true because I wasn't there. But even allowing for a slight stretching of the truth, it still points to the reality that these spine-breaking, overnight camping trips just aren't always necessary.

I know some of you will say "well, I got in the front row so it was necessary" - and good for you. But for those of you who just want a reasonably good seat and a good night's sleep, it looks like you could have had both, for Ballroom 20 at least. People are going to be able to see True Blood with only a few hours' wait. That is a huge improvement over previous years.

Hall H was a different story. I spoke to someone who slept outside, then baked in the sun part of the day before giving up. In general, people seem grumpier about this line than Ballroom 20, perhaps because the wristbands and guards made it a more regimented experience. So maybe the lesson here is, know when you've been beat.

Probably this isn't much help. No one can foresee how bad a line will be, so people play it safe and early, and then it evolves into this. But we have got to come up with something better.

Happy Saturday. Are we ready?

26 JULY 2014

Today is arguably the most intense day of the Con, content-wise - yet it seems that much of the action is already a foregone conclusion, given how many of you are waking up groggy and chilled outside.  

Last night was the most ridiculous Hall H/Ballroom 20 situation I've seen probably in all my years, excepting Twilight. The rest of you who want to get into the big rooms? I wouldn't be entirely sure you're shut out, since I think some of these people will fold and leave by mid-afternoon. Also, Ballroom 20 seems to have a large contingent of people who are there only for Once Upon A Time and "Fan Favorites," which should help the situation for True Blood.

For those of us who slept in a warm bed last night:

Today has a ton of panels for digital and visual artists. "Establishing Shot" is at 10, "Digital Character Sketching & Painting" is at 11, with "Advanced 3D/CG Comic Art" at 12:15, "Draw Your Imagination" at 1:45, all in Room 2."Adobe Photoshop: Enabling the Artist in the 3D Print Revolution" is at 3:00 in 30CDE.

Writers get some love too: "Writers Unite: Writing and Pitching Comic Stories" is at 10:00 in 25AB and "Publishing 360°: Building a Bestseller" promises to explain "navigating the path from story idea to bestseller." I bet a zillion people go to this. It's at 6:00 in 25ABC. "Internet Marketing Secrets for Authors" is at 8 in 30CDE.

There's a lot on the comic book front today.

We have "DC Comics-Batman 75 Too Tough Trivia: Riddle Me This!" at 10 in 6DE and "DC Entertainment: Batman 75th Anniversary" has Kevin Conroy, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Ralph Garman, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee at 4 in 6BCF.

"Drawn & Quarterly Jeopardy" will hand out free books to all winning answers. 10:00 in room 4.

"IDW: Summer Blockbusters!" is at 10:00 in 28DE.

"Avatar the Last Airbender: Legend and Legacy." 10:30 in 24ABC.
I will be worshiping at the "Temple of Art" with Dave McKean, Grant Morrison, etc. They're showing a video presentation of original works and preview of the documentary, and handing out giveaways and t-shirts. 11:00 in 25ABC.
Top Cow: 2015 Brings a New Talent Hunt, New Projects, and More" says all attendees will receive a special limited-edition lithograph. 11:00 in Room 9.

"DC Comics-Superman: The Man of Tomorrow" is at 11:15 in 6DE, followed by "The Weeklies" at 12:45.
"We Are BOOM!" 12:30 in 24ABC. People seem excited for this one. Ditto for Saga at 1:00 in 7AB with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
"The Oni Press Comicstravaganza: All Cats Go to Purgatory!" is at 2:00 in room 9.

"IDW: Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez" is at 2:30pm in 24ABC. Then we have "IDW Pop Culture Mix-Tape" at 4:00 in room 4. 
"Fantagraphics Forward" is at 3:30 in 26AB. Then "IImage Comics: I Is for...Ideas" has people like Scott Snyder and Brian K. Vaughan explaining how to get into comics.  4:30 in 6DE.
Finally, we have "Gays in Comics XXVII: It's a Queer, Queer World!"  5:30- 7:00, followed by a mixer and auction in 6A. I would describe this as LGBTQ - not just Gold Star gay - so come on down.

On the author front, readers will like:

"Fantastic Females: Heroines in Paranormal Fantasy" at 10:30 in Room 8 and "The Art of Fear" with horror authors in 2:30 in Room 8.

Then we have "Rulers of the Realm" with Joe Abercrombie, Diana Gabaldon, Lev Grossman, George R. R. Martin, and Patrick Rothfuss. 4:15 in 6A. You know to line up early for this, right?

"Fight Club: From Page to Screen and Beyond" has Chuck Palahniuk, David Fincher. 7:00 in 25ABC.

At the same time: "Onwards, Voyager! Epic Reads Await You!" will share previews of new and upcoming YA fiction from Harper Voyager. 7:00 in Room 9.

On the Hollywood front, there's Robert Kirkman and Norman Reedus at 3:00 in 6A.

Futurists will want to go to "Pop Culture and the Robot Reality" at 11:00 in 7AB. Then it's time to discuss "Sci-Fi, Robots and AI" at noon in the same room.  It kills me to miss this.

There's a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-Booyakasha!" at 11:15 in 6A and a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary" at 2:00 in 23ABC.

"The Whedonverse" lives on at 1:30 in 24ABC. That should make people happy.
If you can get tickets, the "Nerdist Podcast Network Super Panel." is at 1:45pm in the Horton Grand Theatre.  

"The Blacklist" is at 1:45 in 6A.

Syfy's new baby "Ascension" with Tricia Helfer will be at 3:15 in 6DE. That's followed by "Salem" at 5:45 and "American Horror Story" at 7. This is AHS's first SDCC appearance, and I expect the line to be intense. Get there early.
 Constantine is at 5:15 in 6BCF, followed by Person of Interest at 6:15. That should draw a lot of people.

So that's Saturday. Given the number of events tonight, I'm guessing many of us will be disco-napping in the late afternoon, while others will be in their best rotting zombie form for Zombie:Walk and A Night on Zombie Island. Plus it's the Masquerade so we'll see some good cosplay today. 

And because a lot of locals will be swarming the area to take in the nerdy sights (half the people I met last night at Con parties had nothing to do with SDCC), expect things to get crowded in the Gaslamp. In fact, I'm going to remind everyone about eating at the Headquarters on the other side of the Hyatt. I've eaten there several times and it's not crowded at all. Seasons 52, Pizzeria Mozza and the Mexican place were practically empty. So if you want to avoid the swarm today, just walk down past the Marriott and Hyatt and you should be able to get a good meal fast.

Also, I'm answering email as fast as I can. My phone is wonky in the convention center so be patient if I don't get back to you right away - I'm not ignoring you. I'll answer you as soon as I can.

The Hall H line is nightmarish

25 JULY 2014

For those of you not monitoring the situation on Twitter, get into the Hall H line now or abandon all hope for tomorrow. The line is already down to the marina/Embarcadero. Obviously some of those people will hit their limit at some point tomorrow and leave before, say, the Gotham/Flash night event, but it's a safe bet that most of the current campers are hardcore and will be there till the bitter end.

Other than Twilight, I can't recall this kind of Hall H line. This is like a sci-fi movie where the already fearsome monster mutates into an even larger and more horrible form. Just remember, you people did this to yourselves.

Comic-Con news so far

25 JULY 2014

It's half over. Are you dead yet?

My midpoint assessment overall is that swag is better (I have an entire couchful of books, shirts, CDs and some Tarot cards) and lines are more unpredictable. At this point I feel the Hall H line has evolved into a living Ouroboros, in which the legend of the lines creates the line itself, more than the actual panels. Cosplay has been about the same as other years. (I expect that'll change tomorrow for the Masquerade and Zombie Walk.) The Jesus/Repent Sinners/ You're Going to Hell people are up close to the convention center this year and very mouthy. Apparently this is their new destination after Gay Pride season ends.

As Comic-Con announcements go, this has been a fairly even-keeled Con. Let's review.

The Game of Thrones panel announced new cast members, including some Sand Snakes.

Sam Raimi is turning Evil Dead into a TV series with Bruce Campbell. Well, he intends to.

Archie released a new Android Archie Comics app - and you get 100 books by downloading it.

Interstellar, Nolan's new space film, looks intriguing and visually stunning, but he may have overstepped a bit when he said he intends it to be equal to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Let's be reasonable now, Christopher.

Agents of SHIELDS will have new characters, including Lucy Lawless as a new agent.

Walking Dead revealed - SPOILER - that Beth is alive and the gang is headed to various cities and towns more in keeping with the comic book plot lines.

If you love Firefly, you'll be happy to see the whole cast back in action for Firefly Online.

We saw Smash Bros and Halo: Nightfall and both had many admirers.

On Penny Dreadful, we'll see Dorian's portrait eventually and get more into Dracula's story.

Star Wars Rebels will take a different view of the Empire and the Jedis - this isn't the same ideology in play.

No Clarice Starling for Hannibal.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not a remake. It is an organic story.

Big Hero 6 looks both very cute and very sophisticated. People who predicted this couldn't meet the hype will probably feel silly.

Joaquin Phoenix might play Dr. Strange. 

iZombie pulled its pilot due to cast changes (hopefully not any of the leads we saw today) and is promised by creator Rob Thomas to be "more Buffy than Veronica Mars."

Teenage Boy story Maze Runner is trying to bust through the female-dominated YA market.

Scorpion will deal with the realities of being a genius - the difficulties and burden of having a high IQ. I'm curious if they pull it off.

The Tiger Beat love triangle that dominated the first season of Reign is done. Instead we'll have a new bad guy, "sexual intrigue" and other anachronistic silliness.

If you know something else, share it. I'm off to the Crave party and the Nerd-a-Thon and sleeping in tomorrow. Hopefully you're doing something similar.

Donate blood for a free True Blood t-shirt

25 JULY 2014

If you have a free hour today, consider giving blood at the Hyatt. Every year Comic-Con attendees save many lives with our donations - and it's quick and easy to do.
Where: the Manchester Grand Hyatt. They're taking walk-ins and you can also register upstairs in the Sails Pavilion.  
What: the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive, which is San Diego Blood Bank's longest running event.

How: just walk down to the Hyatt from 9:00 - 6:00 today or tomorrow or 10:00 - 3:30 Sunday. They'll take care of everything else. The whole thing takes about an hour.

What you get: a True Blood t-shirt, free books, bloody fang hole neck tattoos and various lottery drawings, and lots of cookies and juice.

Exhibit Hall assessment

25 JULY 2014

For most attendees, the Exhibit Hall is a huge part of Comic-Con. I actually remember when it only took up part of the floor (which seems incredible now, but it was just a few years back) and while the booths have changed somewhat, the general experience has stayed mostly consistent. Here's what I've noticed this year.

For a few years, it seemed that many of the smaller vendors were vanishing.  Booths that sold random products, long-lost childhood artifacts and bizarre gimmick merchandise just didn't return. But I haven't seen much attrition the last 3 years and many of the small vendors seem on solid footing.

That said, there's still a reduction in indie artists and writers. I do see more variety in books on display tables, which I appreciate deeply. But the days of seeing your favorite obscure creator seem mostly done. I come here mainly as a passionate reader, and I still find plenty of new titles to buy - but I rarely have that feeling of discovering something rare and weird here I won't find on Amazon.

The A section is a gaming explosion. It's a good option for people who aren't hardcore enough for Gam3rCon, but still want hands-on play for upcoming releases.

Photo ops are better than ever. The Bates Motel, the Walking Dead/Terminus, the T Rex head, the White Walker - you can find something to make every single one of your friends jealous. Some of the activities, like the Adult Swim game of luck or the multiple virtual reality stops, cause bottlenecks but such is SDCC.

Now. On the topic of etiquette, a few things.

* It's crowded and we all eventually get pushed, stepped on or bopped in the eye by a foam sword. Be gracious about it.  No one is trying to deliberately annoy you.

* Yes, it's slow. I'm a fast walker and getting trapped behind people who are just sort of ambling aimlessly makes me crazy. Strollers, giant bags and wheelchairs also take up room. But snorting angrily or complaining doesn't magically make the crowd part and let you by. I heard several people go on a tirade about the crowds and slowness - I'm not sure what they expected, but this is how Comic-Con is. It's not clean and easy and convenient. It's a sweltering frustrating snarl of an obstacle course, and you have to really love it here to put up with it.

* Don't take 10 minutes to frame your shot.  Snap 2-3 pictures and move on. And don't get mad when you're trying to pan the Exhibit Hall while shooting your personal documentary and then a Wookie walks in front of your phone and ruins it. Not a sound stage, the Exhibit Hall.

* Don't stop in the middle of an aisle to hash out where to have lunch with your friends. Go out in the halls for that kind of powwow. Some of the smaller aisles are downright claustrophobic, yet twice today I saw groups of people block them completely just to have a conversation.

* Don't harass cosplayers. Yes, this topic has been beaten to death but apparently it needs to be said again. Today I heard a guy explain his reformation: "I really didn't get it, but then So&So pointed out that those girls work really hard on their costumes. So it's not cool to say shit to them and you know, he's right." That is an actual quote, generated by someone who doesn't understand that it's "not cool" to harass anyone, regardless of what they're wearing or whether they sewed it by hand or bought it off Ebay.

* Don't be mean to booth workers or security guards just because they can't give you the answer you want. I know it's hard to swallow your gall sometimes but unloading on an innocent person is not The Way.

* Practice situational awareness when it comes to people behind you and around you. If someone is waiting to pay or ask a question, or take a picture, don't stand there flirting with the vendor for 10 minutes. If you're super tall, don't step right in front of a shorter person trying to take a picture of the Walking Dead zombies. I know we all do these things on accident, but that is why it helps to stay aware of the attendees around us.

Okay, I'm done lecturing.  I just felt it necessary to say that because I've seen so many loud and crabby people in the Exhibit Hall today, all feeling persecuted by what is the essential Comic-Con experience. Sorry, everyone, this is just how it is. If you really can't deal, come back shortly before closing time when the aisles thin out.

It's Friday. Where are we going?

25 JULY 2014

Good morning! I hope you're all recovering nicely from whatever party you hit last night. But we've got Conning to do, so let's see what's on the docket.

You already know if you're going to sacrifice your whole day to Indigo, Hall H or Ballroom 20, because you already sacrificed your night. However: you can probably still get into the later panels. Kevin Smith in Hall H? Doable. Those GOT/Walking Dead fans will clear out for dinner and sleep. Ditto anyone who wants to see Batman: Assault on Arkham tonight in Ballroom 20. As for Archer - I'd line up by 2 for this. Bob's Burger's will not clear out for this, obviously.

Star Wars fans can do all kinds of things today. "Star Wars Origami" is at 10 in Room 7AB; "Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy" follows at 11:00; "Hasbro: Star Wars" is at noon; "Star Wars: A New Dawn" is at 2; "Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight" is at 3.

Lots of content for designers and artists today. "Color Copic Markers" is at 1:45pm is in room 2; "Convincing Hand and Facial Expressions" is at 2 in 30CDE; "Art Lessons from Great Illustrators: Heinrich Kley" is at 3 in 30CDE; "Building Your Fan Following with Superstars of DeviantArt" is at 3:30 in room 2. "Creating Comics with the iPad" is at 4:00 in 30CDE. Finally there's "Prismacolor Power! Marker and Pencil Techniques that Make You a Super Artist" at 5:00 in 30CDE.

Then all of you budding novelists and screenwriters can learn how to take over the world."Ask An Agent!" is at 4:30pm in Room 24ABC."Closing the Deal: Everything You Need to Know About Publishing Deals and Contracts" is at 6 in room 30CD. 

Finally, "Be a Financial Superhero Even If You Aren't Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne" talks financial planning for artists and writers at 8:00 in Room 4.

Popular comic book panels include:
Image Comics with Kelly Sue DeConnick, Fiona Staples, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, John Layman, Steve Seagle. Get there fast because it starts at 11:00. 23ABC.

 "Archie Forever: Life, Afterlife, and Beyond" is at 1:00 in Room 4. As someone who converted to Archie fandom at last year's Con, I may hit this. And if you're rolling your eyes at the idea of an Archie comic ever being your thing, swing by the booth (28XX something) and check out Afterlife. It's enthralling.
If you're a veteran cosplayer or just curious about getting started, today is your day. "Cosplaying 101" is at 1 in 29A; "Cosplay Makeup 101" follows at 2 in 29A; "Nerdist Cosplay" is at 6:30 in 24ABC.

We get rock star Grant Morrison discussing"DC Comics: The Multiversity Enrollment" at 3:00 in 6DE. That demographic will probably also want to hit"Dream States and Lunacy: New Books and Films by Dave McKean" at 6 in room 4, followed by the Neil Gaiman Documentary at 7 in Room 4. If you're a recent Neil Gaiman fan - I say this because a lot of people have discovered him the last 2 years through his Graveyard and Ocean titles - know that he is a legend in our world and the line for this will be crazy.

Onto TV.

If you didn't catch it Preview Night, you can see the iZombie pilot at 11:30 in 6BC. I really want to see this but my schedule may not permit.

"Wayward Pines World Premiere Screening" is at 1:30 in 5AB. M. Night Shyamalan fans, who probably still exist somewhere in a corner of the convention center, should line up for this. 
"Outlander" is at 2:15 in room 6A.  "The 100 Special Video Presentation and Q&A" is at 3:15 in 6BCF. "Bates Motel" is at 3:30 in 6A. I'd rate all of those accessible.

If you're ready to leave the convention center, go have lunch in the Gaslamp and then see "Exclusive Sneak Peek Screening of the Showrunners Documentary Film" in the Horton Grand Theatre. This is documentary with contributions from J. J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, Ronald D.Moore, Damon Lindelof, Bill Prady, Hart Hanson, Jane Espenson, Jonathan Nolan, and many more. 3:30.

"History: Vikings Blood Legacy" will be at 4:45pm in 6A, following by "Orphan Black" at 6.We all love Tatiana Maslany, but I'm having a hard time predicting the fever for this. A lot of people will see her at Nerd HQ. I don't know. Check the line early afternoon.
"Dominion" is at 5:30 in 6DE and "Sleepy Hollow" is at 5:45 in 6BCF. 


That's a TV-heavy day, but then this has become a TV-heavy Con. Those of you who are hitting your first day, you might decide between doing your favorite shows and doing the Exhibit Hall; I'd go with your panels and squeeze in the booths when you can. And not to beat a dead horse, but I recommend again doing the outside stuff like GOT and Assassin's Creed. Tomorrow's going to be insane inside and outside the Con.

And Day 1 is done

24 JULY 2014

Well, almost. You might still be winding down the MTV party or the CBLDF party, or heading to Nerd HQ.  I'm about to go swimming and maybe hit the Hyatt bar.

So first let me retract my statement yesterday (itself a retraction) that Preview Night was as crowded as a regular day. Today in the Exhibit Hall quickly reminded me that no, it can get much worse. Oh my god, the humidity.  Everyone looked damp and rumpled. I didn't see much cosplay, and I'm thinking the temps were just too uncomfortable for elaborate costumes.

Let's talk lines. So we all woke up to the news that people had started lining up in the late afternoon/early evening hours yesterday for today. I was astonished that I had been so wrong about the lines for Thursday panels. But as it turned out, the line were partly unnecessary and people wound up getting into Hall H and Ballroom 20 quite quickly at later points in the day. I got an excellent front section seat for Penny Dreadful with maybe 20 minutes in line total and then the Hannibal panel before it.

But people didn't line up in time for the NASA panel. I arrived 2.5 hours in advance and sat through 2 panels; the people who were the last to get in had waited 90 minutes, and said there was an epic line of people stretching down to the boats. Maybe they all thought they were the only space nerds at the Con. Not so - the audience was very emotional and excited about this panel.

The NASA panel was also electric in part because of the different personalities and philosophies of the presenters. You had the pro-Europa Bobak Ferdowsi, the inspiring and humble Mike Finke, Dr. Jim "The solar system is ours and we will colonize it and move on" Green and of course Buzz Aldrin, whose facial expressions didn't seem too appreciative of Seth Green's jokes. Let's hope this means more good science panels next year.

(As for what I sat through to see it - the Legend pilot seemed all guns, grenades and "covert operations." An FBI agent has to strip down and give a lap dance as part of the plot, Sean Bean swaggers and out-alphas another alpha male, you get the idea. The Last Ship panel was ok. I'm normally a sucker for plague shows but this seemed a bit humdrum.)

Penny Dreadful was good. No Eva Green, unfortunately, but it was a lively panel that was by turns thoughtful and entertaining - much like the show. The audience questions were insightful too, particularly in addressing the show's pansexual content. "I feel people behave in the moment in a way that is true to them," was creator John Logan's response. We also saw a nicely gothic clip from Season 2.

Onto tomorrow. I know you superfans are already under the tents for Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Kevin Smith in Hall H, Big Bang and Korra in Ballroom 20, and animation everything in the Indigo Ballroom. BUT we also have some fantastic Star Wars panels, Bates Motel, and a lot of great panels for writers and artists, with topics that range from the creative to the pragmatic.

Last but not least we have the iZombie pilot screening at 11:30 and a cast panel, including future star/current hottie Rahul Kohli (below.) Rahul is one of us and so he's pretty stoked to be here: "For years I've been watching Comic-Con on YouTube and trying to catch the latest trailers so this is a dream come true." Who doesn't love a nerd actor?

Have fun tonight, campers.

What are you doing today?

24 JULY 2014

Good morning, everyone. Are we ready?

So we know that people started lining up yesterday evening for the big rooms. Congratulations on being a zealot and ruining it for the rest of us, crazies. (Just kidding, I know that camping is some people's thing.) Obviously people are stoked for Benedict Cumberbatch and Batman. My Penny Dreadful dreams are pretty much dust right now but we'll see how the day goes.

I don't know if there's an Indigo Ballroom line yet (I'm guessing yes) but I've heard a ton of people mention the illustrious George RR Martin and Jack Black and the Goonies, so this could be a bigger draw than Ballroom 20.

We have NASA at 3 in 6A. That'll be a draw for sure. What I also heard a lot about at breakfast: the Mattel and WWE panel this morning. Also Heroes of Star Wars Rebels later this evening.

I haven't heard a whisper about the Battlestar Galactica panel, but it'll probably be a good panel that you can actually get into.  If you fall on the bookish side of nerddom, remember that there's an Avatar panel with Alan Moore, Max Brooks and Garth Ennis at 1:30 and a Batman 75 panel with Scott Snyder, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Neal Adams at 3:30. And Robert Kirkman and the Walking Dead at 4:15.

In other words, don't be bitter if you don't get into the big rooms. And remember, all of the outside events go live today. If you're not otherwise engaged, this is the day to do them - because word hasn't spread through the crowd yet and the lines won't be as bad. 


Donate to the troops at Comic-Con

24 JULY 2014

Did you know the armed forces are full of nerds? It's true - at least according to the ones who email me. And since serving a long deployment overseas can be lonely and stressful, one thing we can all do is send along a graphic novel or such for some well-deserved recreation.

This year at Comic-Con, booth #2201 is collecting swag and books and other materials for the troops - so consider helping out. Plenty of great sales are going on, so if you see one of your own favorite graphic novels or games on sale, consider buying it and sending it along to a nerd in uniform who'll no doubt treasure it even more than you do.

Preview Night summary

23 JULY 2014

Preview Night has come and gone. It was a fruitful one for me, largely because I worked an aggressive Exhibit Hall program. But many good things happened today in general. Such as:

Everyone was let into the convention center early to get our Preview Night badges and also let in before the official 6:00 opening. None of that marching around for 20 minutes nonsense some of us went through last year.

Town & Country opened early and stayed open late to accommodate a larger number of people. The general speed and efficiency was reported as better than previous years. Traffic was still a snarl, but that can't be helped.

There seemed to be a larger number of exclusives available. I got my top items and a few gifts for other people, and so did everyone else I talked to. A general harmony prevailed over the whole process. (Unless you were at the Hasbro booth, I'm guessing, because that looked downright barbaric.)

I saw many tantalizing new books and assorted Exhibit Hall surprises, like this Archie Afterlife chocolate bar (not available for sale yet - this was shown to me by a "handsome stranger" at the Archie booth who wishes to remain anonymous.) Apparently Archie is coming out with a line of gourmet candy bars and the staff assured me they're delicious.

What else I noticed:

Preview Night is crazy crowded. Gone are the days when it was just a small fraction of us. It's intensely crowded. On the up side, I imagine that lessens the badge pick-up demand for the following days.

There's a new feature when you press a button to cross the street: a voice instructs you quite commandingly to "wait," like our very own Hal. It seems to be triggering everyone's authority issues, because I keep hearing people mimic it spitefully, along with pushing the button five times in a row just to make it snap "Wait - wait - wait - wait -" It got old fast and and it's only the first night.

I kept having to pony up cash for things because Square wasn't working for a lot of vendors. So be aware of that and bring cash with you tomorrow if you intend to shop.

First-timers can be hilarious. "Are people seriously that into toys?" one woman asked her husband with a dumbfounded look. Welcome to Comic-Con, ma'am. 

What I'm waiting to hear about: The pilots. How were they? I went to a restaurant then a bar after leaving tonight, and couldn't find one person who'd been in Ballroom 20.

Tomorrow brings us many things - Batman '66 and Batman 75, a ton of panels for writers, the highly anticipated NASA panel, Community, Teen Wolf, Penny Dreadful. And the lines are much worse than I anticipated, which makes me wonder how bad it's going to get for Friday and Saturday. Get a good night's sleep if you can and be ready.

Next year Comic-Con will be 9-12 July

23 JULY 2014

San Diego Comic-Con dates for 2015 are...

Preview Night 2015: 8 July
Rest of the Con: 9-12 July

Not only is that much earlier than usual, it's going to force some people to choose between taking time off for a 4th of July family vacation and the Con. It also reinforces my belief that we will see an accelerated online sale season.

Town & Country line is moving quickly

23 JULY 2014

I've heard from 3 people that the Town & Country line is moving fast. Apparently they opened early and are processing everyone through in a rapid fashion.

So that's good news, but apparently the traffic getting there now is fairly hellish. Still, if you're stuck in this traffic right now, it's probably worth seeing it through since they seem to be moving people through at a brisk pace once they're there.

Good luck.

Did you get your Preview Night badge yet?

23 JULY 2014

If you have a Preview Night badge, you should already be badged or walking through the doors of the convention center right now. Don't wait for 3:00 as instructed - they've been letting people in for hours.

When I got badged right after 1:00, the official Preview Night/Exclusives line was about 500 people deep. That is a very rough estimate. But if you're the type of person who's anxious about getting first dibs on exclusives, you're probably in that line already.

I have little else to report, other than an odd story from a security guard about one escalator slowing down when it got more than half full and the usual attempts at bag trading.  I'll post about the Town & Country situation when I get more detail - if you're in the thick of it, give us a report in the comments.

X-Men Virtual Reality at SDCC

22 JULY 2014

Happy Comic-Con Eve. Here's some minor but exciting last-minute news: while everyone has been hyped about the Sleepy Hollow Oculus Rift experience at Comic-Con, there's now an X-Men virtual reality experience that will let you enter the mind of Professor X.

This too will use an Oculus Rift headset for a 360-degree, 90-second adventure. It'll be inside Fox's booth on the floor, and you'll sit in Professor X's wheelchair and hunt Mystique in the San Diego Convention Center.

Obviously the line for this will be deadly. So if it gets too extreme for you and you still want to try VR at the Con, you can go over to Petco Park and do the Sleepy Hollow version. I'm curious if the Game of Thrones experience is also going to be virtual, based on the fact that it's about the wall, and HBO recently had a VR rendition of that very thing in a recent exhibit.

And that's it from me tonight. See you tomorrow, nerds.

New Nerd HQ panels go on sale at noon

22 JULY 2014

We're minutes away from another Nerd HQ sale and there are two new panels on the docket: The Maze Runner (Friday) and Mall World Premiere and Q&A. (Thursday).

They go on sale at noon PST so be ready.

Tell me your story

22 JULY 2014

Once again, I am inviting all first-timers to share their experiences with me - their shattered illusions, their Exhibit Hall struggles, their autograph triumphs. I post a collection of these every year and for whatever reason, people love reading them.

You can ping me throughout the Con or shoot me an email once you're home or catch up with me in person if scheduling permits. I can keep your story anonymous or share your first name only. (Those of you who are returning are welcome to share your story with me too, or just your thoughts on how the Con has changed and your ideas for improvement.)

Don't be shy. The world wants to hear your Comic-Con story.