They're back: another group of first-timers has weighed in on their experiences at the greatest pop culture convention on Earth. Read on for a mixed group of reactions.
Lea is not just a first-time SDCC attendee but a first-time cosplayer. She spent the entire Con in 2 costumes - day and night. Her experience: She didn't realize how often she'd be stopped to be photographed, which made it hard to get through the Exhibit Hall or even go eat. She said being a cosplayer involves a lot of small talk, which she's not good at, and that several attendees quizzed her on her knowledge of the character she was cosplaying as. (Fake Geek Girl subtext alert!) However, she also went to 2 cosplay events and met "a mentor" and said that on the whole, she found the SDCC culture to be "welcoming even if you don't know what you're doing or where you're going. I had to ask a lot of people for help and everyone was very nice about it."
Her biggest complaint was staying at a Comfort Inn far away from the Con. "The shuttle was ok but it made a difference in how tired I got because I couldn't go back whenever I wanted. And once I got back to the room I didn't want to go out again."
Verdict: "I want to go back next year. And stay closer."
Technically Cory is not an attendee as he worked at a booth but it was his first Con. His impression as a booth babe: he expected the worst but most attendees were "decent enough" and well-behaved. He said that very few tried to barter with him. (This is surprising given what he was selling, which I can't reveal here.) He did get to see Kevin Smith and got into the Nerdist party, which he said was dull. "It was like any other party." As an action figure collector, he didn't have the freedom to chase down what he wanted; however someone else at his booth was able to buy some Hot Wheels exclusive for him, which was his main wish list item. He also was able to tap into some kind of vendors' exclusives trading circle, which he said was useful for some people but didn't have anything he wanted. So that's a thing apparently.
On the business side: His boss "didn't sell as much as he thought. He goes every year and he says the last few years have been dropping and it probably won't be worth it much longer."
Verdict: Will possibly go back. "Maybe, if I can talk my girlfriend into going."
For someone who wound up in the Thursday/Sunday split, Julie had a pretty full SDCC. They camped for Hall H on Thursday and did the Exhibit Hall the same day. That's fortitude. On Friday, she did Petco Park and Nerd HQ and the Nintendo Lounge, and - oh dear god - stood in line for 7.5 hours for the Game of Thrones experience on Saturday. "Definitely wasn't worth it." That just convinces me these activations need to pass out time-slotted tickets or do scheduled onsite reg to avoid wasting everyone's time. On Sunday, she got Patrick Rothfuss's autograph and did the Exhibit Hall again. She also wound up with Con Crud and had a sore throat and cough by Monday night, just to complete the experience.
Her feelings: "Nothing prepares you for the crowds. Nothing prepares you for the lines. I read your blog and lots of blogs but it still doesn't bring it home until you get there." She also thought they should move the exclusives sales out of the Exhibit Hall. Speaking of which, "I didn't see anything on the floor I couldn't get off the Internet so wasn't really blown away with what you could buy." The exceptions were a Cartoonist Guild t-shirt and a Weta Hobbit t-shirt.
Verdict: Not sure if she's going back. "If you asked me Sunday night - I would have said no. Given a little time - now maybe."
I met James on Thursday at the Grant Morrison panel, at which time he was confident that he could completely control his Comic-Con experience. When I saw him again on Sunday, he was somewhat demoralized due to a string of disappointments. Now that he's integrated his experiences, he thinks that better planning would have helped. "There's no way to know how hard it is just to get places in time, or the number of people you're up against just to get into panels. I did get all my variants. I saw the Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo panel and got signings at the Boom! and IDW booths. But I kept hearing about things like the Grant Morrison signing after they happened and I still don't get how everyone knows about them. Not everything is in the guide." Ultimately he felt like he missed a lot of events that were what he'd hoped to find, so he went home on a somewhat bitter note.
Verdict: "I might go next year but I'll do it better this time."
He and his wife had Sunday badges only, so they did offsites the other days, including Conan's Friday show which he described as "priceless." He especially treasured the Funko Zombie Conans. "Little did I know that these free toys would be worth so much and be my most prized possession of this SDCC." On Saturday, they did the Little Italy farmer's market and then did the FX Fear Arena. Wait times were: 15 minutes for a bag and lanyard, 30 minutes to get a picture in Fargo snowglobe, 10 minutes for free Squishees from the Kwik-E-Truck. Adult Swim was too packed for them so they headed over to Petco Park, where they did the Hello Kitty food truck, and the Gotham and Dark Souls exhibits.
Once he was in the Con proper, he had a good experience: "Our goal was to buy stuff and we did. I was able to get the comic book exclusives with no lineups and my wife picked up some Marvel/Star Wars toys similarly from independent retailers." He also got "a great storm trooper hoodie from Stylin" and "some awesome Star Wars dog toys." Around 5 pm, they headed upstairs and discovered an SDCC secret I didn't know: they start giving away extra bags at this time. He acquired a few Supernatural bags and partook in some of the trades in the area for a Supergirl bag. They stayed over until Monday, at which point he reported the Gaslamp District "reminded me when Vancouver 2010 Olympics ended and suddenly the energy was gone."
His one celebrity encounter: "Finding Ron Jeremy slumped over in a chair in his booth of movies, pretty much out of it. At least I got a picture with him while he was awake." I have to say here that Ron Jeremy may have achieved the highest visibility of any celebrity at the Con; he showed up in 3 separate friends' photos, 2 other friends' stories and I was at the same party as him on Saturday night. Say what you will, but many celebrities wish they got talked about that much.
Verdict: "We are totally going back with the intention of getting as many days as we can. Our friends saw our pictures/reports and are now seriously contemplating a trip out to SDCC too." In particular: "I'm still seeking that 4 day badge experience. We're also thinking maybe we should fly in earlier to see the city a bit more before the convention (and leave Sunday night before it dies.) I've heard positive things about ECCC so maybe we'll hit that one up too since it is close to us and might fill the void if we fail at SDCC 2016."
This is another long-lost returner who last attended in 2006-2007. She did the Con Thursday-Saturday. One complaint: that when picking up her badges at the Town & Country on Weds, there was no sign saying parking was 15 dollars until it was too late to turn around. That was annoying, as they were there less than 10 minutes getting their badges. They camped for Hall H Thursday starting at 3 pm, which let them take pictures with Peter Capaldi, and also fit in the Exhibit Hall on Thursday, waiting for 45 minutes at the BBC booth for a Doctor Who shirt and Tardis jacket. That's really not that bad; she didn't have any line to get her exclusive Arrow/Flash coffee cup the next day, and also made it into the Indigo Ballroom to see Rick and Morty, Bob's Burgers and Archers with only a 90 minute wait.
Saturday she got to the Ballroom 20/everything else line at 4:30 am so she could immediately get into the Exhibit Hall (which she did) to get a ticket for Outlander autographs (which she didn't.) Comic-Con disappointments, they come to all of us. But she did get into Ballroom 20 without missing any panels and wound up only 3 rows from the stage for Outlander. That night she did Hall H for the Superhero night screening. Side note: we've had years where it was almost impossible to do Hall H and Ballroom 20 in the same day. In a year where the lines were weirdly manageable, that ability has apparently returned.
Verdict. "Oh yeah, for sure going back next year!"
One of Warren's roommates was ill in their hotel room, which forced him to stay out and about as much as possible. So it's not surprising the crowds wore on him. "I was ready to go home by Saturday morning. It's just too many people." However, he also befriended a number of attendees and got invited to a small press party Friday night which led to an offer of some work. "It was out of the blue, I didn't expect anything like that so that was awesome." While the Con "was downhill from there," he doesn't regret going. "It's been on my bucket list for years and now I did it. I don't have to wonder. And I know how different it is from what I thought so I don't have to worry I'm missing out."
Verdict on going back: "No, definitely not."
And that's it for San Diego Comic-Con 2015. I hope you all had a beautiful Comic-Con and got something you really love out of it. I'm now shifting to an off-season posting schedule, which means I'll post items of interest related to SDCC and NYCC and ECCC as they arise, until we hit that nexus of anxiety known as Pre-registration. Until then, stay nerdy and try not to miss me.