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The Good and the Bad of San Diego Comic-Con 2011 was All in the Timing

SDCC 2011 It’s been more than a week since I got home and I still don’t think I’ve completely recovered from San Diego Comic-Con 2011. There are times I wish I could just live in the Gaslamp Quarter, just in hopes that walking out my door on any given day just might slip me through a wormhole fissure in space/time and bring me back to the weirdness of that week in July. Admittedly, there are times I was so wiped out that I just wanted it to all be over with for the year, but then the next morning would come and I’d pull myself out of my hotel bed and make the early morning trek down to the convention center as if it was my sole purpose in life to do so.

Did I see and do everything I wanted on my primary to-do list or my back up list? Not even close. Did I discover new things and experience some amazing once-in-a-lifetime moments? Absolutely. My motto this year came down to “it’s all in the timing”. That applied to everything from getting into a panel to grabbing a hard-to-get freebie to snapping that amazing pic of cosplayers or creators or celebrities when you least expected to. While we all try to plan to arrive early enough to get access to panels or swag lines or autographs, it seemed that none of the usual rules applied. Ballroom 20 was bigger than Hall H this year in many ways when it came to fan demand and sheer spectacle. Half the goodies I got came down to standing in the right place at the right time and barely standing in line. When it came to poor timing, believe it or not, this was the first year that I didn’t run into Joss Whedon anywhere. Or Nathan Fillion. And I would run into them EVERYWHERE in past years, randomly, not including their panels. It all seemed a bit empty without seeing them face-to-face. However, I did keep running into Chevy Chase at my hotel (along with most of the cast of Community), so that kind of made up for it. Best of all, I accomplished a personal goal this year just minutes after the Preview Night doors opened: I got Stan Lee to sign something in person for me. Yes, I’ve gotten his autograph before, but it was never specifically acquired directly and just for me and never on something that I’m not about to re-sell on eBay in a moment of financial desperation. I simply never will. I immediately grabbed the Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope book at the Sideshow Collectibles booth and had him and Morgan Spurlock sign it. Primary mission accomplished and the con wasn’t even an hour old.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do a number of things that I really wanted to do even though I knew there was a time limit on them: the South Park Experience and the Monstergeddon exhibit. Both were off-site, and even though I walked close by them, I never stepped inside since I was always late for something else I wanted to see or do. I was also sad that I didn’t get to hang out with a number of friends who had come from across the country to experience the show for the first time. At the same time, some other friends of mine from LA drove down for the day and brought their 2 year old boy, slapped a homemade cape on him, and introduced him to the wild world of Comic-Con. Between monster trucks and Spider-Man wanting to give him a high-five, he was blown away. Next year, his parents might even get tickets! Yep, they experienced Comic-Con without ever stepping inside the convention center and had an amazing time.

When the sun set, despite my exhaustion, I was happy that I got to experience more of the Comic-Con nightlife this year more than ever before: Comic creator parties, movie studio parties, video game parties, even a professional wrestling party! Honestly, tell me you’re serving free food and drinks and I’ll come to your freakin’ Comic-Con party! I pretty much scratched “dinner” off my expenses list this year, even if dinner routinely consisted of chicken and beef skewers, lemon bars, and double gin & tonics (repeatedly).

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - Jake stands above the masses San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - 3 Captain Americas San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - me and Luis with actress Ayanna Berkshire (Twilight, Grimm, Curb Your Enthusiasm) San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - the Adventures of Tin Tin panel - Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - Slave Leia, Jessica Rabbit, Wonder Woman San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - Captain America: the first Avenger Military Salute - Stan Lee poses with servicemen San Diego Comic-Con 2011 - the Hall H line

Of course, in the past week, I haven’t even had time to post all of my pictures (600+ so far), much less all of the video I captured throughout the week. One clip I’m so happy I was able to grab and post the same day was the moment Andrew Garfield surprised the room by showing up in a store bought Spider-Man costume to share his love of Spidey with the crowd as a fan. Yes, sure, the cynical amongst us screamed out that it was just a PR stunt, but honestly, what ISN’T at Comic-Con? Isn’t that what the whole thing is about? Promoting your product, whether it be a comic book or a movie or a tv series? Give the guy (and the studio) some credit for doing it in a fun and creative way. I, for one, believe he’s a genuine fan and that it was a big deal for him to be there. And if he wasn’t genuine, then kudos to him for being a really great actor and fooling me and thousands of others…

 
Sure, the cynics are never fooled by such expressions, but they also never really enjoy anything. Pity them, for theirs is a sad and lonely existence full of doubt and needless anger that they try to pass off as wit and wisdom.

But for all of the exhaustion and debates with security over lines that aren’t really lines but will be lines when a magical moment ten minutes before the official moment arrives, I had an incredible time and I can’t wait to go back next year (let’s just hope they get the non-line issues figured out).

When it comes to the Survival Guide both in print and online, I’m currently mulling over some ideas for 2012 that will hopefully expand nicely on what I’ve already accomplished so far. I know it seems like we have more than 11 months until San Diego Comic-Con 2012, but when you’re working on a project like this, it goes by way too fast. And that’s nice if you can’t wait to get back to Comic-Con, but it’s hell if you just aren’t ready to provide what people expect from you. I hope I can get my act together enough next year so that I can assist all of you, current and future readers, in having the best Comic-Con you could possibly have in 2012.

Speaking of YOU, did you have a good time at Comic-Con? Did you accomplish what you wanted? Discover new things? Hit some dead ends? Collapse in a heap crying for your mommy when it all started to become too much for you? What did you go for? What did you avoid? What surprised you and what disappointed you? Everyone’s experience is unique. Feel free to tell YOUR story, good or bad, here in the comments or on the SDCC Survival Guide Facebook page (Twitter just doesn’t have the space to do it justice).

There’s lots more to come from this end. Don’t think that just because Comic-Con 2012 doesn’t start for almost a year that I won’t be here to answer questions and pose some of my own. There’s no reason why this network of Comic-Con fans can’t build upon itself in the coming months to make next year’s experience even better than this year’s for everyone. Talk to you soon and thanks to everyone for your support for the Unauthorized San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide!

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Doug is the author of the San Diego Comic-Con Survival Guide and is the founder of The Conmunity - the site that connects geek culture.

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