Return from the Temple of Geekdom

MaryLouWho August 4, 2011 No Comments »

First off, let me apologize. It’s been a week since I returned from San Diego Comic-Con and I still haven’t written this article. In addition to trying to recover from a week of California awesomeness, I’m also going through a job change, which has made this week quite stressful. But ANYWAY, here it is. 🙂

One of the most exciting moments of Comic-Con. I was finally there.

I was more than a little nervous to attend SDCC. I’ve been to many conventions in the past, butnothing nearly so epic. Despite describing it to “normies” (as I like to call my non-geeky friends) as “Geek Mecca,” I really had no idea what to expect.

Having been there and back again, I just have this to say: Go. Go to Comic-Con once in your life. Though many of you might find that once is enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic time! It was an amazing assortment of celebrities, premieres, and exclusive items, but it was also extremely commercialized. While I don’t have statistics, there were probably about the same number of people who were obligated to attend as there were actual geeks. Their presence made this a truly different convention experience. I think the fact that attending a comic convention is a necessity for furthering some people’s careers is awesome, especially since normies usually avoid conventions like the plague! I love that geek culture has such an impact on the entertainment industry as a whole.

On the other hand, this convention wasn’t the welcoming, open-armed environment I’m used to seeing at similar events, and I’m sure the industry attendees had something to do with it. While I didn’t encounter anyone unfriendly or openly judgmental, I could tell just by walking in that the place wasn’t filled to the brim with nerds. Most conventions I attend have a large number of cosplayers (people in costume) or at least fans with geeky t-shirts, all of whom are happy to display their geek status openly. Comic-Con meanwhile had a lot of attendees in everyday or even business attire, something that seems odd at many other conventions. Frankly, I was expecting geek overload by the end of the weekend due to the sheer concentration of nerd, but that’s not what I got.

Nathan, adorable as always

I did, however, get to see Nathan Fillion in person. This may go against the tagline “Redefining the Fangirl,” but I’m marrying him one day. Just you wait.

Another highlight of the weekend was John Barrowman singing “Tomorrow” from Annie during Friday’s Torchwood panel. As someone with a music degree, I love when actors also sing. And John Barrowman is great! Plus………….he’s kinda hot.

My other favorite panel was for HBO’s series Game of Thrones, based on the first book in George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. I’m currently on book 4 of the series, and loving every second of it! The TV show is great, too, if you’re not familiar with it. Hosted by the author himself, the panel gave some great insight into how both actors and creators transitioned an amazing but very long book in to an attention grabbing television show.

Triumverate of Funny Faces

While I saw many panels over the course of the week, my favorite activity actually wasn’t part of Comic-Con. Thursday evening I attended an event in downtown San Diego called Wootstock. If you’ve never heard of Wootstock, check out their website here. Basically, Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage, and Paul and Storm have created nerd genius. They get together with a few surprise guests and put on one big geeky extravaganza. There was hilarious music, geeky jokes, anecdotes that kept me in stitches, and more internet memes than you can count. I particularly loved Wil Wheaton’s tale of meeting William Shatner for the first time. Apparently for much of his career, William Shatner was rude to everyone. And poor 16 year old Wil Wheaton, despite the fact that he worked on another Star Trek show, was no exception. What a dream shattered! But Wil will always have the apology note Gene Roddenberry himself asked Shatner to write. Take that, Shat! During the SDCC edition of Wootstock, there were many guests, but the one I was most excited to see (besides Wil Wheaton!!!) was Felicia Day. She was there only briefly but it was so cool to be 6 feet away from her! Incidentally, I was lucky enough to have a seat in the front row. Yeah, you heard right.

As it turns out, San Diego Comic-Con is more of a place to see celebrities than it is a place to get together with your fellow geeks. For that, I’d recommend smaller local conventions. I almost wish they didn’t call SDCC a “convention” at all, because of what it implies to regular convention attendees like me. I did meet a few cool people and see some really great costumes, but the point of the weekend was to see your favorite TV, comic, and movie stars. Seeing Nathan, Felicia, Wil, John, and others in real life was what made it a great experience for me.

I have a few tips for those who may attend SDCC in coming years:

First off: Expect to wait. I waited in line for 4 hours on three separate occasions. It was a lot of waiting, but once I got used to the idea it didn’t seem so bad. Plus you meet cool people who love the same stuff as you. Most of the waiting is outdoors, so bring a collapsible stool and a jacket. Yes, a jacket in July! It was absolutely beautiful in San Diego and I didn’t mind being outside one bit (I generally don’t like outside) but it did get a bit nippy standing in line between 6 and 10am.

Second: Don’t be afraid to go alone. I spent most of my panel time on my own. I was nervous at first, alone in a sea of 125,000 people, but everything went fine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they seem silly. There are lots of staff people around to help. The best part about going alone, though, were the seats I got! I was able to sit much closer to the stage in pretty much every panel (exemplified by my first row seat at Wootstock) because I wasn’t looking for a group of available chairs.

Sorry my camera sucks, but it doesn't make him any less pretty.

Third: Plan ahead. There are so many people and so many panels, if you don’t decide on a plan ahead of time, you’re bound to miss something great. Comic-Con releases their schedules a couple of weeks in advance, and offers a great mobile site if you prefer technology to carrying a brochure. Allow plenty of time for travel if you’re not staying in one of the adjacent hotels and even more time for standing in line. Decide beforehand (even before you get to SDCC if possible) which panels you want to attend and what route you’re going to take to get there. It will save you a lot of time and stress.

Speaking of stress, here’s my fourth and final tip: Go with the flow. As important as it is to have a plan, it is equally important to be flexible. Wrenches will inevitably find their way into the gears of your day, and you’ll have to adjust. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go your way. But remember, you’re at COMIC-CON! Many would sell their firstborn for this experience, so don’t let it go to waste on a bad mood.

Overall, I had a wonderful time at San Diego Comic-Con. I’m not sure whether or not I’ll ever attend again, but I’m really grateful I was able to go this year. For more updates and pictures from my trip, check out my website!

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