Geek Events

SDCC 2015: My Comic Con Experience Recalled a Week Later

San Diego Comic Con 2015

San Diego Comic Con ended a week ago and is still fresh in my mind. My Comic Con experience this year was very exhausting and I think I am still recovering. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the good type of being exhausted; the kind that you feel at the end of a fun vacation.

I’ve been going to SDCC for the past decade or so since it was introduced to me by my brother. It was great at first, but years later almost became more of the same. I witnessed Hollywood’s infiltration. They started putting a lot of their advertising budgets into SDCC. They later realized that they were preaching to the choir and pulled back a little. It wasn’t only Hollywood’s push into SDCC, but the big game companies as well. This year, both Nintendo and X-Box had their own off-site events. These events are also open to the general public.

SDCC offers quite a bit of fun whether you have a badge or not. Badges are getting more and more difficult to get as the event becomes more popular. This led to the growth of the many off-site events that everyone, even without a badge, can enjoy.

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Preview Night

Even though I had a 4-day pass this year, I was unable to get preview night. This wasn’t the first time I wouldn’t be able to attend, but that’s ok. It’s usually just a 3-hour taste of what SDCC will have to offer. I had 4 more days to experience what the exhibit hall had to offer.

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Team Coco

Conan O’Briens influence can be seen as soon as one arrives in San Diego. While flying in, you can see a huge wrap of Conan’s pop versions plastered on the Marriott. Conan also accompanies you while descending the escalators to baggage claim. He doesn’t leave you alone there as his doppelgängers grace the baggage claim carousels. Oh, you need to take the bus, too? Conan will be sitting right next to you. He was everywhere.

I was lucky enough to score tickets to Conan O’Brien’s SDCC special show taping at the historic Spreckel’s Theater. I was very excited when he announced weeks before that he was bringing his show to SDCC and shifting his schedule to coincide with the convention. SDCC attendees are exactly his demographic. They filmed shows Wednesday through Saturday. Featured guests included Elijah Wood, Chris Hardwick, the casts of The Walking Dead, The Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and the Saturday surprise guest cast of X-Men Apocalypse. I honestly though the surprise guest was going to be the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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We got seated on the upper balcony on the very far right. Hope wasn’t lost as we Hama camera tripod stationed near us. We knew that we had to be unique to catch Conan’s attention as he likes to acknowledge audience members. I’ve been watching his show for years and in the last week, he was noticing people who were pointing hard at him. That is what he did and we did get his attention! He pointed right at us.

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In addition to being able to attend the show, everyone in the audience was treated to a free Conan O’Brien pop figure. Four different ones were made specially for SDCC with a different one given out every night. Luckily I got the regular version which was the one I wanted.

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The Exhibit Hall

The exhibit hall is pretty much the same as anyone who has previously attended will expect it to be. Most of your favorite places are where they usually are.

You’ve got all the big name companies in the middle like Star Wars, Hasbro, and Mattell. Next to them are the entertainment companies like Nickelodeon, Legendary Films, The Cartoon Network, TBS, AMC, Warner Bros., and HBO. On the other side are the Marvel, DC, and other publishers. There are independent artists on both ends of the hall. You’re gonna have to search to find your favorite artist’s booth. The -toy scalpers- independent toy sellers are down near the end. At the very end of the hall were LootCrate/GamesRadar, Nintendo and X-Box.

The exhibit hall was packed with people, but didn’t feel as packed as in years past.

Hall H

Gone are the days where you could just stroll into Hall H when the seating capacity was only 5000. Even though the seating capacity was increased to 6500-7000, one now has to line up at least a day before if they want good seats. Fortunately, some friends and I had a system in place to guarantee us wristbands to get in and lined up. I skipped Hall H last year, but was glad I didn’t this year. In years past, I only had to wait in line early that morning in order to be able to get in.

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I spent all of Friday in Hall H this year. The panel line-up that day included The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, The Game of Thrones, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was so amazing to see all of the casts of the various shows. Thanks to a bit of group effort, we were able to sit within the first 10 rows.

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I would have to say that the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Panel was the best I had ever been to. It totally raised the bar on what a panel should be. JJ Abrams brought out a costumed alien to show us some of the practical effects. We were shown a 3-minute behind the scenes reel of various scenes from the film which included some unseen stuff. The new good guys were brought out as well as the new bad guys. The big surprises came when Carrie Fisher and Mark Hammil were brought on stage. A question was then asked about how Harrison Ford was doing and how his leg was after the accident. Chris Hardwick then told the panel, “Why don’t we ask him?” He them popped out and walked onto the stage. The crowd roared with excitement. It was Harrison Ford’s first public appearance since his airplane accident. He was then asked about his leg and his very gruff response was, “Well, I walked from there to here. What do you think!?”

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JJ Abrams set the new bar on SDCC surprises when he announced at the end that he would take us all to a Star Wars Concert in the park with the San Diego Symphony. We all also got lightsabers. Can you imagine seeing thousands of lightsabers waving in the air? It was spectacular.

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photo by Calvin Lee @mayhemstudios

Cosplay

There are always so many cosplayers at SDCC. Some of them are crowd stoppers. Once one person starts taking a picture and the others follow suit. I didn’t focus too much on taking pix of many because my buddy was already taking way better pix than I was, but I took a couple noteworthy ones. If I had extra time and money, I would totally be creating some great costumes. Below are some of my favorite cosplay from this year.

Off-Site Events

There are so many off site events to bring those that don’t have badges to the downtown and convention center area. MTV had their FanFest inside PetCo Park as well as WalkerStalker Con. PetCo Park’s parking lot transforms into a small festival. The green area behind the convention center belonged to FX and Cartoon Network this year. NBC took over the plaza across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel. There are so many more that I didn’t get a chance to see.

Final Thoughts

This San Diego Comic Con experience reinvigorated my love for the event. I enjoyed it a lot more than I had in previous years. I got to see a live taping of Conan, all of my favorite actors in Hall H, and participated in one of the biggest SDCC surprises ever. I now can’t wait until I get to experience San Diego Comic Con 2016.

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