Comic-Con Adventure Part Three: Lesson I learned my first day

So, after sitting through a panel discussing the impact of Doc Savage on the development of comic heroes such as Superman and Batman hosted by Anthony Tollin and Michael Uslan (yes, I love pulp fiction too!), I headed down to the volunteer booth.

Annie waiting on her volunteer assignment

Here is where I got my first real lesson about Comic-con: it's all about waiting. Waiting to get your assignment at the volunteer booth, waiting to get into the panel you want to see, waiting to buy the collectible toy you must have, waiting to get on the trolley, etc.

The second thing I learn is there are just too damn many people to manage efficiently. My first assignment was to line wrangle. I stood in front of a door for three hours and made sure no one in the really, really long line blocked access to the fire exit. The folks in this line were waiting to buy limited edition toys from Hasbro. So to pass the time, I struck up a conversation with a guy in line -asking about what he collects, what he was excited to see... and it turns out he is originally from Cincinnati. Very Cool. Chat a little bit more about collectibles - and I mention I had really wanted a Iron Man Mighty Mugg, but that I doubted I would be able to stand in line for the three and a half hours(!!!!!!!!) it was going to take. So this great guy (whose name I forget and I am really sorry!) offers to get it for me and to call me on his cell when he is finished. He says he is standing in line for the GI Joe Collectables so one more figure wouldn't matter.

This is where I learned the third thing about Comic-con. It is filled with great people. About 2 hours later, I get a call on my cell. I was now the proud owner of an Iron Man Might Mugg. So my mystery friend formerly from Cincinnati -thank you thank you thank you. You made my day.

After line wrangling, I bought lunch. This brought me to lesson number four: bring a sack lunch. A hot dog and a can of Coke cost me $6.00.

I then decided that I wanted to go see another panel - this one on Science in Science Fiction, host by Dr. Kevin Grazier (former rocket scientist turned science advisor), Jaime Paglia (writer and producer of Eureka) and Phil Plait (badastronomy.com ). And guess what? I got to wait in line almost an hour. It was worth it. It was a great panel.

I staggered through the dealers hall one more time and headed back to the hotel. The amount of walking involved had been too much for the hubby with his bad knees, so I opted to spend some time with him at the hotel pool, then out to dinner. Of course this meant we missed some of the stuff who should have been standing in line for - and possibly some really cool parties but it was nice spending quality time together.

We went to this place called Santana's for burritos. While it was a local fast food chain, it was still better than most of the Mexican food here in Columbus. We had huge burritos and a variety of fresh made salsas - kinda like what Chipolte would like to be.

Tony got a California Burrito. It had everything a normal burrito had plus fried potatoes. Topped with their tomatilla based green salsa - it was great.

I had the Carne Assada burrito. Really nice... I also got some sides, like chips and guacamole plus some beans - don't bother. Stick with the burritos.

By the time we got back to the hotel, Tate and Annie were back. They had eaten some tacos from a small joint around the corner. Good but nothing to right home about.

The whole group then tumbled into bed. The last lesson I learned: Take along really good walking shoes. My dogs were barking when I finally passed out in the hotel room.


Adventures at Comic-Con Part Deux

So - we get off the airplane in Phoenix about midnight, drive through to San Diego in a rented minivan and show up at registration for the Convention at the buttcrack of dawn.

We pull into our chosen hotel,
Old Town Inn, which is located about five miles North of the convention center. Having researched the heck out of the whole shebang before we left Columbus, we chose this hotel for two reasons

1) We could get a room. The hotel rooms downtown were sold out in about two days via the booking service that the convention uses to manage room rental.
2) It was close to the Old Town Transit Station, which provided access to a special light rail route that would take us right to the convention center from our hotel. (Hey Columbus!!! Pay attention here!!! A ten minute ride to a major convention from an outlying hotel!!!)

Oh and one more reason - this hotel get a lot of good reviews online.

So we pull in after 10 hours of travel with little or no sleep, looking and feeling like the winners we are and stagger into the hotel lobby. The hotel staff is great. Of course our rooms won't be ready until 3pm that day, but they might be able to get us in as early as 11am, and yes - we can use their restroom and park our rental car in their lot while we stagger over to the light rail station. Nice nice people.

We then go hit Denny's for breakfast. Not because we really want to, but because we could figure out how to get in and out of their parking lot. Let's just say the little grey cells were running very slow by that point for all involved.
One nasty breakfast later - we head down to the convention center.

Annie and I had both volunteered. Annie - cuz she is a cheapskate who was paying her own way (Yes, she had to earn the money for the plane ticket and her part of the hotel room. If you need a baby sitter in the Clintonville area, she is starting to save up for next summer's vacation already!)

Why did I volunteer? Because volunteering lets you do two things. The first is see how the whole convention works from the inside and help out the poor beleaguered souls who give up their time to organize and run the convention. The second? So I could keep tabs on the offspring. (Yeah, I'm such a mom.)

Tony and Tate bought registrations. It's $75 for the entire weekend. That is Thursday-Saturday with a Wednesday night preview. As far as convention costs go, that isn't too bad.
Volunteer registration is fairly well organized. We get through, sign up for our assignments, then wander around inside the convention center and look at the mass of humanity pressing against the lobby doors waiting to get in. Tony and Tate join the throng from the outside, queueing up to get their prepaid registrations.

Did I mention there are no on-site registration sales? Too bad if you snoozed. Amazingly enough, Tony says the line went very quickly. They had about 100 people processing entrants in a large hall, then folks were herded into a waiting area for the convention to open.

At 9 am, the doors opened and people rushed into convention center and immediately flooded the Dealer's Hall. The Swag Rush has started. It's like freaking 1849, but for collectibles instead of gold.

(What is Swag you ask? Swag is all the cool freebies that are given out over the course of the convention - it can be anything from posters, to books, to action figures. Some items become very sought after - like the huge swag bags from Warner Brothers, which you need to have to have to carry all your other swag. I ended up with over six swag bags filled with stuff. I'll go more into this later.)

OK - here is how big and crowded the Dealer Hall was.
My first panel wasn't until 10am, so I decided to walk the length of the hall. According to my calculations, the hall was almost 900 feet long. It was crowded. It took me 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other. Without stopping to geek out. It was just that crowded.

I had lost Annie by this point. And Tate and Tony. We all had things we wanted to see before we headed back to the hotel, plus I was scheduled to volunteer at noon. Ah - foolish, foolish me. I had -maybe - 3 hours sleep. This was going to go great.

So I leave you here until the next installment, intrepid reader. You'll learn more about volunteering, swag monkeys and San Diego.


The Adventures of a Fat Chick at Comic-con

Deep down inside me is a comic book geek. The affliction started when I was a kid reading my dad's old Sad Sack comics from WW2 and the "funny papers" in the Dispatch. From there my habit slowly increased culminating in a $50/month pull at the local comic shop while I was in high school. Once I got to college, I was too broke to buy comics anymore. When Tony and I were dating I would read his stash containing series like American Flagg and Badger.

Eventually we moved onto graphic novels like The Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Those names are household items now, but back then, only us proud geeks knew how good they were.

Annie has turned into a comic book geek too. She dug out our old comic collections early on and tore through them. Now she borrows graphic novels from the library and spends her hard earned babysitting money on titles like Y, the last man and Serenity.

Last January, Annie came to us and said " I am tired of always going on 'working vacations'. I get stuck in the hotel doing nothing for hours on end. For my graduation present, I want to attend Comic-con in San Diego. I know I don't graduate until next year, but I would like to go this year. They have Howard Chaykin and Kevin Smith !"

After looking over last year's schedule, we decided that it looked like a blast. So yes - we went to Comic-con, the biggest Geekfest in America.

Eric, our usual traveling companion, passed for this trip. He is heading to Burning Man this summer. Ah, to be a fly on the wall for that adventure. However, his roommate and our friend Tate, hearing of our pilgrimage, decided that he too must make the trek.

Tate Enjoying himself at Comic-con

So the four of us headed off to the promised land. If you really want to get to know your friends, I recommend taking long trips with them. You will know who your real friends are after being packed into plane for 4 hours, driving through the desert in the wee hours of the morning and then bunking in a really small room with them for six days. If you are still friends after the end of those six days - the relationship can take almost anything.

Tate, bless his heart, is a planner. He made sure we had water as we drove through the desert. He thoughtfully brought earplugs and a sleeping mask so as to blind himself to the various noises our family is reported to make while sleeping. He was easygoing when it came to the schedule and even seemed to enjoy our adventures as "swag monkeys". The only strike against him was some of his nocturnal poses - usually involving creative yoga-like positions I don't he could have achieved in a waking state. A lesser person would have taken pictures, but I resisted. I am sure our other friends will be disappointed.

Now that you have the cast - next the play!


Ok folks - sorry I haven't been posting lately, but we have been out of town for the last two weeks.

Where did the clan go you ask?


Yup - we actually took a vacation that was not work related. Our inner geeks were fulfilled.

I have been trying to write all the great things I got to see and do in San Diego, but it is gonna take some time. With 125,000 people crammed into one convention center - well you can kinda guess at the bedlam that ensued.

So I will be back soon...promise....