Saturday, July 25, 2009

My First Comic-Con or Cole's Adventures Through the Looking-Glass

Well, I finally did it. After years of thinking about and/or threatening to go, I attended the 2009 San Diego Comic Con International on Friday. Originally, we had intended to get four day passes, but when they sold out uber-quickly, we initially snagged single day Thursday tickets. Unfortunately, things came up and plans to attend the first day of the Con were abandoned. Thankfully, I lucked into a Friday pass, and away I went! Here's some of my impressions of my first-ever Comic Con experience...

Friday, 10:45 am
The pass I bought was released on Ebay by the Con itself, but wasn't available for printing until around 7:30am Friday morning, and I decided it best to leave after LA traffic subsided a bit. I knew I could pretty much kiss the panels goodbye, as patrons basically squat in the rooms all day since they don't clear them. Being my first Con, I wasn't there so much for the panels but to walk around and soak it all in. My cat, Sidney, thought it very important that I have a good mix cd for the car. Here he is offering it up:

Tunes in hand, I hit the road towards San Diego. Traffic was a bit of a mess once I hit the 5, and it took me about 2 hours and 45 mins to arrive at the parking lot by the cruise ships. One severely air-conditioned shuttle ride later, and I arrived at the Convention Center.

I knew there would be a lot of people.


Nerds, geeks, dweebs, dorks, spazzes, freaks, weirdos, teens, geriatrics, families, ninja turtles, slave Leias, Jokers, Scarecrows, Darth Vaders, Mighty Booshii, Bobba Fetts, Catwomen, Mad Maxes, Browncoats, Spocks, Kirks, Cyberpunks, Simpsons, Jack Sparrows, Cheerleaders, Suicide Girls, X-Wing Fighter Pilots, Torgos, Jack Bauers, Pikachus, Wolverines, Iron Mans, Robin Hoods, Maid Marians, Gandalfs, Frodos, the actual Frodo Elijah Wood, Seth Greens, Nightcrawlers, Super Marios, Luigis, Bowsers, Stewies, Cartmans, Snake Eyeses, G.I. Joes, Elves, Wizards, Sexy Spies, Ninjas....


After securing my badge, I decided to wander the exhibition floor for a little bit. There's not a deep breath than can prepare you for the Clockwork Orange-esque sensory overload that is the dense collection of promotional studio exhibits, autograph stations and sales booths hawking comics, anime, t-shirts, figures, dolls, artwork, swords (yes...swords), posters, etc. So crowded that it was hard to really stop and look at anything--everywhere you turned, someone was pushing through you, or a bullish nerd with a "FREE HUGS" sign was attempting to fondle you. It was so hard to get orientated at first I had to pull off to the side for a few minutes to collect myself. My mission was to try and track down the RiffTrax booth (I had the number, but that wasn't much help), say hello to whomever was manning it (turns out it was Torgospizza, a handle familiar to anyone who trolls their forum), and then figure out what to eat since I hadn't accomplished that yet. It took me a while, but I found it (and saw Adam Baldwin along the way--charging $30 for an autograph or $10 for a "candid photograph" much does it cost to be my bodyguard for the day? If Chris Makepeace can rent him, so can I...) and was told the best places to eat would be outside of the convention downtown. I left the floor and ventured out, surprised at the sheer number of Con-related things to do outside of the Con proper. There was an Alice in Wonderland walk-through exhibit for the new Burton/Depp movie at a storefront a few blocks away, and next to it, I found my lunch deal at a place called Fleet Wood. $12 bought me a bowl of tomato bisque and a bacon cheeseburger, fuel enough for what was to come.

I decided to visit my friends Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett and Michael J. Nelson, who were doing a two hour block of autograph signing up on the Sails Pavilion. In good spirits, here they are signing below:

Later that evening, the guys were going to be doing a panel and live riff of a short. I was happy to find that they had secured me a reserved seat ticket to the sure-to-be packed event, so it looked like I would get to see one panel after all! After hanging for a few with them and RiffTrax producer Josh Gemma, it was back to the exhibition floor, a little wiser this time. Some of the cool booths included a promo for the new series Flash Forward where you got to see a little bit of your future; a recruitment center for V, the new take on the classic sci-fi miniseries; a big ol' stage for Stark Industries tying in with the new Iron Man movie; a Star Wars stage with many perfectly-dressed Jedi in some sort of performance; an Adult Swim booth sporting Breckin Meyer and Seth Green; a giant Warner Brothers water tower; and a big steel G4 platform, and perched on top--my buddy Chris Hardwick, who invited me up for a few minutes. Here he is, somberly taking things in:

...and here is the view of the exhibition floor from the top of the G4 platform...

After chilling with Hardwick for a few, I headed back to the floor to track down something terribly, terribly important. For those of you who read my last blog post, you know of my guilty pleasure love of the craptastic Disney superhero film Condorman. Well, here you have it...the ORIGINAL costume of Michael Crawford's crime-fighting bird of prey:

Thanks to my friend Jeremy for the heads up on it's location at the Con. After shopping around for a few hours (and thankfully avoiding buying most kitschy crap--though a Ben Linus bobblehead doll could be quite the conversation starter), it was time to head up to Ballroom 6DE for the RiffTrax Live panel. Ran into Conor from RiffTrax, who walked me back to where everyone was hanging out pre-show, and was happy to see Bridget Nelson and to meet Veronica Belmont, who was moderating the event (and will also be hosting the live RiffTrax of Plan 9 From Outer Space that Fathom events is doing on August 20th--which you should all check out at a theater near you!). Soon it was time to be seated, and the panel begun. Here's a shot from my seat:

They started with a live riff of a country-tinged short about construction safety called "Shake Hands With Danger." Hilarious! Then the guys invited fans to come up to a microphone and "pitch" (in 30 seconds or less) their idea of a film for them to riff in the future. Memorable suggestions included Super Mario Brothers, Highlander 2, Tango & Cash, Stalking Santa, The Duchess, and the eventual winner, Dragon Wars. Soon after the panel was completed, it was back to the streets of San Diego for a slice of pizza and then that oh-so-fun drive back to LA.

Completely overwhelming, but ultimately fun and exhausting, my first trip to Comic-Con was a worthy adventure. I'll definitely be better prepared for next year.

*Who wasn't at Comic-Con? Probably this guy, Scott Baio, whose photo I must post due to my slacking in blogging.*


  1. First of all, I love your kitty.

    Second of all, ComicCon kind of pisses me off. Mainly because I know they can do it better than they do. They can make it a much more fun experience for people. Why they allow it to be so crowded and disorganized, I'll never know. You were wise to avoid panels; they're impossible. (Altho a couple years ago I was lucky enough to get into a Nickelodeon panel featuring your buddy Chris H. that was great.)

    I dind't even go this year, because it freaks me out so bad. (I have a little bit of crowd anxiety. Okay, ALOT bit.)

    My husband went, tho. I'm hoping he'll do a blog post about it, including the 80-minute, mile-long line he had to wait in, being a Thursday arrival.

    If you ever have a chance to attend a World Science Fiction Con, you will see how a good con is run. It's also like quadruple the price to get in... But that keeps the riff-raff out. ;-)

  2. I hope you don't mind if I just lived vicariously through your words. The live Rifftrax sounds amazing, a bucket list bullet point.

    Thanks for the post.