Thursday, August 4, 2011

Comic-Con 2011 and beyond

Hey There:

Comic-Con is an annual grand event in San Diego. It's a convention that started 42 years ago at the U.S. Grant Hotel with 300 in attendance. Back then it was dedicated to comics, now The Con has over 130K attendees shows everything that has to do with popular arts; everything from comics, TV, movies, anime, manga, art, costumes, gaming and the very exciting actors, writer and directors panels and autographs.

I've been immersed in this since I arrived in San Diego 12 years ago. This year I decided to take more videos than pics. As I edited and published them I was surprised to know so many San Diego residents had never been to it and I was asked a lot of questions about it. So here are some of the things I can tell you from my years of personal experience (been there 8 times):

Registration
  • You can only buy them online and this year badges sold out in the same day.
  • Many people were able to pre-register on site, so many are already secure with their 2012 badges.
  • If you want a badge this year which will be on sale this fall, you need to follow Comic-Con on Facebook, Twitter or check their website for updates and be ready when the time comes!
  • For 2012, prices changed and the 4-day badge will be more expensive. This is done to discourage people from just buying the 4-day badge and so they can purchase badges for only the days they will actually attend. The first time I attended was on a Sunday, just to check it out, it was cheaper and I still got to see lots of things.
Volunteer
  • If you don't have the money, already been to Comic-Con several times, or you didn't get a badge then try the volunteering thing.
  • Same thing, register online and do it quickly because spots run out.
  • You only volunteer for 3 hours or so and then get a badge for the day you volunteered, you may pick the hour but not the assignment. But the staff are pretty cool and you may get easy assignments, especially if you have experience and have good reviews from your supervisors.
  • You will only be able to register for one day at a time and the first time you go I suggest to print the e-mail and any attachments they send. For some reason the registration number I was given was from 2010 and I didn't appear as a 2011 volunteer on the system, but I had all my paperwork and they registered me on site. It was a scary moment when my name didn't appear, what if I couldn't get in??
  • My worst assignments have been "line management", it's easy all you do is tell people where the line is, tell them to get closer together, and stuff like that. But it's dull work and you don't get to see anything.
  • My best assignments have been "event giveaways" in Ballroom 20 and Hall H. Here you get to see the panels while you're working and once you're done you can stay there avoiding hours and hours of line.
  • Especially on Thursday and Sunday, you might get lucky and your services won't be needed, so you get cleared without doing a thing!
  • This is a video of what I did as a volunteer this year:

Attendees
  • Unless you're a super-organized person that takes their food, snacks, water, etc. be prepared to loose some pounds as you survive on caffeine, sugar, carbs and pay as if they were gourmet food.
  • Be prepared to walk the equivalent of 6 - 8 miles each day. Expect to be sleep deprived and in pain, but you'll still be going. 
  • When you register you get a huge bag that can be worn as a backpack or tote bag, use that or take your own.
  • Wear comfortable clothing, but if you wish to dress up in a costume be prepared to have your picture taken a lot! So have a friend with you to carry your stuff or just don't bring anything other than your phone and badge. There was a girl dressed as a Dalek who had her picture taken and then she would give people a business card so she could be tagged on the pics people took. That was cool, she got quite a collection and I tagged her on one pic and a Doctor Who video. She even appeared at a Doctor Who special documentary done by the BBC!
  • Look at the schedule of panels and exhibits beforehand and make a list of what you want to see, as a rule of thumb panels in the small rooms will require a 30 - 60 minute wait before the event. Anything in Hall H or Ballroom 20 might require camping out...more on that later.
  • Try to get there using public transportation, otherwise be prepared to spend anywhere from $15 to $45 per day on parking. 
  • Since I live in San Diego I don't know about getting hotel accommodations, but I hear it's a nightmare.
  • Best days to check the convention floor are Thursdays (less people, lots of merchandise) and Sundays (less people, and lots of deals on what's left of the merchandise).
  • Be sure to carry enough batteries and a charger with you, and just in case...pen and paper for an autograph.
  • I saw several people carrying small stools, these are useful when you're waiting in line, but will be useless if the line is constantly moving. I think I might get one for next year.
  • These videos are a tour of Comic-Con and the things you can get there.


Panels and Autographs
  • The coolest part about Comic-Con is that you get to go to panels where you can see exclusive previews, panels from your favorite shows, your favorite authors, etc. If you're into obscure ones in the small rooms, no problem. If you're into popular shows...you have my sympathy.
  • I wanted to see The Big Bang Theory Panel which started at 12:30, I started the line at 10 AM, didn't get in; a girl I met started the same line at 8:30, she didn't get in. I remained in line hoping to get in and later get a bathroom pass so I could return for True Blood at 5 PM, but at 1:30 I had to leave the line and go do my volunteer duties. I was pissed!
  • If you want an autograph for limited signings (like the True Blood, Torchwood or Dr Who panels) you need to get in line for hours in order to participate in a raffle. 
  • So how do you get in? The "lucky" ones camp out or arrive at 4 AM or so to get in line. Comic-Con opens the doors at 9 AM, so they do their lines outside of the convention center. So let's say you camped out on Friday night and get inside Ballroom 20 on Saturday morning, you will be able to stay there all day if you want to since the room doesn't get cleared out between panels; you can request a bathroom pass and get to come back.
  • This year I had my volunteer duties on Sunday morning on Hall H since I wanted to be already inside to watch the Doctor Who panels, I was discharged from my duties early and had to endure the Glee panel (I mean...seriously?? WTF is Glee doing at Comic-Con???) then I sat through Supernatural (not bad) so I could finally see the 11th Doctor...it was awesome!!
  • If you just don't want the hassle of long lines or camping out, you can still see repeats of the panels later at night in one of the smaller rooms, you just don't get to see the exclusive previews.
People on Friday night camping out for Saturday Panels
Videos
  • Here are some of the videos I uploaded on YouTube, because of the pesky copyright thing I edited out theme songs with extra pictures and a Star Wars montage, so if you want to see more add me as your friend on Facebook.






Any questions??

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