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Comic Con 2013

All right everyone, I know it's been forever since I updated and I honestly feel bad about that. I've been toying with/pecking noncommittally at an entry about my new job, but the longer I let it go, the more stuff happens, and the more that stuff informs the stuff that has already happened, so every time there's an "event" it feels like I need to scrap the whole thing and start over AND IT'S JUST GETTING A LITTLE UNWIELDY IS ALL. I do still intend to finish that entry that surely no one will read because it just keeps getting longer and longer but something cool happened that I don't want to let lapse into the void of memory so I'm leapfrogging that work entry for this one.

Which also requires a little bit of work context, oh well.

Anyway, my job took us all to Comic Con. More explanation than that isn't REALLY necessary, except in the "how the fuck do you work somewhere that thinks taking your sorry nerd asses to COMIC CON is a good way to spend company resources?" which, of course, would have been answered by that entry I refuse to finish. But, in the interest of disclosure, let me give you just a LITTLE summary:

I work at MovieClips, which you guys are probably familiar with if you've watched more than one trailer for a movie on YouTube in the past few months. I'm not going to go into everything they do, because to be perfectly honest I'm still not totally sure, but please rest assured that my job has nothing to do with that channel and is in fact far less interesting. I'll get into it someday, I promise.

Anyway, apparently our company has deals with different celebrities and content providers, and we just manage their YouTube channels for them. So rather than hiring someone at their own firm to tag the videos, moderate the comments, etc., they just farm it out to us. And there were enough of those clients at Comic Con, making new content, to justify us coming down there and helping. Plus, the MovieClips channel itself is like purely promotional content so they just wanted us down there to like, do their job for them to an extent? I don't think that's true.

Basically I have no idea why they sent us down there. They fucking hired these coach buses, rented out AN ENTIRE BAR for the ENTIRE DAY, gave us free lunch and a drink, and motherfucking PAID US for the day.

I spent $10 yesterday AND MADE $80.

So yeah, I guess I don't get it but I also don't mind exploiting a corporation's flagrant if muddled generosity.

So, since this was all a rather...I don't know how to describe it other than random. Random, and at times poorly communicated. I had really no idea what was going on, what was expected of me, what I could expect in return, etc. I kind of just wanted to go and make the best of whatever I could, but I went down there having made far fewer preparations than I usually do for this sort of thing.

Plus, of course, Comic Con is like the last beast for me to slay in SoCal. I've done pretty much everything else cool that's down here, my bucket list for this geographical area is nearing completion (Magic Mountain is the only thing I can think of actually.) But Comic Con has been my intended for years, and just because of the bonkers way you have to sign up for it, finding accommodations, and getting the hell down to San Diego in the first place, I haven't managed to do it yet. So I was excited, and a little pre-disappointed for that reason: I wanted to pop my Comic Con cherry in the most romantic and choreographed way possible, not on a washing machine in my work's basement, you know?

So this was kind of my mindset going in. Excited, weirded out that I was getting to do it all for free, and totally prepared to have an awful, awful time.

Fortunately, that did not happen at all.

So anyway, we had a full week of work before this, and like I said, very little communication besides a flyer that the planners posted all around the warehouse. We had to be at work at 6:30 AM to leave on the buses by 6:45, and any time I have to wake up early, let alone for events I am peeing my pants in anticipation for, I can never fall asleep. I tossed and turned until about 3:00 on Thursday night and my alarm went off at 5:00 AM.

I did the whole day on 2 hours of sleep.

So anyway, my carpool and I get down there PRETTY EARLY, like 6:10 or so, we were among the first people to get there, so I got on the list to get an actual PASS to get IN to the convention center for the afternoon shift. I kind of manipulated it that way and I sort of feel bad but not really. That's more for the work entry though. The people who planned the day bought glorious coffee and muffins, and though it felt like myself and the whole world was moving at about 75% of its normal rate, once I got my Starbucks I started feeling okay and actually excited!

I started talking to people too. I have been unfairly reticent at this job because it's SO EASY for me to just glue myself to my desk, work all day, and fuck around on the internet when I'm not working that I haven't really been meeting people. So I meandered over to a group of a couple of people and shot the shit while waiting for the buses to let us on.

Then we got on the bus, and this is where important shit started happening.

The people who planned this...seriously, I was REALLY apprehensive of this whole thing just because of how little was communicated to us in the days leading up to it, but in the craziest and most unexpected turn of events since the last David Lynch movie, that was only because they had everything SO WELL ORGANIZED. Just based on how little info I had I thought it was going to be a shitshow but they had like EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY planned out, with a lot of wiggle room if you didn't care about what they had planned.

We got on the bus, and they had some trivia game planned WITH PRIZES. They were giving out AMC movie passes and passes to some panel at Comic Con that sounded kind of dumb and sketchy (it wasn't even in the convention center, it was at Petco Park, and it was hosted by Zachary Levi who I've always thought is kind of corny, which was the ONLY information I had about it. Just keep that in mind). So we do some trivia, and everyone is excited and answering, and I don't know all of it, so I don't get a question right until like the middle of the game.

For the record, it was "This company tried to buy Facebook for $1.1 billion in 2006" or something and I said Yahoo and Boo-yah!

A lot of people had been choosing movie passes, which given the information, I understood, but I literally have a movie pass that I still haven't used and what the fuck are you going to Comic Con for if you're not going to DO Comic Con? So I picked a pass to the panel. And I got the last one.

We did some more trivia, I got some more questions right (Movie Quote: "Somebody help me! I'm being spontaneous!" which I only got because I literally rewatched The Truman Show like two weeks ago, and something like "What is the most profitable movie of all time that was based on a one-woman off-Broadway show?" which I read somewhere and it was My Big Fat Greek Wedding and this girl who WORKS on the movie content team and is/thinks she is hot shit got it wrong and I was like yeah bitch), then they plugged in Ocean's 11 in the DVD Player and I listened to this song on repeat the rest of the way (This is the newest song I'm obsessed with and driving into the ground):

This is my introversion; I knew Comic Con was going to be SENSORY OVERLOAD!!!!! and I needed to prepare, especially since I'd gotten so little sleep, so I didn't mind looking like some severely autistic child listening to my video game songs and rocking back and forth in a self-comforting stupor.

anyway WHATEVER, we got to San Diego at like 10:00 AM, and our bus tried to make a REALLY TIGHT TURN onto a downtown street and hit the street light:

But then we all got settled in, checked in, etc. I needed to wear TWO wristbands: one that let me into and out of the bar freely, and the other so I could drink. Then I peed, wandered, got my ticket for the panel, and headed down to see what a fuckmess it was going to be.

Here's where everyone's misunderstandings started to compile. And I want to build this up as much as I can just so you can get a TASTE of the awesome surprise that was in store.

So, first of all, the panel was like, Zachary Levi and mystery guests at Nerd HQ, the whole of which sounds like a desperate attempt by a celebrity who's made his career on the backs of nerds to continue pandering and exploiting their good will for his own monetary gain. I'm a TINY BIT sensitive to like, the Adrianne Currys of the world who aren't really nerds but pretend to be because they're the new zeitgeist thing or whatever. I mean, at this point it's hard not to partially suspect that of everyone, just because of how BIG this sub-industry has become (and no better way to visualize that than by going to planetary hellbeast that is COMIC CON), but I never watched Chuck and I don't really know Zachary Levi and cynicism is my default so I thought this was going to be a gross mess.

In addition, "Petco Park" to me sounded like an actual park. Like as I was walking there, I was picturing like a dog park, like wtf are they holding a panel in a dog park for.

So I'm walking down there, using Google Maps to figure out where "Gaslamp Gate" is. I pass this security guard and I ask him if I'm going in the right direction: I'm only like 2 blocks away but I wanted to make sure I'd stumble across a park soon and he just gives me this look like, "Yeah, dumbass, you're going in the right direction."

I get to Petco Park's Gaslamp Gate.

It's the baseball stadium. Petco is the sponsor of the San Diego Padres.

So already my expectations are jazzed a little bit. In a good way. I love being pleasantly surprised.

I get in line, which is like CRAZY well-organized. Every two rows had a volunteer lining people up in their assigned seats (oh yeah, there were assigned seats which also kind of made me go "huh"), and this mother/daughter pair were assigned far apart from each other and trying to get next to each other, which I thought the volunteer could be a turd about but she was even being helpful with them, so we all get assembled and waited for a while. I start spotting cosplayers. The first three cosplayers I saw were ALL Adventure Time cosplayers, which by the end of the day I sort of realized is well-engineered promotion/marketing. Do you know how easy it is to cosplay Finn/Fiona? You need a blue shirt, jean shorts or just jeans, knee-high socks and that stupid hat you can probably special order from some online nerd retailer. I saw SO MANY Finns/Fionas.

Anyway, they let us in and the stage is like the weirdest, best jury-rigged thing I have ever seen. They sort of sectioned off a small area of seats, set up cameras in the aisles, set up lighting, and pumped in SO MUCH AC through these snaking dryer tube things. It was super comfortable, super intimate, and weird to think that when they tore it all down it was just going to be a section in a ballpark.

So there's maybe 200 people in this audience. Tiny, intimate. Zachary Levi comes out with very little buildup or fanfare, introduces himself, shows he has a great deal of charisma, etc. Then he starts to introduce his "mystery guest."

I believe it was singular on the ticket, but bear with me.

The first guy he brings out is Rob Kazinsky, whose name you probably don't know but I feel like he's the actor-of-the-summer the way Jessica Chastain was two years ago. He was the Australian antagonist guy in Pacific Rim and he's Ben/Warlowe right now on True Blood. So he comes out, but there's four seats set up.

Alan Tudyk was next. And at this point my jaw is sort of on the floor because, holy shit, he's like a real person, and he's not even the last guy they introduced. He brings out this huge duffel bag with him which I thought was really weird, like dude isn't there a backstage area for your dirty gym shorts, but alas Jenny just hasn't done enough cons apparently.

Then Zachary says something like, "and you know who I have to bring out if Alan's already here," and I whisper to the girl sitting next to me (buddy I made before the bus left) "IF IT'S NATHAN FILLION I AM GOING TO DIE"

It was Nathan Fillion.

I got REALLY BAD PICTURES because we were in the last row and the lighting was REALLY severe, but there they are in order from left to right: Zach, Rob, Nathan, and Alan. I don't know why Alan sat on the end, but whatever.

So I'm freaking out, just watching/enjoying myself, because they have this Q&A system set up where if you have a microphone, you can raise your hand with a question, and then the panel will pick someone with a microphone. And I have vague plans to find a microphone somehow because I want to see if Rob will give any True Blood spoilers, but this first girl starts asking her question. We all saw her outside because she was bawling and Movie Content Girl I Don't Like says something like, "It's not Comic Con unless someone is crying."

Apparently she'd lost all of her American money and didn't have a place to stay or anything to eat while she was in San Diego, which I mean, Captain Cynical in my brain is like "Damn that's a good scam," like what are they going to say to her, "Wow that really sucks I'm so sorry?" THEY chose to be master of the oppressed and undermined nerd class, THEY picked their meal ticket. So they all straight-up GIVE HER CASH FOR FOOD, Alan Tudyk opens his mystery duffel bag and removes some obscure item from some movie shoot he did somewhere, THEY ALL SIGN IT AND GIVE HER THE BAUBLE/CASH


So my jaw is still on the floor, people keep asking questions, Alan keeps giving away his shit and they all sign it for people. I can't even remember everything he gave away, but there was like, a production hoodie from I, Robot, a framed picture of the cast of some pilot he did that went no where, a big, bulky jacket that straight-up RUSSELL CROWE and CHRISTIAN BALE bought him when he did 3:10 to Yuma, some baseball hat that he wore, and he had the green-screen gloves from when he did I, Robot but he decided to keep those.

Nathan held the microphone while he put them on and then he wore them for the rest of the panel. He reenacted the little dinosaur scene from the first episode of Firefly with them on.

The whole thing was adorable. I had to zoom like WOAH in all of my pictures but I got this one and I thought it was really cute:

I mean, I'm sure the panel's going to be online somewhere...you know what I should check. Haha yeah here it is:

I mean, it's over an hour long so I don't expect anyone to watch but it's there if you want to. I was sitting in the back row of that!

So it's like 11:30 AM and my year is basically already made, but I decide to PRESS MY LUCK and keep hoping for more.

Nerd HQ is apparently like this auxiliary thing they set up in Petco Park, so the panel's not the only thing going on there. I wander around and I break off from my group of colleagues because they were being dumb and listen I'm sorry, but sticking together in groups out of familiarity is probably good manners but sticking together in groups out of safety, like we did on field trips in grade school, is no longer applicable. So I subtly but decisively PEACED OUT and wandered around by myself.

They had some cool shit set up:

Iron Man 3 suit. Those guys were not posing as much as it looks like they were, they were just guarding it.

This was this cool video game they had set up, where you punched the padded things to represent different punches and uppercuts and stuff. I didn't play and honestly I'm not sure why I took a picture of it but I guess I was still riding the adrenaline from the panel.

They had a bunch of these paintings set up for like an auction and this was my favorite.

K, so then I stumbled upon this, which was probably the most bizarre thing I saw all day. There was like this little impromptu lobby, like that's the closest comparison I can make, with all of these couches all pointed at this stage. The couches don't seem to be reserved and most of them are empty, but cameras are set up at the back and flanks of the couch-lobby, all pointed at the stage. And they're like, filming. Like it's happening. The girl and guy are the hosts, and the panel is actual people! The guy on the left was the coffee shop manager in Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23, and the guy in the middle was Hannibal Buress.

Like what the hell?

So I find a couch and just watch them shoot the shit for a while. It's the most informal but professional thing I think I have ever seen in my life. At one point, they start commentating on this cosplayer and she legit GETS UP ON STAGE:

It was so weird.

So then occasionally they start yelling out stuff like, "STAN LEE! Don of Comic Con" and stuff, which was just so fundamentally TRUE that I didn't think it actually meant anything. But there was this line of people all by this photobooth when I walked by, and I thought it was just one of those novelty blue screen things, so I didn't think anything of it. But then I get up to leave the way I came (I couldn't figure out how to get out of the stadium which, in hindsight, was really stupid but I was REALLY JAZZED you guys), and there's two big guys hustling this frail little man in front of me.

And it was Stan Lee.

So he and I like, almost run into each other and I step back the way I would if I came across a raccoon in an alley, but still with enough mental fortitude to claw for my phone so I could take a picture.

And I got his back:

Like, in another life, with a different set of experiences and a different personality, maybe I would have asked him for a picture and to sign something, because what's the worst he could say? No?

But I got a picture of Stan Lee's back at Comic Con and I'm pretty fucking happy with that.

So at this point I'm even MORE on Cloud Nine, but I need to get back to the bar in time so I can get a pass for the afternoon shift in the convention center. I get some food (They had a buffet with burgers and chips, and it wasn't bad, and I kind of didn't think about it but that was all I ate at all yesterday), get a beer (Fat Tire),:

chill with the girls who sit by me at work, charge my phone, and just waited for my pass buddy to come back.

It was my boss, which was a little awkward, and he didn't get back when he was supposed to and I had to text him, but the girl who was in charge of organizing the whole thing has said nice things to me, and I went out of my way to say thank you to her for doing such a good job organizing it, so she found me another pass and I went down to the convention center!!

What. A. Clusterfuck.

So even getting down there was a lifetime experience. There's about seven hundred billion people all milling around, migrating like a huge ant colony, half of them in costume, a tangible number in some kind of journalistic capacity. Set up along the walkways to the convention center are lines for the big panels (I decided not to even try, I had less than eight hours at Comic Con I wasn't going to waste standing in line), various promotional crap. You know those weird trucks where the trailer has a lot of surface area but not volume? Like it's really narrow but really broad, basically so it can be a driving billboard?

They had those LINED UP in the courtyard in front of the convention center. Mobile billboards. Huge ads for Once Upon A Time plastered on the sides of buildings. Robot suits and mechas from various franchises I've never heard of before. They had a parking lot OUTSIDE the convention center set up with all of this shit, too:

That was a fun house set up by Adult Swim that had a huge line was a nhf.

Also, there were Christian protesters, which always gives me a little existential anxiety, since there's a weird part of me that still wants to identify myself as a Good Christian Student, so like if the Christians are protesting something I love there's this weird dissonance that I both hate identifying with but also can't quite talk myself out of. HOWEVER, I really got the sense from these guys that they weren't necessarily PROTESTING, they were just there because there were shit-tons of people there and they wanted the exposure.

So really, the Christians were just another exhibitor at Comic Con.

The whole thing is just so insane, you guys. Historians will label Comic Con as one of the cultural frivolities that brought down the American empire, I swear to God.

Anyway, I FINALLY got into the convention center and within 10 minutes I was ready to curl up into my autistic, rocking ball and die but I managed to walk the whole thing. HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED:

MLP was one of the first displays I came across, and of course the only two people I snapped looking at it were WHITE MEN fucking BRONIES

This was the best cosplay I saw all day, and only because they were a group, although now looking at it I'm not sure if they were together or not. I kind of wish I'd butted my way in front of them for a better picture, because the Asian kid is there too but he's hard to see, but anyway there's TWO Dougs so maybe they weren't a group? Idk.

Lego probably had one of the coolest booths in the entire thing. Of course, I should qualify that and say they had one of the coolest booths I SAW because a lot of the booths had huge lines that I was not, again, hf. But they had lego sculptures, as any lego marketing event must, but they also had bins where you could play with legos and these cool vertical grids where you could take legos and make like, lego pixel art. I wish I'd taken a picture but I didn't :(

BMO cosplay that I wasn't impressed by, but now thinking about it if that thing was hand-made...damn.

Pretty much every superhero movie brought costumes and put them behind glass. Weird that the suit is the most easily identifiable, tangible promotional thing they can think of.

A really bad picture as another example.

The last cool thing I did was at the waaaaay way back of the convention center, where all the video game exhibitors had their shit set up in kind of a mini-E3 sort of thing. I played a PS Vita for a while, got eaten by a zombie, and then got a little postcard from one of the guys. Then I went to the Nintendo one:

They had TONS of guys here, and enough TVs that none of them really had much of a "line," so I found one that seemed like the people were abandoning and stepped up to it.

The guy...like, I've never met someone trying to sell me something that was more fucking EXCITED! He asked me my name, thought I said Denny and we had a weird trans activism moment, taught me the controls, and though I know there was a fair amount of other stuff going on in my brain, if only the sheer volume of stuff/people going on around me, I had a REALLY SLOW learning curve and it bothered me, but the whole time I am failing at Pikmin 3 he is like GOING ON with his sales pitch, and there's not even anything there for me to buy. Just like really genuine, but also really forced charisma that at one point I had to stop him and say like, "Damn you must get tired from being this excited with every person who wanders through here" and I THINK I HURT HIS FEELINGS! He said like, "I'm just so excited about this game!" It was like the people who work at Disney World UP TO 11, that is how fucking crazy Nintendo brand reps are.

So he gave me a little Pikmin patch, and even though they came in packs of three he like, removed ONE and gave it to me which made me a little "man, really? They've got you so five-hour-energy/guarana-excited and you can't even give me a complete piece of swag? Shit bro." I'll take a picture of all the shit I got from the convention center in a second.

My FAVORITE thing I got was probably this little Plants vs. Zombies 2 pin, and this is what they had in their booth that...I didn't get it but it was still cool I guess.

Okay so I have a couple of pictures left so I'm just going to summarize them.

Probably the coolest thing that I didn't have enough time for was all the small-time, independent artists, and just comic book artists in general that were mixed in the big, corporate booths around the edges of the convention center. This person wasn't even there but they had some really cool Avatar fan art, even though I think it sort of misses Aang's characterization? With the abs and pecs...like, Aang is a little effeminate boy, that's what's so cool about making him the hero...whatever.

THIS was probably my favorite individual cosplay from the day, and I'm really pissed I didn't get my camera app open fast enough to get him from the front because he had a WICKED COOL Majora's Mask too. God that is just some solid cosplay.

The Ice King

Michael Dorn and Brent Spiner were signing autographs and Michael lost a lot of weight! I hope he's not sick!

I don't even know what this is promoting but I thought it was really cool. Really, that was probably 70% of the content on the convention floor--I had NO IDEA what it was, I'd never seen or heard of it before, and people were freaking out about it.

Like, I am and always will (probably) identify as a nerd, but there is just such a WEALTH of stuff out there I haven't been exposed to. And just at Comic Con! Imagine how much stuff there is IN THE WHOLE WORLD that I've never heard of nor seen! THE WORLD IS A PLAYGROUND AND I'VE BARELY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE!

Anyway, I got back to the bar after an ill-advised stop at a 7-11 for a fresh bottle of water, got another beer, and then we headed out. We played a little trivia on the bus, watched Top Gun, then these fresh assholes from the movie content team played THE MOVIE GAME WHICH IS MY FAVORITE ROAD TRIP GAME OF ALL TIME and I kept trying to get invited in but they were like WILLFULLY IGNORING ME. Fuck them. That was the only sour note of the entire day though.

The kid I met in the morning lent me a comic book that I accidentally left in my carpool's car, so with that fresh reminder of my own assholishness, I WENT HOME AND SLEPT FOREVER. Then I woke up to write this and I have intersected with the present.

I don't know, it was really fun and worth working this shitty dead-end job for three months just for this. I had a really good time, and I want to go back, and hopefully I'll do it with a little more planning and foresight next time! Maybe I'll get Katie to come.

ETA: Oh yeah, here's all my #yoloswag. If anyone wants that 30-day trial PSN Membership let me know.