Monday, August 4, 2014

SDCC 2014

“Celebrating the popular arts” has become the new San Diego Comic Con ("SDCC") slogan for what has become a show featuring a frenzy of media attention for movies, video games and anime, but what happened to comics? Its namesake “comic con” seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle over the past several years and actual comics only makes up a miniscule portion of the vendors floor in the convention center and show as a whole. Instead of focusing on its roots, it’s turned into a pop culture extravaganza, which is what increased popularity and interest dramatically, starting with Twilight, which many con goers hail as the death knell for the show, and ruination of SDCC. While it hasn’t exactly “ruined” SDCC, it has increased popularity exponentially, and now everyone wants a piece of the action, which is why it’s so difficult to obtain badges to attend.

For possibly my last year of attending SDCC, my swan song essentially, I wanted to go out on a positive note. Last year’s debacles, misfortune and unfortunate incidents left a bad taste in my mouth, so I wanted to exorcise those demons and rectify that feeling by having the best time ever. I had a plan of action devised, and was ready and determined to make this year’s event great. SDCC is supposed to be fun, so I made it a point to not get too consumed with exclusives and SWAG (that I will probably throw away after the show anyway). As it stands, I have two bankers boxes filled with SWAG from previous years that will probably never see the light of day again.
Exclusives are a major attraction of SDCC, and was the main reason for Preview Night until recently. When attending, it’s paramount to have a plan, an agenda and a team when it comes to exclusive hunting because there are many other attendees, probably thousands that want the same thing, and it takes dedication to brave the lines, and these lines WILL be capped if there is more of a demand than exclusives available.

Fortunately for me, I got almost everything I wanted and then some. The only exclusive I missed out on was the Bandai Green Ranger Flute Dagger, which I was not willing to camp out for.

As much as it costs for Hotel stay, there was no way I was sleeping on the sidewalk for any toy.

If you don't like crowds, you probably won't enjoy SDCC as 90% of attending the convention consists of waiting in line or wading through a hostile crowd... and the stinky nerd stereotype still applies, unfortunately.

No matter where you go, there will be a crowd. There is no escaping this reality.

This year, the plan was to worry about exclusives all day Thursday and enjoy the convention thereafter. It exactly didn’t turn out that way as I woke up early to get a Hasbro Ticket and a Bandai badge on Friday. Ultimately, it ended up being a waste of time as I crapped out on both; the lines were capped from too many people. There’s no worse SDCC feeling than a line getting capped off in front of you; it’s a feeling of emptiness, hopelessness and futility. More than likely, you will see this message or something similar unless you camp out:

Or you will learn that the exclusive that you've been after is sold out for the show:

When attending SDCC, it's a bit overwhelming because there are so many events, signings, giveaways and exclusives happening simultaneously; you can't be everywhere at once. This is where planning ahead of time comes into play, and sacrifice is warranted. For example, there were several signings and panels that I wanted to partake in on Friday, so unless I could perform binary fission and split off into two or more, it wasn't happening. It's all about prioritization in these instances; take care of what you deem is most important to you. You're going to miss something, no matter what you do. The most important thing is to live in the moment, enjoy what you're currerntly doing and not worry about what's going on elsewhere.

We were blessed (sort of) with nailing the Marriott Marquis and Marina, which featured a friendly, accommodating staff and an amazing view of the harbor and Marina, which I requested, of course. It offered a great view of people waiting in line for the following day and was adjacent to the convention center.

Per usual, I tried getting as many souvenir key cards as I could, but they weren't having it this time. I was only able to get two.

Unfortunately, the room itself left a bit to be desired as the humidity and dampness seeped inside; the sheets on the bed felt damp during our entire stay, which made it difficult to sleep… and at SDCC, you NEED your sleep. The humidity of San Diego is no joke for out-of-towners like myself. Stepping into the sunlight is almost like walking into a very faint, hot mist that manifests itself as uncontrollable sweat when you get back into the shade.
As a comic collector, one of the many reasons I like to attend SDCC is to have some of my books signed by writers and artists. Most are friendly and accommodating when it comes to signatures, but there are a select few that charge a bit too much. I understand if an artist that has been around for decades charges for signatures, because they are established and have paid their dues in the industry, but for those that have only been around for a few years…

On top of all the other expenses for SDCC: hotel, airfare, food, parking, etc., it’s disrespectful to the fans, almost a slap in the face and punch to the gut for someone to charge for a simple, scribbled signature, even more so if the artist hasn’t been around for more than 50 years… and someone should spell check their work.

Amanda Connor is the sweetest artist in the industry and is always happy to sign her work for free.

Amanda's assistant is really cute too.

I also brought some issues to be signed by Green Lantern artists Billy Tan and Patrick Gleason, which they happily signed for free.

I learned from research that former LOST beauty and Lord of the Rings star, Evangeline Lilly would be attending for a book signing on Friday. I was all over that like white on rice, and was fortunate to get a photo with her. I purchased her book as well, which she happily signed for me.

I also caught up with Big Poppa Pump, Scott Steiner from WCW/WWE. The first thing he asked about were my sunglasses, which have been discontinued. There's always eBay.

Once I had gotten the exclusives and book signings out of the way, I decided to to catch a couple of Panels. I avoid Hall H like the plague. Ever since Twilight, it's been near impossible to catch a panel in there because people camp out hoping to catch a glimpse or touch the hand of a well-known celebrity. I like to check out the panels in the smaller rooms to avoid the crowds and wasted time. My wife and I caught the Agents of Shield and Falling Skies panels this year. Agents of Shield was the better of the two simply because of the reaction that Agent Ward received from the crowd when he revealed his Hydra shirt.

...and I don't care what anyone says, Chloe Bennett is a beautiful woman.

While wandering around the convention floor, you can sometimes catch celebrities being escorted from place to place or on meet-and-greets with fans. It's funny that most celebrity handlers nearly flip out when you take candid shots of their clients. They have the deer in headlights look when they catch you. For the most part, I try to be respectful, but if they're right in front of me, well... *click* My DSLR's shutter speed is faster than any celebrity handler.


Here, I caught a brief shot of WWE wrestler, Big E while I was waiting in line for exclusives. I got to shake his hand as he walked by. He was a cool character.

One thing that definitely needs to change is having the celebrity signings on the main floor. It creates bottlenecking of foot traffic that can be avoided by having the signings in one of the other rooms. It's nice to catch a glimpse of a celebrity here and there, but I don't fancy being screamed at by over zealous security.

Here, you can barely see Wesley Snipes be escorted out after an Expendables signing.

For the most part, cosplay is why I continue to attend these conventions. The attention you receive from fans is almost indescribable, and I always try to make myself accessible when in costume. There's nothing worse than someone in costume that doesn't want to be bothered. I always say that if you don't want the attention and adulation, don't dress up. It's as simple as that. At every show, I always have people chase me down just to shake my hand on a job well done. I had one guy come up, shake my hand and say, "I got mad respect for the way you pull that off." It's hard to stay in character because some fans try to take you out of character and make you laugh... and one guy did during a photo-op.

I enjoy taking photos with the "pro" cosplayers that attend these shows because, well, they're gorgeous. I typically see Yaya Han, Vampy Bit Me and Vegas PG at these shows.


For all of my SDCC cosplay photos, please see my West Coast Morpheus Facebook page:

Here is video that has been making the rounds. I'm actually in this at the 3 minute mark. It's a really cool cosplay video.

Once the cosplay smoke cleared and the exclusive dust settled, I stepped back and tallied my haul for the show. Not too shabby, although I had to have my Mattel Batmobile shipped home because it was much larger than I had anticipated. The free swag has declined in quality over the years, but I still walked away with a few cool items and exclusives.

Overall, I had an incredible time this year, and I had nabbed almost all of the exclusives that I set out to get, but there are other shows that offer a similar or ever better overall experience for less than half of the money it costs to attend this show. To attend these other shows, there’s less sweating it out for badges, decent Hotel stay for a more reasonable price and a small, smattering of exclusives for the avid collectors. In addition, there are a few other shows that I want to experience before I get too old for this stuff. If you’ve never been to SDCC, you owe it to yourself as a fan of the industry to attend at least once for the sheer experience… and to help you out, here’s a video of me traversing the convention floor through the treacherous sea of humanity from Artists Alley to Xbox. Enjoy the vicarious experience, and remember to check out the cosplay Facebook page!