Comic-Con Blog

From Paradise to the Geek Prom

Darkness Before Dawn

It’s 3 a.m. PDT. I just had a weird dream about an underwater park. Not a park dedicated to oceanography, but a regular ol’ neighborhood park that just happened to be underwater, and enjoyed in that state. And now I’m awake and can’t get back to sleep. So I figured I’d update just to wrap up our Friday at Comic-Con. We’re supposed to be up in under two hours anyway.

The Entertainment Weekly “Visionaries: The Showrunners” panel was great. With five other TV shows represented on the panel, I was sure “LOST” was going to be only periodically mentioned. But I clearly underestimated the power of “LOST” fandom. Jeff Jensen, the moderator, actually started the event warning fans not to ask boneheaded questions about “LOST.” Even the other (essentially sidelined) panelists joked about “LOST” — said one, “I feel like a Pip.” And when the line for the microphone opened up, the members of the panel jokingly counted them out: “That one’s for ‘LOST,’ ‘LOST,’ ‘LOST,’ ‘Gossip Girl,’ ‘LOST…'”

Some of them were familiar names: “Tapdawg,” who’s been a video madman, and fellow “LOST” podcaster Jo of “JOpinionated.”

Overall, a bad scene for fans of “Pushing Daisies,” but great for “LOST” fans like us.

Memorable moment? Damon Lindelof was talking about the “LOST” universe outside of what’s shown on TV: mobisodes, ARGs, and the like. He said something to the effect of, “Average viewers aren’t going to give a shit.” As his answer continued, the next panelist pointed at a note on the table in front of them, and he trailed off and then read it out loud. “Please be aware that some members of your audience may be under 18 years of age.” So no cursing? “You guys are fucked.”

After the panel, “Podcasters Row” regrouped outside and plotted their next steps. Many were going to join the line right then for another EW panel at 6 p.m., then stay in place for a Kevin Smith appearance to follow. Jen and I, knowing an early morning awaited us on Saturday, opted out of any more programming and wished everyone well.

I ended up grabbing a spot on the floor in a large hallway next to a power outlet to quickly upload the audio from the “Showrunners” panel. Well, sort of quickly. I used my EVDO modem rather than the Convention Center’s overtaxed free Wi-Fi, but it still took over 40 minutes. While I did that, Jen braved the expo floor to do some shopping for the kids.

She came back with a couple of boxes of LEGO for the boys, and a stuffed “Pea” and matching necklace for Katie. The “Pea” was basically a green dot with legs. Jen had no idea what it was but thought it looked cute. We visited the website, and found a lot of “Pea” jokes. If you know what I mean. I thought it was cute, too, but we’ll see how Katie reacts. I think it’ll just further reaffirm her frustrated lament, “My parents are weird.”

We then headed out to find dinner. Our first thought was to jump the trolley to Mission Valley to see what the dining options were there (and end up at In-N-Out if it came to that). But after seeing a mob at the trolley station, we decided to walk The Gaslamp District instead. And I’m glad we did. Definitely a flashy, noisy, touristy area, but still an interesting place with great energy. We walked past dozens upon dozens of restaurants, nightclubs and bars, and stores (including a Hilo Hatties and a Longs Drugs!).

Jen spotted a pizza place, and that was it. We crossed over to Ciro’s Pizza on Market Street and 6th, where we got two slices of New York-style pizza and a 20 oz. drink for $6. Considering what we’d paid for our romantic dinner on the waterfront the night before, it was a fantastic deal. We sat out on the sidewalk and watched the Geek Parade flow past.

When we finished, we decided to undo all our dinner savings and hop a cab back to the hotel rather than finding and taking the trolley. Finding a cab, though, was an adventure as well. Every time we spotted one or two on a nearby corner, we’d walk there only to find none. Finally by chance, one dropped of a fare where we were standing, and we hopped in.

He warned that rush-hour traffic was upon us, but we didn’t mind. We whipped through downtown and onto Highway 5 north. About 20 minutes later we were back at Hazard Center. It cost about the same as our trip from the airport, which made sense only when we passed the airport en-route. I clearly haven’t quite figured out the layout of this city.

Back at the room, we just stretched out and relaxed. Then, on a whim, we decided to check out the pool. The heated indoor pool. It was wonderful, and we had it all to ourselves. Then we hopped out and jumped into the jacuzzi, where we met another nice Comic-Con couple that had come down from Northern California.

Of course we talked about Comic-Con. They were pseudo veterans of the event, attending since the days it was held at the Civic Center (but not in the dim hotel basement). They confessed to being disappointed this year, primarily because of the crowds. Each year Comic-Con gets larger and larger, this year being the biggest yet. They said the lines were unmanageable and left thousands of fans unfulfilled… something we certainly saw time and time again. Their experience today with the autograph line for “Red Sonja” was exactly the opposite of our (much more modest) experience with Richard Hatch. In short, standing in line for two hours in advance of something you wanted to see was no longer enough – this year’s average mark was probably four hours. That knocks out half a day for one thing, and that one thing may fill up anyway.

We confessed we’d be there before 6 a.m. this morning, but that we’d be behind hundreds of people that were camping overnight. They said the turning point was the year when Angelina Jolie showed up. From their description of the madness, I believe it. Back in 2003, attendance was an eye-popping 80,000. This year? 120,000.

And the problem, they said, really wouldn’t be solved by more space. Hall H is already cavernous and is devoid of any of the intimacy and direct contact Comic-Con was once known for. And Comic-Con would be drowned into insignificance in a place like Las Vegas (whereas it becomes a keystone event for the city of San Diego), and would be surrounded by “really bad things” in L.A.’s Staples Center (whereas San Diego is just beautiful). Basically, registration would have to be limited… either by numbers smaller than the caps set for this sellout year, or by raising registration prices.

I had to admit, paying $75 for four-day access seemed like a steal. I’ve attended conferences that cost $500 to attend, and ran conferences that cost $7,000 to attend. And none were as huge or chock-full of stuff as Comic-Con. While clearly young kids with limited resources might be priced out, I could easily see paying $300 for our four-day pass.

It was nice to get a historic perspective and a local’s view of Comic-Con (they were originally from San Diego). And in yet another small-world moment, the wife had once lived in Hawaii.

As the sun set, we headed back up to our room for a hot shower and more unabashed lounging. After a quick phone interview with Burt “Bytemarks” Lum and L.P. “InfinityPro” Faleafine (also starring fellow con-er Jonathan “HAWYN316” Wong), we turned in and slept like babies.

Until my weird dream.

Here’s one of the only non-iPhone photos I got today:

Trip

More photos here!

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July 26, 2008 - Posted by | Updates | , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Hope you are not too tired and the queue isn’t too long!

    Comment by Krissy | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks so much for the awesome and frequent updates Ryan! I’m bummed I can’t be out there (maybe next year), but your blog, Flickr and Twitters have made up for it! Thanks again!

    Comment by Brent D | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. I missed the “Lost” Panel. I hope you upload the podcast soon! hope you guys are having an awesome time!

    Comment by Jonine | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  4. My first Comic Con and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I did miss out on several panels that I wanted to attend, such as the costumers panel and the MST3K reunion. But I’ve found that it is possible to get into just about everything held in room 20 (the big ballroom). Although disappointed at missing a few panels, I think that is balanced out with the good. You’re absolutely right about the ticket price–I still don’t believe it’s that low. I’ve seen lousy two-day sci-fi conventions that have higher prices.

    Comment by Dwayne | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  5. Hi Ryan and Jen,

    Just a quick note to say THANKS for the great job covering Comic Con. Can’t wait to listen to your podcasts.

    On a side note, I’ve got family in San Diego and we’re all ex-New Yorkers, and we’re always looking for good pizza wherever we are. When I was there last summer, my cousin took us to Ciro’s pizza and we all LOVED it. Some of the best NY style pizza we’ve had outside of NY. Small world indeed.

    Take care and thanks again!
    Mike.In.VA

    Comment by Mike.in.VA | July 28, 2008 | Reply


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