Comic Con International San Diego is the Mecca for Comic book geeks, gamers, techies, sci-fi /fantasy readers, various forms of animation and fans of movies and TV shows inspired by them. It casts such a large swath across the entertainment industry that it takes up every inch of the 460,000 square feet allotted to it in Halls A-G of the San Diego Convention Center. This year was my third visit to Comic Con.
My initial interest in attending was to make connections to promote my books which are inspired by two darlings of Comic Con-Twilight and Hunger Games. This year I am more focused on political blogging and writing my own piece of YA fiction. This was my year to just let my fangirl flag fly and enjoy the Con.
After attending two Cons and enjoying freebies around town in San Diego, including the Conan O’Brien show last year, I came to a conclusion- I really only want to be in Hall H. Hall H- the hallowed Hall that holds 6500 rabid fans waiting to be the first to see clips and trailers of Hollywood’s biggest Comic inspired fare and panels of A list directors and actors.
But to spend Comic Con in Hall H takes epic courage and endurance equal to those feats accomplished by the characters in the tales so beloved by their fans.
It is a rite of passage, a gauntlet, a quest that is proof of one’s devotion to the comic genre.
It begins with your choice of attire. It must be cool enough to endure waiting in line on bright white concrete radiating heat but warm enough to be comfortable in the air conditioned blasts of Hall H. Your footwear must be comfortable enough for walking further in circles than you ever have gone in any distance race.
Water is essential. If you are in line alone, with no one to hold your place, you may want some kind of sustenance as well. I recommend an insulated water bottle with ice cold water and some kind of food source that will not melt or rot in the heat. An insulated lunch bag with an ice pack is great if you don’t mind having more weight to carry. Packing your lunch is a great idea because -heaven forbid- that you should be forced to buy the outrageously priced food at the convention center with its paltry selection and putrid taste, or a worse fate- that you would have to fight the crowds in downtown San Diego to try to eat at a local restaurant in the 1 hour allotted to you to leave Hall H without losing your seat. If you are lucky some enterprising person will come along the line selling water bottles or pushing an ice cream cart.
Something to sit on is helpful-especially a portable stool or chair that can be easily scooped up if the line suddenly lunges forward. At the very least a pad or pillow or even a towel will do. Anything to cushion you from the hot hard cement or what remains of the drought parched lawn.
Bring your own shade in the form of an umbrella or shade cover for your camping chair, as you will be far from the tented awning for most of your wait,down by the marina.
If you are a super hero among fans and choose to spend the night in line, then light weight camping gear is in order. Keep in mind Comic Con has restrictions-no tents, matresses or chairs larger than the length of one body.
You must be careful to stay in the right line or you may end up in a land you know not. Most volunteers and security people are as confused as you -so be careful whose direction you take. There was a whole tent city formed on the blazing heat of an asphalt parking lot between the Ferry to Coronado pier and Joe’s Crab Shack. It was found to be an unauthorized portion of the line started by an unwitting attendee and a confused volunteer.
Its discovery delayed the distribution of the coveted wrist bands-your only guarantee into Hall H by over 4 hours as the imperfect system had a proverbial wrench thrown in it.
Don’t mistake the Hall H line for the Everything Line or you will never enter Hall H. There was only one enthusiastic security guard who cheerful yelled to differentiate between the two. The everything line, like the everything bagel, gives you a taste of every part of the convention center EXCEPT Hall H. I think about 30 people hopped out of the Hall H line when the security guard gave her “Everything Line” chant.
When the distribution of the wrist bands begins you must gather your Hall H hunting party and stake your plot on the ground. You must consolidate your gear and tighten up the line. Just when you think you will never get your band you find yourself accosted by a merry band of yellow and black attired bumble bees-no security guards- and the Hall H staff. Don’t be alarmed as you are temporarily detained by yellow caution tape. You are not in a crime scene but being protected from the dreaded “line jumpers”. You will only be released when you can show proof of a tightly affixed wrist band. Your choice now is to go to hearth and bed for a few hours or continue to stake your place in line until the doors open tomorrow morning.
The parking lot people delayed us so far into the night that the bumble bees became festooned with bright red hazard lights attached to their neon green safety vests. They looked like Valarian creatures floating in the darkness.
Don’t oversleep- after having to wait for your wristband until 1am- because if you do not return by 730 am to resume your place in line, it will all be for naught. You will be thrust at the end of the line with those who have no wrist band. You will have lost your guarantee into the Hall.
And though the Saturday panel did not start until 1130 and the doors were not opened until 10 am we were forced to return at 730 am to face the cement and heat and endless walking in circles to earn our spot in the Great Hall H.
But eventually your journey will come to an end and a new adventure begin. Your devotion and commitment will be rewarded by being in the presence of the stars your revere and a sneak peak of your favorite shows and movies. You will be dazzled by a holographic light show as Dr. Strange is revealed and bestowed with free swag from the studios. But above all you have the satisfaction of knowing that for one more year you have conquered Hall H at Comic Con International San Diego.