Archives for category: SD Comic Con

 

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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.

Charlie Hunnam SDCC 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HG Conan

Last year and the year before I had the privilege of attending Comic Con by obtaining a coveted badge. It is an overwhelming adventure of sights and sounds and Hollywood A-listers. SDCC is dream come true to any fan of the colorful world of comics in all of its media renditions.

With 130,000 fans descending on San Diego for the event each year, the logistics for non-locals are daunting. My badges the past few years were always arranged within a few weeks of the event. This meant the monumental task of finding a place to stay when there are no hotels available with less than a $300 night price tag.

The first year I lucked out and was able to stay with a friend who had a lovely apartment in Point Loma. The second year, although I was not guaranteed a badge until the week before the event, I booked a hotel a year in advance with one of my travel memberships, but ended up dog sitting and apartment sitting for a family member in Oceanside.

Parking around the Convention Center during Comic Con is another challenge. The parking passes are expensive and hard to come by. The Public lots are expensive and also require reservations. The first year I drove from Point Loma to Shelter Island found free street parking and walked to one of the nearby hotels to catch a bus as part of the Comic Con Shuttle system. The second year I rode the Coaster Train from Oceanside to San Diego and then hopped a trolley to the Convention Center.

This year lodging and transportation were no problem at all, because I am now a resident of San Diego. I have a charming studio apartment in University Heights and I am just a $2.25 ticket from the convention center on the local SDMTS bus system with bus stops only a few blocks away. I did, however, have a bigger problem-no badge!

I heard on the news one night that there was a list of “free events” associated with Comic Con on the news station’s website, and checked it out.

I was aware of the free displays and activities in previous years, but the extent of what was available this year was truly amazing. It seems that the film, TV and gaming companies producing Comic related fare realize that there is a bigger audience that can be reached outside the confines of the Convention Center.

High on my list was seeing the panel for the Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2. This is because I am a big fan and wrote a book about The Hunger Games- Blessed Are They That Hunger. The panel was to be at noon on Thursday the first day of SDCC 2015 in Hall H. I did attempt to buy a pass on Craigslist from someone who lived near me but offered them less than they were asking for it and never heard from them.

As I perused the free events, I found that Conan O’Brien was broadcasting his show from the Spreckels Theatre downtown and featuring some of the stars that would be appearing at Comic Con. I also found out that on Thursday, his guests would be the Hunger Games stars. The tickets were sold out long before, but standby tickets were available if you were willing to show up at the box office at 8 am the day of the show.

I decided to take a chance and drove down to Horton Plaza. I was early enough to get a parking place before the throngs filled the gaslight district for Comic Con. The line was wrapped around the building and I dutifully waited until a Team Coco staff member gave me a wristband with my standby number. She told me to report back at 3pm to wait for a ticket. As I walked away a gentleman asked me politely what number did they assign me? I told him, “200.”

“There are only 148 standby seats you are not likely to get one,” he told me, “My friend has reserved tickets but all members of our party must be present. If you are willing to stay in line with us you can have one.” Of course I said “yes!” and “score” I was in there!!

We were to be in our seats by 4pm. I knew it would be impossible to find parking at the time so I hopped a city bus at a stop a few blocks from my apartment and within 30 minutes was at the theater.

The Spreckels Theatre is a historic theater build in the 1912 and touted as the first “modern commercial playhouse west of the Mississippi” (Wikipedia). It has been beautifully restored and was a fantastic venue for the Conan Show. It is also much more elegant than Hall H at Comic Con, not to mention more intimate since the audience size was about a fifth of the size as the Con. Our seats were in the orchestra section and we had a perfect view of the stage.

They did a few comedy sketches including an “origins” version of Conan and an Anime creation of Conan and his announcer Andy Richter. Then the Hunger Games Stars Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, and Jennifer Lawrence were on the stage. I was much closer to them than I would have been in Hall H.

The only down side of being part of a live taping was the fact that the cameraman blocked Jennifer Lawrence as the cast was being filmed close up for the interview. I could see her up on the screen which helped. They did a bit where she said every swear word she could think of and Conan made a donation to charity for every one she said. TV audiences saw a bleeped version but we heard every salty word! Miss Lawrence you are not as sweet as you look!!!

Had I not insisted on sitting closer to the middle of the theater and kept my original assigned seat, I would have been filmed during a skit that was in the audience. I did see a quick shot of me as the camera panned the audience after the commercial break.

The show was fun and funny and Conan was very entertaining. And although I was badgeless it was my best Comic Con experience to date!!!

We each received a Special Comic Con Edition Conan O’Brien doll-Batman O’Brien!

Friday-day 2 of Comic Con I was tired from the previous day’s events so did not attempt any activities. Another advantage of being badgeless is that you don’t feel the need to attend everything because of the large financial investment a badge requires.

Had I been able to venture out, however, there was an unannounced free Star Wars Concert on the Green behind the Convention Center. Badge holders got entrance and a free light saber. The badgeless could enjoy the music al fresco and free.

On Saturday I hopped the city bus once again and headed for the Spreckels Theatre. I missed the 8am ticket line, but hoped I might be able to gain entrance. Unfortunately, they filmed earlier than they had on Thursday so I was too late to get a ticket.

So I walked to the Convention Center. I knew that there were some free events by the Hilton Bay Front Hotel. My path there lead me past the front of the Convention Center and I was audience to several outstanding cosplay characters as I shuffled along.

When I got to the Hotel I was amazed at the “free events” that awaited me. FX had a fantastic Fear Arena Theme Park with interactive activities including a Haunted House for “American Horror Stories”, a motion simulated entertainment for “The Strain”, a jousting re-creation for “The Bastard Executioner” and a large blow up snow globe of the Waffle Hut in “Fargo”. My favorite was a Kwikee Mart Truck handing out free Squishees in honor of the Simpsons. I even got my picture taken with Homer.

Waffle Hut

There was also a Carnival put on by the folks at “Adult Swim” and a “Scream Queen” Amusement Park complete with carnival rides and food trucks. There were many more free events all over town but this badgeless fan did not have time for all of them.

As its popularity grows, I am sure the free events will as well at San Diego Comic Con so don’t let your badgeless state keep you away. There is plenty to do and see for everyone! By the way, Conan announced that he will definitely be back next year!

Colin Firth

 

Day 2 of Comic Con 2014  began my turn at #lineacon.  Due to a bit of a late start, I had to wait three hours in line missing The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones panels in Hall H.  The Hall did empty out thankfully after GOT and as we made it into the Hall, Everly with Selma Hayek was being presented.  After locating my seat I made a dash for some grub.

Coming back to my seat, I was faced with another great surprise-Daniel Radcliffe on the stage promoting his new movie Horns.  With all those Harry Potter movies, it was hard to believe that this was Daniel’s first appearance at Comic Con. (I later saw video of him wandering around the Expo in a Spiderman costume.) While I was getting my subpar, nearly warm pizza from the concessions stand, I missed the opportunity to sing Happy Birthday to Mr. Radcliffe who turned 25 a few days before.

Daniel was self-deprecating and funny in a gentle, gracious way.  The boy we all watched grow up on the silver screen was no longer the nerdy-looking kid, but an attractive young man to rival that other handsome Brit-Robert Pattinson.  It was a treat to see him in person.

The next panel was 20th Century Fox with a parade of films and actors. Book of Life was the first movie and Channing Tatum was my fan fav of the panel.  He was darling and sweet and gave us a dance when Biz Markie came on the stage with a rendition of   “You Say He’s Just A Friend”- one of the retro songs in this animated film.

The next film was Hitman with an appearance by Zachary Quinto whose diverse repertoire of work includes Spock in the new Star Trek films and his role on American Horror Story. He is very classy and  handsome.

Next was what looks to be a pretty funny movie-Let’s Be Cops with Damon Wayans Jr. and Nina Dobrev there to promote it.  CC attendees also were given the opportunity to be the first to see the movie that night at a local theater.

I am sure my heart stopped a little when out walked one of my favorite actors of all, (Mark Darcy, Mr. Darcy and King George) Mr. Colin Firth with a side of Samuel L. Jackson promoting their British spy movie spoof Kingsman: The Secret Service.  Colin is not an action hero actor, so his role as a fist pounding secret agent looks very intriguing. Samuel L. Jackson plays an evil villain with a lisp and an aversion to blood.

I left after the Kingsman panel and headed to The Manchester Hyatt to claim my swag from the previous day’s panels.  It is pretty crazy the way the mass of attendees is herded about and crowd controlled with lines –even at the swag ballroom. We wound round and round in a snaking line.  After all the circuitous movement, it was a little disappointing to receive some posters and a pair of sunglasses.  I took too much time for dinner and missed my train, so spent some time in Old Town listening to some Latin tunes and enjoying one of the massive margarita’s that are the staple of this tourist destination.

Finally the 11:15 Coaster train arrived and after the hour long ride and a short drive my  day ended.

I tried to get to Hall H early Saturday morning, but the wristbands for the first panel had been given out at 10pm the night before, and unlike the previous days, there were very few attendees exiting the Hall.

In reflection, I can’t believe I spent 10 hours waiting under the shade of the awnings reserved for the Hall H line.  I just kept believing more people would leave the Hall sometime throughout the day.  The problem was-Marvel (which is probably the most popular panel) was scheduled for 5:30 and apparently those attendees that had been willing to camp out in line all night, were going to stay until the very end.

I did escape the line a few times and did a walk through the Expo with the reward of seeing the Walking Dead actors signing autographs at the huge AMC display complete with a full-size train boxcar labeled   “Terminus”.       I got a few pics of them and even got a smile and acknowledgment from one of the actors.

The next treat was seeing the True Blood actors at the HBO display.  I could see them on the large screens over the exhibit, but the crowd was so thick I couldn’t get near them for a pic or even a clear view of them.  I could only see Anna Pacquin’s new superhero blue hair.  Wow what a fan frenzy!

Back in lineacon the line had not moved an inch.  I did meet some great fans and we had some great conversation about our fav movies and TV shows.  There was even love in bloom in line, as a young lady from Italy and a guy from Australia met and fell in love during the long wait in line. As the Marvel panel began, those of us in line watched the Twitter feed on our phones to see what actors were there and what they were doing.

Finally the Marvel Panel ended and there was a mass Exodus from Hall H.  This meant we would at least get in the Hall for the Warner Bros TV shows, including a first look at the pilot for Gotham-the new Batman TV show.

We got a cool swag bag, which was a tote bag filled with popcorn and bottle of water, lanyard, t-shirt, posters and a button for the Warner Brothers TV shows.  I had already seen the pilot for the Flash so watched it again waiting to see Gotham.  Gotham is the story of batman’s childhood and the young incarnation of the Batman villains like the Penguin, Cat Woman, The Joker etc.  It is a slick rendition of the tale with a sort of Roger Rabbit meets Sin City vibe and looks to be a fascinating series.

I couldn’t sit through Constantine again, having seen most of it on Preview Night and the long day having taken its toll on me, so headed back to North County and bed.

I had to make a 4am airport run for a friend and had planned on heading to Hall H one more time for day four to see The Following and Sons of Anarchy but alas my spirit was willing, but my body weak, and I just had run out of steam.

As I drove back north, I made a stop at my favorite donut shop- VG’s in Cardiff-the destination of many midnight donut runs during my years at UCSD.  I ordered my favorites-an apple fritter, giant cinnamon roll and of course the best ever raspberry jelly filled with an extra pink frosted donut for good measure and a cup of coffee.  I went to the local state beach and watched the surfers as the sun rose behind me.

As I reflect on the frantic adventure that is Comic Con,I wonder-what is the draw?  The answer comes from a saying I have heard from my business in sales-We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves so we can lose ourselves and ultimately find ourselves. The Comic Book genre continues to be strong because we long for a world where good overcomes evil.  We see some of it in the world today, but more often it seems that evil is winning.  The good news is the final chapter has already been written and our wish will ultimately come true. The One True Hero will win the battle and His name is not Thor, or Captain America or even the Hulk-but Jesus. Those guys with the big Yellow and black signs hanging around the Con-may not have the best method but their message is really what the crowd is longing for in their world of Fantasy.

Lord willing I will return for more adventures at Comic Con 2015.

sdcc 2014

It has been one week since I experienced the assault on the senses that is San Diego Comic Con International.  It was my second time at this amazing event.  Entering Comic Con is like stepping from the black and white world of Kansas to the Technicolor world of Oz.

There is color everywhere- Bright banners with the Comic Con logo, brightly colored registration packets with a tote back big enough to make you feel like a lillipution- covered with a bright illustration depicting one of the many TV shows or movies put on display at the convention. There are the costumed attendees in their garish attire passing you by like flipping through the pages of a comic book. There are not just a few attendees but thousands about 130,000 to be exact-about a fifth of the population of San Diego in 1970 when Comic Con was founded.  It is a city unto itself now, 44 years later.

Ballroom 20 was my first destination.  There are large screens hanging from the ceiling with the Comic Con logo framing each screen and the sight and sound of it bright and loud like a movie theater. The capacity is about 2500.   I watched pilots of new TV shows that will be airing in the fall-two sci-fi fantasy thrillers-Constantine and The Flash.

It seemed over before it began and it was time to journey back to where I would stay during the convention for a good night’s rest before the official first day of Comic con.

Following my agenda from the previous year, the next morning, I attended Masters of the Web a panel sponsored by AMC.  The most notable member of the panel for me was Manu Bennett star of the Hobbit, and Arrow who actually waxed poetic about making the world a better place.  Can we- the band of geeks and nerds take the battle of good and evil from our favorite stories and place it in the real world as we know it and fight for good over evil?

Like the superheroes in KickAss 2 who defeat the evil villains-can we defeat the villains of poverty, violence, injustice and hatred?(My expansion of this thought-not Manu’s)

I took a brief stroll through The EXPO with its explosion of sights and sounds and smells as every fantasy and sci-fi comic book, movie and TV show you could ever imagine are displayed in various forms.  A brilliant world that expands the mile long length of the convention center with thousands of displays from a simple table with an artist signing comic books to a huge multi-media creation as big as a city block and a hundred feet tall with screens showing movie clips and large counters filled with actors.

Then it was on to Hall H.  Hall H- the hallowed hall where the biggest movies with the biggest stars have their panels and previews and movie clips. SDCC attendees fight for one of the 6500 seats in this sanctuary of the screen. There are even larger screens than the ones in Ballroom 20 and a more sophisticated sound system to give you the true movie theater experience.

The first day there was no line because the featured production house was Dreamworks Animation-not a favorite of Comic Con attendees.  I was there for the panel to follow which was The Giver a new movie based on a dystopic novel that was the forerunner of the current craze such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner.

Imagine my surprise as the Dreamworks panel was finishing to see John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch promoting of all things Escape from Madagascar 4 to which they are lending their formidable voices.

That is the beauty of Comic Con-the unexpected gifts!  It is like Christmas morning with every panel filled with unexpected surprises! The schedule gives you the name of the Movie Studio and sometimes the movie being promoted but you never really know what movies will be shown and what actors will be there.

The unexpected bonus for me of The Giver was the presence of Jeff Bridges AKA “the dude” as he was referred to by nearly every audience member who queried him (from his role in The Big Lebowski). It was interesting to learn that he was the visionary behind bringing this novel to the big screen.  This process took over 20 years because there are some questionable storylines in the tale that were difficult to get past the censors.  (Side note: changes were made to these scenes to get the movie made).  I was not aware that this book was so controversial that it was banned from schools and libraries. Mr.  Bridges believed in this story and persisted and finally his vision is a reality. I enjoyed hearing from the author Lois Lowry who is arguably a forerunner in libertarian thought and the current popularity of the dystopic genre of literature.  According to Lois, her books are not designed to tell young people what to think but to challenge them to make their own conclusions.

The next panel was Paramount Pictures which treated us to a preview of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a little history behind the saga.  My takeaway from the panel is that the Turtles- like today’s police force needed to be militarized to survive in today’s world. Apparently, being a Ninja is not enough in 2014.  My other takeaway- Megan Fox does not appear as plastic surgery deformed off screen.  They must botox her up for filming or something.  She is naturally luminous in the real world.

Next up was Hercules himself AKA Dwayne Johnson who surprised the crowd with a stroll through the audience before offering them a chance to be the first to see his new movie at the Gaslamp Regal Theater a few blocks from the convention center at 6 pm that evening.  Wow his muscles are definitely not CGed!!!!

OK then there was another mind blowing fan moment for me- Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey and Director Christopher Nolan of The Dark Knight Fame made their first appearance at The Con.  Wow- but thank you large security guard who got in Every one of my pics!!! Loved seeing the audience members tease Matthew and Mr. Nolan was soft spoken and articulate in his cool British way-not what you would imagine for such an iconic action film maker.

I meandered over to the Indigo Ballroom at the Bayside Hilton for an Unofficial Look at the Final Middle Earth Film to learn some film facts and get excited about the final installment of The Hobbit-Battle of the Five Armies.

I watched the sunset over beautiful San Diego as I left OZ  on the Coaster Commuter train to end day one of SD Comic Con 2014. More in my next blog….

sdcc 2013 catching fireIt was barely noon that Saturday as I sat in Hall H at Comic Con and  I had seen an incredible parade of celebrities that morning.  I thought I would be bored enduring the time until the Catching Fire panel, but I was on the edge of my seat to see who was next.

Next was the biggest surprise of all-Tom Cruise.  I know he is sort of controversial, but I have watched his movies since Risky Business and I have loved them.  He is definitely an icon in the movie industry.  His new movie ,Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi thriller.  Emily Blount is  in the movie and was also on the panel. Tom was very animated and kept interacting with the audience members. They had to try to get  his attention to make him participate in the panel.  Then they announced that Bill Paxton was also in the movie (major crush of mine woo,woo) and that he was in the audience with his daughter.  He stood up a few rows from where I was sitting and Tom insisted on bringing him up.  There were no stairs from the audience, so Tom literally grabbed Bill’s hand and pulled him up on the stage.  It was a little precarious for a moment and I thought he might not make it.  He joined the rest of the panel at the table and it was an exciting turn of events for me.Tom Cruise Bill Paxton

I couldn’t help but reflect on how San Diego Comic Con had become the Mecca for the movie industry and a preferred venue to present upcoming film projects.  I wondered how this humble comic convention had evolved to a prestigious who’s who of Hollywood.  I tweeted “Who’s minding the store in Hollywood?  Everyone is at SDCC!”

The next surprise was “I Frankenstein” starring Aaron Eckhardt-another heavy hitter.  I loved him in Thank You For Smoking  and of course The Dark Knight. The new rendition of the classic Frankenstein story looked interesting- a return to the original story of the Mary Shelley novel.  Aaron did some fitness training for the role and kindly flexed his biceps for us with the encouragement of the MC. He was looking good!aaron Eckhardt

There was a break before the Lionsgate panel which featured my reason for being there- Catching Fire.   I convinced my friend’s husband to trade seats with me so that I could be a few rows closer to the stage. Once I got settled in my new seat, I pulled out my McDonald’s salad and enjoyed my lunch.

I held my breath as the Catching Fire flaming Mockinjay symbol appeared on the screen.  There were rumors about which stars would be there, but no guarantee.  The crowd went wild as Lenny Kravitz, Willow Shields, Liam Hemsworth,  Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and the other cast members came to the stage.  All my favs were there!Jen josh sdcc 2013

After the cast was introduced, they went directly to showing the new trailer for the film.  It was so exciting to be the first to see it in an audience filled with other fans and with the cast as well. Then the cast was interviewed.  Jennifer Lawrence is so unassuming and hilarious.  She and Josh had some funny stories to tell.  She talked about a scene in the movie where she must give Josh’s character Peeta CPR.  She was crying and slobbering so much that she filled his mouth with snot.  She said that it was awful for her.  Josh interjected, “What about me? I’m the one who got covered in snot.” The audience roared with laughter!  They showed the trailer again after the interviews.sdcc 2013 Liam hemsworthWillow Lenny sdcc 2013

I was able to escape the Hall for an hour.  You were allowed a “Hall Pass” and would be readmitted as long as it was during the same panel that you exited on.  After the excitement of the Catching Fire was a panel on “Women who Kick A_ _”-not something I was interested in- so I took a break.  I headed to the Expo with hopes of seeing the Catching Fire cast signing autographs at the Lionsgate booth.  I did see a few of them there but not the main ones I was interested in Jen, Josh and Liam. The Expo was more crowded that day than my other visits.  The aisles between the booths were so packed with people that there was barely room to walk.  I had had enough after a few minutes and headed back to Hall H.

The “Women ” panel was just wrapping up.  I was tired but had to stay for the Marvel panel because I hoped to see Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor-the most beautiful actor of all.

I had no idea what the 20th Century panel was, but was willing to sit through it for the chance to see Chris.  What a shock to find out that the next film was Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman who was there in the flesh!  The trailer for the film was pretty exciting.  He spoke a little bit more about the film and then began telling us about his other film project X-Men Days of Future Past.  Then one by one the incredible cast came to the stage Patrick StewartIan McKellenHalle BerryAnna PaquinShawn AshmoreEllen Page, and Daniel Cudmore from X-Men and  Jennifer Lawrence,(again)James McAvoyMichael Fassbender, Nicholas Holt from X-Men:First Class.  Wow what a star-studded stage it was- Gandalf ,Captain Picard, Juno, Catwoman, and Gnomeo. I felt like I was in a dream watching all my heroes gather in one place.Hugh Jackmanxmen panel

We didn’t get to see any clips from X-Men days of Future Past but nobody seemed to mind.

Finally the last panel of the day came-or at least for me (Kevin Smith was the last panel-not a big fan of his).  We were all enthralled as Loki himself came to the stage (Tom Hiddleston in full costume)  He asked us to join his rebellion and the crowd enthusiastically agreed.  I must say he was more beautiful in person than I imagined.  This helped my disappointment at not seeing Thor.  We did get to see clips for Thor the Dark World so I did get to see Thor on the screen.  Unfortunately the battery in my phone was dead so I didn’t get a picture of Loki.

As the Marvel panel ended I packed up my stuff said good bye to my friends and maneuvered through the crowd back to my shuttle bus. The crowds on the sidewalk outside the Convention Center were so bad that I decided to take the stairway over the light train rail to Petco Park and walk on the other side of the rail and cross back to the Convention Center.  I’m not sure if I saved any time with my circuitous route, but I did make it to the shuttle bus finally.

I came back to an empty apartment because my friends had gone away overnight.  I had decided not to return to the Convention on Sunday.  I was exhausted and was ready to get home.  I was able to enjoy a nice relaxing evening and fell asleep to the sound of sea gulls, sea lions, fireworks and a foghorn.  What an amazing experience I had. I can’t wait for next year!

Jeff BridgesAt about 10 am Saturday morning, we walked into Hall H after waiting in line 71/2 hours (most of them spent sleeping on concrete at the San Diego Marina). As we ran the gauntlet of CC Staff they applauded us for making it into the Hall-(Really). We split up in confusion trying to find the best possible seats in the dark hall.  Text messaging ensued as we tried to determine the best place to sit.  I ended up in a row surrounded by young 20 something guys.  My friend and her daughter were in the row behind me and her husband was about 3 rows ahead of us.  The girl from Ohio was nowhere to be found.  The seats were pretty crowded because nearly everyone had some kind of camping gear with them.

Once our seats were secured we tackled one more long line-the ladies room. To manage the crowd there were lines painted on the concrete that we had to wind around. It reminded me of a cake walk at a carnival. Crowd control was managed everywhere!!!

It was surprising to me that with the huge number of people maneuvering all over the San Diego Convention Center, I never saw any kind of confrontation.  Everyone I encountered was polite and patient and I never heard complaints or frustration. So much for my preconceived ideas of the crazies of Comic Con.

I made it back to my seat and waited for the first panel. The lights went down as the MC introduced Warner Brothers.  Then they blew our minds as curtains were pulled back and two more screens appeared on the sides of the main screen so that the picture now wrapped around the room!ben barnes

The first movie that was presented was Seventh Son starring Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes(Prince Caspian).  The movie is a cool mythological epic story and Jeff Bridges plays Zeus.  So cool to see Jeff and Ben in person.  I did my usual tweeting the pics and hashtagging the names of the actors and the movies.  Ben Barnes Brazil Website tweeted me and asked me if they could use my pic and give me credit.  I looked it up a few days ago and it was pretty cool!

The next surprise was the cast of Godzilla.  Kerry Russell walked out another favorite of mine.  Then a bigger surprise as Bryan Cranston came and pulled off a rubber Walter White mask(his character in Breaking Bad).  The crowd went wild.  I didn’t know this until later, but apparently he was walking around the Expo in the Walter White Mask and no one knew it was him.  Everyone loved the mask and took his picture, but he didn’t reveal his identity until the panel in Hall H. We saw some clips of Godzilla and heard from the panel.Bryan Cranston SDCC

As I mentioned in my last blog, we really had no idea what movies would be previewed.  The only movie I knew I would see was Catching Fire and probably Thor the Dark World but all of the other movies I saw were a surprise. It was like Christmas morning each time a panel was introduced.

I didn’t want to leave my seat but nature called and I had to wade through the line again to the restroom.  I could hear that another movie was previewing and I tried to get back out to the Hall as fast as I could. I couldn’t really tell what the film was-something in outer space.  Then the lights came on and the panel came out and I realized it was the new George Clooney film Gravity.  George wasn’t there, but the other star Sandra Bullock was.  She is another fav of mine-(mind blown again!)

For most of the actors, this was their first experience of Comic Con. They were amazed by it, especially the response of the avid fans to seeing them and viewing clips of their upcoming movies.  Sandra Bullock said she tried to dress appropriately and was wearing a bright red knit dress that could easily be a super hero’s costume.Sandra Bullock

The Director of Gravity is Alfonso Cuarón.  His other films include Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of  Azkaban, and Pan’s Labrynth. His films are amazing.  He talked about the challenges of filming Gravity by creating the illusion of the anti-gravity of space. They created an acrylic chamber that the actors were suspended in by wires. The camera moved around the chamber to film them from different angles.  There were questions from the audience about the film Children of Men, which had a rough documentary style filming.  Due to some accidents in the process there was actually real blood splatted on the camera.  No wonder it looked so authentic.

More in my next blog…

 

SDCC interview 2After very long day I made it back to my friend’s apartment in Point Loma.  After all the excitement and some unhealthy eating I wasn’t feeling very well and made it an early night to bed.  I knew that if I had any chance of getting into Hall H on Saturday for The Catching Fire Panel, I would need to get back to the Convention Center very early in the morning.

The parking space that I had been using had “No Parking” signs between 3-4:30 am.  I figured I would park around 4:30 to get the shuttle.  I set my alarm on my phone for 3 am and fell asleep to the sound of seagulls, sea lions and fireworks.  I woke up at 1 with a sense of urgency to “Go”.  I know when God is telling me to do something and this was one of those times.  Strangely enough I felt rested after only 3 hours of sleep.  I dressed quickly in the warmest clothes I had brought with me, which were my black sweats and a long sleeved t-shirt.  I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and crept out of the apartment so I wouldn’t wake up my friends.

I knew I would be stuck in Hall H for the whole day in order to see all the panels. The convention food didn’t do well with me the day before so I made a stop at a 24 hour McDonalds.  I got a couple of breakfast burritos and a Southwest Chicken Salad to have later for my lunch.  I was learning Comic Con Survival skills!

I brought my large tote bag with the batman cape that was my registration package and the other tote bag that I had received as the Lionsgate swag.  I anticipated sleeping on the ground as I waited in line- they might be some protection from the wet grass.  I found some parking a few blocks from the hotel shuttle pick up without any restrictions .  It was now about 2 in the morning.  I put my backpack on (an old purple REI back pack that my daughter used as a book pack in 5th grade) and put the Lionsgate tote inside the Comic Con tote and strapped it on my back over the back pack.  I headed down the street my batman cape flapping in the breeze behind me.

It was a little creepy walking along down the street at that hour. I saw a car slowly pull into a side street and stop as though it was waiting for me.  As I passed I saw that it was a patrol car.  God had San Diego’s finest keeping guard over me.  The officer didn’t even question me-I guess the batman cape and my large Comic Con badge gave away my purpose for being there.

I didn’t have to wait too long for the shuttle and by 2:30 a.m. I was at the Convention Center.  I befriended a college girl on the bus who was also planning to camp at Hall H.  She was from Ohio and this was her first visit to big bad Cali.  We had to walk to the other end of the Convention Center because our shuttle left us off at Hall A.  There were people camped out on the sidewalk in front of the CC who were waiting for ballroom 20-a panel for Once upon a Time was scheduled on Saturday.Comic Con camping

By the time we made it to Hall H the awning-covered lawn area was filled with campers so we were directed to the line that began across the street and wound along the Marina behind the CC. I realized I would be sleeping on concrete.  We found the end of the line as we passed fellow campers in their sleeping bags, blow up mattresses and tents.  I was not very well prepared.  We took our spot near the ramp to the Ferry to Coronado Island and set up camp.  I put my tote bags down on the concrete and leaned against the railing.  I chatted with my friend.  She was waiting in line to see the Marvel panel with the hopes of seeing her favorite Tom Hiddleston.  I happened to look up in time to see one of my friends walking passed us.  I started calling out her name.  She was shocked to hear her name and even more shocked when she saw me.  It was another blessing coming my way.  We have known each other for over 25 years through our Mary Kay business.  I had no idea she was a Comic Con fan.  She had been attending Comic Con for 14 years!  Her husband had to wait until the parking garage opened at 5 so she joined us in line.

My stomach was beginning to hurt again so I laid down on my tote bag and was given a pillow and a blanket by my newly arrived friend who happily chatted with the girl from Ohio while I got a little rest. My friend’s husband found us a little after 5 and before too long the line was moving as we inched closer to Hall H while the sun rose over the San Diego Harbor.

My Mary Kay friend’s daughter joined us in line just as we reached the awning covered lawn.  We were about halfway through the line when I saw some commotion to my left and I heard my Mary Kay friend say “She is!  She is!”  There was a camera crew looking for Hunger Games fans and my friend let them know about me.me interview

Coincidentally I had just refreshed my makeup from the long night. As  I walked toward the camera I said ,”Yes I am a fan and I wrote a book about the Hunger games too.”  So they interviewed me and asked me how important is was for me to be there for the Catching Fire Panel.  I said “Important enough to give up my sleep.” They also asked me who were my favorite characters and asked me about my book.  It was awesome!! My friend told me, ” This is the reason you are here!”

My friend’s daughter took pictures of me being interviewed so I later figured out that it was the TV Guide Network.
The other publicity I got while I was there was thanks to Twitter.  I had just recently opened a Twitter account .  I quickly got hooked on Twitter and saw that it was a great venue for me to promote my books , my business and my new political interests.  I became a Twitter photo journalist while I was at Comic Con and got some retweets as well as posts on websites and added followers.

God has increased my sphere of influence so I can influence for Him.

By 10 am we made it into Hall H and were far enough in the line to sit in the second section of seats behind the VIP reserved seats.  I was not prepared for the excitement that was to follow.

More in my next blog….

DespicablimpThe Second Day of Comic Con, I felt like I was finally hitting my stride.  I had learned a lot and now knew most of the ropes of this adventure.  It was Metallica day for me because there was a Metallica Panel that evening.  I wore my SF Giants Metallica shirt and my jean shorts.  I finally looked like I belonged at Comic Con.me metallica

I attempted to attend a Seminar on Writing for TV.  The Seminar was full so I wandered around and did find the section of the Convention Center where the fan tables were.  It was kind of a hidden section on the Mezzanine level.  I was on the wait list for a fan table so was glad I stumbled upon the area so I could see what I had signed up for.  Maybe one year in the future, I could be there manning a table promoting my books and my fan pages.

I ended up back at Ballroom 20 with hopes of getting in to see the panel for the TV show Bones.  The line seemed manageable so I waited and waited.  I missed the Bones panel but knew that The Following was coming up-Kevin Bacon’s TV show.  This was my opportunity to really be “six degrees of separation ” from Kevin.

I finally got in the Ballroom just in time for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I didn’t know what it was. I was super excited to find out it was a brand new TV show based on the Avengers.The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are the government agency that tries to manage super heroes in the world.  The director of the show came out with a T-shirt reading “Coulson Lives”.  Avengers fans know that Agent Coulson was killed in the movie.  We were immediately privy to insider info!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The next surprise was when Coulson himself, aka actor Clark Gregg came onto the stage for the panel.  Then the crowd went wild when we heard that we were going to be the first to see the premiere episode in full.  It was a thrilling episode with great actors and an interesting plot.  The audience loved it!  We were able to meet the rest of the actors and had a question and answer panel for the audience.

Most of the crowd left the ballroom after the Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. I took the opportunity to move closer to the stage for Kevin Bacon.  We saw the opening scenes of the new season’s first show and of course saw the cast including the man himself-Kevin Bacon.  I was so excited to be close to the stage-another star-struck moment for me!!Kevin Bacon

After The Following, I knew it was time to get to Hall H if there was any chance of seeing Metallica.  I was hungry but figured I could get food once I got into Hall H.  The line wasn’t too bad but it was hard to know if we would get in at all because we would only get in based on how many people left to make room for us.

I made a friend in line.  He was not as hopeful as I was that we would get in.  I told him that I seem to end up in some pretty cool panels, sometimes on accident.  I told him about my books and said,  “Good things happen, when you write about the Bible”.  My friend had a portable battery pack that I could use to charge my phone-another blessing.  As we entered the hall it was apparent that we did make it in time for a cool panel “The Amazing Spiderman 2”  My new friend saved my seat while I found the ladies room then I saved his and watched all his gear.  When he returned he brought a pizza and cookie for us to share and a diet coke for me-(all girls drink diet Coke) Good guess my friend.

Spidey himself entered the Hall in his costume along with the actor that is playing his nemesis Electro-Jamie Fox. Spidey made some jokes about the actor who plays Peter Parker.  He said he thought it was played by Eduardo Saverin (the character Andrew Garfield played in the Social Network). I was excited to be among the first to see the premiere clip of the movie and then Spidey left and the actor Andrew Garfield came to the panel.  Jamie Fox makes a great Electro and the movie looks really cool.Jamie FoxAndrew Garfield

The crowd thinned a little after The Amazing Spiderman 2 so we were able to move closer to the stage for Metallica.  The Metallica movie was in 3D and the clip and of course the music was amazing.  What a great partnering-a futuristic story of rebellion  and Neverland.  The movie looked as though it was filmed in downtown Oakland California and it reminded me of an Occupy Movement protest I had seen there a few years ago.SDCC Metallica

It was definitely worth the long wait. As we left the Hall I was caught in the slow moving mob back to my bus at the other end of the convention center.  There was already a line starting for those that would camp overnight to insure entrance into Hall H for the Saturday Panels.  The Saturday Panels included the Hunger Games.  This was my main reason for being at Comic Con so I realized I might need to do some camping myself.

I finally made it to my bus and tried to get a little R and R before my next adventure.

More in my next blog….

BnB autograpghThe first day of Comic Con began on a beautiful Thursday morning in San Diego.  The morning fog was “burning off”-as the locals say (I was once a local so, I know this) as I parked my car a few blocks from the hotel where the shuttle picked up.

I had poured over the events guide before nodding off to sleep the night before and circled those that interested me.  I was surprised to learn that there were seminars like a “real” convention where you could learn things like “How to write for TV”.  It took a little longer than I had anticipated to arrive at the convention center that morning so I missed the first Seminar but found my way to one called “Masters of the Web” .

I thought it would be about how to promote yourself through Social Media and your website but there were a couple of movie Directors-Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The Adventures of Tin Tin, and the newest one The World’s End) and Marc Webb (The Amazing Spiderman parts 1 and 2) along with Web Hosts of Movie Review Websites.  They shared about what inspired and motivated them and where they got their ideas.  It was cool to be in a small venue with such influential Hollywood icons.  I got a free movie ticket for attending the Seminar.

I learned Comic Con 101 Lesson #3-Expect surprises.  The descriptions of events were pretty vague and there would be star sightings and film previews that blew me away.

My next stop was to Ballroom 20.  There was a panel for the TV show “Beauty and the Beast”.  This time I knew better than to try to enter the ballroom, but dutifully headed for the long and winding line just outside the doors of the Convention Center.  As the time passed I regretted that I had not picked up something to eat before I got in line.  I also learned Comic Con 101 lesson 4-One does not simply show up at an event in Ballroom 20 at the appointed time, but at least 2 hours before the event if one expects to get in.

While I was waiting I chatted it up with a young girl who was waiting in line for “Teen Wolf”.  She wasn’t a fan of “Twilight” but was interested in my Hunger Games fan page.  As the time passed, I realized I was going to miss the “Beauty and the Beast ” panel and I knew that there would be a long line for Hall H where “The Divergent” Panel would be held at 3:50.  I also was ready for lunch.  As I said my goodbyes to my new friend in line she handed me a ticket and said “You might want this”.  It was a ticket to get autographs from the cast of “Beauty and the Beast”.

Comic Con 101 Lesson #5-Expect a Miracle and be flexible!  So my next hour was spent waiting in line then playing follow the leader with “B and B” groupies through the Convention Center, downstairs through the Expo to wait  for my autographed picture of Kristin Kreuk and Jay Bunyan.  As I waited in line, I made new friends and gave out more of my business cards.

The more I got to know my fellow attendees, I realized they were not different from me at all.  They were my compadres- fellow sci-fi and fantasy fans who were smart and articulate.  The reality was sinking in that I am and always have been a Geek.  I was the one who was masquerading as a normal person.  This should not surprise me since I was tested as “gifted” as a child and have a degree from Geek capitol- the University of California, San Diego.

As I pondered this reality, I realized Geeks are smart enough to understand the real battle of good and evil in the world and love the sci-fi /fantasy genre because this battle is the core of all their tales.  As a Christian this battle is the heart of my Faith.

As I approached Kristin and Jay to get my poster, they looked at me like I didn’t fit the demographics of their usual fans.  I told them, “love your show” and they thanked me and handed me the poster.

There was a snack bar in the Expo, but the food didn’t appeal to me and I was ready for a breather away from  the throngs of crowds in the Convention Center, so joined the mass of humanity on the streets outside.

I managed to find a spot at the bar of an Asian restaurant and had a healthy lunch of salmon sushi.  Revived, I was ready for my next adventure.  As I headed back for the Convention Center I passed the Christian protestors and their big  yellow signs.  Most of them were dressed in Comic costumes. I guess they were making an attempt to relate to the CC attendees.  I did notice someone asked for one of the Bibles they were passing out, so maybe their outreach was somewhat effective.  I just kept thinking they might do better if they passed out cold water bottles to the crowd.

The Divergent panel was my next target.  I sent a text to my friend who is on CC staff to see if she could get me into Hall H.  She was in Ballroom 20 so didn’t think she could help me.  I got in line and managed to get into Hall H with time to spare before the Divergent panel.  I sent a text to see if they cleared the hall before panels, but my friend assured me that once I was in-I was in.  I made it into the infamous Hall H!!!
Divergent
The Divergent panel was very cool including Academy Award nominee Shalene Woodley and the purpose of my quest to be there-Theo James.  What a pleasant surprise to find out he is British and lovelier in person than on TV.  We were the first to see a clip of the movie.  There is such an energy in this hall of 6800 diehard fans as they view the film version of their favorite books.  It is exciting for the actors and directors to get the reaction of the crowd and an amazing experience for all. It was also exciting when the audience was allowed to ask the panel questions.  To see the star-struck fans speak to their heroes was amazing.
Harrison Ford
The big thrill of the afternoon for me was the panel that followed for Ender’s Game.  Imagine my excitement when Harrison Ford came to the stage! Another mind-blowing surprise. We were the first to see the trailer.  There were a few more panels that day, but I was spent after Enders Game, so I headed back to Point Loma.

The friend I was staying with sent me a text that dinner was waiting, so not to worry about picking something up.  Another blessing!  I sat on the balcony and watched the ships on the harbor as I ate a delicious rice and beef dish and watched the sunset.

More in my next blog….

sdcc ticket

Surrendering your life to Christ is viewed in such a negative light by most people who haven’t.  It is viewed as a burden or sacrifice by some that have.  But my life has been a great adventure as I have listened to the voice of my Shepard and He has led me.

My latest adventure was to San Diego Comic Con.  I became interested in Comic Con when I got hooked on the Twilight Saga books two years ago.  Twilight fans flocked to Comic Con and camped out overnight to be the first to see  clips of the latest installments of the Twilight Saga films premiering in Hall H.

My fascination grew to an obsession that led me to write my book Confessions of a Christian Twihard-My Life Lessons and the Twilight Saga. Each year I would watch the events at Comic Con ( sometimes in Live Streams on the internet by MTV) wondering if I would ever experience it.  I tried to get a fan table at SD Comic Con 2012 to promote and sell my book but the waiting list is about three years.

Last year I became interested in The Hunger Games Trilogy and its movies.  This interest led to my latest book (soon to be published) Blessed Are They That Hunger-A Christian Responds to the Hunger Games.  As I was in the process of writing my book, I met a friend from church who worked for Comic Con.  I knew that God might be opening the door for me.

At the beginning of the year, I heard that Catching Fire, the movie based on the second book of The Hunger Games Trilogy was going to be featured in a panel at  SD Comic Con. By this time I was a rabid Hunger Games fan.  I had completed my book and had a Hunger Games fan page on Facebook with over 300 fans worldwide (www.facebook.com/hopeforthehungergamesfans).  I followed the Hunger Games actors and saw there movies. I waited in the cold for three hours outside the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles for a chance to see Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Jennifer Lawrence, the actors from the Hunger Games, as they attended the People’s Choice Awards.

I should mention that my passion for my books is based in my love for Christ and a burden for those who don’t know Him.  The driving force in my writing is to spread the good news of Jesus.  It is a God given passion and He guides and leads me in my writing and to those who I can share about Him.

This Spring, my friend from church sent out a facebook message that she was selling comp badges for SD Comic Con. My hope grew that I would get to go.  I responded to the message and was told to wait for confirmation of the tickets.  The months went by and there was no word.  Finally at the end of June with just 3 weeks to spare I got the message that the ticket was in and it was a 4 day pass plus the preview night!

There were a couple of obstacles but faith sometimes means getting your feet wet before the waters part, so with three weeks to spare I needed a place to stay and transportation to the convention.  With 138k people about to converge on San Diego for Comic Con needless to say finding a hotel would be a challenge.

San Diego is my second hometown because I went to college there and lived there three more years after I graduated.  I also have friends that have moved to San Diego from other parts of the state and country.  I wasn’t sure who would let me crash at their place, so I sent out some messages. One of my best friend’s daughter responded that I could stay with her.  It just happened that I had reconnected with her after her grandmother’s funeral a few weeks before, so we were keeping in touch on Facebook.

She had recently moved to Point Loma which made it an easy commute for me to the Convention Center.  As I researched the SDCC website I later found I could ride shuttles from hotels on Shelter Island for free to the convention center.  Shelter Island was only about a mile from her home.  The provision of God was just beginning.

I trusted God about my transportation next.  I hoped to ride share with my friend that got me the ticket, but that didn’t work out.  The upside of that was that I would be able to spend time with some of my friends that live in the LA area on the trip and I could travel on my timeline.  God has blessed me with a wonderful car that I earned from my career with Mary Kay and my car is great on the gas.  Although I was stuck in traffic from LA to San Diego I got over 33 miles to the gallon.

After almost 11 hours on the road I made it to my friend’s house with enough time to spare to unload my car, freshen up a little, and head to Shelter Island to catch my shuttle for Preview night.

More in my next blog…..