Today was the first day of the five-day-long geekstravaganza that is San Diego Comic-Con! This is the second year Chuck and I have attended, with special thanks to our hosts and GWC friends, BKitty, The Hub, Topgun, and Lady D. Since GWC is indeed a family and no family event is complete without all its members, for those who couldn't be here I wanted to share a tiny vignette of what SDCC looks like through my eyes.
After flying into LAX for the more affordable airfare (and the chance to fly Virgin America's passenger-friendly line), Topgun, Lady D, Chuck, and I cruised down to San Diego this morning and met up with Barb, the Hub, Raemani, and Shooter, plus a few local friends. We all carpooled over to the Convention Center for badge pickup, which had begun a little earlier in the day in preparation for the opening of the giant exhibit floor for Preview Night at 6:00 p.m. The Convention Center was already swarming with geeks of many colors: a woman ninja with a cigarette dangling from her lips; a teenaged couple dressed as steampunk, well, punks; a little girl dressed as Wonder Woman, and a man in an oddly realistic-looking horse's head mask (perhaps a Dr. Horrible nod?). In five minutes of walking along the city-side exterior of the Center, I saw more funny and clever geek shirts than I've seen in the last year.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Audra and Raemani, psyched to get in line for Preview Night!"][/caption]
Once inside, we entered the gigantic Sails Pavilion, with its endless ceiling, polished concrete floors, and low echoes of thousands of excited fans already lining up for Preview Night. (According to persistent rumors, many others have been lined up for Hall H and other major panel rooms since before dawn -- even though they don't open the door until tomorrow morning.) Smiling men and women, perched at long tables with dozens of computers and scanners, checked us in and gave us our all-important badges with lanyards; then we moved through the lines to pick up our swag bags -- giant, sturdy, vinyl bags with adjustable arm straps and a backpack conversion option, this year sponsored by Warner Bros. I found the aisle with the Big Bang Theory print and got the bag I wanted; others in our group got bags with Fringe, Supernatural, Lego Harry Potter, and other cool designs. With each bag, we got a SDCC 2011 souvenir book as well as a thick newsprint-style book listing every event and exhibit of the week.
[/caption]After taking some photos, Tweeting updates to GWC peeps, and checking out the not-yet-stocked Freebie table, we joined the seemingly endless line of people waiting to get the first look at the exhibit floor when the doors opened at 6:00. Staff directed us down countless corridors and into a long, open hall, where our line snaked back around and eventually consolidated into one location where we could sit, eat a snack, and peruse the exhibit floor listings and map. Last year was my first SDCC experience, and on Preview Night I just took everything in as one amazing, wonderful, chaotic experience. This time I decided to do a little planning, so as we sat on the floor in line, I marked all the booths I knew I wanted to see and, with a black Sharpie (handy for impromptu signings on the floor), labeled the exhibit hall map to establish a kind of plan.
[caption id="attachment_6414" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Two fans at SDCC pose for photos in their old-school Batman and Robin costumes"][/caption]
Of course, once the crowd was released onto the floor, we streamed in like a trillion ants taking on a Borg-sized sugar cube, and my plan dissolved into a general idea of which can't-miss booths were in the vicinity. I bought a few cool 8x10 prints with screenshots from Cowboys & Aliens, Tron: Legacy, and Stargate SG-1; a tiny stuffed kitten; an artist's original print of a cat and mouse team, and a t-shirt with an anime-style cat riding a bicycle surrounded by fluttering birds. The best part was that I bought my shirt from the same booth where I found a treasured t-shirt at the end of the con last year, and this time I got to talk with the woman who designed and created the artwork. I got my artist's print signed by the creator and chatted with his wife about his inspiration in drawing animals. I got free comic books and pins, posters and flyers, and cool little trinkets that I grabbed, thinking of friends who would enjoy getting in on the Comic-Con swag.
[caption id="attachment_6415" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="The Her Universe Booth, which sold charm bracelets, a Cylon "toaster" necklace, and Boba Fett undies, among other things"][/caption]
Chuck and I together saw the Lego booth, where a pile of yellow lego bricks covered about a 50-square foot area on the floor and a small boy stood knee-deep in pieces and gleefully tossed them in the air. We saw a life-sized Batman made entirely of Legos and stunning glass-encased exhibits of Lego art. We passed a stage where the president of Dark Horse comics was talking to an enthusiastic crowd about upcoming developments, and tall murals of comic book characters like Mass Effect's Liara shone with intense color in the background. Teenaged boys stood at dozens of individual game consoles and screens, trying out the latest releases in video games. A few slave Leias posed coyly with grinning guys. People everywhere bustled through aisles browsing through one of the largest geek markets I've ever seen.
After a couple hours, we GWCers reconvened near the California Browncoats fan booth and headed out for dinner. Soon after we were at our host home, unloading our day's haul of treasures, sorting through piles of electronic devices and chargers, and packing lunches for tomorrow -- it's going to be another big day.