Monday, July 16, 2012

Comic-Con 2012 Day 4: Last dance at the Nerd Prom

For the last day of the con, we more or less slept in (trust me, after getting up at 6 one day and 5 the next, sleeping in til 7 feels great).

This just sums up Comic-Con very nicely, methinks.

Then we got up, packed our bags (which included no small amount of pushing and shoving things into my luggage) and headed downstairs to check out. After leaving most of our stuff with the bell captain, we headed over to the Nerd HQ panel.

On our way to the Nerd HQ panel, we saw Jabba on his sail barge.

Nerd HQ is the second annual series of panels put on by Zachary Levi and Nerd Machine. These "Conversations for a Cause" let you join an intimate (for Comic-con) group to see various people. As I mentioned on the Day 0 entry, we had bought tickets for Friday's Nathan Fillion panel, but due to a system overload and crash we had been charged for tickets after they'd been sold out. Thankfull the fine folks at Nerd Machine and the ever-awesome and ruggedly handsome Mr. Fillion agreed to another panel, on Sunday at 10 a.m.

We arrived around 9:20, and let me say how nice it was to not have to line up for hours and hours. The Nerd HQ folks didn't even bother checking our tickets, presumably because this panel was only even mentioned to the "overflow" crowd from the original one. At any rate, we were soon in seats 197 and 198, and soon Zachary Levi came out to introduce Nathan Fillion. (Poor Zachary - his voice kept giving out on him and he admitted he was running on adrenaline and Red Bull at this point.)

Fillion hit the stage and was his usual funny and charming self, alternating between answering questions from the guests and auctioning off various items that ranged from Justice League DVDs to a package of Sharpie markers to a Razr type scooter (proceeds went to Operation Smile, the same charity that all Conversations for a Cause donations go to). I didn't get to ask a question (I'd planned to ask who his favorite character from A Song of Ice and Fire is) and didn't bid (because I have more sense than money), but the panel was worth every cent of the $20 cost, and made all the more fun because Fillion's Castle co-star Molly Quinn showed up to say hi and be adorable.

Nathan Fillion at the Nerd HQ. Sorry for the poor photo quality.

More of Nathan at Nerd HQ. Hope to have some less blurry pix soon.

Nathan Fillion and Molly Quinn at Nerd HQ.

After the panel, Karen and I went over to the convention center for one last round of shopping. Our plan was to meet at 1:15 for the Max Brooks (author of World War Z) panel, but I wandered up there about 12:45 because I was tired, and lucky I did so. The line was surprisingly substantial, so I called Karen and we got into line. We made it in, and I'm glad we did because the panel was lots of fun. Brooks was very engaging and hilarious, keeping us all laughing as he talked about the World War Z movie (he has nothing to do with it) and the new audiobook set for release in Spring 2013. In a nice bit of geek crossover and synchronicity, Brooks revealed that one of the readers for the new audiobook will be Nathan Fillion, and talked a bit about Nathan's reading and his process for getting into character. I'm not a fan of audiobooks generally, but even without Fillion's participation I'd probably get this, as the setup of the book (an oral history) lends itself very well to the audiobook format, and it sounds like Brooks is getting some very good people on board.

Clones on the vendor floor.

Willy Wonka's coat on display.

Prop Wonka bars on display.

The prop Everlasting Gobstopper. My inner six-year-old is totally geeking out over this.

One last dip into the vendor floor, and then Karen and I called it quits and headed across the street to Lou and Mickey's for a celebratory late lunch/early dinner. She had a burger, I had fish and chips, and we both had complicated alcoholic beverages. It was a lovely meal.

My complicated drink at Lou and Mickey's

Karen and her complicated drink at Lou and Mickey's.

After cappucinos we walked back to the hotel, where we grabbed the bags and hailed a cab, then schlepped our stuff onto the train - thank God for business class! The general boarding line was hideous!

Then it was goodbye San Diego and goodbye Comic-con. On the train ride home I finished the book I'd brought with me (Heat Rises by Richard Castle). From Union Station we hopped the Gold Line and made it home safe to Pasadena, where my husband picked us up and took us home.

Some random thoughts and observations:

  • Comic-Con is getting way too huge. I'm no veteran - my first year was '08 - but it has gotten a lot more crowded and unwieldy. This was obviously true in the line situation, and also in the vendor floor, which was much more crowded than I remember it being. Something has got to give.

  • Despite all this, the people were reasonably cheerful and polite. The lone sour note for me was a vendor on Sunday who, when I asked if a book was available on Amazon, said I shouldn't support the "evil empire." Well! I said nothing much at the time, but in true l'esprit de l'escalier fashion I'd like to say, "That evil empire is the reason I'm now a published author, bitch."

  • I'm pretty sure I saw director John Landis walking about the vendor floor.

  • Best costume: Mrs. Darth Vader. She had the Vader helmet, along with a Betty Draper-type Fifties dress and apron, that also looked like a Vader outfit. Very nice.

  • Best T-shirt: A red one with "Shawarma" in the Avengers font.

  • There seem to be fewer cosplayers this year. I thought this was my imagination, but my friend Jeremy said he noticed this, too. We're not sure of the reasons.

  • This was the first time I'd spent much time in downtown San Diego, what with our hotel being 7 blocks from the Convention Center. It was fun! We never really needed the shuttle, and we got to eat at some really nifty restaurants. (Still dreaming about that pizza we had...)

  • I felt like this year we had a good range of experiences. Smaller panels, a good focus on books, big things like Firefly and Django, cruising the vendor floor, and the fabulous off-site Nerd HQ. Of course, there are always things you miss out on (such as James Marsters at the Buffy panel, not that I'm upset about this). But you do what you can, hope for the best, and have as good a time as possible.

Can't wait for next year!

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