And this wraps up the daily reports! Only a month late!

Optimus PrimeSunday morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego. We got up early (though not as early as Katie got up on Saturday) to check out of our hotel, store our baggage, and move the car to another lot. I suspect the Sheraton would have let us keep the car there an extra day, since it was self-parking; but I’d already prepaid for Sunday through the convention, and as it turned out the other lot was cheaper anyway. Of course, since pre-paid parking was new this year, it wasn’t entirely clear what we needed to do other than leave the printout where it was visible. (More on that later.)

After eating rolls and fruit from home for most of the con, we went out to breakfast at the Broken Yolk Cafe. (I keep wanting to type Burnt Toast Diner.) They’d decorated for the convention — including thematic T-shirts on some of the servers — had good food (more varied, if not as good as Cafe 222), and were very busy, but we managed to beat the rush.

Then we walked through the streets of San Diego to the convention center one last time.


Downtown San DiegoI figured there would be a line for Castle (especially since they had the entire cast present, and Nathan Fillion by himself is a big draw at Comic-Con). I wasn’t expecting it to run down the hall from the larger 6 rooms, out onto the balcony, zig-zag a bit under some tents, then head back along the convention center and wrap around the end, next to the gigantic air conditioners. At least the morning cloud cover hadn’t burned off yet, so we weren’t out in direct sun.

Castle Supporting CastIt took a long time before the convention started letting people in, but when we finally got to the front, I decided I’d head out and make Sunday the day I finally really explored the main floor, while Katie went in for Castle and then Merlin.


Elves or FairiesThe staff directing traffic didn’t seem to know what to do with someone who left a line, though, and treated me as if I was trying to cut through it. This was the only time I ran into this kind of problem, fortunately. The rest of the time, traffic management was a lot better than it has been over the last few years!

Hawkgirl and Green LanternFirst I figured I’d try to pick up the No Ordinary Family T-Shirt for which I’d gotten a ticket at the preview the day before. Sometimes events will hand out freebies as you walk in, or will go down the aisles passing them out to the audience. Sometimes they’ll give you a ticket, which you then take to the “fulfillment room” to exchange for swag. It’s usually somewhere out of the way, and since actual programming has expanded to fill more of the rooms in the convention center itself, this year it was pushed out into a room in a small convention center at the Marriott hotel complex. The line for the fulfillment room stretched out the building, down the hill, and through a parking structure — and wasn’t moving, as far as I could see. I decided I didn’t want the shirt that much. (I went back later and there was no line at all. My best guess: it had only just opened, and the line was the backlog.)

The Floor

Once I shook that off, I headed to Artist’s Alley. I hadn’t quite made it there yet this year, probably because it was shoved all the way to the far end of the convention center. My goal: to find Flash artist Francis Manapul and ask him for a sketch. There were only about five or six fans ahead of me, but it takes time to do a sketch (unless you’re Sergio Aragon├ęs), so it took the better part of an hour.

Green R2D2Around noon, I started my final exploration of the exhibit hall, the first systematic tour I’d attempted all weekend. The plan was that I would start at one end and work my way to the other, where I’d meet Katie and we’d head out for lunch and then home.

I checked out displays by artists and toy sellers, skimmed the movie and game studios, worked my way through the comic book publishers’ area, and finally decided to call it quits with a good fourth of the floor left to go, figuring I’d covered that part well enough on my earlier passes.

Leaving San Diego

Pool and Convention CenterWe ended up having lunch at Bareback Grill, the land of burgers and double entendres (yummy, but be sure to order your burger at least medium, even if nobody asks), then went to pick up the car. The structure was mostly automated, with a gate to get out, and there was no apparent way to trigger the gate without getting a ticket — and no way to get the ticket without feeding money into the machine. Money that we’d already paid ahead of time. Fortunately there was a button to call for assistance, and after we showed the guard our printed receipt we were let out with no further problems. Still, prepaid parking could have been handled much more smoothly. (Maybe by not including structures with this kind of payment system?)

Then a quick stop for coffee, and we were on the road, returning from another year at Comic-Con!

This was Sunday, July 25, 2010.


So, it took a lot longer than I intended, but this wraps up my coverage of this year’s Comic-Con International. Well, almost. We’ve both got notebooks with funny quotes, and we’ve only posted the ones from Leverage, “Twisting Genres” and “Once Upon a Time (Epic Fantasy)” so far, so you can expect a humor post or two at some point. Other than that, we’re done!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series!

»Full index of Comic-Con 2010 posts and photos.

Green Lantern Power Battery.Yeah, I’m still working through this report. Here’s hoping I can finish before it all completely blurs together! Follow me back a few weeks, to Saturday, July 24 at the San Diego Convention Center.

Hall H Line and Hilton hotel with a giant Scott Pilgrim banner on it.As usual, Saturday was the big day for big presentations. Katie got up early to wait in line for Harry Potter (and incidentally Sucker Punch and Green Lantern), figuring on taking the first shuttle to the convention center…which didn’t show up. After 30 minutes, it became clear that there wasn’t going to be room for everyone on the shuttle when it finally did show up, so she made the trek on foot. She picked up a spot on the lawn, out where they had canopies (not that they needed them with the morning gloom).

I slept in a bit longer before heading down to stand in line for Leverage, which was, well… Leverage was an experience in its own right.

Bridge Under Construction.Afterward, I took the opportunity to do a little exploring over by the Hilton now that the sun had come out. Mostly I checked out the views of the convention center, but I also went up to the top of the parking structure to get a look at the pedestrian bridge that San Diego started building two years ago. That’s where I found a portable cell phone tower, showing that at least one network had made an effort to increase coverage for the event.

Experience the Epic

Walking Dead Zombie leaning against a wall.After another brief pass through the main floor, I headed out into the Gaslamp again. My plan was to go through the Scott Pilgrim Experience, especially since I’d heard that Saturday was the last day, but the line was hideously long. The line for “Stuff” wasn’t long at all, however, and it took me about two minutes to pick up a T-shirt and some download codes related to the soundtrack.

So I wrote off the Scott Pilgrim Experience just like I’d written off the Hall H Experience, and kept going. Though I should have stayed a little longer: they were just setting up the truck with free garlic bread as I was leaving!


I had some time before Katie and I planned to meet at a shawarma place for lunch, so I figured I’d get some iced coffee first.

Cosplay: Ash from the Evil Dead series.The convention always spills out into the city. Even beyond the Gaslamp crush of official and unofficial offsite activities, there are ads and banners everywhere…and convention attendees walking to and from restaurants, hotels and parking lots. At one point I walked by a couple dressed as Wonder Woman and Ash from the Evil Dead movies. Wonder Woman was drinking coffee or a smoothie or something, but I asked Ash to pose for a photo. I turned around and saw a couple dressed as Drusilla and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the other side of the street.

So we met up at lunch, showed off swag (my Leverage: Mastermind shirt, her Harry Potter: Undesirable No.1 shirt), caught each other up on what we’d missed (the Green Lantern oath, Parker’s thoughts on Comic-Con, what the heck Sucker Punch is about), and showed each other pictures. Digital cameras have really changed the immediacy of photo sharing!

Back at the Con

Na'vi (Avatar) CosplayWe each went our separate ways for the afternoon programming. I caught the No Ordinary Family preview, which looks promising, then figured I’d try getting into the discussion on Scott Pilgrim Vol.6. It was at least 20 minutes into the panel by the time I arrived, the series has been extremely popular, and the final volume had just come out a few days earlier; so I wasn’t really expecting to get in, and I wasn’t terribly surprised to find that it was full. I took the opportunity to dash off my first impressions of No Ordinary Family. Katie, meanwhile, caught a group of science-fiction authors discussing: “Welcome to the Future. Are you sure you want to stay?”

Winding Down

SyFy Balloon in front of the Omni Hotel.With no specific plans for the evening, but memories of Thursday’s cattle drive, we left about a half an hour before the floor closed so that we could catch a shuttle before the rush. We didn’t really need to, since the driver waited until it was full anyway, and didn’t pull away until almost 7:00. On the plus side, we spent that time in cushy seats instead of standing in a crowd, shuffling along. On the drive back to the hotel, we first heard vague rumors of the stabbing in Hall H earlier in the afternoon.

By the time we got back to the hotel and dropped things off, neither of us wanted to deal with getting back to the Gaslamp, or out to another part of town. Easy route: the hotel restaurant. It had a fixed menu for the evening, but at least it was food we could eat, and as I recall the steak was pretty good. The reason it had a fixed menu was the live music event…which had just wrapped up. Which was also why the restaurant was almost empty when we arrived. (And probably why they offered us extra parfaits for dessert.)

It was the most low-key experience I’ve ever had at a Comic-Con. And that was not a problem!

This was Saturday, July 24.
Next: Sunday. Castle, Merlin and Artists’ Alley.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.

A bright ring surrounds the sun, which is blocked by the silhouette of a hand holding up a coffee mug.The first year we stayed in town for Comic-Con, we walked past an It’s a Grind coffee shop every morning on the way to the Little Italy trolley stop. Since then, we’ve always tried to fit in at least one visit to either that shop or the one Downtown across the street from Ralphs. (Sure, they’ve opened a store near home since then, but it’s sort of a tradition.)

I never quite made it this year, though I came close on Saturday before lunch.

I ended up walking by a coffee stand set up outside Lion Coffee. Two years ago, the site had been a Starbucks, before the chain started mass-closing their stores. (Now they’re only on every other corner.) Last year, Lion was in the process of converting this location, but hadn’t actually opened yet. Shrewdly, they had set up a table outside, selling coffee from urns and drinks from a cooler.

This year, they were open, but had set up a table around the corner to catch people walking by. It worked. They didn’t have any iced coffee outside, but the clerk handed me a dollar-off coupon for asking, and I ended up getting a really good iced mocha inside!

Light Cycle, TRON Legacy style.I used to go to Comic-Con mainly for the exhibit hall. That’s where the comics were, after all, as well as the publishers, writers and artists. I was never really big on buying other collectibles, but there was always interesting stuff to see. So if I wanted to get a comic book signed, or look for back-issues, or take a look at the black-and-white previews that DC used to bring of their upcoming books, that’s where I’d be.

Marvel Comics - Asgard Throne RoomOver time, though, I filled in my back-issue collections. Ebay and Mile High Comics took care of any new/old discoveries. As the exhibit hall expanded to the point that I couldn’t really explore it all in a single day, I also started to get more interested in watching the events and presentations. Switching from a one-day trip to a four-day trip drastically changed my experience, because for the first time in years, I could do both.

Statue of Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)Looking back at this year’s con, though, it almost seems like I was avoiding the main floor. I explored a few small areas, and when I had extra time, I’d walk slowly through on the way from one thing to another, but until Sunday, I don’t think I spent more than an hour at a time in the real heart of the convention.

LEGO Buzz Lightyear statueI think a lot of it is a sense of familiarity. There are always a lot of new displays, and the mix of costumes changes every year, but a lot of enough elements stay the same from one year to the next. DC’s booth looks largely the same. Square-Enix still has that Fullmetal Alchemist statue from four years ago. The LEGO Buzz Lightyear is still cool, but I saw it last year.

At one point I walked past a line of people in the middle of one of the larger aisles, and wondered what they were waiting for…until I realized they were waiting for a signing at a bookseller’s booth. That booth was in roughly the same spot and looked exactly like it did last year when I waited in line for a Peter David signing. It was actually kind of eerie — and it was hardly the only booth that seemed to have stayed put all year.

Red Faction Mecha display.In a sense, the exhibit hall is starting to feel like a city, with an illusion of permanence and (dare I say it) continuity from year to year. You can’t explore an entire city in one visit, and if you come back on any sort of regular basis, you don’t take a general city tour every time. You start developing regular hangouts, like the restaurant or park or bar that you visit every time you’re in town. You specifically look for things you haven’t already seen. And then you ignore a lot of what you’ve seen already.

So I hit my hangouts: Studio Foglio, DC, Sideshow. I did some exploring, making a point to check out the small press, webcomics, and artists’ areas. But those aisle-by-aisle sweeps are a thing of the past.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.

Lots of people on a city street.

The plaza near the Gaslamp Trolley station, 5th Street and L, bracketed by the Omni, Hard Rock Hotel, and Hilton Gaslamp, has become the main hub of off-site Comic-Con activity over the last few years. It’s the most direct route between the convention center and Downtown San Diego. Unlike the crossing at 1st, there’s enough space to set up displays and businesses willing to undergo a SyFy makeover…so they can set up the Green Hornet Car (and the Green Hornet girls), the Cafe Diem, and the Scott Pilgrim Experience (with free garlic bread!). The city has started blocking off the area to cars to make room for pedestrian traffic, but since people still need to cross two trolley lines, a railroad, and a street, the crowds are a captive audience.

A giant banner declares that you can get STUFF here.As a result, the place is packed not just with people attending the con, but also with promoters handing out flyers, postcards, temporary tattoos, comic books and goodie bags. The Beat describes it as the “heart” of the con, or possibly some less savory body part. It’s sort of like walking down the Las Vegas strip, only instead of sketchy-looking men handing you trading cards* with pictures of hot women and phone numbers, there are hot women handing you cards with pictures of spaceships and sketchy-looking men with website addresses.

Well, mostly. One promoter shoved a movie postcard and a condom packet into my hand with the URL of what I hope was a viral marketing website slapped onto it.

Stay classy, San Diego!

And then there are the people there not to give you stuff, but to be advertising. The ones in promotional costumes, like the Fandango paper-bag puppets or the Chik-Fil-A super-hero cows. Zombies promoting The Walking Dead.

This year, a new group joined in: those who weren’t really here for the convention, but just wanted to get the attention of a large number of people: Vegan activists. The “God Hates Everyone But Me” scumbags. (The con crowd fired back with a creative counter-protest.)

I never could figure out whether the man with the “CIA Is Evil!” sign was serious, or part of the same viral marketing campaign that had a legion of Men in Black handing out “confidential” envelopes to everyone who walked by.

»Full index of Comic-Con posts and photos.

*Go ahead. Tell me they don’t look like stripper trading cards. Though I remember some webcomic where the cast decided to use them for a collectible card game a la Magic: The Gathering.