It was ten thirty on Thursday night. I had just gotten home from a preview screening of "Blackfish". I was checking my phone for the last time before going to bed and I noticed a text from my sister:
"R u free tomorrow? Wanna go to Comic Con? Free tickets just fell in mah lap."
My initial reaction was: "What? Nah, I couldn't do that- I have stuff I need to do tomorrow."
Followed by: "You promised yourself you would be more proactive about pursuing things even if the window of opportunity was small."
Followed by: "But the my husband wanted to go to Comic Con and you made other plans for the weekend and he would probably have hurt feelings if you went without him."
Followed by: "But, you know- COMIC CON! FOR FREE! How can you say no? This is like the Mecca of Nerdom!"
Followed by: "What? Yes! No. Guilt! Stuff to do. COMIC CON! No. Yes!"
I eventually responded with the non-committal:
"Sweet! What are you thinking for plans?"
And the long and short of it was that I ended up going with my sister to Comic Con yesterday for the day. A friend of hers had acquired professional badges and had spent Thursday at the convention and was satisfied with just going for one day and was willing to share the badges with other people interested in attending. Yesterday that was my sister and I.
We left first thing in the morning and drove down to San Diego and got into the city around ten thirty after stopping for "lunch" at a Subway. A full hour later we finally found a place to park a solid mile away from the convention center and gratefully began the walk towards the Gaslight District.
The San Diego Comic Con is the big leagues of conventions and all of San Diego is in on the action. Storefronts along the route to the convention center offer related events of their own and fill their display windows with anything related to comic books, television, sci fi, fantasy, costuming, or movies. There is nothing remarkable about seeing a woman dressed in full-on Steampunk regalia crossing the street beside someone painted blue from head to toe. All the pedicabs were themed after popular television shows: "Game of Thrones", "Archer" and "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" to name a few. Overhead a blimp painted to look like a "Despicable Me" minion made endless droning circles around the convention center.
The closer you get to the convention center the denser the crowds become. My sister and I decided early on that we would just go with the flow and see where it took us and the first place the flow took us was into the Exhibition Hall. This was a room big enough to race horses in and it was wall-to-wall people. I had been tasked with taking lots of pictures but after attempting four or five shots and getting nothing but the backs of peoples' heads I gave up.
My sister and I made several laps of the Exhibition Hall just to see what there was to see. I had committed to a phone conference at two in the afternoon and wanted to be sure to find a quiet place where I could talk when the time came so, at about fifteen minutes before two we headed towards some doors that we thought would take us to an area where there were bathrooms and smaller crowds. Instead it took us onto the loading docks and the "back stage" part of the convention.
We were pretty sure we weren't supposed to be back there, but since we didn't seem interested in causing trouble no one seemed interested in kicking us out. We found our way back inside the convention center feeling mischievous and pleased at having gotten away with it. This began our theme of "lets find out how many places we can go without being kicked out" that was our modus operandi for the rest of the day.
Our plan of letting fate guide us to fun things to see and do turned out to be a good one. My sister had mentioned an interest in seeing anything to do with the TV show "Falling Skies" since she knew a gal in the writer's room for the show. I promised to keep my eye out for any such thing but fate beat me to the punch.
We were walking past the large halls where panel discussions were being held with no real destination in mind: just to see what was going on. Outside one of the doors a security guard noticed us looking at the event listings for that room that was posted nearby.
"You want to come in?" He asked. "There's no line."
We sort of looked at each other and shrugged.
The panel that was going on when we walked in was about the future direction of the Marvel universe with discussion about characters and story lines that I wasn't familiar with, but we sat and listened for a while happy to have a chance to sit. When the panel ended we weren't asked to leave so we moved to some seats closer to the center and decided to sit through the next panel as well.
The panel featured the cast and writers of "Falling Skies".
We were delighted by our success but after the panel we were ready to move on, so we wandered back out into the hallways to see what else there was to see. We passed the tables where notable notables were available to sign autographs. We perambulated through the Art Show and laughed ourself sick after inventing a new game called imagine-the-person-in-the-painting-just-farted. There was a lot of inappropriate laughing and pointing.
At some point we found ourselves in another whole section of the convention center with a whole new set of rooms for panel discussions.
"You want to come in? No line."
Those seemed to be our magic words for the day so we wandered into another panel room without waiting. The discussion that had been going on wrapped up pretty much the moment we set foot in the room so we deemed our timing appropriate to catch whatever was next.
What was next turned out to be Joss Whedon.
You know... no big deal.
Now, I wish I could say that I was an outright fan of Joss Whedon and that I knew everything about everything he's ever done and that this was a culminating moment in my life. I wish I could say that but it isn't true: I've caught some of his stuff and I like it pretty well- but I absolutely respect his storytelling values and his work ethic. And after listening to him speak and field questions for an hour or so I can only say that this respect has been reinforced: that should I ever meet Mr Joss Whedon in person that I would be a better human being for it.
Why the hell can't there be more Joss Whedons in the world?
At any rate, the day began to wind down after that. We wandered from the convention center to the marina to a hotel bar to a ballroom where the Eisner Awards were being announced. For a day it seemed like all doors were open to us and that wherever we went was exactly where we were supposed to be. It was an exhilarating experience. And then very late at night we made our way back to our car and drove home in a state of extreme satisfaction and fell asleep in a state of extreme exhaustion.