So after our great Thursday at Comic-Con, our group had a big dilemma to deal with–how would we spend our Friday? Thursday was tough to get into in the sense of having to wait several hours on Wednesday night for wristbands, but come Thursday morning, people were still able to get in line with C wristbands. But Saturday was the crown jewel of Hall H, so it was guaranteed to be a whole lot crazier than Thursday. So crazy that we might have to give up our Friday, considering how crazy the line already was for Friday.
If you missed our Thursday recap, click here!
Below are just a handful of our pictures from Friday, which included a lot of cosplay! Click here to go to our Friday Photo Gallery!
We started off Thursday night walking around Downtown San Diego some, and decided to eat at an Italian restaurant called Torch. The place was expensive, but the food was good. But on our way there we saw MTV Fan Fest which looked like a great event, but unfortunately it was too crowded to spend any time at. We also walked past the Walking Dead event at Petco Park, but again, we were short on time and couldn’t really spend time doing that either.
So after some discussion, we made a decision– we would be skipping the Friday Hall H panels for, attend the Masters of Web panel instead, which was in a smaller room, 5AB, and would be from 11:30am to 12:30pm.
So we slept in a bit the next morning, and made our way to breakfast since we weren’t in a big rush, being that our first panel was at 11:30am. Before we left the hotel, we checked out the line from our window. Luckily, we could see the Saturday NDL (“Next Day Line”) from the hotel. It had grown some over night, but seemed no more than a few hundred people. We decided to head to a favorite past time of previous Comic-Cons–the IHOP. After getting our breakfast, we decided to make our way back to the Convention Center for the Masters of Web panel. But first, we watched a show that was going at at the Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, with people dressed as characters from the video game running through the course and fighting each other.
Masters of the Web
When we finally made it to the panel room (we had never been to Room 5AB before!), outside the panel room, Tamara and David were able to meet various members of the panel, including Mark Ellis, from Collider Movie Talk. The panel opened up and we all filed into the panel.
So the panel had numerous people I was familiar with, and a few I wasn’t too familiar with. Leading the panel was John Campea, formerly of AMC Movie Talk, which has now transitioned to Collider Movie Talk. Also from Collider Movie Talk was Jon Schnepp and Mark Ellis. Other people in attendance were Jeremy Jahns, Chris Stuckman, Andy Signore, Grae Drake, and special celebrity guest, Director Kyle Newmann, who talked a little about his film Barely Lethal.
So John Campea starts the panel, and talks about how he had a conversation with his Uber Driver, and how it reinforced his thoughts that movies are kind of like a universal language, which can bring people together, which resulted from discussing Batman V. Superman, and whether it will be good or not.
Some of the other interesting tidbits that come from the panel are how people enjoy movies, and how people review movies, and how there are different approaches. For example, Jeremy Jahns discusses how he mainly focuses on how the film makes him feel, rather than looking at the technical aspects of the film. Chris Stuckman seems to be more interested in analyzing films from various angles, both story-wise and technically, in terms of how the movie was filmed. Chris Stuckman actually makes an interesting point regarding movie reviews, and that he seems to have issues with people who just look at how a person rates a film, and that doesn’t worry about what the reviewer actually said about the film. Jeremy Jahns seems to echo his sentiment, but also discusses further the difference between his and Chris’s method of looking at films.
It was a pretty interesting panel, with people discussing some of their favorite films, and some of their least favorite films.
Then Grae Drake talks about her ability to get celebrities to loosen up at press junkets. She talks about how weird these events are, and that she is more interested in getting to know who these actors really are, rather than the robotic nature they seem to be. It was pretty interesting to get insight into how these junkets work.
Another hot topic on the panel was trailers, and whether movies seem to be giving away too much in the trailers, and whether there are too many trailers. While John Campea and Mark Ellis seem to defend some trailers, numerous people on the panel seem to think that too much is being given away in trailers in today’s movie society. It is a particularly interesting conversation I would recommend watching, and can be found at about the 18 minute mark in the video linked below.
Once audience questions come around, the first person up has a pretty harsh tone towards Batman V. Superman, and doesn’t want to seem to let the mike go. He seems to think Superman will get slapped around by Batman because Zack Snyder will follow The Dark Knight Returns too closely. He then trails off and talks about DC versus Marvel. John Campea tries to move along though, as this questioner is taking quite a bit of time, but John Campea and the panel make a good point–us nerds in the room are the 1%, so these movies have to be made to please everyone.
The next questioner then asks the favorite movie on the panel for everyone. The Dark Knight seems to be popular, but others that are mentioned are The Avengers, Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.
One other question I thought was interesting was asking the best way to approach reviewing movies. The consensus seems to be that people need to find their own voice, and not try to mimic others too much, as it will not come off as genuine.
A few more audience members ask questions, and I would highly recommend going through the video below.
If you are interested in watching their panel, you can view it below:
Nerd HQ Was a Bust
After the panel, I wanted to head over to Nerd HQ. The reason being, they had the X-Men: Days of Future Past The Rogue Cut on sale. So Violet and I made our way there, while the others went to walk around the Exhibit Hall. The streets of San Diego were just insane! It was a pretty difficult time just walking down the sidewalk. We eventually made it to the Children’s Museum, where Nerd HQ would be held this year. Unfortunately, the line just to get into Nerd HQ was very long. Worried about our potential Saturday line, we decided to turn back to the Convention Center so that we could ensure entry into Saturday. Violet and I met back up with David, Tamara, and Bradley, and determined the next best course of action would be to sit in line.
Time to Line Up
We made our way to the back of the Convention Center, and began following the Saturday Hall H line. We walked and walked, figuring it would be pretty long. We then got to a point on the marina where there was a person with a sign marked, “Line capped.” Huh? This freaked us out for a brief second. How could the line be capped? It was long, but not THAT long! Thankfully, this sign holder directed us further along the marina, where we could see the line continue. So we ventured further. And a little further more. Finally we reach a spot where we could not quite figure out which way to go. We had to backtrack some and ask security to direct us.
Turns out the break in the line was pretty significant, and we wound up on what I eventually dubbed the H-island (pronounced Highland [this was probably not a unique name, but I am pretty proud of the nickname I came up with, and the name of the residents of that island became known as the H-islanders. Oh, and yes I realize this piece of land is technically a peninsula, but H-Peninsula doesn’t really have the same ring to it]).
We had to walk quite a ways still to get to the end of the line, but we finally reached it, and…wonderful. We were baking in the warm sun. Just the way I want to spend the next 8+ hours. David came up with a brilliant solution though. As we sat in our sun emblazoned seat, about 20 people got in line behind us as we put our sun screen on. He decided for us to move back about 20 people, which put us in the shade. I have to say, that move was a life saver. With how tired I was after the ordeal we went through on Friday, I am glad we didn’t have to do it sun-baked.
Comic-Con: A Place to Make Friends In Line
So we settled in to our spots, and prepared for the long, arduous journey, which involved sitting around for the next half day. As the five of us (David, Tamara, Violet, I, and Tamara’s little cousin Bradley) waited, we chatted about our excitement for the next day’s panels, and perused our phones as one does nowadays when waiting for something. But then the magic of Comic-Con began to sink in, and this magic is one of the big reasons Comic-Con is a lot of fun. Our neighbors in line, who we had never met before, eventually began to meld into our conversations. In front of us, a poor girl named Anna or Anne (I can’t quite remember which one it was) was waiting in line for her two friends (who were sitting in Hall H at the moment, seeing Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, grrr…but anyway). She was interesting, and was very talkative. I felt a little bad for her, she had no one to keep her company over this long period of time. But our group made friends with her, chit chatting back and forth. She was a bit younger than us, and various conversations came up.
One conversation that made me feel like an old man was her using the word “shipping” in regards to various TV characters. Violet had explained it to me before, but due to disinterest, I took a couple seconds to remember exactly what it was. Then more “complicated” abbreviations came up: OTP, OT3, what the heck does all this mean, and why do teenage/young adult women seem to have such an obsession with pairing fictional characters off with each other?! I wasn’t quite sure if it was my “old” age kicking in, the fact that I am a guy, or the fact I don’t follow social media too closely that made me feel so out of touch with “fandom” at this time, but regardless, I didn’t have a whole lot to say about this conversation. I would say my one contribution to the conversation was the College Humor Batman V. Superman parody, which I find HILARIOUSLY funny. Since I was the only one getting decent cell service, we streamed this on my iPhone, and everyone had a great laugh. If you haven’t seen it, take a look here, so you can laugh as much as I have at it:
Oddly, Anna/Anne didn’t seem to really have anything specific she was in line for other than the “Women Who Kick Ass Panel,” which to me was a little odd, as I would think that most people would choose almost any other panel as their favorite. But, I say whatever panel gets people excited is their own preference!
Then behind us, we organically started talking with two other girls, Bethany and Samantha, who were a lot of fun to talk to as well. We talked to them about a lot of stuff, too. Bethany seemed most excited about seeing Joss Whedon, and I noticed she was reading a book that was about him. Samantha seemed most interested in Batman V. Superman, I gathered from the conversation. Basically, our Friday at Comic-Con turned into hanging out with a bunch of people on the H-Island.
Later in the afternoon, just as the Star Wars panel was about to start, we heard a crazy sound that was a bit scary at first. Turns out, a man had built a R2-D2, about 5 ft tall that…could fly. Inside the droid was an engine of some sort, and the robot just took off into the air, and flew towards the marina for a few minutes. You can see our video of the droid flying here:
There was a second flight a bit later too, and it was a really awesome spectacle to see. The H-Islanders all cheered with approval, watching the droid majestically soar through the air.
Cards Against Humanity–The Icebreaker
After that, we continued conversations amongst ourselves, talking with the people around us. Then Samantha came up with a great idea–to play Cards Against Humanity! For those unfamiliar with this game, it is a card game that really isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. In fact, it is a great game to break the ice with strangers, as generally hilarity will ensue as the game is played. I typically am pretty terrible at the game, as I think my humor is just not very funny, but regardless, it is a lot of fun to watch and participate.
For just a quick synopsis of how to play, each player gets 7 cards which will have either actions or nouns on them. Most of them are either funny, offensive, and generally both to some degree. A round happens with one person being a “judge,” flipping over another set of cards which will have various “fill-in-the-blank” phrases, the players then use to create hilarious statements, not too unlike Mad Libs. For example, I was very proud of my opening round, in which I put in a card that said, “Having sex with Patrick Stewart,” which was in response to a card which read “_____, High Five Bro!” When the judge, Tamara, read my card with the phrase players answered, it was, “Having sex with Patrick Stewart, High Five Bro!” That round created hysterical laughter, and it is too bad, that was about the funniest hand I had played the entire night. Anyway, the game ends basically whenever players are ready for it to, and the person with the most cards wins.
The seven of us (Tamara, David, Bradley, Violet, Samantha, Bethany and I) played this for hours, eventually finishing the entire box of cards. In the end, I didn’t finish in last place, but I did tie for second to last place, and most of my points came from Violet voting for mine when it was her turn to vote. At least someone consistently finds me funny! David and Tamara wound up winning the night, each scoring 13 points to my 8. But the most important take away from this part of the night, is that we all had a ton of fun.
Beware the H-Island Invaders
We decided to take a little break after finishing the box of Cards Against Humanity. The sun was starting to go down, and the group paid a little more attention to what was happening in line. Security guards didn’t seem to know exactly what was going on, nor did the line staff. At times we were being told we would be moving shortly, then it would change to we wouldn’t be moving for a few hours. Then it would change to we aren’t moving at all. Then it changed to we are moving, and we wound up getting in a straight, single file line, and moving up about 50 feet.
The group was getting a little frustrated by the lack of communication from the staff, and the constant changes in what was actually going to happen. Additionally, reports of cutting were beginning to creep up on Twitter, with people saying people by the dozens were joining the line, pushing people that were under 200 in line back to several hundred. It was really hard to say how much of what was being communicated on Twitter was true, exaggerated, hysterical, or just straight up lies, which made our group get a little more paranoid. But, one thing that the line staff did say that provided some relief, but at the same time more concern, was that a person could only save spots for up to 5 people. This was a little worrisome. That means if there were 50 people in front of us, that number could balloon to 250 pretty easily. It was nice to know that there was some regulation on the line situation, but at the same time, that felt like a lot of leeway, and on top of that, through the rest of the night, it didn’t seem like there was much enforcement of this rule. We remained pretty confident that we should have no problems getting a wristband though. We tried to remain calm, and luckily Samantha seemed to be a big planner, and had a whole “plethora” of snacks for us to share. We sat down on the concrete, and had some snacks. But there was something lurking in the dark shadows that we did not expect…
They came from the darkness, and the rocky ledge. They scurried about, mostly unnoticed. But they could not remain hidden forever. Finally, their presence became known, and the Secret War of the Cockroaches had begun. The huge buggers would eventually be spotted in someone’s cell phone light, or various other light sources. Luckily, our group of now 7 had a secret weapon–Samantha. She would stomp these buggers to death whenever they made their attacks. The rest of us cowered in fear, particularly Tamara (sorry Tamara), who freaked out at the merely thought of them. Samantha seemed willing to take them on though, mainly because she had been forced to, as apparently, living in Hawaii for a while, trained her in the way of Cockroach assassinations. (I guess Hawaii is known for their big cockroaches?)
Luckily, after a while we had a much more pleasant surprise. Some time after the Star Wars panel had ended, music began. Apparently, J.J. Abrams had given all of the attendees of Hall H’s Star Wars panel a ticket to a concert which would be playing all of the movie’s music, and that concert hall happened to be very close to our location. So we got to listen to the music from afar, and then towards the end of the concert, fireworks exploded in the sky, also very close to us, giving us a great light show, combined with the finale of the concert. It was a lot of fun to watch. There was some sad news though–Kevin Smith, who had a panel with his daughter in Hall H, tweeted that his panel was basically empty, since it followed the Star Wars panel, and basically everyone followed J.J. Abrams to the concert. The 7 of us felt really bad for him, especially Tamara who is a huge fan, and was disappointed to miss the panel to begin with.
Time For a New Game: Heads Up
After people seemed to be winding down on their eating, David and I decided we needed a new game, and we had just the game in mind. A few people down from us were playing the game Heads Up. David and I decided to figure out who would be able to get the game downloaded, and since I was having pretty decent reception, I was able to get it on my phone. We asked the group if they wanted to play and everyone seemed down for it.
So, now it is time for another game explanation! For those unfamiliar with Heads Up, it is a game in which a word is put onto the phone, and the phone is held up to the players head, to where he cannot see it, but the other players can. The players then have to provide clues to what the word is, but cannot say the word. For example, the movie “Back to the Future” could be displayed on the phone, so people would begin shouting, “The movie with the main character Marty McFly!” Once the player with the phone gets it, they tilt the phone down. If they can’t figure it out, they tilt up and skip. This goes on for a set amount of time, and again, it is not a very competitive game, but more for entertainment purposes. And boy did we entertain ourselves.
Everyone passed the phone around, and if you have ever played this game with a big group of people, when you are the person trying to guess the word above your head, it is extremely comical, yet stressful at the same time. This night playing this game had 6 people shouting various clues into 1 person’s face, which somehow physically causes that person to consistently take steps backwards. It is quite hilarious to watch, and I am sure people around us had a great time watching us make a fool of ourselves. Or maybe because it was getting later at night, they were getting annoyed with us. Either way, we had a lot of fun.
Later though, things because even more interesting with the game. We found another mode, which was more like charades. People had to act out the word for the person to guess. This turned into chaos, with 6 people trying to mime actions to 1 person, who would try to guess what the heck everyone was doing. Then we figured out how to playback a replay video of the people acting the rounds out. These were really funny to watch, and I wish I had kept at least 1 or 2 to post on here. We also played a mode in which people had to hum a song for people to guess, and another that had people trying to make impressions of specific groups, such as gangsters or various iconic actors. By far, the most hilarious one was the charades mode though. And of course the “Enforcer” Samantha was destroying Cockroaches whenever they tried to make their invasions.
The Beginning of the End of Friday Night
Exhaustion began setting in, and it was getting close to 10pm, so wristbands at the front of the line were beginning to be handed out. The line cutting seemed to be getting worse though, with people saying that after the Star Wars panel ended, lightsaber wielding attendees started joining people in line, pushing back further the line, causing more panic towards us “H-Islanders.” We knew that these lightsaber wielding people were from the Star Wars because at the concert, the attendees were each handed one.
But back to the wristbands, again, distribution of the wristbands was taking forever. At one point in the night, Zack Snyder drove the Batmobile by the front of the Hall H line, which actually caused wristbands to be halted for some time. On top of that, there were various other pauses which could not quite be explained. By the time the wristband-ers got to us, they had decided to just pass them out in mass, then have a few line staff check to make sure we all put them on our wrist. All in all, we finally got our wristbands at about 1:15am, bringing our time in line close to 12 hours. With all of the panic of the wristbands, we actually fared quite well, getting B wristbands. We had resolved to head back to our hotel room, and rejoin the back of the wristband line in the morning, but Samantha decided to make a little deal with us, which we gladly accepted. If we charged their portable battery back in our hotel room, she would allow us to rejoin them in line. It seemed like a win-win, especially for the 5 of us going back to our room, so we graciously accepted her offer! We headed back to the Hilton Bayfront, and I have to say–I felt a little guilty leaving our two friends alone in the cold, defending themselves from the cockroaches. I also have to admit though–I was glad I would have a bed to sleep in, for at least a couple hours. We made our way back to the hotel, exhausted, but resolved to get back up the next morning, so that we could get back in line by 7:30am, for what would be one of the most epic Saturday Hall H presentations that ever happened.
Final Thoughts on Friday Night
But one final wrap up note about Friday. I probably have the most detailed write up for Friday, and it was the one of the least eventful parts of the trip in terms of actual Comic-Con related stuff. The reason I felt the need to be so in-depth was I think the camaraderie that we had among our small group of people that we knew and didn’t know was what Comic-Con is all about. The Convention should be about people from various walks of life that have a common interest, and that common interest creates bonds with people we generally wouldn’t have a lot to say to otherwise. And while we probably won’t talk to the people we met again, I hope to have a similar experience the next time we are in a line for 12 hours, missing out on awesome panels like Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, or especially Star Wars. While it is really hard to say how much actual line cutting was going on in the Hall H line, the people that did perpetrate such acts, (especially for money as the rumor around Twitter seemed to indicate) are really undermining why Comic-Con is such a magical place to be. It is really disappointing to have to read about such actions on Twitter, when we all should be trying to help each other. But this conversation is probably best left for a later article, in which we will discuss the wristband and Hall H situation in more detail.
Up next though, is the beginning of the highlight of Hall H this year–the Saturday panels! The morning starts off with bang with Batman V. Superman, so get ready! Click here to continue to Part 1 of our Saturday Recap.