Thursday July 14
I remember the alarm going off and thinking “no way in hell is it 7 am already…” – but it was. The night before, Aaron managed to talk me and my 6’4” frame into crashing on the 5-foot foldabed, while his filthy carcass got to enjoy the nice soft hotel bed. Jerk! Anyway we finally talk ourselves into dragging our butts out of bed and get dressed, have a quick breakfast of energy bars and alcohol and we are now psyched up for the show! SDCC Day 1 was here!
As we walk to the Convention Center, there are a few signs that SDCC is here – big colorful banners, numerous street signs, bus ads – but mostly by the streaming herds of costumed adults roaming the streets of San Diego in broad daylight. Kinda odd, but cool. And there’s also a palpable energy, like some crazy fanboy excitement that filled the air as we walked. Or maybe we were drunk. Anyway, we stopped at the Chocolate Factory which has a huge stuffed bear on a bench outside; Aaron decides he needs to put its giant paw on his crotch while I snap a picture. So amusing. As we cross the trolley tracks to get to the Center, there is just a mass of humanity. Bikes and cars everywhere, people coming from all over the place, the HUGE line of fans waiting to buy passes. I know everyone says buy the pass ahead of time or get in line early, but my advice is do it – they are people there at like 3 AM. It’s so much easier to pre-pay and not spend a day in line with complete strangers. When we arrived at 9 am, the line to buy passes was already stretched all the way down the sidewalk and wrapped completely around the back of the building. And it’s a big building.
Ok, for you guys that have never attended, I want to take a moment regarding the size of SDCC. The size of the Convention Center Main Hall is not something that you initially fully realize; especially on Preview Night when the building feels like a fairly empty aircraft hanger full of people. With the banners and displays, the main hall itself seems smaller than it really is. The pace is much more mellow…but it’s the calm before the storm. Once the show fully starts on Thursday, with the noise and smells and onslaught of fans, do you then realize the enormity of the event and it can definitely be overwhelming, with flashing lights and skanky chicks in costumes and various people trying to hand you crap. You can stand at one end of the hall and not be able to see the other end. It feels like hours pass just trying to move through the crowd to get to the next aisle. And you might not realize that the exhibition area is roughly the square footage of 10 football fields. But trust me, the next morning, when you crawl out of bed, your feet will tell you exact how big SDCC is. So make sure those boots are made for walkin’, cause that’s just what they’ll do.
So we head inside the lobby and find more lines, with fans jockeying for position to be the first through the doors when it opens at 10 AM. We see a giant Uglydoll and decide to hug it for a photo. (We ended up hugging quite a few things that day, including cosplayers and booth girls). At 10 AM, the doors open and the madness begins. People are literally running down the aisles to get in line for exclusives, since very few exclusives are sold on Preview Night and this is the first chance (and sometimes only chance) people have to get ‘em. We waited in line and bought a few things and then walked around for a bit to see the sights. We admired the tasty booth babes that were promoting the Devil’s Rejects, complete with the car from the flick. Of course we had to get our pics with them. The cycle from the Ghost Rider flick was on display, very cool looking. There was also a full-size optimus-prime-ish semi truck promoting the upcoming live-action Transformers movie. Neat. We then split up, and headed for different areas. I checked out the cool new Joe stuff at the Hasbro booth, and went to the Mattel booth to check out the new JLU, and they had protos of the new DC Superheroes line which looks awesome. Just doing these things takes quite a bit of time due to the crowd. I then headed to a few artist’s booths to check out art and buy sketchbooks, stopped by Adam Hughes table to snag the prints and sketchbook and went to the DC Direct booth and chat with Georg Brewer and I ended up seeing SDMike for a couple minutes. Then I headed over to my buddy Neil’s booth. He owns Retro Rocket in Phoenix, AZ and I worked in his shop throughout high school - now those were some crazy times….His guys Dan and George were there too, and we hung out there for a while. We then met up with Mike, the owner of Atomic Comics in AZ, and we all walked around for a bit and reminisced about previous shows back in the 90s when we used to attend every year. Good stuff.
After that I went to a few panels, but for the most part I enjoyed walking around and seeing everything. When I attend to SDCC, I rarely go to any panels or shows because I can read about all the info later on the net. Sure, seeing the new clips and hearing the news first-hand is fun, but many of the panels are packed with people and it’s hard enought to fight the crowds in the main hall, much less the tiny meeting rooms. And during the times of the big shows, the con floor has less people so you get a chance to walk around and see the sights a bit easier. Anyway, I hooked back up with Aaron in the afternoon and we took a quick bus ride back to the hotel to drop off our swag and take a quick break from the show. We headed back to the show about 3:30 and just walked around for a few hours and enjoyed the show. We met some people, grabbed a bunch of free stuff and took photos of all the freaks. By the end of the day we were beat but ready to hit Gaslamp for some fun.
We went back to the hotel, recharged for a while and then got ready to go back out about 9 PM. We walked around the neighborhood for the better part of an hour, trying to find a good place to get some food. It’s tough because the Gaslamp is totally filled with the Con crowd, so getting a meal between 5-8 PM without a reservation is tough. We ended up at Dick’s Last Resort, and sat outside in front so we could observe all the nutjobs streaming through the area. We ran into some friends from Palisades and partied with them for a few hours. I even got to model one chick’s purse. Not sure why I thought that was a good idea at the time, but our table loved it. One of the bartenders came out and let me get a photo with my head resting on his ginourmous greasy tattooed belly, and I got a free drink.
Our Palisades crew left around 11 PM, but shortly thereafter a group of cute chicks came and sat with us. Was it luck? Was it alcohol? Who knows, but we thought we were pretty cool and we ended up hanging out with our new friends the rest of the night, until they closed down the place about 2 AM. We all then stumbled around Gaslamp for a while, laughing and being very loud, and finally we parted ways about 3:30 AM and crashed at our hotel around 4 AM, the filthy drunks we were.
End of Thursday July 14