Countdown: Top 5 Best and Worst of San Diego Comic-Con 2012
It comes and goes every year. The San Diego International Comic-Con is the geek Mecca and an annual pop-culture phenomenon. Thousands from around the globe make this annual pilgrimage for a chance to get closer to the content they cherish. Whether it be comics, films, television, animes, or games, this is the place to be. You’ll have a chance to learn what’s in store for your favorite franchise or to buy as much relatable merchandise as you can. The following list is what I found to be the standout and disappointing experiences of the con. Hopefully it may aid future attendees on what to expect if they plan on going.
5. THE CROWDS
THE BAD: When badges sold out within an hour and half of online registration became available, you know that there will be an inevitable tsunami of bodies to wash over the San Diego Convention Center. Considering that the new online purchasing system accidentally oversold by 20,000 extra badges, one wonders if the 460,000 square footage floor would be enough. Traversal around the downtown streets outside of the center was an utter nightmare with so many people. Oh, did I mention there’s a railroad crossing right in front of it? Navigating through the horde from one end of the Exhibition Hall to the other is an obstacle course onto itself. With so many things to see, the worst situation occurs when people would stop to glance or do a photo-op of something. A domino effect would ripple throughout the floor causing a human traffic jam. Okay, Okay, Okay! I did it once or twice myself. Then there is the issue of hygiene. Nothing’s worst being shoulder to shoulder, moving 5 mph, when someone breaks wind and there is no escape. Seriously the worst time to have a zombie outbreak.
THE GOOD: There’s a feeling of epicness at the site of so many attendees in one place. It makes you feel as if you’re part of something bigger than yourself. You can’t help but feel excited when the sheer volume of a crowds’ roar rips through a ballroom after a big announcement. On some occasions, you’d meet other individuals that shares in your love of a franchise and an instantaneous discussion is struck while waiting in line. But that sense of awe quickly wears off when someone collides into you without apologizing. But to be honest, what were you expecting when you decided to attend SDCC? Of course there’s going to be an ocean of people, waiting in long lines, and traversing the floors. Suck it up buddy! This is the biggest pop culture event of the year. Just be glad you can be a part of it.
THE BAD: I’m not intentionally trying to be mean or anything, but there needs to be a weight limit restriction for people cosplaying characters that require spandex. Have some civility and recognize your body archetype. If you are spilling out of your Wonder Woman costume, know that there are others around you that have to be exposed to it. Especially if you’re a man.
THE GOOD: Unfortunately, the most creative of cosplays won’t be seen until the last day of the con, Sunday. This is due to the Comic Con Masquerade competition rules that states; competing costumes MUST NOT be worn at the convention prior to the show. They believe if everyone sees the costume, there won’t be any point of displaying it onstage. Since the most talented of cosplayers usually enter this contest which is held on Saturday evening, unless you attend, you won’t see these great works until the next day. Also consider if those entries even decided to show up on Sunday. That aside, there were some pretty intriguing and well designed costumes done this year. It’s quite the spectacle to see the range of creative interpretations on pop culture characters from comic, movies, and television icons. Even the worst of the worst were entertaining to view for comedic effect. When we spotted an overweight Link, from Legend of Zelda, and Alex mutters, “Sausage Link,” you can’t help but chuckle. Then there are ones that make you do a double take because of how close they look to the actual character. A Legend of Korra cosplayer comes to mind. A group of Pokemon trainers even engineered remote-controlled Pokemons on R/C wheel, operated via their Pokeballs. Even professional sexy cosplay models Jessica Nigri, Vampy and Yaya Han made their usual appearance. All in all, it wouldn’t be Comic-Con without the enthusiastic individuals that are bold enough to dawn the wardrobe of their favorite icons.
3. GAME DEMOS
THE BAD: Again, the lines. Get use to me ranting about that. Placing that particular issue aside, make sure you bring plenty of hand sanitizer. There are just simply too many people sharing controls with unknown elements that you will come in contact with. Some of the Ultness crew even returned home with the dreaded nerd flu. You always say to yourself, “It can’t happen to me.” Well guess what? You’re now running a fever of 100° and sniveling to oblivion.
THE GOOD: Nothing’s better than getting hands on time with an upcoming games. Especially when you can play them and rub it in your friends faces back at home. On display at this year’s show was Halo 4, Transformers: War for Cybertron, Hitman: Absolution, DMC, Lost Planet 3, Tomb Raider, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, and Injustice: Gods Among Us just to name a couple. Some booths even had a grand presence like South Park: The Stick of Truth, which is a turn-based RPG. The vendor had erected a replica of the South Park elementary school on site. To give a taste on how the game would look, behind the school was an interactive touch screen that allowed you to design and customize your own character in-game. This helps demonstrate the character creations tools and its implication once the game is released. Meanwhile, at the Ubisoft booth, Assassin Creed III shirts that would later be sold online, were given out if you preordered on site. The same went with pre-ordering Darksiders II. Hell we got swag like a Darksiders II Death poster and Agent 47’s red necktie, just for playing the demos. We even found a hidden gem by accident, Abobo’s Big Adventure, a love letter to all the SNES classics. Check it out HERE folks. Game demo lines maybe daunting, but well worth the wait.
2. THE PANELS
THE BAD: Here’s the catch for the majority of the panels you want to attend. Plan on being there early by at least three hours. Not only that, you must be in line for the preceding panels. This is because attendees are not required to exit the halls after each panel. Most people tend to stay and not leave after a panel due to the fact if you leave the room, you must go to the end of the line to get back in. Unfortunately, this is the nature of Comic-Con. For instance, if we wanted to get to the 2:05pm Disney Animation Panel (Frankenweenie, Oz The Great and Powerful, Wreck-It Ralph), we would have had to sit through the preceding 12:45 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II panel, to secure our seats. It’s just a matter of how much sanity and time you’re willing to sacrifice.
Some of the lines are no joke. The biggest hall being Hall H, which seats approximately 6,500 people, is something you have to camp out for. It’s also the venue that holds the major panels; AMC The Walking Dead, HBO Game of Thrones, The Expendables 2, Warner Bros & Legendary Pictures (Superman: Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, and The Hobbit), Marvel Studios (Ironman 3), just to name a few. The Ultness crew had to wake up at 2:30 am to go outside at 4 am, just to go wait in a line that wrapped around the convention center and ran all the way to the Bay Front.
There was even a one hour wait for the Starbucks next door. Just when I was able to get my foot in the door, Misfitgurl texted me that the bloody line was moving. So I ran back and had to skip out on the much-needed caffeine.
The worst part is that you have to miss so many other great panels because of scheduling conflicts. While in Hall H, we missed out on Community, Legend of Korra, Firefly 10th Anniversary, and Breaking Bad panels in the neighboring ballroom. It’s simply a case of too much to do in so little time. You just have to pick and choose wisely.
THE GOOD: In the end, the long wait was worth it. Especially once you get to the panel you want and they debut new footage or breaking news. I still can’t shake the feeling from two years ago when I was attending the Marvel Studios panel. They had just finish wrapping the Thor and Captain America section, when a special announcement was made. The entire leading cast of The Avengers walked onto stage, which was no surprise. But the addition of Firefly creator/director, Joss Whedon, stepping onto stage and being officially announced as the director of the film, was simply electrifying. There are even surprising moments of hilarity during the unwanted panels. For example, we had to sit through The Big Bang Theory panel, which I’m not a fan of, and it turned out to be pretty entertaining. The cast was able to get several laughs and the horrible audience questions were facepalm worthy. And let’s not forget the swag. The Game of Thrones panel gave out drawstring backpacks with a Stark direwolf t-shirt, direwolf shield keychain, discount for store purchases, 1 month X-box gold membership, and the 2nd novel in the series, A Clash of Kings. So don’t forget, panels are the main event of the con.
1. EXHIBITOR HALL
THE BAD: If you’re claustrophobic, don’t head into the Exhibition Hall. It’s practically a snail’s pace to inch your way through the crowds. But I’ve been commenting on that long enough. Moving on from the obvious, the Comic-Con exclusives are a blessing in disguise. I’ve now learned to do my research before the con and find out what will be exclusively sold at the con. Because those items fly off the shelves at an unbelievable rate. Hot ticket items this year were the Cave Johnson Edition Portal Gun $250.00, sold out within the first 30 minutes and the Hasbro Avengers S.H.E.I.L.D Helicarrier. So find out what you want and learn the fastest route to the retail booth. Supplies are limited and its first come first serve.
However, the truly saddest thing this year’s con is the dwindling artist alley. Once a place for comic enthusiast to meet and great their favorite artist, has shrunk to a mere corner of the hall. With the convention slowly evolving to more mediums outside of comics, many artists have become discouraged from make the trip. One of my favorites, LeSean Thomas who has worked on The Boondocks, Black Dynamite, and Legend of Korra, was a no-show. Arguments have been tossed back and forth if Comic-Con has changed for the better with the encroaching presence of non-comic entertainment like movies, television, and games. The critics have claimed that the convention is drifting further and further from comics, but I’m not here to take sides. I just want a chance to interact with more of the artist that have influence me.
THE GOOD: Only in a place like this can I be inches from The Dark Knight‘s Bat Pod and view Ironman 3‘s armory of suits. There are plenty of amazing props on display like the flying car and robots from next month’s Total Recall. AMC’s The Walking Dead booth had a life-size replica of Michonne with one chained up zombie. Attendees were than able to stand in for the second leashed zombie for a photo. If you’ve read the comics you’ll realize the relevance of this occasion.
I’ve already commented on the games, but to reiterate, there were plenty of game demos to test out. Marcus of the Ultness crew had to dedicate an entire con day just to go booth to booth for games. You won’t be disappointed for waiting in the lines. The floor isn’t deprived of any star power either. With the G4TV’s AOTS broadcasting from the Hall, it’s impossible to miss at least some famous faces. Andy Serkis made an appearance at The Hobbit booth, Kevin Bacon was at Fox’s promoting his new show The Following, and the entire cast of Black Dynamite were signing autographs at Adult Swim’s. I’m not a star stuck type of person, but it was neat to see them on the floor interacting with the fans that supported them.
The bottom line however is merchandise. If you want comics, posters, plushies, figures, toys, pre-orders, or apparel it’ll be there in spades. The show stealer would had to be the figures on display. Square Enix and Sideshow Collectables had some of the best high quality detailed figures that I’ve ever seen. Are they expensive? Yes! Was I tempted to drop $1,000 within the first day. You bet. So many temptations had me contemplating if I would be willing to go hungry for a month in order to redirect my funds. Mondo even debuted Olly Moss’s licensed The Dark Knight Rises poster at the Con, which sold like gang busters. As good as some of the conference panels are, they pale in comparison to the behemoth that is the Exhibition Hall.
I hope this list has been instructional, entertaining and can give you some ideas on what to expect for 2013’s Comic-Con. Please check our photos of SDCC 2012 at the following link below.