Guest Post: The Hard Choices of ComiCon

So, you all saw Daphne Lamb’s post about San Diego ComiCon, right? Well, it has been a few weeks. The adrenaline has faded. The tchotchkes and swag have found their homes either on the shelf or in the closet. Now and then, your thoughts turn to next year…

Will you go back to the show floor like Daphne? Or will you get tickets for Hall H (this being the equivalent of deciding whether you will stay at The Prancing Pony in Bree or take the ring all the way to Mordor)?

Please welcome guest blogger Ravi Hayashida, as he shares his take on Hall H this year and offers his words of wisdom in making life’s hard decisions.

-Cait Reynolds


The Hall H Experience at the San Diego ComiCon 2016

One of the great debates about attending the San Diego Comic Con, among a few of us at least, is whether attending the Hall H panels is worth the time invested.  In the simplest of terms, would you rather see exclusive footage, get a first look at new footage or announcements, and maybe have the opportunity to obtain swag that no one else at the convention will get? Or would you rather spend that time seeing amazing cosplayers, meeting movie stars and getting autographs, and hunt for rare and exclusive items from vendor booths?

“Wait,” you ask, “Can’t you do both?”

Unfortunately, this is more and more difficult to do because of the investment of time that Hall H panels demand. Hall H is the larges

Cait: Tom Hiddleston was in Hall H. That would settle the question for me and Genevieve. Photo by Ravi Hayashida.

Cait: Tom Hiddleston was in Hall H. That would settle the question for me and Genevieve. Photo by Ravi Hayashida.

t meeting room that the SDCC offers, seating about 6,500 fans, and they book the hottest theatrical studios, like Marvel Studios, Warner Brothers, and Fox, to promote their latest, or future, projects. Most of the time, these studios will treat the fans with never before seen footage, special announcements (Marvel’s The Avengers first official cast announcement and appearance was made in Hall H, for example), and the occasional rare swag. The draw to fans of these films is enormous. With a simple application of supply (6,500 seats) and demand (roughly 130,000+ attendees per day) and most people can begin to see the potential for problems.

The result? Hall H attendee hopefuls now ‘camp out’ overnight in order to secure their first come-first served seats in the hall.

‘Madness,” you say? “Preposterous,” assert others? Sadly, this is the hard truth: Hall H attendees must invest time in order to enter the hallowed room to be ‘one of the first’. Because of this, Hall H has earned an almost mythic quality to SDCC attendees and those that can “strip his sleeves and show his scars” are admired and, I daresay, almost revered for their sacrifice.

Cait: Daphne may have missed out on Wonder Woman in Hall H, but she did get the doll, at least! Photo by Ravi Hayashida.

Cait: Daphne may have missed out on Wonder Woman in Hall H, but she did get the doll, at least! Photo by Ravi Hayashida.

‘Tis a badge of honor.

The question remains, though, is it worth it, being revered thusly? Or are there greater spoils within the enormous Convention Center and surroundings?

One of my favorite things to do is obtain actor’s autographs. While I could spend the extra coin to buy official autographed photos, my collection represents actual meetings with stars. To date, some of my most memorable are Leonard Nimoy three years ago and Kelly Hu two years ago. Both interactions had memorable conversations but they also truly appreciated their fans.

This year, I had hoped to meet both Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek) for myself, and Elvira for a friend of mine. Neither of these happened. My Hall H investment was twelve plus hours in line on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday in the Hall.

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Cait: Yeah, I haven’t seen Suicide Squad yet. It’s a combination of living under a rock and never having time. Photo by Ravi Hayashida.

Another favorite activity is taking photos of the Cosplayers and getting the meet them and their stories. This is sometimes I’ve been featuring on my blog that past few years as well. In fact, this is why I created my blog in the first place, to showcase just some of the talent that comes to SDCC each year. Some are first timers, others rare veterans. A few others are professional costumers, or are soon to be professional, and I’ve been lucky to catch them while walking the exhibit hall floor.

While I did get some quick photos, I have no stories from the creators to attach to them and I think this is another miss for me.

So, my expectation from SDCC is to have a more personal experience, interacting with fellow SDCC goers, and telling the smaller stories.

And yet, perhaps I am too quick to complain. In lieu of the above, this is what one day in Hall H provided:

  • All directors for WB’s upcoming superhero movies;
  • Cast appearances from WB’s Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Fantastic Beasts, Aliens Anniversary, and all upcoming Marvel projects except for Thor (were currently shooting).
  • Footage from Wonder Woman, Justice League, King Kong, King Arthur, Fantastic Beasts, Marvel’s Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
  • Swag was a wand for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them panel and a baseball hat featuring the brand new logo for Marvel Studios.
  • Entertainment Weekly’s Annual Women Who Kick Ass panel which included Connie Nielsen, Ming Na Wen, Morena Baccarin, Melissa Benoist, Nathalie Emmanuel, Tatiana Maslany, and Lucy Lawless.

The talent that walked that stage was baffling. The content that was displayed on the screens for the Hall H attendees was mind blowing. The overall affect was an almost mind-numbing collection of adrenaline fueled hype that was only mitigated by the lack of sleep most attendees experienced.

Those of us who were there will reminisce together and “be in our flowing cups freshly remembered” for the feats we did on that Hall H day.

Attending SDCC is a matter of navigating the enormity of the Convention. There are many different aspects that are available to every attendee. But due to limitations of space and time (cue Doctor Who theme) everyone cannot attend to or get everything, except for the Doctor, Hermione Granger, and maybe Marty McFly.

So, the choice of Hall H or not Hall H is solely determined by the priorities of the attendee. I was honored to have been among the happy few who witnessed the amazing sights and swag of that day in Hall H, yet I regret the missed opportunities to interact with the other part of what makes SDCC special: the people. I say this now, that I plan to yield my space in next year’s Hall H line to pursue those things that mean more to me.

But plans change.

*Adaptions of parts of Shakespeare’s Henry V and Hamlet were made with the best of intentions.

ComiCon

Ravi Hayashida at ComiCon

Get more from Ravi Hayashida on ComiCon at http://www.raviswritings.org/comic-con.html and follow him on Twitter!

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