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Comic Con Scared The Crap Out Of Me

Image Via Felicia Day

When faced with the insane crowds at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I did what any professional journalist would do – I ran back to my hotel room and watched Prince of Persia while sipping soothing champagne from the mini bar. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening social parts of SDCC (seeing Hammer Improv live, hanging out with the Guildies, being on a panel of wicked smart lady nerds, meeting John Oliver from The Daily Show and making him laugh OMG) but the Con itself was more than overwhelming-it was panicattackwhelming. A nine out of ten VERY NECESSARY AND PRESCRIBED Klonopins, is what I’m saying.

Thursday was relatively calm and I was able to attend some panels, hang out at the Axe Cop booth, drool over everything at Oni Press and Dark Horse, and stare longingly at the TRON light cycle. But Friday was a NIGHTMARE. While waiting in line for the BONES panel news starting circling on the Twitters of the now infamous Harry Potter Anti Squatter Eye Stabbing . [UPDATE: Actually, the eye stabbing happened on Saturday while I was in line at Starbucks. YOU SEE HOW CONFUSING COMIC CON IS?] Soon after that bit of excitement/horror we were informed there was no way in hell any of us were getting in to see BONES. I cried a little on my press pass then wiped my nose with my pro pass. Yes, that’s right. I had both kinds of fancy passes which were were clearly useless. At that point, I gave up and went searching for a mojito while mumbling “I wanted to be queen of the lab harrumph.”

On Saturday, I hovered around the DC Universe booth for awhile but the fifteen year old dudes bogart-ing the machines would not let me in and anyway they all smelled like B.O. and Red Bull. I did get to play the new TRON: Evolution work-in-progress game (coming out in November) and it is FUN you guys – light cycles and future jai alai amped up to MCP levels of bad assness. So at the very least I did get to do one token gaming thing.

I’ve covered cons in the past – WonderCon, Azkatraz, etc… but this was just too complicated for me. There were limited edition prints and variants to be had but the trick was you had to enter a raffle, win a wristband, and then wait in line to maybe, MAYBE buy them. Even the line at Starbucks was a gamble as to whether you’d ever really get your drink. In my opinion, Wonder Con, PAX, and Emerald City Con are better bets for the more er…sensitive of us: the delicate snowflakes who can’t handle the lines, noise, and madness of Comic Con. And please don’t think I wasn’t thrilled to be a part of SDCC because I really was incredibly excited to meet so many amazing people – just maybe not while surrounded by 10,000 screaming kids dressed as Avatar: The Last Airbender.

I guess what I’d like to know is were any of you at SDCC 2010 and did you feel like it was more crazy than years past? Or the same? Or am I just being a big baby who needed to nut up (if I had nuts which I don’t because you had to enter a raffle to get a wristband to wait in a line for…oh never mind). Thoughts please.


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  1. Felicia says:

    I skipped the con this year… but by accident.
    You see, I am not used to having to order my Comic-Con tix so early (did you know they already ran out of preview night for 2011???? WTF???). I went to their .org website to order some tix, and read that I could not order any- they were out.
    Then, by some miracle, a month before the con, the website was offering ticket/hotel room packages… and I had already bought tickets and made arrangements to go to Disneyland. I thought this was a dirty trick and almost cried. In any event, I’m really regretting missing this year’s con, what with the Hall H pen-in-eye-shanking and the appearance (and subsequent pwnage) of Westboro.
    I can tell you, however, I have been a patron of the con since 2002. It has grown IMMENSELY, and growth was most noticable last year (thank you Twilight and Avatar). Sigh… it really does reek of BO everywhere you go on the con floor…

  2. Cat says:

    So I’ve been going to SDCC for 4 years (working there for 3), and my only diss on the con this year was my inability to see any panels that interested me (not because of the lines, but because I worked the same room from 8am-5pm).
    I did get to see your panel! Girl geeks kick ass!

  3. Emmy says:

    Kiala, you are totes Queen of the Lab right here on my favorite place The Internet(via my couch where you can TOTALLY HAVE DRINKS)

  4. Kiala Kazebee says:

    @joe I was wondering when you would comment! I missed you! *hugs*


  5. joe says:

    I’m still waiting for _ONE_ post from Kiala wherein she demonstrates any knowledge or empathy for the subject of her “articles”.

  6. Jonathan Mcgaha says:

    Never been to Comic Con before 2010, but was at Comic Con 2010 for all four days.
    I, frankly, had an absolute blast the entire time. Maybe it’s because I embraced the spectacle and simply the experience of Comic Con was what I love more-so even then the content of Comic Con? I was amazed by how much I heard people complaining about rudeness and jostling. I can say every time I ran into someone (or got run into) apologies were always exchanged! It was amazing! 130,000 people crammed into one admittedly large but not large enough room and every single one of them that I crashed into or crashed into me was a perfect gentleman/lady. That does NOT HAPPEN! The people who go to Comic Con are good people. The only d-bags I experienced was some uber-nerd in a panel who took a phone call from some other uber-nerd idiot on the floor calling about some statue or something and trying to give this moron a price on it and he couldn’t hear the numbers. People got really pissed at that guy.

    Also the stabbing guy, he was a bit of a jerk.

    Anyway, two people in my experience were assholes. Just two. Four days, 130,000 warm bodies per day, and I experienced one rude person and heard about another one.

    It all depends on the attitude you face the situation with. If you go there wanting to do specific things rather than simply wanting to enjoy the experience you’re inevitably going to be disappointed somehow or have your opinion jaded. The sense of community and maintaining a friendly attitude is the way I enjoyed Comic Con even when my blood sugar got low and I was laden with about 50 pounds of stuff I was pack muling around for my friends in costume, even when things were at their worst I was still having a good time. Without striving to do things hard-core, without showing up with a notion that I had to do these certain things, I was able to meet several great artists and chat with them simply by happenstance, I was able to meet a Mythbuster (Grant) and I was able to go to freakin’ WOOTSTOCK!

    Comic Con isn’t perfect. Waiting in line to wait in line sucks! I waited for several panels, didn’t get into 50% of what I waited for, but while waiting in line I was able to interact with people, laugh with strangers and have a good time! The people are what make Comic Con good, not a bunch of games and crap.

  7. Jennifer says:

    This was my third Con and it was as crazy as last year. The only disappointment was the line for Ballroom 20. They will need to move some of the TV show panels to Hall H next year. I talked with two gals who came from Australia just to see the Big Bang Theory panel and they didn’t know they needed to be in line @ 9 am for a 12:45 panel (they only lined up an hour early). When my husband and I couldn’t get in either we went down to Hall H and walked right in, no line, for the Super panel and it turned out to be great fun. Rainn Wilson and Nathan Fillion got into a mock fight, we laughed our asses off. The floor is daunting but planning ahead of time helps. We visited the Guild booth and saw Felicia then headed to the Web Comics section to meet and buy merchandise from all the talent that keep us chuckling daily. I also spent a lot of time on Thursday in the artist alley section. Amazing talent there. I think I’m over the studio and gaming booths. I agree with everyone about picking only one thing to do, get there early and have fun. Last year I planned to just spend one day in Hall H, I picked Thursday, got in line at 4:50 am, and it was the best day ever. Johnny Depp walked out during the Disney panel and I got to see the Avatar panel. The fanboy reaction to JC is something I’ll never forget. I heart Comic Con so much!

  8. Alize says:

    This was our first Comic-Con, and we had an AMAZING time! It was just me and my 11 year old daughter, we went to a couple of panels each day, did planning so we saw what we wanted in the exhibit hall, cosplayed and made lots of people happy with our costumes, and got some autographs from authors she really loves. As long as you remember to have fun, and that sometimes standing in line on a concrete floor for 2.5 hours is not necessarily worth it to talk to a celebrity for 2 minutes (no offense Chris, because we’d probably stand in line for you), you can have a great time at the Con. Plus a break at Pinkberry or the Ghirardelli ice cream shop when you get overwhelmed doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

    p.s.-Chris, you were AWESOME at the Mythbusters panel-thanks for helping to keep that such a lively event!

  9. ohsnap says:

    I’m a bigger fan of NY Comic Con compared to SD Comic Con for the soul reason of the aisle spaces being bigger and thinning the crowd out a bit more.

  10. One of my personal tricks to surviving the convention floor is the corner where the California Browncoats booth is every year. Since it’s at the far end of the floor, near a decent number of tables and chairs (and since the Cali BCs are the main group of people I know at SDCC), it gives me a place to escape to even within the din and rush of the floor itself.

  11. Nicole Campos says:

    @ Julie – the memory of seeing a crowd of 6,000+ people giving Harrison Ford a rousing ovation at his very first con appearance.

    Unquestionably one of the greatest nerd moments I’ve ever witnessed. That crowd nearly blew the roof off the joint. And Captain Solo was totally verklempt.

  12. Kiala Kazebee says:

    I had fun too! It was just terrifying for a person who is afeared of crowds and enclosed spaces. I STILL LOVE YOU COMIC CON I just wish there were like a pope bubble car I could use to get around.

  13. Chris Hardwick says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention: I really did have a blast this year! Fun shows, great booths and super nice peeps. I am baffled as to why no one at the Con has figured out that in a hall that holds 6000 people the panelists need a monitor facing them so they can hear each other but that was my only gripe.

  14. Julie says:

    Oh, and if you’re the type of person who gets anxious in crowds (I am, too), then it helps to take time out to find an open space to just go sit during your down time. I had very few panels to attend on Thursday, so I was primarily on the floor. I had to give myself a break and went upstairs and found a place to sit just so I could breathe for a bit.

  15. Julie says:

    This was my second trip to SDCC and I had an amazing time. Yes, it’s overwhelming, but if you’re prepared, you can have a good time. It’s all about deciding what you’re most interested in seeing and what is most important to you and planning accordingly. There’s always something you’re going to want to see, but have to give up. Especially if it’s in one of the big rooms like Hall H or Ballroom 20.

    This year, I had to give up seeing the Fringe panel because I wanted to see some of the big movie stuff in Hall H. I can now watch the Fringe panel on YouTube and live with the memory of seeing a crowd of 6,000+ people giving Harrison Ford a rousing ovation at his very first con appearance.

    This year, I snagged the exclusive toys I wanted, got some awesome autographs, and saw nearly everything I wanted to see.

    Preparedness is the key.

  16. David says:


    anyone who isn’t wet behind the ears knows that the monstrosity SDCC has turned into is an abomination. Last year when I attended, I had met some couples and kids at the pool at my hotel and given them some of my books. They were in san diego for something else, and none of them read comics.

    One of couples had a 10 year old kid who loved my stuff, and was interested in seeing the con. This was the first year the con had sold out. For the life of me I could not get him into the con because some jack-holes had bought up passes just to sit in line for a twilight screening. It’s about celebrating the things we enjoy not about sitting in line for hours or days.

    This kid was what the whole thing should be about. Especially as a creator, encouraging fresh audiences into an aging fan base. Not fanatical 25 year olds who probably should be better medicated. Am avid and healthy interest is one thing.

    So I’m kinda with you. You got my vote on the poll.

  17. Chris says:

    Such a great con, and only 1 stabbing! This was my sophomore journey to SDCC and it blew my mind all over again!… even with all the lineups…

  18. David says:

    Apparently someone took the Pen from Hall H and shove it up Karls ubuntu where it is now firmly lodged. It must impair walking as well.

  19. TerilynnS says:

    This was my first Comic-Con – I LOVED it. Never felt pressure to go to things that would be too crowded and ended up seeing panels that were so superior! Voice over artists and cartoonists/comic artists and writers and …. OH! It was awesome. I met a lot of wonderful people. I can see where I will change some tactics next year – but would be happy to go back. And maybe – I’ll take one night with a bottle of champagne – retreat to my hotel room and watch a flick!

  20. @redlightwrithe says:

    I completely agree. You have to commit to one thing and one thing only if you want to see it. I was going to give my whole day to waiting for the True Blood panel on Friday against my better judgment and the line was already closed by 9am…9am!!! Besides the Walking Dead panel which I almost didn’t get in, I couldn’t make any panel unless I wanted to give up the entire day on the off chance I’d get in.

    And don’t get me started on the raffle #’s to get in a line for a chance at anything. I specifically went to the Image Booth to ask if I needed a number to get in line for the Kirkman signing and I was told “nope”. Came back 15 minutes before the signing started…oh look you need a number to get in line and they are all gone, sorry.

    Ever try to walk anywhere near the Warner Bros booth in the back? Oh that’s right you couldn’t because of the mob of people waiting for or trying to see the celebrity signings.

    Now a stabbing? Not that I can’t sympathize with the sentiment. I think this was my last Comic Con and I will just have to stick with Wonder Con. Comic Con I will miss you and what you used to be.

  21. Kijan says:

    oh ya and I got my w00tstock ticket signed by @paulandstorm. I know you’re all green with envy…

  22. Kiala Kazebee says:

    Okay so if this were a poll I’d say 98% of you think I need to nut up.

    WILL DO!

  23. Doug says:

    This was my 1st SDCC as well as my 1st w00tstock. Comicon was in fact insane, even by my standard of not having anything to judge it by. Although I seem to have been spared the worst of the infamous ‘ConStinkers’ who endlessly pace the exhibition hall in a rancid clinging fog of their own bodily secretions (except for that one guy sitting next to me in Hall H, you know who you are bitch) the crowds were enormous and it took a day or so to realize that the only way to get anywhere was by taking six inch steps. It was insane, but awesome.
    w00tstock was a tour de force, and you, Chris Hardwick, were frakking hilarious. I can’t look at the waistband of my underwear anymore without laughing. Luckily they say ‘Champion’ so it’s somewhat of an ego boost, albeit an unearned one. Btw, do you guys realize they searched and patted down everyone as they came in the front door?! What were they looking for, slide rules? We laughed as we emptied our pockets. You never saw so many iPhones in your life! I think they’re used to a slightly less-geeky crowd…

  24. Kijan says:

    this was the best year out of the past 12 i’ve attended! I met so many people and got to hang out with the G4 gang. The nerdist shirts were a hit! I handed out a lot of podcast stickers so I hope you get more listeners. I am still processing my con experience.

  25. @katerz1 says:

    Yeah, you pretty much nailed it. I can’t do it unless I’m medicated. There are times when you can’t freakin’ MOVE, there are so many people around you. Why does it hafta BE like that!? And the whole not-being-able-to-get-into-anything thing?! How is this good for anyone?

    WorldCon is ALOT more expensive, which seems to keep the casual riff-raff out. I vote for hiking the ticket prices for #sdcc. I’m sorry, but only really committed people should be there. Or, people who should be committed — not sure which. 😀

    I will add, I was trying to wrangle a crowd-phobic 12-year-old the whole time. Yeah. Awesome. :-\

  26. yumenoko says:

    I went, and sorta fall in the middle there. I’ve been attending for about 20 years (ouch, my Age!) and this year was really getting to the point of tipping the scales of insanity. I was able to see all the panels I wanted, except for TRON on Thur morning, since getting in line at 9:00 was already fabulously beyond too late. But the rest of the weekend was fine, but only because I sacrificed a huge wad of time making sure I was somewhere early.

    I think the biggest issue that we as fans have now, is that in order to see what *you* want to see, you may have to camp out in a seat in a room keeping me from seeing what *I* want to see, and vice versa. Used to be (even 3 years ago!) you could pretty much line up about an hour early or so, and make it into the one you wanted, all day long. Now, it’s like if you’re not there first thing in the morning, good luck with seeing anything in the afternoon. How does that compute??

    The exhibit hall was the standard mess of batshit crazy, but if you take it in doses, it’s pretty amusing. I actually like how the entire thing has spilled out onto the streets of the gaslamp area, as it makes it feel like the City itself is coming out to play.

    I bought my pass for next year, but seriously had a pause moment, when I had to ask myself if I’d be willing to do it again. The fangirl in me won. 🙂

  27. I was a Comic-Con virgin, but I had a great time, despite hobbling around with a knee brace and a cane, or maneuvering in a rented wheelchair. The crowds are insane but if you’ve ever lived in a major city (me, 12 years in NYC and 6 in LA), you’ve dealt with similar. In general I thought the crowds were remarkably good-natured and well-behaved. I wrote up my experience at:

  28. eddie says:

    I think you should check out videogum’s take on the “Con”, you will appreciate it. Its nice to read about the experience, which makes me feel asfixiated, as not being described as EPIC.

  29. Frank Jordan says:

    This years Con was EPIC! I networked my ass off and got my Webcomic, COMPANY MAN, on the lips of some cool industry people. In Hall H I saw some great first looks (Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, the whole cast, including Samuel L. Jackson & Robert Downey Jr.!) I saw Harrison Fords first trip to Comic Con EVER and I saw a guy get carted off in handcuffs, covered in blood because he stabbed another nerd with a pen… EPIC!

  30. Jen says:

    I didn’t know I’d be living in San Diego back when the passes originally went on sale, so I was sad I didn’t have a pass this year. Maybe next year I’ll get to go, but I don’t have a lot of time to ponder — I’m getting mixed reactions from people; some didn’t get to see things they wanted to see are sad about it, but others (the majority, however) think it’s worth every penny.

    I did, however, get to hang out at the NOW Awards and meet Britt Daniel of *swooooon*… I mean… Spoon!

  31. Kiala Kazebee says:

    @karl What is this “Google”? Is it like a “yoru”?

  32. Karl Hunus says:

    Sorry yoru precious premium passes did not let you bypass us unwashed masses completely.

    I am guessing if you are blaming your inability to perform even a simple Google search to figure out when the “stabbing incident” occurred on “the confusing nature of the convention” then perhaps you should stick to less taxing event.

    While the SDCC is at times challenging, crowded and disorganized, I think this year was more together than years past. But frankly your tone seems to make me question why you write for a site called “The Nerdist”

  33. Christian says:

    It was my first SDCC, and while it was hugely huge, I thought it was manageable for the most part. There were some aisles that were impassable, but those were mostly out in gamer-land where I had little interest. The aisle by the TopatoCo booth and some of the manga areas were choked, but generally it was possible to get where you were going with a minimum of body contact.

  34. This was maybe my favorite SDCC yet in the four years I’ve been going. Did a charity screening of Serenity to mark that annual event’s fifth year, went to three great panels (JJ and Joss, Geek Girls Exist, The Guild), and got lots of photos, including two (Harry Knowles with Felicia Day, and Marian Call with Starbuck’s gun) no one else has.

    Now, the post-event connui.

  35. Kiala Kazebee says:

    @chris No way! Mind meld.

  36. Chris Hardwick says:

    Ha! I took that picture.

  37. Amanda B. says:

    Wow, that sounds very overwhelming. I haven’t been to Comic Con for that very reason. Even the thought of standing in line for maybe no good reason drives me nuts.

    Thanks for braving it!