Jolene goes to San Diego Comic Con 2017
I'd like to preface this post by stating that SDCC2017 was not my first Con, but my third. My last one was also in 2012 and I realize that a lot has changed since I was last there. I'd also like to note, for some of you who are not familiar with SDCC at all - this convention is not merely about comics. There is a broad range of topics, genres and aesthetics. You can read about its origins on the official site. Last year, 135,000 people attended, so that gives you an idea of how big this event actually is. Comic Con includes an exhibit floor with more booths than you can imagine (sponsored by various studios, artists, TV shows, movies, etc.), panels (discussions with artists, casts, directors, etc.), signings, and of course the offsite events.
That's out of the way now, so here we go.
I did not participate in the presale because I didn't know I'd have the weekend free; some of my generous friends offered to help me get a pass. Fortunately I got one. Unfortunately it was only for Sunday. I was still grateful to have something, and I realized I had to try some of the offsite events.
For those of you who may not know, SDCC officially takes place within the San Diego Convention Center, and you need to have a badge to enter the exhibit floor and panels. However, there are "offsite" events that take place all over the Gaslamp District, mostly within walking distance of the Convention Center. These offsite events can include walk-throughs, giveaways, pop culture-related installations and plenty of other unique and rather cool activities. My plan was to arrive late Friday night after work, hit up the Saturday offsite stuff, then head into the Con on Sunday.
As per usual: Things did not go as planned.
I did arrive late-ish Friday night and found our GORGEOUS Airbnb. Oh my. It was wonderful. I would honestly love to move into that home! You can peek at where we stayed here. Honestly, it's straight out of Pinterest, vinyl record player & sage for burning included. It was so lovely, comfortable and cute. I loved having separate rooms and plenty of space to be comfortable. Not the cheapest, but definitely a treat.
My best friend Christine and I were staying together and were planning on spending the weekend together. She had arrived Thursday night, and when I arrived Friday night, we went out for a night on the town AKA we were both already tired and hangry. Christine taught me how to Uber, so we went from our lovely airbnb to Gaslamp (about 15 minutes). Suddenly the crowds became visible, cosplayers emerged, and I was immediately brought back to the familiar buzz of SDCC. Regardless of what you're there for, I believe it's impossible to miss the energy that takes over the area. There's something exciting, even unifying about seeing so many excited people coming together.
After a late night and already existing exhaustion (adulting is the worst), we were able to make it to the Convention Center around 9AM. Technically, this is a bit late, but we knew that most of the offsite activities opened at 10 or 11AM. We got in line for the Netflix Experience, thinking that it wouldn't be that bad since we were there "early." No more than 10 minutes after getting in line, I received a text:
Needless to say, my morning went from calmly waiting in a line to bolting across the sea of people to catch a glimpse of my current celebrity crush, Cole Sprouse (along with the rest of the cast, because I really like Riverdale). We made it and saw them! Sadly I didn't get to meet them or take pictures with them, but let me tell you, they are a beautiful group of people. Behold, the glory of some of the Riverdale cast:
As you can tell, there are no pictures of said celebrity crush, because obviously it was far too crazy and I went into some kind of paralysis. From there, Christine and I had planned to do some offsite things. I'll just tell you know: we were about 98% unsuccessful. Apart from some tiny free ice cream and some photos, we didn't do much. We took some pictures, avoided a ton of lines, started getting sunburned, and saw some amazing cosplayers.
I will take this opportunity to give an honorable mention to the Mr. Robot offsite activity: free lunch! Although I've never watched the show, I've heard wonderful things about Mr. Robot. After participating in their offsite activity, I am motivated to start the series! The show set up a website where you could register for an ecoin card and use the funds on the card to get free food. There was no catch and no limit; the only "downside" was waiting in line for the free lunch, which wasn't a long wait. They obviously put a ton of detail into the activity, including constructing an entire pop-up restaurant same as the one featured on the show. We redeemed our free lunch via QR code and were seated inside the restaurant. There were seats, AC and free wifi. This doesn't sound like a lot, but after being in the sun all day, it was more than a luxury. After lunch, Christine and I parted ways so I could wait in the Laika Experience line and she could go to the exhibit floor in the Convention Center.
The Laika Experience was my main priority for the weekend. Laika is the studio that has produced beautiful stop motion films including Coraline and Paranorman. They were having a small exhibit of the actual sets and dolls they use to create their films - I waited over 3 hours to enter, but it was worth it! There were some adorable costumed characters, and you bet I got a picture with one of the Box Trolls. Once inside, I got to see the amazing detail of the dolls and learn about how they are used. Laika puts incredible effort and detail into their craft, which is why the films are so visually stunning. I even bought a Coraline doll with button eyes, just like the one Coraline has in the film. I'll be using it for a future cosplay too! I took a ton of pictures, but here are some of my favorite shots:
My favorite part of the Laika Experience was definitely Coraline's garden. It's one of the most visually stunning part of the film, and now I can definitely see why. The garden, both lit up and dark, is incredibly crafted. I think one of the joys of stop motion is that it's a hybrid between reality and animation - there is a certain tangibility that comes with it. I felt that with the garden display, and because of its physicality, the magic of Coraline was actually present.
After the Laika Experience, it was already just about 6PM. Most offsite things were closing and we had only really planned on attending the Syfy party in the evening. Long story short, we got dinner with one of my internet friends, Ashley. She is an amazing artist and I was thrilled to actually physically hang out with her. You can peep her work here. We ended up grabbing dinner at Meze, a Greek fusion restaurant. The food was SO GOOD, and on top of that, they had done up their restaurant in a Guardians of the Galaxy theme. There were photos, cut-outs and even the film was being shown on the screens! It was fun to see cosplayers, badge-holders and everyone in between come in with their swag haul and enjoy a nice dinner. Even the drink menu was themed - they had special cocktails named after the Guardians - Gamora's Mule, Groot Juice, the Star Lord. After much deliberation we went with 3 Star Lords - ordering "3 Star Lords" for the table was an experience I'm glad I had.
After sitting and laughing so much, we decided against the party. We enjoyed our food, dessert, and even witnessed some celebrity shenanigans afterwards. It was late and we eventually called it a night.
On one hand, I had a great time with friends, laughing TONS and talking a lot about Cole Sprouse. We exchanged stories, talked about who we'd like to meet, and geeked out about a lot of things. On the other hand, I barely did any of the activities I'd wanted to; I was sunburned and sore. I didn't even take as many pictures as I would have liked, mostly because I already felt done. I still looked forward to Sunday!
Christine had to leave due to work and family reasons, so she was kind enough to drop me off by the Convention Center. I was excited, as this was my one day with a badge. I had one panel planned in the morning, then I thought I would just hang out on the exhibit floor. I was dropped off before 9, and the panel was at 10AM. Around 9:30, we were informed that our panelist, Duff Goldman, couldn't make it because of his network's scheduling. I was DEVASTATED. Instead of canceling the whole thing, Duff sent us a message he filmed on set and let us watch the new episode of Dessert Games that hadn't aired yet. He even made us cupcakes! He obviously wanted to be there but his network had other plans for him.
After being disappointed in the morning, I still had hope that the exhibit floor would hold something exciting for me. I went to get my bag and lanyard from the Sails Pavilion, only to find out there were no bags left, and I was lucky to even get a lanyard. By this point, my exhaustion became almost unbearable - there was no adrenaline to keep me going, no more excitement left, and no friends with me. In this state, I still headed to the floor... it didn't get better. I didn't really get to participate in anything. I didn't see any freebies like I had in previous years. I didn't buy ANYTHING. I circled the floor a few times, ended up around the Supernatural signing, then found Ashley again to get some lunch.
The good news is I really enjoyed our lunch at the Rustic Root. They had a special Comic Con brunch menu, and it did not disappoint. I ended up ordering the lobster roll with house kettle chips + a watermelon/coconut water/mint/lime smoothie. It was a great refreshing meal after so much disappointment.
After lunch, I said my goodbyes and headed home. Even the near 3-hour drive was brutal! It just wasn't my weekend.
Please note: Don't let this blog discourage you from coming to Comic Con in the future. I was on the fence about how much information to share and how my experience may come off as super negative. However, I hope what you all take away from this is SDCC may not be as glamorous as it appears on social media or in photos. If you are planning on coming, it's best to have realistic expectations. If your expectations are too high and you are expecting to literally brush shoulders with your favorite celebrities, you may leave extremely disappointment and miss so much of the other events going on. I do plan on trying to go again next year, but hopefully I'll be better prepared and have more than a Sunday pass.
For a full photo gallery, check out my SDCC photo page here.
Stay tuned for a Comic Con Survival Guide soon too!
Until next time,