San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Recap

Well, Comic-Con 2016 has ended and I’m back in Brooklyn, finally starting to feel like I’ve readjusted to normal life. As an introvert it really does take time for me to re-energize after such an intense string of days around so many people and so much stimuli. See?

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WEDNESDAY

My husband, our friend, and I flew to San Diego in the morning and arrived at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis and Marina, around noon. The last time we managed to get rooms at that hotel was three years ago, when John and I got married right before Comic-Con. Location-wise, it’s the best hotel to be at because it’s literally next door to the convention center, and we got lucky enough to be assigned our first choice hotel in the SDCC room lottery! Because we’re Marriott Elite members, the woman at check-in let us choose our SDCC-branded room key (they usually give them out randomly) so I picked Arrow. After checking in we headed over to the convention center to pick up our lanyards and the all-important Warner Bros con bags. The bags were folded up but I went for one that had a greenish tinge along the edges because I thought it would be the Arrow bag. To my surprise, when I unfolded it it turned out to be Supernatural, just like last year! WOO-HOO! Comic-Con mojo was in full force.

We just hung out that afternoon until it was time to check out the exhibit hall at Preview Night. The show floor was oddly not as crowded as it was last year, but we started off at the “A” end of the hall which usually tends to be a little less busy. My friend got on line at Mondo to get something for her friend and I wandered aimlessly and snapped photos of cool things, like this intensely realistic Walter White bust at the Sideshow booth:

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Please don’t kill me, Heisenberg.

And this eerily lifelike Michael Jackson Thriller statue:

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There are a TON of Funko Pop! knockoffs starting to appear and most of them don’t even come close to approximating the awesomeness of the originals, but these “Mini Mez-Itz” Beetlejuice figures from Mezco are pretty darn cute. I’d buy them:

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I was also really into these Mezco Beetlejuice figures, as well as the Sam from Trick ‘r Treat:

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Ghostbusters were big at Comic-Con this year; I was particularly impressed with this scene at the Blitzway booth, which was tucked almost in the corner at one end of the show floor and had nearly Sideshow quality figures:

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Speaking of Sideshow, they just kill it every year. I took a lot of (really crappy) photos of their figures, but I especially loved this one  of Rey, Finn, and Chewy:

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Also killing it? The Walking Dead booth. I’m not caught up on the show but I know how season six ended so this booth scene didn’t spoil anything for me. Those are not the actors in the booth—they’re statues. Seriously, they were so lifelike it was a little terrifying…especially Negan with that grin and his trusty Lucille. *Shudders.*

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Major props to whoever builds these life-sized superhero statues out of Legos every year.

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I Wonder how long it takes to build these.

After Preview Night we settled ourselves in at Altitude Sky Lounge, a roof bar with great views located atop the Marriott Gaslamp. The crowd can get super douchey there on weekends, but on Wednesday night it was fine. My brother-in-law joined us as well as a couple friends of ours, one who lives in SD and one who lives in LA but had come to town to work on a Comic-Con offsite. It was a lot of fun to hang out and catch up with friends, and we managed to play some Pokemon Go while we were there because we could access a couple PokeStops, even 22 floors up!

THURSDAY

Comic-Con officially started in the morning, but my friend and I decided to go check out the Nerdist/Geek and Sundry offsite Camp Conival at Petco Park. I wanted to see the Preacher panel there, and as it turned out we actually got to see five panels quite easily…for free! We waited on line for about 20 minutes to get into Camp Conival, but that was just to get through security—once we were in it wasn’t very crowded and we were able to get good seats in the panel area. When we sat down the Nerdist podcast Bizarre States was doing a panel, and then to our surprise Tony Hale came onstage for a short panel! BUSTER FREAKING BLUTH!

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I mentioned the Preacher panel as a favorite moment from SDCC 2016 in my Friday Five so I won’t go into it here. After Preacher came Nerve, which is a movie I hadn’t even heard of until I saw the trailer on my flight to San Diego. The panel was brief but memorable; they paid an audience member $200 to let Emma Roberts and Dave Franco shave his head…very poorly. They didn’t really even finish the job! (I hope someone fixed his hair afterward.) This was one of those “only at Comic-Con” moments:

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Emma Roberts looks legit excited to be wrecking this dude’s hair.

After Nerve came the Colony panel, and while I haven’t seen the show, JOSH HOLLOWAY.

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I wonder if Camp Conival and its panels drew a bigger crowd as the weekend went on; our experience there seemed way too easy. But we had a great time!

After Camp Conival, my friend and I headed to the convention center around 2pm to check out the Room 6BCF line for the 6pm Mr. Robot panel. The line wasn’t bad so we decided to risk coming back later and went to the Hilton Bayfront to check out the line for the 4pm Silicon Valley panel in the Indigo Ballroom. It was really hot out and I didn’t feel like I could stand to wait outdoors so I went inside to buy my friend and I water and snacks while my friend got on line. By the time I came back out with our fuel she was already almost indoors so I got on line with her and we were inside Indigo Ballroom within probably ten minutes, well before the Silicon Valley panel. A Comic-Con HQ panel was taking place when we took our seats (including panelists Rob Benedict and Richard Speight from Supernatural!!), and my husband joined us as soon as he got into the ballroom. The next panel up was for a new NBC show called The Good Place from Parks & Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine creator Mike Schur, starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. We were treated to a screening of the pilot, and the show was really funny! I’m totally going to watch the show when it premieres.

As I mentioned in my Friday Five, the Silicon Valley panel was a definite highlight of Comic-Con for me. Those guys are pure comic geniuses.

After SV, we headed back to the convention center to Room 6BCF for Mr. Robot and there was absolutely no line so we managed to walk right in just as the panel before it (Colony) was starting. So I got a double dose of Colony on Thursday! I really need to watch that show.   🙂  The Mr. Robot panel was fun, though of course the cast really couldn’t reveal much of anything. The most we learned was that Christian Slater is the only cast member who is playing Pokemon Go and that he’s on Team Mystic. There was a really awkward moment when an audience member got up to ask a question and said to Rami Malek, “Would you teach me to walk like an Egyptian?” She seriously took all the air out of the room with that comment but I don’t think she meant any harm. I think she thought she was being clever, but she came off as vaguely offensive. She managed to recover and ask her real question, though, and because the cast is professional they kept good poker faces and moved on quickly. Also, props to Chris Hardwick for continuing to be the Best Moderator Ever.

When we left 6BCF we headed over to Analog Bar for the Supernatural Wayward Cocktails party, which we also attended last year. This year’s party was more low key than last year’s but we had fun catching up with a friend that we made last year. We called it an early night because the day had been quite packed with panels and excitement, and we were exhausted.

FRIDAY

I woke up feeling pretty run down already and took my time getting ready in the morning. My brother arrived from LA so we chatted for a bit before I headed over to the convention center. As I was walking there from the Marriott I realized that people walking toward me kept recognizing one of the three people walking directly in front of me…and then I realized it was John Freaking Barrowman. !!! What a great celeb sighting.  🙂 I walked the show floor by myself for a bit and then went back to the hotel to sit and rest. Because I wasn’t feeling great I decided not to run myself down even more by giving into FOMO. Taking care of myself was more important than walking around and seeing ALL THE THINGS.

My friend and I had tickets to the Stephen Amell and Friends panel at Nerd HQ at 3pm, so we met up there for what ended up being another SDCC 2016 favorite of mine. Barrowman, high heeled shoes, fart stories, the “CW smolder”…if you’re an Arrow fan, definitely take 45 minutes to watch the full panel online.

After that panel I was even more tired, so I went up to the hotel room and rested for a couple hours. I do want to mention one problem we discovered with staying in the Marriott Marquis & Marina’s South Tower: the lines for the elevator are EPIC. At one point I set a timer on my phone to see how long it would take my husband to get to our 10th floor room and back. It took him 33.5 minutes—and he took the stairs down 10 flights on the way back because the elevator was taking too long! In all fairness, he did take a quick shower in the room but that probably accounted for about five minutes. The last time we stayed at the MMM we were in the North Tower and did not have this problem with the elevators, and I heard from a friend who stayed in the North Tower this year that she never had any trouble with elevator lines. The lines actually became a major problem for me because I got anxiety about waiting and having to go to the bathroom and possibly getting stuck in a crowded elevator. Now, that’s just my own issue that I need to work through, but I found myself avoiding going up to the room at times because I couldn’t handle the elevator situation. I would even go so far as to say I wouldn’t want to stay at the hotel again because of it—at least, not in the South Tower. Maybe that tower has fewer guest rooms, or maybe the hotel puts more people sharing rooms in that tower so the rooms are packed to the gills? Who knows.

On Friday night we ate dinner at the MMM’s Marina Kitchen and then moved to the pool bar for drinks. Seeing as how there were three PokeStops at the pool (and they were constantly lured) we spent a fair amount of time playing Pokemon Go.  🙂  By the way, we were also able to access those three PokeStops from our room, so we got super spoiled!

SATURDAY

I woke up feeling even worse than I had on Friday, despite the fact that I didn’t overtax myself and had even rested in the room. So I had a slow start again and only spent a little time walking the show floor before I felt like I needed to go back to the room and sleep. While my friend and I were on the floor, we did get to see Chris Pine walk by the Sideshow booth on his way to the DC booth for an appearance to promote Wonder Woman, so that was cool!

I had wanted to go to a bunch of panels in Ballroom 20 on Saturday (Grimm and all of the CW’s DC shows) but I just wasn’t up for the line situation. The weather was hotter than usual this year and I don’t do well in extreme temperatures, plus my IBD was acting up due to the stress of Comic-Con. I didn’t have an appetite so I wasn’t eating much and consequently had even less energy than usual. So I spent quite awhile napping and playing Pokemon Go alone in the hotel room until I felt energized enough to join my husband, brother, and friends down at the pool. While we were hanging out there I spotted Joss Whedon walking through the pool area. I literally pointed and exclaimed “JOSS WHEDON!” Another excellent sighting.

Saturday was my brother’s birthday so that night we hung out at the lobby bar in the Grand Hyatt next door to our hotel—we hadn’t been to that bar before and it was a nice change of scenery because we’d been spending so much time at the Marriott. The place had plenty of available tables when we first arrived, but by the time we left it had really filled up and the noise level had reached a serious roar. We spent plenty of time playing Pokemon Go because there were PokeStops nearby, but we also managed to sneak some conversation in too.  🙂

SUNDAY

Oh, the final day of SDCC. Always a sad day. Despite having slept terribly, I woke up feeling better than I had the last two days—a nice surprise. Last year, Sunday was my worst day physically and emotionally, so I was happy to not feel like hot garbage on day four this time around. My friend and John and I walked the show floor some more and then I went back to rest in the Marriott lobby before the Nerd HQ Supernatural panel at 3pm. Last year I felt so crappy on Sunday that I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to make it to that same panel, but I did manage to go and have a great time. This year I was in much better shape and got through the panel with minimal anxiety (always a concern for me). And the panel, as per usual, was hilarious. Put Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, and Mark Sheppard in a room together with no moderator and they can riff off each other for hours. You can watch the full panel here.

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After the Supernatural panel I went to walk the show floor one last time before it closed, but I didn’t stay long because some of the vendors were starting to pack up and it got a little depressing. John and our friend were hanging out at the pool but it was too hot out for me, so I found a comfy chair in the Marriott near some Pokemon Go players and we all sat there catching Pokemon and chatting about the game. This is one of the things I love about Comic-Con (and Pokemon Go does it too): it creates an atmosphere in which I feel completely comfortable talking to strangers!

Once it cooled down outside I joined my group by the pool and we opened up some Funko Game of Thrones Mystery Minis we had bought. My friend headed to the airport for her redeye flight, and John and I and his brother went out for pizza at Flour and Barley, located in The Headquarters at Seaport Village, a new-ish shopping and dining center on the other side of the Grand Hyatt.

Our flight was on Monday at 12:45pm, but by the time we arrived at our gate the flight had been delayed until 4pm due to some crazy storms headed to New York. Had we taken that flight we wouldn’t have gotten home until around 2am, so we said fuck it and changed our flight to Tuesday. We booked a room at the Hilton Bayfront so we could scope it out as a possible hotel for SDCC next year, and we liked it! We basically spent most of the day chilling in the room; I played Pokemon Go (we could access a PokeStop from our room) and John did some work. That evening we went to dinner at The Blind Burro and then had a couple drinks at the pool bar at our hotel. Although being in San Diego just after Comic-Con has ended can be super depressing, we ended up being glad we had that extra day to come down from it all. We really needed it!

I didn’t do a great job of taking photos of cosplayers this year, but I would like to share pics of a few that I really liked.

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Not a clue who these guys are, but well done, I say!

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Hulk and Cap

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Daenerys and Melisandre

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Maester Qyburn and Cersei (with a small pot of wildfire)…these guys legit looked like the characters!!

A Comic-Con recap post wouldn’t be complete without talking about this year’s haul.  🙂

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I bought some of these items myself and others were surprise gifts from my sweet husband, which totally cheered me up when I wasn’t feeling 100%. He got me the GoT coloring book, The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, the Beetlejuice Pop!, and three of the Series 3 GoT Mystery Minis. The SPN bag and cocktail shaker were swag from the Wayward Cocktails party, and I bought a Crowley-inspired scented candle from Salt & Burn, one of the party vendors. I also bought a Supernatural temporary tattoo which I meant to apply before the Sunday panel, but I completely forgot to do so!

Wanna see which Mystery Minis we got?

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Dany, Tyrion, 2 Sons of the Harpy, and a White Walker that my friend got and gave to us

I also bought myself a package of Vampire Kittens nail wraps from a vendor named Rebecca Hicks. These wraps are glow-in-the-dark. I’m very excited about them!

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Last but not least, my husband surprised me with these adorable t-shirts from Turtle vs. Bunny that we can wear to next year’s con. I had seen these while walking the floor and actually almost bought myself the exact shirt that John picked out for me…he knows me so well.  🙂  We wore the shirts together on Monday as one last Comic-Con hurrah.

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In case you wanted to know what the Hall H chute area looks like after all the people have left and the tents have been taken down, here you go:

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I carried my SDCC 2016 Bingo card around with me the whole time and crossed some things off but I never got bingo. In fact, no one in my little group of friends got bingo, but my husband got close—all he needed was to see a White Walker cosplayer.

All in all, year eight was a bit of a mixed bag for me. We got really lucky with a lot of things like our hotel, getting tickets to two Nerd HQ panel tickets, the WB con bag, and not having to wait on long ass lines for any panels on Thursday. But then the stress of it all made me feel like crap so I had to slow my roll, as the kids say. I am quite proud of myself for recognizing that if I let FOMO take over I would wear myself out and then feel even worse. Even though you want to get out there and see all the panels and buy all the toys, honestly, most of the panels end up online and so do most of the toys unless they’re a con exclusive. In the end I was okay with the fact that I only saw some of the panels I had wanted to attend; resting allowed me to pace myself and helped me avoid becoming a super grump (which definitely happened last year).

One last thing to note about Comic-Con 2016: the attendance level seemed to be down, even though I doubt that was actually the case. I mentioned that the show floor seemed oddly sparse, which is not a word I would have thought I’d ever use to describe SDCC. Of course there were huge crowds of people around big-ticket booths like The Walking Dead, the WB booth during autograph signings, and the Marvel booth during giveaways, but both my friend and I remarked that it was actually quite easy to get around some parts of the show floor. Maybe many attendees decided to spend more time at offsites and activations than usual? Or maybe a lot of attendees spent more time on the fringes of the convention center waiting on lines for big panels, autographs, and vendor exclusives? I don’t know, but the attendance felt a little…off this year and I’ve seen a couple other blogs mention the same thing. Strange…

Adios, Comic-Con. Until 2017…

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