San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Recap

I’m pleased to report that I returned from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con feeling much happier than I did last year! The 2016 con was pretty rough for me, and by the end of it I felt like I didn’t know how many more of these I could take. Fortunately 2017 turned out to be way better, even though the exhibit hall mostly looked like this:

ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME

Beware: extremely long post ahead with lots of pics!!

TUESDAY

John and I had originally booked our flight to San Diego together, but he had to leave a day later than planned because of his workload. I decided to keep my Tuesday flight and got up at 3:15am for a 6:20am flight out of Dulles (which is twice as far from my apartment as Reagan). So as soon as I dropped my bags off in my room at the Manchester Grand Hyatt I went to the market in the lobby to get an iced coffee, then rested in the room for a bit because I had been up since 12:15am California time.

My brother-in-law and his lady friend arrived not long after me so we hung out by the pool in the afternoon. Then in the evening we went to Seaport Village, located right behind our hotel, for a wine tasting at San Pasqual Winery Tasting Room. After that we had a drink at the Top of the Hyatt bar on the 40th floor of our hotel, which has such a great view of the city!

WEDNESDAY

John, my brother, and our other friend K weren’t arriving until later in the day so I had a free morning. I went to Ralph’s to buy water and snacks and spotted this Jurassic Park Jeep as I was waiting to cross the street:

The driver seemed legit thrilled that I was excited about his car.

In the afternoon, a friend that I made on Twitter a couple years ago arrived at her hotel, so I headed over there to finally meet her (and several of her friends) in person! It’s funny how comfortable you can feel meeting someone for the first time after interacting so much online. Because her birthday is at the end of the month, her hotel had brought up a bottle of sparkling wine! So she cracked that open and we all toasted to her upcoming birthday. She and her buddies all had preview night badges (meanwhile, me and John and the rest of our group only managed to get Thursday and Sunday badges) so I headed back to my hotel and they went off to preview night.

My brother arrived in the early evening and we grabbed dinner at the sports bar in our hotel. On our way there we passed a group of about 20 teenage girls hanging out by the side entrance of our hotel, and I realized they were there to stalk celebrities. I noticed a black Suburban just outside and spotted Tyler Posey from Teen Wolf entering the car. A group of girls literally hung out in our hotel lobby over the next few days and took up a lot of the seats and outlets there, which was kind of annoying. I guess at this point most of the major hotels near the convention center are hotspots for celebrity stalkers, so what can you do. K and John also arrived later that evening, so we all hung out and had drinks in the lobby bar at the Hyatt.

THURSDAY

Finally, the first actual day of Comic-Con for me! I went to our hotel market to get an espresso and spotted Andrew Bowser from the Bizarre States podcast, which I’ve been binge listening to over the past couple of weeks. Also, Michael Easton (Tanner Scofield from Days of Our Lives, for those of you who watched the show in the 90s!) was dining in the breakfast room. Off to a good start!

We began our day at the con by trying to get our official bags and lanyards, but for some reason there was like an hourlong line to pick those up. In the past all you needed to do was walk into the Sails Pavilion and get them—a five minute process, tops. The communication of which lines were for what was really off, so I don’t know if the bag/lanyard pickup line was legit. I feel like people were waiting because at this point everyone expects a line for everything at SDCC. Anyway, we decided to get our bags and lanyards later and headed to the exhibit hall floor, which was pretty crazy busy for a Thursday morning. But first, a photo op in front of the official SDCC step and repeat!

Nerd love.

K and I wandered the show floor a bit and when I went off to find a bathroom I saw the cast of It coming out to the WB booth to do a signing (I am very excited for that movie!!). The floor was so annoyingly crowded that we ended up leaving the convention center to check out the Netflix offsite at the Hilton Gaslamp. When we first got there we saw a pair of incredible cosplayers (pictured below) waiting in line. You can find the Demogorgon on Instagram @the_reel_guy (I know, it’s hilarious that I just typed that phrase). No joke, he had twinkly lights in his torso! So good. It was pretty hot out so the poor monster had sweat dripping from his crotch. #cosplaylife

Just…wow. Well done, guys!

Netflix did such an amazing job with their offsite! First we walked around the installation for the upcoming movie Bright starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, which looks cool—sort of a gritty LA cop movie mashed up with fantasy and magical elements.

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton’s costumes from Bright

We got spray-on Bright tattoos, picked up t-shirts promoting the show, and checked out the costumes and creepy sets on display. Then we waited in line for a couple different rooms that held all kinds of Stranger Things props and sets, which were so awesome!

Dustin’s costume from Stranger Things

Eleven’s costume from Stranger Things

Biking into Hawkins!

Just chilling on the Byers’ couch, waiting for Will to send us a message from the Upside Down.

We answered a very easy trivia question (“What’s the name of the character with supernatural powers?”) and got to pick out a little swag gift! We were able to choose from a t-shirt, a memorial Barb candle, a Demogorgon Funko Pop keychain, or an Eleven Funko Pop keychain. We each picked the Eleven keychain because she’s the best.

After Netflix we headed back to the convention center to see what the Ballroom 20 line was like because there was a Battlestar Galactica reunion panel there at 2:30pm. Oddly, there was literally no line when we arrived around 12:45ish. Along with about ten other people we got in line and then were allowed into the room about five minutes later…which was like, the easiest Ballroom 20 line ever! So the first panel we got to see this year was The Great Debate with John Hodgman hosting. Panelists John Barrowman (always super entertaining), Charlie Jane Anders, Orlando Jones (wearing an amazing hat), Aisha Tyler, and Adam Savage) debated a range of geeky topics and the audience voted for the winner of each debate. Charlie Jane Anders ended up as the overall winner because she killed it with her arguments. Well done! Needless to say, it was a really fun panel.

The Great Debate

The BSG reunion panel was just as fun, with a solid cast showing (Tricia Helfer, Mary McDonnell, Grace Park, Tahmoh Penikett, Aaron Douglas, and Michael Trucco) alongside creators Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. Edward James Olmos sent in a video greeting and offered some kind words about the dearly departed Richard Hatch, probably BSG’s biggest cheerleader. So say we all.

Tahmoh Penikett and Grace Park

After BSG we headed to room 6BCF and caught part of the Timeless panel (which, p.s., I now want to watch) before the Ghosted panel, which I really wanted to check out because it’s a new show starring Adam Scott and Craig Robinson. I hadn’t realized they were going to screen the full pilot for us, so that was a nice surprise! To be honest, the pilot was not great—but it certainly has potential. I don’t mean to make it sound like the pilot was bad; I just didn’t have that feeling of “wow, this is something truly special.” Not all great shows have phenomenal pilots, so I’m definitely rooting for this one! And of course, the panel after the screening was fun…with those two guys together, how can it not be?

Ghosted panel

After Ghosted, John, K, and I finally picked up our lanyards and con bags (I got Blade Runner 2049, but my bro-in-law had gotten Supernatural so he gave it to me!) without having to wait in a long ass line. Then K and I headed back to the show floor and wandered a bit. And we almost died when we spotted Justin Theroux signing autographs at the WB booth!

OH HEY JUSTIN

Justin was signing along with the rest of the voice actors from The Lego Ninjago Movie, including so many awesome people: Michael Peña, Olivia Munn, Dave Franco, Abbi Jacobson (I HEART BROAD CITY SO MUCH and regret not going to the offsite), Zach Woods, and Kumail Nanjiani. There was an epic amount of talent packed into that booth!

After walking the show floor we all headed to the Blind Burro for dinner, which is becoming an annual tradition. Post-Mexican food, we went back to our hotel for a drink in the lobby again, and with a solid first day at the con behind us, we melted into bed.

FRIDAY

First time at SDCC with no Friday or Saturday badges—what’s a girl to do?! Well, not a whole lot in the morning, actually. I decided to rest up so I wouldn’t burn myself out too quickly like I did last year. In the late morning I met up with John and we walked along the marina on our way to the Omni Hotel to check out the Wired Cafe. The marina was the most insane I’ve ever seen it! The Hall H next day line has turned into a literal carnival campground:

At least some people were having fun with it:

Hall H Lagoon!

Fort Kick-Ass

I’d heard about Wired Cafe for years but never tried going before. I had found out from my Twitter friend, A, that you have to RSVP via a secure link in advance, so she helped me out with that. I had also heard that the line can be long to get into the cafe, but once John and I arrived we only waited about ten minutes before getting in! They offer free drinks but we weren’t ready for booze yet, so we just hung out and soaked up the scene. At one point the Wired editor-in-chief and Jamie Chung from the new Fox show The Gifted came out with a cake and sparkling wine to celebrate Wired Cafe’s 10th anniversary, so we sang Happy Birthday along with the other guests.

After Wired my feet were hurting so I decided to head back to the hotel to rest. As I exited the elevator on my floor, I was surprised to see Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon from The Flash) coming around the corner! I couldn’t help but geek out a little—it’s exceedingly rare to encounter a celebrity at Comic-Con when literally no one else is around. I said, “Oh! I love The Flash, you’re one of my favorite characters on the show!” (This is 100% true…Cisco is The Best.) He thanked me and was very sweet about it. I hesitated for a second because I wanted to ask him to take a selfie, but I decided against it because he’d have enough of that to deal with over the next couple days. I’m sure he would have taken a pic with me, but I just said “enjoy!” and then left him to get on the elevator. So that was an awesome, totally random Comic-Con experience!

After resting in the room, I reconvened with my friends in the lobby and headed to the Spreckels Theater for a taping of Conan with the Game of Thrones cast. This is the third year in a row that Conan has taped shows at SDCC, and tickets are quite hard to come by because Comic-Con…but we were fortunate enough to be able to go this year! And that was another completely awesome experience, especially since we didn’t have Friday badges so we had no way of even trying to see the Game of Thrones panel in Hall H that day. The cast that showed up was pretty epic (a word I am going to continue using in this post!): Alfie Allen, Jacob Anderson, John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Conleth Hill, Sophie Turner and Isaac Hempstead Wright, with a “surprise” appearance by Kristian Nairn, aka Hodor! I say “surprise” in quotes because I had kind of assumed there would be a surprise appearance, and the second Conan started asking Isaac about his sadly sacrificed friend Hodor I knew he’d come out on stage. Anyway, here’s my shitty pic of a lot of awesome people:

Game of Thrones cast on Conan

You can watch clips from the episode here. At the end of the taping they gave each audience member a limited edition, SDCC exclusive Conan White Walker Funko Pop! So exciting! As soon as we left the theater, there were a ton of people waiting outside offering $80 for a Pop, which I’m sure is great if you hate Pops and love money. I just looked on eBay and these things are selling for $135-200+! But I collect Pops and love GoT, so this one’s mine!

After Conan we headed to Buca di Beppo for a big group birthday dinner for A and her friend R. I love meeting other nerds so it was lovely to hang out with a bunch of new people and geek out about everything we’d seen at the con so far! After Buca, my little group and I headed to Altitude Sky Lounge at the Marriott Gaslamp because we’ve been going there at least once every year. We were pretty tired so after a drink there we headed back to the hotel, but not before swinging by the Children’s Museum to peek at the Zac Levi’s SyFy celebrity nerd party first. We caught a glimpse of Stephen Amell and Grace Park out on the terrace! There was no way we were getting into that party—though a sketchy guy was trying to sell us what he claimed was a pass—so we went back to the hotel and crashed.

SATURDAY

Another day, another lack of badge! Saturday was Pokémon Go Fest, so I did a little Pokémon catching in Seaport Village in the morning to contribute. And Mario Kart drove by because Comic-Con:

I also spent some quality resting time in the room before going back to Wired Cafe. This time I went with my brother, K, and her boyfriend who had arrived late Friday night. And then this guy showed up:

Yes, that is a shirt made of different Nic Cage pics. The guy had it custom made for SDCC. It’s hilarious, and I love it.

A and a bunch of her friends also came to Wired so we chatted with them for awhile, then went back to the hotel to chill out by the pool. I went back up to the room to rest again, and K texted me that she had seen Misha Collins (Castiel on Supernatural) checking in to our hotel!

When John and I went down to the lobby to meet our friends for dinner, Misha was there taking pics with fans. Though I normally don’t ask celebrities for photos, I decided I couldn’t pass this opportunity up. So when Misha finished talking to a couple other people I asked him if he’d mind taking a pic, and he kindly obliged. John snapped this photo of us:

Me & Cas!

So…that was awesome. Misha had gone outside by the time K came downstairs to meet us, but when we went outside he was there waiting for a car and talking to fans again. Because K is a fan of Supernatural too she wanted to get a pic, so we went over there and waited very awkwardly for a few minutes until this one girl stopped talking to him. Finally K had an opportunity to ask him for a photo so I took a couple of them together.  🙂

We ate dinner at the Marriott Marina Kitchen and then strolled to the Hilton Bayfront, where A and her friends were also headed. We started off with drinks at the Odysea lobby bar, then went down to Slamcon, a party at the pool bar. Fun times with good people!

SUNDAY

K and I had decided to try to get into Hall H for the Supernatural panel at 10:30am because in the past couple years we’d seen tweets that said you could just walk right in in the morning. Normally Hall H involves camping out the entire day prior, as you saw above, but there was no way in hell we were going to do that. We figured we’d swing by and check out the line, and if we couldn’t get in, no big deal. We met in the lobby and grabbed breakfast to go, then ran into Misha again on our way out of the hotel and said hi. It got to the point where we both worried about running into him again because he might think we were stalkers, haha.

We walked along the marina to the end of the Hall H line and got there around 8:30 or 8:45am, where we immediately found a volunteer distributing wristbands that guaranteed access to the first panel of the day. !!! I guess not enough people camped out the day before or something? It seemed a little too easy, but the line kept moving and we were seated in Hall H by 10am. We were way in the back of the room but we didn’t care about that; if you’re die hard and want to have a good seat you really have to camp out.

Volunteers handed out Supernatural t-shirts to everyone on the way into Hall H, which was an excellent surprise! They haven’t done that at any Supernatural panels I’ve attended before. K and I noticed there were no table and chairs on the stage as per usual for panels—there were some things draped in black but we couldn’t tell what they were from our seats. At 10:30am, a WB exec came on stage and made some announcements (Supernatural is the longest-running genre show on network TV, hooray!). Then she asked if we were all ready for something really, really big and everyone started hooting and hollering and the lights went out.

They played a short video of Jared and Jensen sitting in Baby and talking about driving to Comic-Con. Then these curtains all around the edge of the room started to pull back and reveal huge wraparound screens displaying graphics from the show. Then, “Carry On Wayward Son” (the show’s unofficial theme song) started to play and the lights came up…and it took a couple seconds for me to realize that KANSAS WAS PLAYING THE SONG LIVE ON STAGE!!!

Hall H went fucking nuts.

Thousands of people lost their minds.

People were screaming and crying and dancing, and it was FUCKING EPIC. I have a video clip that in no way demonstrates the magnitude and energy of the moment:

Seriously, that was one of the best things I’ve ever seen in nine years of attending Comic-Con. The CW blew Hall H’s minds with this panel kickoff! The panel itself was a hell of a lot of fun, of course, because when you  get Jared and Jensen and Misha in a room together, all kinds of silliness ensues.

The Brothers Winchester

Jared confessed that during the Kansas performance, the three of them were watching from the back of the room. Which turned out to have been like ten rows behind where K and I were sitting. !!!! Here’s a short clip that shows the immersive video screens all around Hall H (though you really don’t get a sense of scale unless you’re there):

It’s hard to top a panel like that!

After the epic Hall H experience, K and I went back to the exhibit hall to explore some more, but it was so damn crowded that I just wasn’t into it. I am usually on the hunt for some Funko Pops and Mystery Minis, but this year I couldn’t deal with the crowds and I literally bought nothing. I feel like there was a lot of shoving this year, like the con has begun attracting rude dicks.

I headed up to room 6A at 1:00pm for the Bizarre States live podcast panel, which was, as expected, quite entertaining. I did duck out to see if I could get into room 8 for the Mr. Mercedes panel but the line was long and the room looked pretty full. I hadn’t even realized there was a TV adaptation of this Stephen King detective novel until I looked through the SDCC schedule. I’ve read the first two books in the trilogy and enjoyed them so I was hoping to see the panel but it didn’t work out. I didn’t mind, though, because I went right back to Bizarre States.

Once I left Bizarre States, I was basically done. I went back to the hotel room and rested, and then it was time to say goodbye to my brother, K, and her boyfriend. John and I went to dinner at Cafe Coyote in Old Town with his brother and cousin, then came back to the hotel and watched Game of Thrones—a fitting end to an incredibly fun, geeky trip.

Because I didn’t spend a ton of time on the show floor this year, I don’t have a lot of good pics of fun toys and stuff, but I will share some pics of some great cosplayers I saw…

A stroller modified to look like the Mystery Machine. I didn’t pay attention to the baby, but I have to assume he/she was dressed as Daphne:

Another very creative stroller modification! The kid in the stroller dressed as a Chewbacca Funko Pop is incredible on his own, but the three adoring zombie girls surrounding him? I mean…SDCC doesn’t get much better than this.

Amazing Amazons

Found these wonderful Handmaids at the Wired Cafe:

Piety really doesn’t suit me. I acted out by giving an abortion protestor the middle finger the next day.

I am Groot.

Spotted this cosplayer in line for the Netflix offsite. SO GOOD. Check out her Instagram @ahoymaddie—she has a meta pic of herself sitting on the Byers’ couch while in costume. 

Here I am wearing my Supernatural shirt from the panel and holding my Supernatural con bag. Season 13, baby!

Though I didn’t buy anything at SDCC, I still came back with a bunch of stuff. (I did actually buy the pair of underwater socks pictured below, but I got those at the airport the day we left). We had bought a bunch of cool stuff last month at Awesome Con, so I think that might have temporarily sated my desire for geek shit.

I brought home three free t-shirts (Bright, Supernatural, and Mr. Mercedes) plus two free Funko Pops and a free Funko Pop keychain. John traded his White Walker Conan for The Flash Conan with a guy we started talking to Friday night in our hotel lobby. The little redhead keychain you see next to the Eleven Pop keychain is a Rowena figure from a Monogram International Supernatural blind bag that John bought for me. I’d never seen these before and they are clearly trying to hop on the Funko bandwagon, but they’re cute nonetheless! And this year, everyone received one of six DC character metal pins along with their con bag—I got The Flash and John got Arrow! I’ll be sending The Flash to my friend because her son loves him, but we’re keeping Arrow.  🙂

John also bought a horror Funko Mystery Mini box—he had been looking for them and didn’t really see many, which is odd because in previous years they’ve been everywhere. And we got Alex from A Clockwork Orange!

A few parting thoughts about SDCC 2017: first, I believe I fared much better this year partly because of our hotel. The Marriott Marquis and Marina was a massive shitshow last year, and the few times I went inside it this year it didn’t seem any better. The Marriott’s elevator lines last year caused me so much anxiety, but the Hyatt fortunately had no elevator lines. I would definitely put the Hyatt at the top of our hotel list for next year. It’s great because it’s close enough to walk to the convention center without wearing yourself out in transit, but it’s not so close that it’s filled with tons of people all the time.

The lines at the convention center were just odd—I mentioned the whole thing about the line just to pick up bags and lanyards. That baffled me. Why create a situation in which people end up wasting an hour of their day waiting to pick up standard con items? And there was apparently one line that some people were waiting on thinking it was for bags and lanyards, while others thought it was for Hall H. The line management seemed particularly poor this year, and there were also some Hall H line cutters and apparently fake Hall H wristbands at least one day. Way to ruin the fun for legit attendees, people.

I mentioned in my recap last year that attendance seemed down—well, I would say the opposite this year. The show floor was incredibly busy every time I went there, even on Thursday and Sunday, which are days that I think traditionally have lower attendance. Maybe fewer people were going to panels due to lines and decided to walk the floor instead? Maybe more of this year’s attendees were there to shop for exclusives they could turn around and sell on eBay? The marina and Gaslamp also seemed crazier than usual, so I wonder if more locals have started coming downtown to partake in the SDCC of it all. I’m sure it’ll all remain a mystery.

All I know is that I had an excellent time at SDCC this year and physically felt a whole lot better than I did last year, which helped my enjoyment immensely. I am very much looking forward to going next year, which will mark my tenth year in a row!!

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