Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.
It was the best of cons, it was the worst of cons, it was the age of fan celebration, it was the age of crass commercialism, it was the epoch of true believers, it was the epoch of sell outs, it was the season of the nerd, it was the season of Hollywood.
Never before had I felt such a sense of belonging accompanied by one that I was out of place.
San Diego Comic-Con 2011: After a day of conducting press interviews and covering panels, I hit The Con floor to pick up some swag before booths closed. There were more than 130,000 attendees and I think I bumped into every single one of them. My eyes were in constant danger from too-close interactions with passing wings, lightsabers, claws and more than a few Dalek protrusions – and I had no Nick Fury patch to cover any resulting eye loss.
Despite the threat, and claustrophobia, I felt I was with my people.
With a newly acquired foam Sword of Omens from “ThunderCats” and an Oscorp Industries ID badge from Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” display, I headed to the Hard Rock Hotel across the street from the convention center in pursuit of a Her Universe “Sharktopus” tee from the Syfy shop.
People lined up outside a Hard Rock club, and my finely-tuned instinct to pursue free food and booze (when not pursuing swag) kicked in. An SUV limo pulled up, the very important posse of a very important person filed into the club, and the nerds outside were left with a snapshot of a celeb and an encounter with the superhero of the Con’s party circuit – the Velvet Rope Guardian.
The message is clear: This is not for you, you don't belong, return to the your area. FULL POST
After hearing so much about San Diego Comic-Con, you may be considering attending next year. If so, here are a few helpful pointers:
Start planning early - like, now:
No trip to Comic-Con can be spur of the moment. Tickets go on sale months ahead of time–and usually sell out instantaneously. Once you have those tickets, you will want to lay out your plan of attack for the time you're there, not to mention figure out your accommodations, a separate battle.
Lines, lines, everywhere a line:
The lines at Comic-Con, especially for Hall H, make theme park lines seem like a breeze. This year, the line-to-line-up for Hall H serpentined past the convention center and around the back of the gigantic hotel next door - at 6 a.m. People sleep out there. Unless you have no interest in any major panels, you will wait in line seemingly endlessly. See this as a chance to get to know your fellow Con-goers.
Bring along a Con-veteran:
It can be a tremendous help if you have a friend with you who has been there and done that. It can get difficult flying blind. Especially with rumors of crowds pushing the 200,000 mark, if you don't know where you're going you may have no choice about where you end up.
Plan your day wisely:
"Never do anything before 11," said Geek and Sundry's Felicia Day. "And make sure you have dinner with the people you really want to catch up with. You can go from thing to thing and be so frenzied about it. Make your Con about things you really love, because there's so much to distract you."
Stake out specific panels:
The nichiest of niche panels exist at Comic-Con, such as the "Ball Jointed Doll Collectors Group" or "The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics 'Zombies' Panel." Look hard enough and you may find one for you, with a much shorter line to get in.
Prepare to geek out:
"You get to meet your heroes. It doesn't matter if you're here or if you're Peter Jackson," remarked "Doctor Who" star Matt Smith. "I bet Peter Jackson saw someone and said, 'Wow, you're here, too. Cool.' "
Whether it's going to a panel for something you like or finding a toy or comic book you've been looking for, prepare to squee.
See you at Comic-Con 2013!
"Mythbuster" Adam Savage has a true appreciation for costuming.
"I have several different suits and pieces of armor," he said as he prepped his Comic-Con 2012 costume, "and I've never seen anything like this quality."
"You could go to battle in this," he said.
Every year, Savage combines his love of costuming and Comic-Con with a special opportunity for "Mythbusters" fans. He calls it #adamincognito. Fans follow his Twitter to get clues about his costume and once Savage hits the exhibition floor, they try to find him out in person.
This year's #adamincognito costume was a Ringwraith from "Lord of the Rings." The armor was hand-made by Scott Maple from Kropserkle in Canada.
Once decked out in full Nazgul regalia, Savage had to get all seven feet of his costume into the convention center from his room in the adjacent Marriott Marquis hotel. His assistant carried his Comic-Con badge so it wouldn't be obvious who was in the costume.
Savage was able to walk from the far end of the exhibit floor until, rather appropriately, the Weta Workshop and "Hobbit" booths before being found out. The winners of the challenge got passes to see the "Mythbusters" panel.
Fans oohed, aahed, screamed and at times cried on Saturday afternoon in San Diego Comic-Con's famed Hall H.
It wasn’t a swoon-worthy "Twilight" panel causing all the ruckus though.
The long-awaited "Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was one of several upcoming movies being teased with appearances by cast and crew. Hall H lived up to its reputation as a place where nerd dreams come true, if the reaction of the crowd - many of whom had been in line for hours - was any indication. Both Sir Ian McKellen and surprise guest Elijah Wood received standing ovations.
In the case of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic, the fans’ reactions - and dogged faithfulness to the characters - often go back to their early years.
"I've been a huge fan of 'The Hobbit' since I was 5 or 6, when my dad read it to me," said Antonio Cazzato of Santa Cruz, California.
"I love 'The Hobbit,'" said comic book artist Holly Golightly. "I remember reading in our class. … It changed my life. Those books are the reason that I'm a comic book artist. To see a glimpse of something that might inspire me and give me a lift - I think 'The Hobbit' (film) is going to be one of them."
George R. R. Martin, author of the "Game of Thrones" book series, was similarly inspired by Tolkien.
"I'm a huge fan of Peter Jackson. I love the 'Lord of the Rings' movies," he said. "I love what I've seen of 'The Hobbit' so far, so I'm looking forward to that one enormously." FULL POST
Fighting through the throngs of revelers at San Diego’s packed convention center during Comic-Con can be a harrowing experience - an overwhelming crush of sharp elbows and gigantic swag bags.
It's worth the hassle for plenty of pop culture fans. But lately, some pass-holders are happy to escape the panel lines and exhibition hall (which is as humid as any Florida afternoon) even though they likely spent $175 on admission.
Welcome to the party across the street - and even down the block. There's a slew of scheduled events and multi-day hangouts outside the venue that celebrate comic books and nerdery. FULL POST