SDCC Day 2: Thursday, July 12, 2012

We know it’s been ages, but it’s finally time to continue our San Diego Comic-Con blog. We feel a deep shame for taking so long to continue the journal, but with the craziness that is life, we have been unable to write. Luckily for you, we our continuing to spill our guts about the most awesome time of our lives! We’ll pick up right where we left off.

After an exhausting first day of pillaging the booths in the Exhibitor’s Hall, we decided to start off Thursday morning with a bit more of a casual approach – try being the key word. “Sleeping in” until 5am was a popular thought amongst Town and Country guests. I know this because sharing water with 500 people ended in very cold, Titanic proportions. It was quite possibly the worst time bathing I have ever had, but I was determined not to go to the convention contributing to the “Comic-Con smell.” Plus, I tried to look at it as training for the impending zombie apocalypse. After dragging Adrian out of bed (hair-first, as to avoid injury), we made our way to the breakfast hall, which was the same hall we completed registration in. This meant eating breakfast to more epic music (cue Danny Elfman’s Batman Animated and John Williams’ Superman theme). The free breakfast buffet that came with our hotel package was really good, too. Fruit, potatoes, sausage… we digress. The point is, it was a great way to start the day.

As we took the shuttle to the Convention Center, we had only a few priorities. Thursday at Comic Con is usually pretty slow. Today’s agenda included: Batmobiles, DC Comic’s Batman and the Court of Owls panel, a Q&A session with The Walking Dead brain trust, and The Walking Dead Escape. Okay, so that may not sound like a slow day, but compared to the rest of the trip, this was cake.

The Batmobiles were displayed behind the Convention Center right by the San Diego Hilton Bayfront. It was beeeauuutifulll! Warner Bros. had put on a display of five different Batmobiles used in the movies: the Hot Wheels Adam West-mobile, the Tim Burton Batmobile from the late 80’s film, Batman Forever Batmobile, Batman and Robin Batmobile, as well the Tumblers from the Nolan films.

Holy Batgasm, Batman!

It was truly a dream come true. We have never seen a Batmobile in person, so it took a lot of self-restraint not to jump in the car and drive away with a trail of fire behind us. Besides, we couldn’t; the keys weren’t in the ignition. As a consolation, we skipped from car to car, taking pictures and gawking at the Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-ness of it all.

Harley Quinn next to a Batmobile. What a little criminal!

After the festivities of checking out Batmobiles, we took a walk along the bay. It was quite beautiful and the only real time we had to experience California. We walked along the bay and got to see a bunch of boats and seagulls, and for just a moment, it was a relaxing, normal vacation.

But screw that crap. We were not delusional of the idea that Comic Con would be an overload of stimulation. So we started our trek back to the Convention Center. On the way, we ran into our first legit cosplayer. She was dressed as Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl from No Man’s Land. Sherif had a slight geek-out moment and Batgirl was very willing to take a picture with him.

A giddy Sherif and a non-mute Cassandra Cain.

However, Sherif did seem a bit disappointed that she talked to us (Cain’s character is a mute, duh).  We also ran into a woman who had turned her Big Bang Theory swag bag into a fashionable dress. This was the epitome of creativity.  We even saw KITT from Knight Rider driving around, blaring the theme song. If only the Hoff were driving. A nerd can dream… With quite a while to go until our panels started, we headed back into the Exhibitor’s Hall.

The first thing we wanted to check out was The Walking Dead’s Zombie Killing Machine. This Hyundai Genesis had been altered for zombie-killing efficiency. The prototype was designed by Robert Kirkman himself (the creator and writer of The Walking Dead) and created by the good folks at Hyundai. Why anybody would choose a Hyundai Genesis as their apocalypse ride of choice is another topic altogether, but it looked pretty badass: battering rams in the front, sniper hatch and party lights up top. It was pretty sweet.

Hyundai Zombie Killin’ Machine. Hop in baby, the apocalypse is here.

That’s also when we decided to order The Walking Dead Season 2 Blu-Ray set that comes with the RV Zombie. After re-watching the first episode of the second season, that scene with the RV Zombie was one of the scariest of the series. Getting to stab a zombie in the eye every time you want to watch an episode of Walking Dead is pretty rewarding. To further our Walking Dead excitement, the folks at AMC set up a display of Michonne, the cloaked warrior who saved Andrea at the end of Season 2. Just as in the comics, she had her two zombie pets on a chain. There was a pretty awesome photo op to become one of the two chained-up walkers, but the line made Space Mountain at Disneyland look like a cakewalk.

Our first panel of the convention was DC Comics: Tales from The Dark and The Edge.

Sherif was semi-interested in this panel, but really we were just staying in the room so we could get great seats for the Batman: Court of Owls panel.  Sitting in panels ahead of the one you actually want to see is a strategy that is completely abused at SDCC, but alas, we took part. The DC Comics panel had writers of a few of DC’s more obscure, but still awesome books. With all the success Jeff Lemire’s work (Animal Man and Justice League Dark) has garnered, there was a lot of talk about Rotworld, a current arc spanning Animal Man and Scott Synder’s Swamp Thing. Of all the writers, it was Jimmy Plamiotti (All-Star Western) that made the biggest impression on us. He’s a very decent guy, and a really funny guy. Although his All-Star Western really hadn’t impressed me, the guy who writes it did. So, I gave it another shot and it’s turned out to be quite a good book.

The next panel was MAD. The comics and the television show were both open for discussion. It was a fun panel, with lots of stories of “how far we’ve come,” explanations of crazy moments in time, and Dana Snyder’s impressions bringing the house down. Of all the panels, it was one of the most laid back we went to. They ran a few clips of comic book related shorts, as well as explained their process for making their animations. Our favorite moment, by far, was the fame-chasing blondie in a Wonder Woman outfit who came up to the podium looking for a handout (or handjob, who knows?) and a free demo after the panel. When the panelists politely side-steps with, “We can talk after the panel,” she says, “Where can we do it?” without missing a beat, which sends the ultra-nerd panelists into a speechless, red-faced state of being. If anything, I’ll give MAD a try once it comes back on September 13th.

After the MAD panel cleared the stage, we flew to the closest seats we could find for the Batman: Beyond the Court of Owls panel. Led by the creative team behind The New 52 Batman books, the Owls panel let into what was going to happen during the next arc for the Bat-family – the biggest news being the return of the Joker in the next Batman arc, titled “Death in the Family.” One of the best parts of these SDCC panels was finally getting to put a face and voice behind those who create the worlds we love so much. Scott Snyder’s announcement of a Talon book brought in tons of applause. We mention Talon in our Zero Issues blog, but it’s basically about a Talon from the Court of Owls who defects and is running from the organization. It’s really nice to see the Owls get some more love. Snyder and friends then brought out cases and cases of Owl masks for the crowd to wear. Our first legit piece of Comic-Con swag! Everybody had a moment and put our masks on in creepy fashion. We actually managed to get some pretty decent seats because you can see us on the picture that Scott Snyder tweeted of the room wearing Owl masks. All in all, it was one of my favorite panels, because it was one of the most intimate panels we sat through.

You can see us mostly because of Adrian’s hair. Far left and towards the middle. BAM! There we are. By the by, how fucking creepy.

The next panel up was The Walking Deadcomic panel. There was a lot of anticipation for this, since we had decided to forgo the TV show panel on Friday. The line was hundreds of people long; we were sure we wouldn’t get in. After more than an hour of waiting (which is modest considering some of the other things we waited for), we were finally let in to this massive room. We were a bit late, so we had to sit near the back of the room.

Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. Yeah, we were far away.

Then, it happens: writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard walk in very casually. They proceed to tell us that they have nothing planned for the hour, and that it would be a super-long Q&A session. This kinda caught me by surprise since the previous panels had a planned agenda, or free stuff, or at least something to say. They didn’t even allude to any future plans and they went as far as to condemn discussions about issue #100, released the previous day. So in that aspect, we were a bit disappointed. All that aside, hearing Kirkman and Adlard play off one another and tease each other was an amazing experience. There was also a pretty special moment when a fan who stepped up to the podium attempted to put her entire leg in her mouth, thanking Kirkman for writing a character whom, unbeknownst to her, had been brutally murdered in the 100th issue. Good job, kiddo!  Oh and don’t worry, we will review that issue very soon here.

With nothing really left to do until The Walking Dead Escapeat 9pm, we found ourselves with ample time to explore. We headed towards the autograph area to find anybody we wanted to get some signings from. Nobody in the Event Guide really sparked our interest, but as we were walking by, we saw a cute blonde talking to a person in an event shirt. When this cute blonde turned around, we found out that she was Clare Kramer! That’s right: Glorificus had graced us with her presence. And while Adrian was too shy to ask for anything, let alone introduce herself to Clare, I had to shove her in the right direction to get a signed picture and a keepsake on my phone of them. Clare even took a picture of Adrian’s peacock tattoo.  It reminded me a lot of The Dark Knight Rises swag bag incident the previous day. Sometimes we both need reassurance to do things we may not have the strength to do on our own. And luckily for both of us, we have each other to count on.

Glorificus and Adrian. Geeked!

After leaving the Convention Center, we took a walk through the Gaslamp District and the area surrounding Petco Park, the San Diego Padres’ stadium. We found this really neat, and expensive pizza place, where we watched Team USA Basketball take on the Dominican Republic in one of the most underwhelming games of the summer. After that, we tried to convince ourselves we weren’t too tired to run from zombies. But after a fifteen-hour day, it was difficult to convince ourselves otherwise.  We found out quickly that it wouldn’t be as difficult as it sounds. The Walking Dead Escape was one of the most thrilling and terrifying things we’ve ever done. So much so that it deserves its own post.

After the insanity that was the Escape, we were faced with a dilemma. The next day, it was planned that most of our time would be spent in Ballroom 20 to see a bunch of panels, namely the Firefly 10 Year Reunion. People were already camping out overnight. Not in the Convention Center, mind you, but on the nasty-ass ground outside. So either we go back to the hotel, shower, get a decent five hours of sleep, or we lay our sweaty, nasty selves on the concrete and guarantee we get the best spots for the panels the next day. Needless to say, we went back, showered and got some rest. And it wasn’t the worst mistake we could have made, because we did end up making it in the Ballroom.

That’s about it for the second day. We definitely got into the swing of things throughout the weekend, but a lot of it was trial and error. Stay tuned for Friday’s events. We promise it won’t take another month!

And we leave you with this… until next time!

Sherif is such a Brony. Cat’s out of the bag, mister.

SDCC Journal Day One by Adrian

So this is my first official post. I have been apart of Hush Comics since the beginning, but this is my first piece of writing I have contributed. And really, what a better way to start than writing about the ultimate nerdy thing: Comic-Con

Last year, about a week before Comic-Con started, I found out Sarah Michelle Gellar was going to be there. That’s right, Buffy Anne Summers herself; like in real life. I didn’t care that she wasn’t there representing Buffy. Rather, she was there talking about her show Ringer, which as it turned out, didn’t work too well for her because everyone knows she will always be Buffy, which is alright with me. Anyway, I scouted the Internet for tickets. I found a guy in San Diego who was selling them for a great price. But because we live in Denver, we couldn’t get him the money until the day Comic-Con started and apparently he had a problem with this because he sold the tickets to someone else. I have said for quite some time that if I ever met Sarah Michelle Gellar and Joss Whedon, I would be alright with dying because really, life can’t get much better after that. Well, thanks to the Craigslist asshat, I’ll have to postpone my death. But fear not! Sherif was determined for us to go this year.

He spent all morning online back in March to secure us our 4-day passes. Apparently, it was very confusing as to whether we actually got the passes. Sherif went on the message boards to ask how people knew they had gotten a pass. Someone responded to “Face it, you’re not going”. Sherif had a few choice words for him. But, we had indeed gotten the passes. Whilst in San Diego, we discussed taking a picture of Sherif standing outside of the Convention Center holding a sign that said, “I’m here, motherfucker” and e-mailing it to that guy. We decided against it.

The two days prior to is leaving for San Diego, I worked two 12 hour shifts in a row. Needless to say, Tuesday night, I was exhausted. Basically, this means I didn’t pack for the trip until early Wednesday morning. The benefit of being a super procrastinator is that I really didn’t pack anything I didn’t need. Otherwise, I could have ended up like this:

I packed just a few nerd t-shirts, some shorts and one pair of jeans. I wound up wearing those same jeans all 5 days because the Convention Center is fairly chilly. On the first day, I was wearing flip-flops (bad choice), jeans and a red-striped t-shirt. This made me stick out because I looked like I did not belong in the sea of nerds. Don’t worry: pictures are to come.

When we arrived in San Diego, we didn’t really know how we were going to get to our hotel, The Town and Country Resort. Little did we know that this city is prepared for Comic-Con. Super shuttles, busses and taxis are a plenty, and it was a quick trip from the airport to the hotel. We went to check in, and luckily, they were allowing check-in early that day, again because they are really prepared for the overwhelming amount of people who are coming in for the convention. At the check-in desk, the clerk told us that we could check-in for Comic-Con at the hotel as well. We were confused by this because every online source we had read said that registration for the convention was at the San Diego Convention Center. We inquired the clerk about it and he told us that all registration for Comic-Con was held at this hotel because this particular hotel used to hold Comic-Con when it first started in San Diego. I since have researched this, using the ever-trusty Wikipedia, and have found that the convention was never held there. But, what we found out that day was that registration for SDCC was at various locations, and our hotel was one of the many locations to register. We went to pick up our badges. After receiving them, we were directed to a room where a lot of people were waving lanyards, guide books and finally, the swag bags in our faces. We grabbed them all and were on our way to the line for the bus to take us to the actual Con.

Our fresh badges. Taken with Instagram.

Now these swag bags we received are huge. At my 5’6 stature, if I was wearing my bag on my shoulder, the bottom of the bag would hit the floor. I could fit in the bag and be pretty comfy. These things are built for the ultimate shopping spree. And this shopping spree would turn out to be much better than any I had ever dreamed of. The ones we received were the DC Nation bags. We were pretty excited because other people got Supernatural bags, and not knocking that show, but DC Nation was a better bag to get. Upon arriving downtown, we grabbed some grub and walked the bridge to get to the Convention Center. There were so many people, it was really unbelievable. I have never been in such a large crowd of people, and I’ve been to Manhattan, so that is really saying something. We navigated our way in to the Convention Center. The word huge cannot really describe how big this place is. Ginormous might work, but I still feel it falls short. Everyone was herded (I use the term herded because often times you are forced to be a sheep in crowd of sheep) upstairs to lead everyone away from the Exhibit Hall, which was closed until later in the evening. As we were walking down a long corridor, a fellow nerd approached us and asked if we could trade bags. He had a Supernatural bag. Because we had two of the same bag, he figured one of us could part. Sherif was kind and did. This long-haired man seemed very unassuming, but I caught on to him after I figured out the game. There were more than just DC Nation and Supernatural bags. There were Hobbit bags. There were Arrow, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, The Big Bang Theory, Fringe, and Man of Steel. But none compared to what Sherif wanted the most. It was the bag being handed out if you registered for your badge at the actual Convention Center. You guessed it: The Dark Knight Rises swag bag. After walking around the Con, we knew we had to get that bag. We realized that these bags were status symbols. The Vampire Diaries bag was the worst one to get. The best three were Man of Steel, The Hobbit and, well duh, The Dark Knight Rises. But there was no way we could trade up to that bag with a Supernatural bag. Not only that, but we were both especially shy to walk up to random strangers and ask for a trade. But thats when two random strangers walked up to us and started up a conversation. There names were Mark and John, ahem Sherif. They were there representing a comic shop in North Carolina. These two guys were so excited for the next 5 days; it was so nice to talk to them. They walked around and asked everyone in the vicinity with a TDKR bag to trade with Sherif because it was what he really wanted. In the mean time, people were constantly asking to trade with me. And then I realized the game is to ask people to trade if they look like they don’t belong. Well with my above mentioned outfit, I looked like I did not belong to this crowd, but indeed, I did. “Hell, no.” I would say to people who asked for my bag. At the same time that John, Sherif and I found a man with TDKR bag, Mark went to ask the main desk handing out the bags for a trade. The man we found accepted a trade, but only for my bag. Because I love Sherif so much, I was willing to wear a “low-class” bag so he could have his beloved Batman swag bag. Mark found out the main desk would only trade if the bag was broken. So, I took that Supernatural bag, ripped off the handle, and a minute later, I too was outfitted with the Batman bag. And then we were the coolest of the cool in the Mecca of nerds.

Sherif and I decided to walk up to the Gaslamp district and put in a reservation at The Old Spaghetti Factory. While waiting for a table, we walked around. Sherif decided that his bag was so big, it really could be a cape. And with that, he ran around the streets of San Diego like this:

Sherif AKA The Dark Knight takes over San Diego, CA. Boy, that cape can flap in the wind!

Here is an interesting point of fact: I didn’t know that the first day was preview night.  How could I not know this?  I don’t really know.  I thought preview night was just a showing of new shows to premiere in the fall, which I didn’t have too much interest in.  I did not know the Exhibit Hall opened that night and that vendors were ready to sell their goods.  Had I known that, I would have worn Nike’s instead of flip-flops.  I also didn’t know this was the evening that if you were able to be the first to buy a special item, you could get a special item.  The main items I am referring to are: if you are the first of fifty to pre-order The Walking Dead video game at the Activision booth, you receive a necklace of Daryl’s zombie ears.  This was Sherif’s goal.  Sherif, of course, knew this was preview night and seemingly had the Exhibit Hall layout memorized. So did thousands of other people.  This hall is 525,701 square feet.  This is 12 acres.  Twelve.  As he said, you cannot even see to the other end of the hall.   We were at a set of doors to enter the hall about 10 minutes before it opened.  Sherif told me the booths which were our goal.  First was to get those zombie ears.  I got a pen and wrote the booth number on my hand.  As soon as those doors opened, pandemonium ensued.  My word of the week was pandemonium because people were everywhere fighting their way to get some prized item or waiting to see some prized celebrity.  Thousands of people at a time were doing this.  All. The. Time.  As we walked in, Sherif began walking faster than I knew was humanly possible without running.  There was a voice on the overhead speaker saying, “No running.”  I feared that if there was a Comic-Con Big Brother, they would spot all the people who were running.  I thought it would be like the security system of Wall-E and instead of saying, “Caution: Rogue Robots,” the overhead would say, “Caution: Rogue Nerds.”  In the crowds of people, I quickly lost Sherif.  He kept stopping to find me, but I simply could not keep up wearing those kind of shoes.  I finally told him dramatically, “It’s O.K.!  Leave me behind!  Get those zombie ears and I’ll find you!”  I met up with him a few minutes later.  I asked if he got them and he had.  Here is the proof of the puddin’.

Zombie Hunter. Pretty freaked out by his own necklace. That’s O.K. Anything goes in the apocalypse.

From there we went to a small booth selling an action figure of Anya from Buffy.  It featured her wearing her bunny suit.  Then we were off to the Image Comics booth where watches from The Walking Dead signed by Robert Kirkman were being sold.  On the way there, I still could not keep up with Sherif’s pace.  I later joked with him that it was a good thing I wore a red striped shirt, because I’m sure he had plenty of practice finding Waldo in a crowd.  Here is the Image booth.

Woah, that’s a big booth. And a big Rick Grimes.

We walked around the entire hall checking out everything from the small seller booths to the big name booths.  From a smaller seller, we snagged  a really awesome Katniss action figure.  We passed by the ComiXology booth where Sherif was interviewed about his use of the site.  It was pretty awesome to see him look all famous with a camera guy and everything.  Passer bys were looking at him like he might be famous.  He got a t-shirt out of it, so that was pretty much worth it.  We took a picture at the TMNT booth and then moved on to the Dark Horse booth.  In the following pictures, you can see my poor choice of footwear.

Giant Ninja Turtles. Kid dreams come true. Taken with Instagram.

And Dark Horse:

Me amongst all my childhood heroes. Total geek out moment. It was such geekery, that thumb had to stay in the corner of the picture just to contain the excitement.

We decided to go back to the hotel.  Walking at this point was quite painful for me.  The parking lot next to the bus stop had a lot of stuff that wasn’t there before.  Lots of trucks.  But what ended up haunting my dreams was the car set up to promote The Walking Dead Escape.  It was bloody and had the words “Sophia wait here” painted in “blood” on the back window.  Knowing the next night, Sherif and I would be running for our lives from those flesh-eating fiends, I was stuck in the apocalypse during all my dreams that night.  It was awesome.

Stay tuned for Day 2 and then a special blog in which Sherif and I re-create The Walking Dead Escape for all of you to relive with us!