With San Diego Comic-Con 2013 behind me, I better hurry and talk about it before I forget. It was an amazing convention as usual. I had so much fun. SDCC is a great combination of so many forms of popular culture. I’ll be talking about most parts of the convention here, but I’ve already posted about anything related to video games at Polygons and Pixels. You can also view my photo album on Flickr.
We stayed at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter very close to the convention center itself. There was a bar on the roof called Altitude Sky Lounge that gave a pretty nice view. The photo above was taken there. The bartender and bouncer were both cool, and I had a John Daly and glass of wine. I’d never heard of a John Daly before, and it was delicious. I’ll definitely order them in the future. We enjoyed some conversation, a view of San Diego, and the fire before going downstairs to meet with our friend Mike.
Mike lives in San Diego, and we wanted to make sure to hang out with him, choosing to do so on the very first night. He took us to University Heights, which is the area in which he lives. He pointed out a great Mexican restaurant to us, El Zarape. As it turns out, we ate there before leaving Comic-Con last year! Anyways, that’s not where we ate. We went to the Soda & Swine, a fantastic meatball restaurant. It’s connected to Polite Provisions, a bar next door, so I took my meatball sub there to eat. I also had another glass of wine, and then I couldn’t resist an order of more meatballs à la carte as well as a delicious slice of pie. Next Mike took us to a local bar, Small Bar, that’s very popular. It seemed like a cool enough place and definitely more of a dive bar. I didn’t order anything because apparently three drinks is more than enough for me now.
After hanging out at Small Bar for a while, we walked back to Mike’s apartment. We hung out a little bit, and he showed gem his drums. I think I just slept on his couch. After a little bit, and I can’t specify exactly how long, he drove us back to our hotel.
The first thing we did on Thursday was head to the exhibit hall, going up and down the aisles to look at everything offered. gem found this nice octopus that was definitely not a hat, but that didn’t stop her. I bought a book called Home for a Bunny. I’m a sucker for children’s books. (Interesting fact: That was the only thing I purchased besides food and drinks at SDCC!)
gem stopped by Kid Robot to work her chalk magic on a huge Dunny!
The first panel we attended was Ode to Nerds, which was about science fiction authors and their relationship to geek and nerd culture. It featured io9’s Charlie Jane Anders as the moderator eith Cory Doctorow, Chuck Palahniuk, Patrick Rothfuss, Austin Grossman, D.C. Pierson, and Robyn Schneider. While I hadn’t heard of most of these people, I definitely knew Chuck Palahniuk. While he was most assuredly interesting, he was also surprisingly reserved. I also didn’t realize at first that Patrick Rothfuss was the moderator of the Spotlight on John Scalzi panel last year. There was mention of the idea of branding yourself online as a writer, and he even mentioned something like, “well we can’t all be John Scalzi.” They discussed the kinds of things you’d expect: you shouldn’t try to brand yourself in a certain way. You should write what you like. You shouldn’t write under the assumption that Hollywood will make a movie of your book.
For lunch we ate at Royal Thai, also in the Gaslamp District. The food was delicious! However, the service wasn’t stellar. They didn’t bring us utensils with our food, and despite asking for it spicy and being told they’d bring us extra hot sauce, we didn’t get any. Regardless, I’d still eat there again. The food was very tasty. I love tom kha kai so very much! Wow, I really want some now. (Spoiler: I’m writing this hungry.)
We also checked out the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop in the Gaslamp District. Apparently it’s a well-known hat shop that gem was excited to visit. Besides a large assortment of hats, they also sold an “official collector’s edition Heisenberg hat & box set.” In other words, Heisenberg’s hat from Breaking Bad. It came in a yellow box with a certificate, Breaking Bad packing paper, and a picture of Heisenberg’s face on the box. It also came with a $200 price tag. Their site states that only 1,895 were created. The store said they had limited quantities and that it was only going to be sold at Comic-Con, but I highly doubt they sold anywhere near that many. It was a cool idea, but I bet it flopped. If it was significantly cheaper, I’d be interested. Or I’d jump at the chance if actor Bryan Cranston, who portrays Walter White, actually wore it!
Soon it was time for another panel, Not Guilty Due to Zombification! Law and Forensic Psychiatry in a Zombie Apocalypse. It featured the forensic psychiatrists of Broadcast Thought, H. Eric Bender, M.D., Praveen R. Kambam, M.D., and Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., as well as attorney James Daily of Law and the Multiverse and attorney and professor Jeff Trexler. I saw Broadcast Thought last year doing a panel about the Joker and whether he should be accountable for his actions. This panel was similar. They imagined a universe in which a person would begin to show symptoms of becoming a zombie three to five days after being bitten. The symptoms would be minor at first, but after a few hours they’d become a zombie. In this universe, zombification was also curable if treated quickly enough. They discussed the idea of a man who killed the guy with whom his wife was cheating. However, there was reason to believe he was a zombie at the time. Should he be held accountable? He showed some signs earlier, such as being cold, but he walked home, which meant he was coherent. He broke into his home despite having a key, found the man, and killed him.
It was pretty interesting. They discussed a lot of details that I don’t remember now, but the idea was to show how small facts can become the major focus that determines a man innocence or guilt. When the man was cold in the bar, was that because he was cold or was that because was showing early symptoms of becoming a zombie? He was a full zombie when the police arrived, but was he a full zombie when he killed the man? It sounds silly talking about it now, but it was very fascinating and fun.
And then! Dinner! Dinner was so good! It was late, but I wanted to eat anywhere. We found a place called Bolillo Tortas. I ate a milanesa de res torta. Only too late did I realize they also had horchata, the most delicious drink to grace dinner tables anywhere.
On Friday we headed back to the exhibit hall to see the rest of the hall. One interesting thing I saw was a booth showing off Two-Headed Cop! There was an interesting clip playing a noir film with a style I liked about a two-headed cop. They didn’t really say anything about it, but I looked it up online later. It appears to be a short film about a half-asian, half-caucasian two-headed cop. I don’t know too much about it, but I’d like to check it out more in the future.
We reached the video game section, which included the Ace Attorney photo-op shown above! We also headed to the Nintendo Game Lounge. I won’t talk about the video game things I saw here because I already talked about them at Polygons and Pixels. Check it out there if you’re interesting in the games I played or cosplay I saw.
After hanging out in the fantastic Nintendo Game Lounge we headed to Petco Park to try to get tickets for the Adult Swim Fun House. We waited in line, having a nice chat with the person in line in front of us. We sampled some free coffee drinks, and the line moved quickly. After getting our tickets, we decided to check out what else was happening there at Petco Park.
At that point I ran into the Man Without Fear himself, Daredevil! I couldn’t find any Daredevil merchandise, but at least I found a sweet cosplayer! I love Daredevil, so that was exciting.
That wasn’t the only interesting person in a costume. Outside the Fun House, I ran into Robot Chicken! It was time for lunch after that. Antonio ordered a burger and an ice cream sandwich, and we split some deep-fried Oreos. gem had crab cakes, and I had a huge, delicious burger.
It was back to the Convention Center after eating for Syfy Presents the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. We could only stay for part of it because we wanted to go to the fun house, but it was very interesting. They gave out copies of A Life Force and Minor Miracles both by Will Eisner. I read Minor Miracles, which was a collection of four short graphic novels. All four were interesting but strange at the same time. They reminded me of Kafka’s literature a bit. I haven’t yet read the other book, but I plan to do so soon.
The Adult Swim Fun House was fun as you’d expect. There were a decent number of strange rooms. One room contained a masked performer who required us to reach into one of the many holes in the room before we could leave. They were filled with slime and goo of course. In another room there was a sleeping Santa Claus in a chair next to a box full of gifts. I actually wasn’t sure if he was real. We all took gifts, but then Santa suddenly woke up and jumped at us, startling some people. By the way, my gift was a thermos. In one room a masked performer wordlessly mimed to us to reach into the box he was holding and draw one ticket. Some were blank indicating losers while others indicated that the person won a poster. Antonio and gem each won a poster, but I didn’t.
Another room had a hole in the wall through which we were required to crawl to proceed. It led onto a giant crib in which lied a hairy man dressed only in a diaper shaking a rattle and crying out for his daddy. It was eerie, but I told him it was the best moment of my life. He shook his rattle at me.
I took a photo of my favorite room above. I’d like to say I imagined those cords were deadly lasers, but if that was the case, I would so be dead. That room led to a hall of mirrors which led to three different exits.
One exit mimicked being born! Another led to a cage in which you’d need to sing before being allowed to leave. I found my way a steep incline and a rope. After climbing, I was at the top of a big slide. I decided to roll down it. Funny? No, stupid. I scraped my arm and didn’t notice until a few minutes later that I was bleeding. Sucks for me, but also gross for the people who came down after me when there was a bit of my blood on the slide. Now that we were done, Antonio and gem collected their posters from a man who decided to give me one too. I’d be more excited, but they were actually kind of lame. Still, I put it up in my cubicle. It has a picture of a weird man in front of a bunch of stars with the words “Adult Swim Fun House.”
We started off Saturday by heading back to the Nintendo Game Lounge in an effort to earn Mario and Luigi hats. You got them for playing Super Mario 3D World, but they were out the previous day. Having earned them (and playing Just Dance 2014 again), we went to breakfast. We ate an amazing breakfast buffet at Marina Kitchen. I had an omelette, multiple kinds of bacon, sausage, half of a waffle, oatmeal, and half of a bagel. As you might conclude, it wasn’t a good weekend of my diet, but the breakfast was delicious. The omelette maker also mentioned in Spanish that white people can’t decide and are too picky about food. Thanks to Antonio for translating. Of note, some other Spanish speaking staff at another location made fun of white people because only white people cosplay.
At Comic-Con I saw someone dressed as the Scarlet Witch. It was a good costume, but every time she posed, one particular photographer got in the way.
I also ran into Inspector Gadget! If you don’t Inspector Gadget, you’re a fool!
I wanted to see the Star Wars vs. Serenity panel so lined up early. Antonio and gem went to the bathroom, so I waited in line. Right after they left, the line moved, and I found myself in the preceding panel, We Are BOOM! BOOM! Studios is a comics publisher, and their panel consisted of founder and CEO Ross Richie, editor-in-chief Matt Gagnon, and vice president of publishing and marketing Filip Sablik. It wasn’t very interesting, and sadly hardly anyone left after the panel. I’m pretty sure everyone was in that panel just to see Star Wars vs. Serenity.
The Star Wars vs. Serenity panel was about Dark Horse comics, and it wasn’t really versus. However, it was incredibly interesting! Luckily Antonio and gem made it into the panel, and while we sat in the back, at least we were there. The panel consisted (according to the programming guide) of PR director Jeremy Atkins, editor-in-chief Scott Allie, “Dark Horse resident Jedi” Randy Stradley, and others. I really enjoyed the panel. There were two main things they discussed, one related to each intellectual property.
First, they pitched Whedon the idea of a monthly Serenity comic, but he thought it would water down the property. He wants to continue building that universe, but he only wants to create graphic novels when there’s a good story to tell. That’s a fantastic idea, and I commend him for it. There are more graphic novels planned, and Whedon just gave the go-ahead to create a story taking place after the film. They weren’t giving out many details about the graphic novel, but it will take place very shortly after the film. It sounds like Zoe will still be pregnant, and it’ll be dealing with the fact that the crew of the Serenity are now very highly wanted criminals.
The other interesting announcement was regarding Star Wars. There’s a new graphic novel titled The Star Wars based on George Lucas’ original script for the first movie. While it’s true that it must have had problems because it was changed drastically before filming, the graphic novel still sounds incredibly exciting and interesting. It’ll be a fascinating look at Star Wars history. Anakin and Leia appear to be nearly the same age. As far as I can tell, Darth Vader and Anakin are different people. In place of a Death Star is a Space Fortress. Star Destroyers still look the same but are far smaller; they’re two person fighters. The capital of the Empire is Alderaan. R2-D2 talks. I think the aspect about which I’m most excited is that in place of Obi-wan Kenobi’s role, Luke is actually a Jedi general who is rumored to be over two years old and is a veteran of many battles. It’s comes out in September, and I’m very excited to read it.
We stayed for the next panel as well – How to Get a Job in the Video Game Industry. I’m not particularly looking to do that, but it was still interesting. The panel consisted of Capcom senior director of creative services Francis Mao with a group of people in a variety of roles at Capcom. I thought Mao’s story of breaking into the industry was pretty funny. When he was a teenager he bought a game and received a free issue of Game Pro. The magazine advertised a contest to draw your favorite video game character. He created what he considered a really awesome air-brushed graphic involving multiple characters. He sent it to the magazine and promptly forgot about it. A few weeks later he received a call from the magazine. He was excited and asked, “did I win?” They replied, at least according to him, “no, you idiot. It was a contest for kids, you know, with crayons. But we did love your artwork and were wondering if you’d like to do some paid work for us.” Now keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing here, and he’s probably embellished the story. However, I’m sure he used the phrase “no, you idiot,” and he definitely mentioned the crayons.
They gave a few general tips that I think can apply to many things. Be willing to work for free for the experience and contacts. Network as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to try. Say you can do it, and then work to learn it, even if you’re not sure you can do it.
I think the thing people forget about industries that are idolized like the games industry is that they usually don’t pay as well as comparable jobs. I want to do something I really enjoy and make a difference, yes. But I also care about my well-being and the well-being of my future family. Salary, benefits, 401k all matter. I love video games, and I can purchase them thanks to my nice salary. I really wish one of these panels would tell us how much these people make!
We killed a little time after the panel before gem asked us to go watch a movie they were screening called Warm Bodies, apparently a zombie romance flick. I didn’t expect much out of it but thought it’d be fun. I absolutely loved it. Some of the effects were a little less than totally realistic, and it was definitely corny, but it was great, a ten out of ten. Without giving too much of the story away, the film takes place in a universe in which there’s one known human city left. It’s surrounded by a large wall, and life inside is generally decent. They have electronics, power, plumbing, and a clean environment. Outside the wall are hordes of zombies. Warm Bodies is narrated by a zombie that seems to be cognizant of what he is. It opens with him thinking about his life, complaining about how he moves so slow, and mentioning that his best friend is a guy that sits next to him while they groan back and forth. When he meets a young girl named Juliet he falls in love with her and slowly becomes more human. If you like zombies at all, I’d really recommend watching it!
What’s next after a great zombie movie? A delicious ice cream sandwich from Crunch Time, right across the street from our hotel. We had no idea it was going to be so huge. You could choose from a variety of ice cream flavors layered between two cookies, either chocolate chip or brownie. We chose one brownie cookie and one chocolate chip cookie with butter pecan ice cream. We even had a heath bar chopped into the ice cream. We split it three ways, and it was super tasty. Another unhealthy treat!
At some point I picked up two free, promotional comics. I don’t remember exactly when, but I’ll just mention them now. One was Ip Man: The Grandmaster of Kung Fu, apparently based on a movie of the same (or similar) name. I didn’t care for it. It wasn’t interesting, the art wasn’t particularly great, and the plot kept changing suddenly. The other was Vikings, published by Zenescope and created in conjunction with the History Channel. I think it’s promoting a new TV show about vikings. It suffered from the same problems as the other comic. I guess that’s why they were free.
It was beginning to get late, but it was also the last night at Comic-Con, so we headed back to the Convention Center to watch anime. First, we saw most of an episode of Mayo Chiki. Okay, this is sound weird, but it is anime. It’s about a young man who is afraid of girls and gets nose bleeds whenever a girl touches him. He accidentally discovers that a butler he knows is actually a girl pretending to be a man. Somehow he gets entangled in the personal lives of Subaru, the butler, and Kanade, her mistress. In this particular episode there was some sort of crazy hoax kidnapping. It was odd.
Next we caught the ending of an episode of Dirty Pair Flash. The two women are police officers or detectives or something, and they deal with criminals. Maybe. The art is terrible, and I think the show is mostly an excuse to show off their breasts. I didn’t care for it.
Finally, we watched Needless Shorts. At least, that’s what the programming guide called it, but I was an am kind of confused. I saw an anime that didn’t include “Shorts” in the title screens at all but were short, five minute (or so) episodes. It was about a young man named Cruz Schild who transfers to an all girls school to try to find his sister. To do so, he has to pretend to be a girl. There’s a lot of hilarity and a bit of fanservice. When I tried to look up the anime later, I could only find mention that Needless is an anime set in the future after World War III. Tokyo is destroyed, and people who live in the crater have gained powers. At this point, I’m thinking I’m reading about the wrong anime. But then I see the name “Cruz Schild.” Antonio mentioned that before the show actually started, he saw someone go into the extras menu. He thought that maybe we were watching an extra. This made me realize that Needless Shorts was probably referring to short episodes based on Needless and not needing to wear less shorts like we originally thought. It wasn’t until just now (as I was writing this post) that I found a page at Anime Planet that mentions an anime related to Needless, Needless: The Secret of Saint Lily Academy (DVD Special). It all makes sense, and I’m actually interested in watching it now!
Sunday was the last day of Comic-Con. We started the day by getting in line for Hall H where there was to be a Breaking Bad panel. I grabbed this photo of a pirate ship while in line. Antonio’s not up-to-date on the show, so we suggested he leave so as to not spoil it for himself. We had a good time talking to the person in line behind us, Adam. He mentioned that while he was trying to find the end of the line, the line was also moving, and it would have been easy for him to sneak and cut in line. He said he realized later, “if you want to see Walter White, you have to be Walter White.” I reminded him that bad things happen when you decide to break bad. We also discussed food quite a bit. His girlfriend managed a restaurant called Sea and Smoke that sounded good. He also mentioned two other restaurants he recommended, Barley Mash and Urban Solace, as well as a restaurant in Orange County he recommended called Mr. A’s. Sadly, we didn’t end up eating at any of them. We also mentioned Soda & Swine and Small Bar, and he was familiar with both!
While we were in line, there were people standing near the lines with signs declaring us sinners and telling us to save ourselves through Jesus. I’m never quite sure why those people believe Comic-Con attendees to be sinners. Anyways, two interesting things happened. First, someone took it upon himself to lead us in song to drown them out. This included the Pokemon theme song. A girl continued the idea with some Journey. We sang Queen as well! Second, some people cosplayed as the people with signs. However, these signs said a variety of things such as “Bring back that show I like” and “Galactus is nigh!” They were pretty funny, and they followed around the other people with signs, driving them away. That was nice!
The time the panel was supposed to start came and went, and we were still in line. However, they also told us that the panel was delayed. We weren’t sure how long to stay. A half hour after the scheduled start time, gem and I decided to leave. Just as we were leaving they came out to announce that the hall was full and that the panel had started. We walked near the front of the line anyways to ask how long the people at the front, who still weren’t inside mind you, had been in line. It was 11:45 or so at the time, and they had been in line since 6:30 AM. That’s crazy.
After finding Antonio, we went back to Bolillo Tortas for lunch again. This time I actually got horchata, oh, and a torta too. I had a decent torta ahogada, but I actually liked the milanesa de res torta more. However, gem got an order of chilaquiles that we all shared, and that was absolutely amazing. So good!
The Nintendo Game Lounge was going to do a group photo of fans at 2:00, so we thought we might be able to make it over there. We were just slightly too late, but I did run into Quail Man and Woody! Totally worth it. After that, we decided to try to see Neil Gaiman at a panel. We waited in line for 45 minutes or so, but we didn’t make it into the panel. At that point we decided to call it a day and head home.
As we were walking down the sidewalk outside the Convention Center, I saw this group of people – Duck Dynasty cosplayers! I don’t watch the show, but my stepdad does, so I had to grab a photo! It’s amazing to think that such a wide variety of interests are represented at Comic-Con! Finding interesting cosplay that was so different than most of the other things I saw over the convention was the perfect way to end the convention. With that, our vacation ended!
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