San Diego Comic Con is all about experiences. While the convention floor is what so many people focus on when talking about the show, there's so much more to see and do. Many times, the most memorable experiences aren't the ones you plan. They're the ones that happen by circumstance. You're placed in an unfamiliar situation and make the best of it. On Saturday, July 20th, I went to stand in line for Hall H in order to report on the Marvel and 20th Century Fox panels. I expected to work and spend the day sitting quietly, alone. What I got was to be a part of a family of other people in the same exact situation.
"Hall H." Those are two words that used to send shivers down my spine. Since I first started reporting for Comic Con, for Comic Vine, I've been the guy that usually dedicates a day or two to standing in line all day to cover the news from within the 6,500 seat hall. Last year, I swore off the hall. The waits were getting ridiculous, and I could cover a lot more by just going to the panel rooms. However, this year, there was one particular day with a few panels I wanted to check out, so I bit the bullet and decided to wait in line for Hall H, and while I waited around for 8 hours and never got in, it was, without a doubt, the most fun I had over the weekend.
My first panel was supposed to be at 4:15PM, so I got in line at 10AM. The line wasn't long at all, I was only a couple rows away from getting in. I didn't see anyone else rushing towards the line, so I thought I would just sit in line, relax, and maybe I'd be let in within the next hour or so. I sat behind two brothers. Their last name was "Grimm." One of them was a film critic, and the other was along for the ride. Next to me was the man who will forever be known as "Tom Line" and only because that was how I put him into my phone. For a short while, no one sat behind us. We chatted about our jobs and where we were from. We then all guessed during what panel we would get into Hall H. At this point, I was a part of a family of four.
We all got along well, and the line started filling in behind us. Two female Waldo cosplayers filed in, and I had the willpower to not scream "I found you!" They were followed by a larger group. The line started to become the Hall H line I was more accustomed to. As the hours flew by, a few of us left and came back to the line in order to get food or use the bathroom. We hadn't moved forward, in the actual line, at all. Tom Line decided he needed something to eat, and told us he'd be right back. That's when the line started moving. While we didn't get into the hall, we were now in a different row. I was worried he wouldn't find us. At this point, it had been four hours waiting in this line, and Tom was gone for a while. During this time, a pirate band came by to lift all of our spirits. They played a few songs, and it got everyone in line excited and happy. However, we still didn't see Tom. When one of the Grimm's spotted him, it was this weird wave of relief for the three of us, as well as the group in front of us and behind us. We strangely felt whole again.
As we continued, games were being busted out. Behind the Waldos, a game of Dungeons and Dragons broke out. At least, it sounded to me like D&D. I don't remember any d20s being rolled though. The group in front of us was playing a cool card game. Tom Line busted out his DS and asked the people around him if they had as well. We were all just making the best out of a very boring situation. We all began conversing more with the people around us, and I found the lady-Waldo duo to actually be mother and daughter from a little north of San Diego. They were both incredibly nice, and I was in awe that these two came down together. By now, our little family of four was substantially bigger. We all cheered and applauded when a line jumper was caught, and we all laughed at each other's dumb jokes. There was truly a feeling of unity between us all.
At this point, it was 4pm, and while we were about 100 people back from the front of the line, we all knew we weren't getting in for the 20th Century Fox panel or the Marvel panel. We all accepted this, but refused to get out of line because there may be a slim chance that we could get in, and maybe we all just enjoyed each others company. Lots of people left the line, during this time, but the vast majority of our larger group stayed to hang out. Around 6pm, when there was literally no hope for me to cover any panels, I left. Everyone said goodbye and we all waved. "Nice meeting you" was shouted from our group as I shouted it back at them. My only regret was that I didn't say "It was nice finding you" to the Waldo family.
While I had this overwhelming feeling of failure because I couldn't cover the panels I wanted to for the site, I was happy. I was thrown into a new experience, with a group of strangers and made the best of a not-so-great situation. As much as sitting in roughly the same place for 8 hours sucks, it was also my best memory of the convention. Sure, working with Comic Vine is always a blast, and there are many other times, during this year's con, that were note worthy. We connected with old friends, made new ones, worked together to provide as much content for you guys as possible, and had a little fun along the way, but this is a moment, or day, that I can't get out of my mind. I keep thinking back to this day and get a smile on my face. At this point, my only memorable experience from Hall H, in years past, is when one man stabbed another man in the eye, fighting over a seat. This memory is much nicer and no one got carried off on a stretcher.
I've noticed a lot of negativity, online, around Comic Con this year, mainly before the show even began, whether it's the crowds, prices for food/water, rudeness of people inside, and the city of San Diego itself. I remember reading one particular article in which the writer said Comic Con always smells like "hot garbage." If you put thousands of people, regardless of sub-culture, into a giant room, you're going to have a few smelly ones. And one thing I noticed this year was that this was the least smelliest comic con, but hey, that's not what the con is about. It's a celebration of nerd culture. We're all coming together as one to enjoy something that others deem "nerdy," which in recent years has become synonymous with "cool." Sex, race, sexual preference doesn't matter because we're all part of the same sub-culture shouting from the rooftops and letting our "nerd flags" fly high. Although we may not know each other by name, we are the same type of person. We have the same interests and ideologies, which makes it easy to befriend the person next to you, even if you've never met.
It's moments like the one that I had that made me love Comic Con, and everything about it. However, everyone has their own stories from conventions, and each one is unique and special. What are your favorite convention stories?