As we feared, Comic-Con didn’t distinguish itself very well this year. We knew there were would be long lines for everything (it’s not called “LineCon” for nothing), but all of the con’s failings were magnified to a degree I’ve never seen before. People waited in lines for up to eight hours just to see one panel in Ballroom 20. People lined up at 3:00AM just to be able to buy tickets for next year (a process previously accomplished in 10 minutes). People who waited line all day outside for a TrueBlood panel were kicked out to make room for some actor’s entourage. Of course, the response by many people to this patently ridiculous situation is to succumb to a Stockholm-like Syndrome and view it as something not only to be expected, but actually valued.
The SDCC organizers have no impetus to change, because they know people will pay for whatever they’re given and wear it as a badge of pride. I suppose it’s a byproduct of the consumerism at the core of pop culture fandom. At any rate, our response was to buy tickets for only two days next year and accept that it will take more alcohol than usual to take the edge off the con.
Okay, enough of the bad stuff, of which there was plenty. Here’s a quick rundown of the cool stuff from this year’s con:
- My son went crazy with the Gundam models. He picked up three Gundam models (two exclusives): a Mobile Suit ZZ, an MG Zaku, and an RX-78
- We got to play a PVP session of the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO (we played as the Empire and won), which is still in closed beta. The game looks great. It’s a bit of a WoW clone, but it plays really well. I’ll definitely buy it when it’s released.
- We attended “The Captain’s” panel, featuring Shatner, Avery Brooks, and Scott Bakula (more well known for Quantum Leap). We’d never seen any of these guys in person before, so that was really fun. Avery Brooks is a real cool cat.
- We also attended a panel focused on J. Michael Straczynski, who I’ve been a fan of for years. He’s really witty and engaging in person. He spoke and answered questions for almost an hour straight, yet it seemed only a few minutes had passed. The panel was over way too soon.
- This outfit called Robe Factory was selling Star Trek-themed robes, which were basically stylized original series tunics. They weren’t cheap crap, either. Very high quality and comfortable robes. We got a gold one and a red one.
- My son got a pretty cool messenger bag with Alex Ross artwork on it.
- We got some really good animation cels from the Star Trek animated series (which I’m apparently collecting now)
- We attended a DC comics “New 52” panel, where they were talking about the upcoming reboot of their entire comic line. I was always a Marvel kid, so I know that Marvel already did this and better (with their Ultimate series) without ruining their main line with a gimmick. Still, it’s a bold move for DC, which as a sub-division of a larger media conglomerate (WB), is tasked with increasing revenue with a product that caters to an ever-diminishing niche demographic. You can’t focus on aging Gen-X’ers forever, and I hope they’re able to do something that actually appeals to kids and adolescents, but I’m doubtful.
- The hullabaloo outside the convention was extremely impressive. I think it’s almost reached a point where you don’t even need to buy tickets to get the Comic-Con Experience™. Several companies are now running promotions that don’t require a badge to participate, and tons of convention attendees are always walking around, so you can have an enjoyable experience just by going down to the Gaslamp Quarter and hanging out for a few hours.
There you go – the good and the bad from our Comic-Con 2011 experience. We spent Sunday at the beach, which was a relaxing day to decompress and go someplace where we could sit down for more than two minutes without waiting in line to do something cool; namely, swimming in the Pacific Ocean.