In case you don’t know, San Diego Comic Con is kind of a big deal. Over 150,000 people converge on Downtown San Diego for a weekend of pop culture madness. I’ll leave the deep analysis and debate about Comic Con being better “back in my day” for another post. I want to talk about what has been a recent phenomenon: not being able to get into Comic Con itself.
Much has been made about the San Diego Convention Center not being able to hold the masses of people who want to attend and how the various systems the organizers have created to organize the sale of badges to get people in have epically failed. Because of the increasing popularity of the convention, many die-hard attendees are left out in the cold (err…I mean heat), trying to find people to sell them their passes or friends willing to let them borrow their passes.
That led me and my convention companion Charles on a hunt for ways to get in. With the first day upon us and luck not on our side, we looked for activities for us to part-take in sans an official badge. Luckily, thanks to my friend Jessica, we had a nifty website called Outside Comic Con to help us begin our search. The site helps give an overview of the events and activities surrounding the convention center, some requiring an official badge and others open to anyone.
Taking the trolley to Petco Park, we land right next to the location of one of the biggest outside Comic Con events: MTV2’s Party in the Park. Unfortunately, you needed a badge to attend the party. But further inside Petco, the Nerd Machine’s Nerd HQ was set up and free for us non-badge people. Success! Set up in the Field Level of Petco, Nerd HQ had numerous areas set up for video games ranging from sit down computer games to arcade machines to Xbox Kinect areas. We were surrounded by stations selling alcoholic beverages as we saw a crowd gathered for panels that would be streamed for the Nerd Machine’s youtube page. But we were on a search for free stuff and Nerd HQ didn’t have much.
Once we got more into the Gaslamp area of Downtown, we were swallowed by the throngs of people, solicitors, and everyone in between. And mind you this is Thursday, one of the slower days of the Con weekend. We waited in a “line” or as one of my fellow attendees described it: a couple of people just standing behind each other, for a bag to hold all of our potential free goodies. All we had to do was watch a projection of James Spader tell us weird stories.
As we continued our journey through the Gaslamp District, we collected free magazines, stickers, and fliers to other events. We were enticed to stand in more lines, but with daylight being chased away, we wanted to just see how much ground we could cover. Zombies would slow us down, but luckily they were chained. The Enders Game had a huge interactive tent, but we choose to keep going with the hope of visiting it some other time.
We reached a room where Sega had some games set up. There were very few people there, so we stopped by to try out some of their newer products. It was actually pretty refreshing to try out games without feeling pressured to give it up by angry people behind you. Again, one of the benefits of doing this on Thursday.
We continued to survey the area, picking up more random stuff along the way. One of the best things to do at Comic Con that don’t require passes is to observe and take pictures of the numerous people dressed up. Hopefully I’ll post up more of them as the weekend goes along.
While passing by the ginormous line for the notorious Hall H (you know, where someone got stabbed with a pen one year), Charles had to go meet up with a friend. So I would continue the Day 1 journey by myself. I explored the Comic Con Interactive Area, where they had several booths set up. That’s where my picture of the giant Smurf came from. In one of the tents, they had Fiats designed to match some of DC’s more well-known characters such as Superman and Green Lantern which was pretty cool. The Walking Dead had an area where you could take pictures with zombies in a broken down environment. On a side note, I wonder if acting like a zombie gets tiring as some point. If so, when?
I ended my day by hanging out in the WB open area next to the Hilton. They had lego-ized replicas of characters from the Hobbit and the Justice League, a Mystery Machine from Scooby-doo, and giant blow ups of Teen Titans. To set the right mood, they have a DJ playing house/ high energy music…because…well why not I suppose?
Just from this one day, I can confidently say that even if you don’t have a pass to get past the velvet rope into the convention center, you can enjoy yourself and feel like you’re apart of the convention. Sure, being inside and seeing the booths, being forced to squeeze yourself in between two big, sweaty dudes waiting line for who the hell knows is all apart of the experience of being at Comic Con, this experience is rapidly evolving. The more popular SDCC gets, the bigger the need for off-site exhibits, activities, and other entertainment. Soon, most people will never step foot inside and will be content with just enjoying the surrounding area. With that said: hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be able to report on our second attempt to get inside. If not, we’ll see what else outside Comic Con has to offer. Hopefully more free stuff. FFFRRRREEEEEEEEE SSSSTTTTTTUUUUUUUFFFFFFFFFFF….