There is no reason to pretend that San Diego Comic-Con isn’t an absolutely wonderful experience that will certainly create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s meeting your favorite comic book creator or favorite actor, finding that final piece to complete your comic book collection, or just hanging out with hundreds of thousands of like-minded souls, SDCC presents unique experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. That being said, there are plenty of reasons that you should be happy you missed the crowded event. Here are five of the best reasons!
Oh, man, if Comic-Con International, the company that presents SDCC, decided to change the name of the convention to Line-Con, it would be a bit more accurately titled. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do, whether it’s attend a panel, get some food, hit the bathroom, buy some goodies, or to simply get executed in some really gruesome way, you are going to be waiting in line. Hell, there are even lines to get a ticket to stand in another line! This doesn’t seem so bad for those that have never been to the convention but those that have attended understand the frustration and anger of waiting in line for hours, and these emotions are almost palpable by the end of the convention. Hoping to get your friend a free shirt at one of the movie studio booths? Good luck. Thinking you may get some extra scratch by picking up an SDCC exclusive or two at the Mattel or Hasbro booths? You are a brave human. Want to see 3 minutes of footage that will be online within moments of the conclusion of the panel you are trying to get into? Plan on standing in line for hours, if not days. Now that CCI has decided to change the rules for the Hall H (the biggest hall at the convention center) lines instead of simply telling people that they cannot line up at all until a certain time, the convention promotes “unofficial” lines, which begin lining up days before the actual panels. To add insult to injury, the rules that CCI presents change throughout the convention, so the information you received as gospel yesterday could actually be the information that has changed and winds up throwing you to the back of the line. For instance, this past Friday night, CCI was to issue wristbands for entry to the Saturday Hall H programming. If you weren’t in this line by 9am Friday morning, you were already blocks away from the convention center, near the pier, in a secluded area referred to as “The Island”. According to the CCI rules, anyone who wants to attend the first Hall H panel of the day needs a wristband. It doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman, child; if you are disabled or require special consideration; or even if you are press, you need a wristband. Because of the limitation and the inconvenience it causes, especially with respect to the little ones, CCI had promised wristband distribution would begin at a reasonable 9:45pm. Unfortunately, the reality wound up being closer to 2:00am. Those on this island were cold, hungry, and frustrated, all because CCI can’t figure out the best way to work their lines and refuse to stick to their own rules. Yeah, the lines suck.
If you want to see capitalism in action, look no further than SDCC. It doesn’t matter what you plan on buying, plan on spending more cash than you initially intended. As an example, let’s talk about SDCC Exclusives. While the rest of the Everyday Joes are awaiting entry to the Exhibit Hall, exhibitors that have booths are admitted entry plenty of time before, giving the vendors a chance to a) set up shop and b) load up on exclusives that they can sell for at least triple the cost of purchasing the same item from first party vendor. So, that $11 Ant-Man over at the Hasbro booth will likely cost you closer to $50 at one of the third party vendors, for instance. Sure, some may feel that the ridiculous mark up in price is completely worth it to bypass the Hasbro line, which you pretty much have to sleep in, in order to visit, but the fact that CCI allows this just goes to show how much money is worshiped at this con. Want a crappy hot dog and some cold, microwaved pizza? Plan on spending a good $8-$10 at the convention center snack bars, not including the $5 can of soda. While you can find the occasional meal deal offsite, for the most part, downtown San Diego is also getting in on the action. If you visit the Hard Rock Café, the burger that you generally pay $8 for on any normal day suddenly becomes the $18 Extant Burger Presented By Syfy. The food trucks that hang out across from Petco Park aren’t much better, offering a la cart options at exorbitant prices. Sure, you may only pay $10 for that grilled cheese sandwich but once you add the drink and tater tots, well, you just spent $20. On a grilled cheese sandwich, a drink, and tater tots, i.e. the same meal they gave you in elementary school for $1.25. Sure, it’s a bit better in quality but it’s a GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH, TATER TOTS, and a CAN OF SODA. FOR $20 DOLLARS. The price gouging really just doesn’t end.
My god, if you thought the dead raccoon that you found over in the canal or the zombies from The Walking Dead had a foul stench, try sitting in a small room, packed with a bunch of people that spent the night (or three nights) in line with no shower or toothbrush; people that, for whatever reason, were never taught that deodorant isn’t just for you; people that God only knows what the hell they ate in order to produce those Number 3 (yes, that’s a step beyond dropping a deuce), um, crop dustings; and people that just flat out smell badly. That, plus the smell of spent adrenaline and broken dreams is enough to make your eyes water. While the stereotype of the geek-who-lives-in-his/her-mom’s-basement has greatly been broken, there is a reason that a cliché becomes a cliché. Some attendees are definitely lacking in the social skills necessary to respectfully navigate a convention without offending the senses and, unfortunately, the rest of the attendees are the ones who have to suffer. Then again, if you haven’t waited in a line for eight hours, just to wait another four hours against the wall of the back of the Exhibit Hall while smelling other people’s body odors and flatulence, joined by the aroma of the boiling hot dogs and burnt nacho cheese that is wafting from the snack bar, I suppose you have never truly experienced SDCC.
The Lack of Manners
It would be easier to forgive the disrespect to fellow geeks if the person showing the disrespect fit into the cliché mentioned above, considering the fact that those clichés rarely see the light of day and may not realize just how rude they are being to their fellow fanboys/fangirls. Unfortunately, the few that fall into that category are generally the ones who are too timid to be rude. The attendees that you see trying to run and push their way through the halls, or cut their way into a line, or jumping in front of someone in a wheelchair simply so that they don’t have to wait a moment to step behind the wheelchair, etc., etc., are generally people who do function in a normal society and may even demonstrate proper etiquette while in any other situation. At SDCC, however, these people become beasts who have never learned common courtesy or compassion for their fellow geeks; jerks who care much more about the free keychain being handed out at the FOX booth than they do about the children they trample to get that keychain; hooligans who are happy to cut their way in front of thousands of others who have been waiting all night; in short, these people become the epitome of the perfect asshole. Over the past several years, as superhero films and comic book adaptations found their way into the mainstream, more and more people have found their way to SDCC, which is one of the many things that long time attendees constantly lament. Stand in any line for any amount of time and you will hear tales of “I remember when you could buy tickets onsite the day of the convention!”, or “The first year I came, the convention didn’t even sell out!”, or, most often, “Hollywood killed SDCC!”. These are all valid points. Unfortunately, as SDCC lovers absolutely REFUSE to consider a move to the bigger, better Anaheim Convention Center, these crowds aren’t likely to get better any time soon and the bigger the convention gets, the more douches there will be in attendance. And let’s not even start with the misogynistic assholes who can’t keep their hands to themselves, believe cosplay is consent, and do nothing but ogle the women who put a hell of a lot of work into their costume. Dicks.
While the rest of the world was reading the latest SDCC news from the comfort of their own home, on their own time, and sleeping in their own beds, attendees were living the convention. The attendees were waiting in those horrific lines, battling their way through the crowds, and walking miles and miles every single day. Not to mention, SDCC is basically a 4-day long party and the streets are crowded into the early morning hours. If you manage to get more than four hours of sleep a night during the convention, you can count yourself lucky and, by the way, you are doing SDCC wrong. You may have noticed that the past two days have been rather slow with respect to entertainment news. That’s because anyone connected to the press or one of the many studios present at the convention is still trying to bring themselves back to life after such an exhausting event. Not only is the convention physically draining but the emotional roller coaster that is SDCC truly leaves attendees spent. The excitement of the possibility of attending that Joss Whedon panel you came to see can easily be replaced by maddening disappointment once you realize that seven hours in line wasn’t enough to get you into the room. Insisting on soldiering on to the next panel instead of feeding yourself after you have already been at the convention for twelve hours generally leads to arguments caused by low blood sugar and frustration. Being pushed aside or elbowed in the ribs can only happen so many times before you start becoming the monster you hate. Hell, even before the convention starts, there is the stress of obtaining tickets (an annual head/heartache that leaves many people in tears and many laptops in pieces), snagging a place to stay for the event (not-so-affectionately referred to as “Hotel Apocalypse”), and even securing parking passes from ACE Parking, the company that holds a monopoly on parking lots in downtown San Diego and cares nothing about its customers, based on their behavior over the past couple of years. Is it worth the exhaustion? Sure, but no matter what anyone tells you, SDCC is the most stressful time of the year.
No one is trying to convince you that SDCC isn’t a blast. The interactions with your favorite celebrities, comic book creators, cosplayers, and fellow geeks are absolutely wonderful and seeing the entire downtown San Diego area get in on the fun is one of the coolest experiences you can have. It’s not everyday that the entire world around you suddenly seems catered to your fandoms. However, SDCC is not for everyone and the stress of attending the convention is very real. If you are trying to hit SDCC 2016 (only 371 more days!) and it’ll be your first time at the biggest pop culture event in the world, just remember – it isn’t all rainbows and kittens.
Have you ever been to SDCC? What else would you add to this list?