And You Thought You Were Lame

By Jordan Blackburn

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lame graphic 1 web

Graphics by Leo DiPierro

This July 24-27 marked my second annual journey to San Diego Comic Con, the world’s largest pop culture convention and a well-known nerd mecca. The actual convention itself lasts four days and hosts about 200,000 people. With limited space in each room and an overworked fire marshal, seats at the most popular panels are coveted objects. Waiting in line is an inevitable part of Comic Con if you have any intention of seeing the bigger panels, especially pop culture staples such as Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead or Doctor Who. The largest room at the San Diego convention center is Hall H which seats approximately 6,500 people and is filled to capacity from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. for all four days of the convention.

My group, which included myself and three friends, set our sights on the Marvel Studios panel, which was going to debut a trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the upcoming sequel to the popular 2012 movie, “The Avengers.” The panel was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. An important aspect of Comic Con is that they do not clear the room between panels, meaning that people can remain in their seats for as long as the room is open.

My friends and I had not suffered through eating only but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 3 days straight, fitting three people in a single twin bed, and sacrificing countless hours of sleep only to be defeated by 6,596 people who thought they wanted to see a 3-minute trailer more than us. This is how we spent the hours leading up to the panel:

 

Friday:

4:30 p.m.: Determine place in line and make friends with people in front of and behind us. We assess the competition and determine if physical violence will be necessary in order to hold off people who are trying to cut in line.

8:30-10 p.m.: Attendants come by to compress the line. One and half hours of shuffle walking begins, as people move under the tents they’ve established. Once the tents are full, all remaining people must sleep on the sidewalk. As we stop directly in front of a public restroom and directly beneath a streetlight, we discuss how horrible it would be if we had to spend the night here.

10:00 p.m.: Line attendant comes by to tell us that we can begin to set our sleeping bags up, as our current place in line will be our place for the rest of the night.

11:00 p.m.: Our group stares mournfully at our remaining peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, counts the collective cash in our wallets and decides to call Pizza Hut.

11:45 p.m.: After spending half an hour on hold with Pizza Hut, we walk to the nearby hotel parking lot to pick up our pizza. Any self-consciousness I may have felt from walking around downtown San Diego in pajama pants and combat boots is erased by my need for food that isn’t peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and trail mix.

 

 

Saturday:

12:00 a.m.: Pizza is completely consumed. Our group launches into a marathon round of “Would You Rather?”

12:30 a.m.: The nearby public restroom is technically functioning, but has no lighting whatsoever. At a loss, I brush my teeth in the water fountain nearby. In the middle of doing so, a passing convention-goer makes a comment about how this is good practice for my eventual homelessness.

3:30 a.m.: Our group finally decides to try and sleep. Somebody comments that at least it isn’t cold. Slightly panicked laughter ensues.

6:00 a.m.: Another line attendant comes by to tell us that the line is going to start moving shortly and to move our stuff back to our car or hotel. A brief scuffle ensues as we try and decide who has to walk the 5 blocks back to our hotel.

9:00 a.m.: We are finally herded into the auditorium by loading into one of three chutes, which are then opened one by one and allowed into the auditorium. Hall H is complete with 6,500 folding chairs, two bathrooms, a lobby, and a food stand. ( If you count nachos and hot dogs as food)

9:04 a.m.: Our group selects our seats and declares our row of five chairs our home for the next 6 hours.

5:30 p.m.: Seven panels, three bathroom breaks, and one short nap later, our panel begins. The trailer plays and a deafening roar fills the room. Everybody in the room begins to stand up and cheer. I start to hyperventilate.

 

All this may seem ridiculous for a three-minute trailer, but I’d repeat the experience again in a heartbeat. The combined collective passion that everybody at Comic Con feels is one of the things that make it so magical, and waiting in line provided a lot of opportunities to meet really interesting new people and bond with my friends. This collective nature is what Comic Con is all about.