The San Diego Comic-Con is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s extremely tiring and stressful but it’s also tons of fun and provides a really wonderful experience for the geek-minded like myself. Now that it’s over, I miss it already and look forward to the next time I can lose sleep all in the name of the mega-nerdery that is Comic-Con. This year I only had passes for Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I was worried that missing out on the biggest day, Saturday, was going to lessen my con experience. Instead, it allowed me to see all of the happenings downtown and how San Diego truly transforms into a geek mecca during the con. I also opted to spend most of my time at Comic-Con walking the exhibit floor since last time I was there I spent most of my time in panels. I wanted to experience all the people and costumes and the random happenings that Comic-Con can offer. It was an amazing experience and I’m really happy with my trip to the SDCC. Below are some personal highlights of my Comic-Con experience. For even more images from the convention floor, panels, etc., head over to the Monster Popcorn Facebook page.
The Expendables 2 Panel
There was one panel in Hall H that I was most hoping to have the opportunity to sit in on and that was The Expendables 2 panel. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture were all scheduled to appear and I couldn’t wait to sit in on their discussion. Stallone and Schwarzenegger are legends and The Expendables 2 is (unashamedly) my most anticipated movie of the summer. Stallone came out first, getting a big reception, before introducing his friend Arnold. Both men received loud applause and were very gracious of the fans.
The rest of the scheduled guests all came out and the panel discussion started. I find Stallone really interesting to listen to and he provided the most insight while Arnold provided quite a few moments of hilarity on top of some interesting tidbits. Whenever the crowd got a little quiet, Arnold would randomly start blurting out lines from his movies like “It’s not a tumor (toomuh)!” or “Who is your daddy and what does he do?” It was absolutely hilarious and showed that Arnold had a good sense of humor regarding his reputation/career. The scene that they showed at the panel showed the Expendables battling a large group of armed men and while they were in the midst of gunfire, Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis are all playing off each other tossing jokey references to each others’ past movies. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to see the whole movie. Definitely my favorite panel of the convention.
The Walking Dead Escape
The Walking Dead Escape is an obstacle course set in a zombie-ridden apocalypse. It took place at Petco Park and lasted about 45 minutes or so. It was a tad pricey to partake in it (about $80) but after going through it I can enthusiastically say that it was totally worth the price (the video above gives you an idea of what it was like).
While waiting for my wave to enter the course, we (my friend Teri and I) kept seeing a section of the course where people were just walking through it. We couldn’t understand why people would pay to go through the course and not get into the spirit of it all and run through it! As soon as we reached that very spot when it was our turn, we realized why everyone was walking, it’s exhausting! The course is full of areas where you have to run through to avoid zombies (played by volunteers who were quite good at playing the undead) and encounter various obstacles that you have to climb, crawl under or zig zag through, all the while zombies are ganging up on you and trying to grab you. Obviously the zombies aren’t real but once you are on the course, your blood is pumping and the adrenaline is coursing through your veins and it’s really easy to play along and treat each zombie as a real threat. I had many close calls and felt a little trapped at times by the zombie onslaught. There was one instance where I climbed up on an obstacle and was immediately surrounded by zombies. I couldn’t simply walk down the obstacle any longer and had to jump from it to get past all the zombies. It.. was.. awesome.
Once you run the course, you get scanned for “infection” and I managed to survive the course uninfected. My friend Teri however was not so lucky. She got quarantined and was thrown into a dark room with lots of doctors screaming at her and a bloodied man dying on an operating table. They gave her two options, to put her down or to go on living, risking infecting more of the population. She opted to run away but apparently if you stay in the quarantine room, they pull a (fake) gun on you to stop the infection dead in its tracks. The Walking Dead Escape is hardcore and a freaking blast. I loved it.
Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment
While walking the exhibit floor, I happened by the Troma booth. (For those unaware of Troma Entertainment, they are well-known for schlocky B-movie fare like The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo & Juliet and Poultrygeist.) I wanted to see if they had any good pricing on some blu-rays and walked up to it to find Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and director of many films, standing in the booth signing stuff. I won’t go into much here as I plan on doing a post about Troma, Lloyd Kaufman and my experience at the Troma booth soon. Needless to say, I got to meet him and take some photos, but also, Lloyd Kaufman recorded a video plug for Monster Popcorn! I couldn’t believe it and it was a complete honor to have him do that. It absolutely made my day.
The Childrens Hospital Panel
I got to this panel a little late after confusing the start time. When I sat down near the Q&A line, I recognized the voices asking the Childrens Hospital panelists (Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, Henry Winkler, Lake Bell, Rob Huebel and Erinn Hayes) some questions. I looked up to see Adam Scott (Party Down, Parks & Recreation) and Paul Scheer (NTSF:SD:SUV, The League) jokingly berating the panelists with questions like “Why are you guys all assholes?” It was a fun moment to a really funny panel. Every one of the panelists were smartly playing off each other and the various people that came up to ask questions. One audience member asked “Do you have a question for me?” and Ken Marino blurted out, “How big is your dick?” Towards the end of the panel, Ken Marino jumped off stage to run up and down the aisles of the room high-fiving anyone who stuck out their hand. After I got my high five from Marino, he started taking pictures and signing autographs right in the middle of the room. Of course, he was besieged by the masses but was kind enough to take the time to take photos with as many people as he could before he had to be whisked away to clear the room for the next panel.
The YouTube Lounge
The YouTube Lounge was right across from Nerd HQ (Zachary Levi’s geek hangout) and was, in my opinion, the best place to be outside of the convention halls. It was open to the public and as soon as you walked in, you were greeted by a snack bar island that served FREE jelly beans, M&Ms, popcorn and water (later on it also served FREE beer and mixed drinks!). Inside the lounge, it was sectioned off into various YouTube channels like Nerdist, Geek & Sundry, Machina Prime, Stan Lee’s World of Heroes, Black Box and H+ (the new Bryan Singer produced web series). It also had a main stage area for celebrity guests to come out and talk about their new YouTube projects. While I was there Adrianne Curry (America’s Next Top Model, My Fair Brady) was on stage promoting a new show and then the cast of the new web series Save the Supers, which co-stars The Guild‘s Sandeep Parikh, took to the stage to promote their show. The YouTube Lounge is also where I ran into the lovely Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who was kind enough to snap a photo with me (above).
While I was in the YouTube Lounge, the Nerdist section of the building was starting to look a little busy so I walked over to see what was the hubbub. I saw cameras being set up and then recognized Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, the hosts of The Indoor Kids show/podcast. I watched for a few minutes until one of the producers invited Mel (of the Movies Worth Rewatching column here on the site) and I to stand behind the couch as background stand-ins for the show. Mel and I stayed for two episode tapings, one that focused on the game Injustice and the other focused on Darksiders 2. During the first episode Emily Gordon was eating a bag of Skittles and then, in the middle of the episode, handed me the bag to finish them off. I then proceeded to be on my phone for most of the first episode’s taping tweeting like a fool about where I was and what I was doing. I made up for it in the second episode by going phone free though. I’m looking forward to seeing those two episodes when they pop up on the Nerdist YouTube channel sometime in the near future. It was really cool to be in the background and they’ll serve as a great little memory of my SDCC experience.
Felicia Day and Guillermo del Toro
So we got up early on Sunday so that I could try to get to the Dark Horse booth when the exhibit hall floor opened at 9:30 AM in order to try to get a ticket to Guillermo del Toro’s autograph signing session. Since I missed the Pacific Rim panel on Saturday, I really wanted the opportunity to meet Guillermo. Sadly, when we got to the Dark Horse booth, all the tickets for his signing were gone. Luckily for me, Mel won himself entry to Felicia Day’s signing later in the day. Being the awesome friend that he is and knowing I’m a big fan of Ms. Day, he gave it to me. So at the appropriate time, I went to the Dark Horse booth, had a Guild trade paperback signed and got to shake hands with the inspirational Ms. Day! She seemed very nice but Dark Horse was very adamant about not letting anyone stay very long to chat with her or even take a photo. I understand that they have a lot of people to get through the autograph session but it felt very mechanical in its process. Despite that, it was still really great to have the opportunity to (briefly) meet her.
With that done, we broke for lunch and walked off-site to Lolita’s for a California burrito (they’re damn good)! After finishing my lunch, I happened to glance at my Twitter feed and saw that Mondo had just announced that Guillermo del Toro was signing prints of their Mimic poster at the Mondo booth. Not wanting to miss out, I hurried back over to the convention center to try to get a print. I arrived to find out the line had been capped. Some fellow hopefuls decided to create a “non-line line” and we all waited to see if they’d allow more people into the Mondo line. Sure enough they did and I was able to obtain one of the del Toro-signed Mimic posters. I didn’t get to meet Guillermo as he had completed signing all the prints before I got to the front of the line but I’m beyond thrilled to have the signed Mimic print.
All these highlights don’t describe my entire experience at Comic-Con but they are ones that stand out for me and will serve as some great memories of my Comic-Con experience. If you attended the convention and have any standout moments, feel free to share them in the comments section below.
To see more photos from the convention floor, panels and more, head over to the Monster Popcorn Facebook page here.
by Ben McBride