The Comic-Con Experience: Day 1

By  · Published on July 23rd, 2010

It’s hard to wake up after discussing favorite scenes from Jaws past 2AM with the film writers that you only get to see once or twice a year. For me, that includes my roommates for the weekend Jack Giroux, Robert Fure, and Aint It Cool News’ Mr. Beaks. Yes, what you assume it’s like to have a handful of movie writers in one room is exactly what it’s like having a handful of movie writers in one room.

Despite the exhaustion and the fitful sleep (without any sibilant voices waking me up), and despite the $6 whiskey relaxation, I force open my eyes at an unreal 6:40AM, head down to the kind of free breakfast that includes waffles you get to make yourself, and find myself surrounded by other early rising Comic-Con attendees. This is Day One of Comic-Con 2010.

It includes an international feel. A skinny French couple sits three tables over, there’s German spoken behind me, and a woman from Spain wearing a vintage Justice League shirt named Gabriella tells me her plans for the weekend. Her eyes light up when she starts talking about the Marvel panel.

She wants to meet Robert Downey Jr.

On a television screen just over her shoulder, Stan Lee is being interviewed on some smiling morning show. Comic-Con has officially taken over the sleepy little hamlet on the waterfront.

I leave what makes the event truly International and pound the pavement a few blocks toward the Convention Center. Pockets of crowds are already starting to find their outlines against the massive exterior of the building, and a dangerous omen strikes when a few attendees are almost (slowly) crushed by a descending Trolley Traffic Barricade complete with the bells tolling.

It’s not the kind of weather that you hope for, but not the kind of weather you dread. The air is thick with a smell rising up from the ground signaling the threat of rain. By 8AM, I’m making my way around a dozen large white tents currently being occupied by people who got up far earlier than I did. Most are sitting, playing cards, or reading books in which historical figures have been recast as killers of supernatural beasts. Even with the wait ahead of them – it’s all smiles and sweet anticipation.

This is a strange world to find yourself in. A 6 year old Batman holds his father’s hand, Sailor Moon hustles past, and Jack Sparrow leans back in a chair checking his text messages. These figures, the pregnant woman dressed as a TARDIS, and the rest of us mere mortals march in a winding maze that’s secretly miles long to step inside the double doors that lead into hallowed Hall H. For two hours, any movement of the line seems like an illusion Escher would be proud of, but somehow the empty spaces get filled and we’re all loaded into a 4-lane track that aims us right at the Promised Land.

We’re birthed into Hall H and handed 3D glasses. With giant screens hung from the ceiling with care and a stage that will be filled with stars and favorite directors, it feels a bit like walking into the carpeted court of a modern kingdom. A gaggle of geeks follows me in, and there we all are. Together. Ready to celebrate and bask.

The basking for me doesn’t last long because, after 23 attempts, I can’t get my computer to make nice with the free wi-fi. After a surprisingly entertaining Megamind panel with Will Ferrell exercising his right to Cosplay, an understandably positive Tron panel complete with recording the audience for the film, and the stunner that Guillermo del Toro is going to direct for Disney, I hustle back to the hotel room ready to write up everything I wish I could have written right there in the Hall. It’s not a good feeling.

The frustration is setting in, and the rest of the day becomes a blur of getting writing done, wandering around aimlessly, meeting Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and grabbing some spicy sushi with Jack and Erik Davis from Cinematical.

The cherry on top of an aggravating day where technology made me want to throw a lamp out of my 9th floor hotel window was the not-at-all-secret screening of Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Back in Hall H – which I never got back into – the panel for the film consisted of some character video intros and Edgar Wright inviting everyone who was handed a button with a “One-Up” logo on it to come down to the Balboa Theater to see the whole damned movie.

Eight hours previous, I was staring at Will Ferrell caked in blue face paint, and now I’m sitting in a beautifully furnished, single-screen historic theater waiting for the lights and the cheering to go down. With a pixelated Universal log and an 8-bit theme song playing, it all begins.

Once the credits roll, I’m foolishly skipping out on listening to Metric perform live in order to come back to the hotel room that I didn’t toss a lamp out of to write my review.

Add in a calming phone conversation with my wife around midnight, a strange talk about why journalists should never ask out actresses with my roommates, and instead of heading to bed – I’m prepping to give a radio interview at 2:30AM.

I’m sure I’ll sleep soon.

Our exhaustive Comic-Con coverage continues tomorrow.

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.