SDCC 2015: Hall H can be Cruel. Part 2


There’s one inalienable truth about SDCC: You can prepare for Comic-Con, but you can never be ready for Comic-Con.

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We were firmly planted in Group B, despite having been there since 1 pm, the line winding out of sight in both directions. The activities of the actual con seemed a distant memory though we were constantly teased by the occasional attendee who seemed to have gotten lost in our strange labyrinth. It was starting to get frustrating.

We’d already been told we’d be condensed to a spot closer to the actual convention center at 5:30 and we’d be given our wristbands at 9:45. Hours past the first deadline we were told that this was our spot. For good. No moving unless we wanted to lose our place. What about after we get the wristbands? Sure, we could leave then, but there was nothing to guarantee that position either, like had been implied. Nope. That was it.

Once it became apparent that we had a new home for the night – something I honestly thought wasn’t going to happen this time around – it was obvious we needed supplies to camp. We asked the amazing Line Buddies (that’s a thing, really) next to us if they could hold our place for a little bit until we could arm ourselves with enough to get us through the night and they generously obliged. Considering you can only hold a place for up to 5 people, that was an extremely kind gesture.

It took forever to get back to civilization, and the sun was setting soon. We knew it would be close before our wristband deadline, but something had to be done.

When we finally returned we were faced with the worst thing you can hear at Comic-Con: ‘Man, you won’t believe what you just missed.’

In the time we were gone the Star Wars Hall H panel had just let out. Was it a memorable panel? I’m sure. It didn’t end at Hall H, though. After JJ Abrams had just given geekgasms for 6,000 people, armed Imperial Storm troopers lead the crowd out of the hall exists to the San Diego Symphony stage located a mere 300 feet from our camp. The unwitting audience received functioning toy light sabers and told they were in for a special concert to celebrate the return of Star Wars.

The orchestra began serenading the fanboys and girls with classic John Williams score, which was fun in and of itself, but the real surprise was the ominous fleet of black SUVs that pulled up to the stage. Out poured JJ Abrams, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to lead an unannounced rally for the teary-eyed horde of loyal fans. The event culminated with a barge (not Jabba’s, sadly) that launched a spectacular cadre of fireworks, including one that formed a pyrotechnic image of the Deathstar above the San Diego bay.

That was about 3 minutes before we arrived.

Already jaded by the events of the day, that was hard to swallow, but we felt justified in the fact that we’d gotten a blanket to sleep on/under and returned before the 9:45 deadline. Of course, that was based on the misguided optimism that there was a deadline. After many fans had settled in for the night, or simply passed out from sun and exhaustion, the wristband troop finally graced us with their presence around 11 PM. ‘Mission accomplished!’, in the words of similarly naive President.

At midnight, after we’d all huddled together, it was finally time to sleep. We all began to doze off on our sad patches of grass with visions of Ben Affleck in our heads. Right as I began to fade, I heard some telltale fanboy squealing coming from the other side of the convention center. Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder had just pulled up to the head of the Hall H line IN THE NEW BATMOBILE and began handing out BvS hats, backpacks and t-shirts to thank the tireless fans who’d held out so long. By the time I reached the scene, he was gone. It had all happened in 5 minutes, right there where we had been told we’d be moved to at 5:30.

Too tired to be furious, I finally slept…until the temperature dropped 20 degrees as the marine layer formed over the waters of the bay.


"That’s me in the hat in the panoramic."

Fast forward to the moment when we and our new found compatriots FINALLY arrived at the entry chutes to enter the hall. It was 9:30 AM and we’d made it alive. We were exhausted, sunburned, wet, dirty, angry, hungry, bitter and sad, but we knew it would all be worthwhile.

We all pour into the cavernous hall to see the footage and interviews we’d been dying to see for over a year, knowing it was for our eyes only. This was it. This was the payoff. No one had ever seen these things, and no one would. This is why we were there.

The teases, animatic trailers and footage played on the enormous screens that wrapped around the room and our brains melted instantly. What an amazing experience! We had suffered but been rewarded with something no one else in the world could see. I live tweeted the event, wrote stories about the shocking revelations and reveled in the fact that I was actually THERE. It was glorious.

For an hour.

WB released the Hall H Batman v Superman footage to the public on YouTube before I had even hit the convention floor.  Crushed.

But I still had Suicide Squad, right? They said they’d never release that footage. It was for us and no one else!

Until the next day. Secretly recorded copies of the trailer were cropping up faster than WB could take them down. It was all over the place. So the studio just decided to release it officially. To everyone.

There it was. 21 hours of geek survival-ism wasted. I returned to the con broken and defeated. I wasted an entire day of coverage and work and had nothing to show for any of it.

Hall H can be a cruel mistress.

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