Every year, we look at San Diego Comic-Con in our rear-view mirrors and pick our top five favorite moments. We said this last year, but we really do believe the convention just keeps getting better and better. We had a blast during our five days there, basking in the geekiness of panels, events and fans.
We already asked our readers what their top moments were, and we went over ours during a live SDConCast earlier this week. So if you missed that (and why would you?), here’s each of our Most Memorable Moments of SDCC 2013:
Sure, it’s not as glamorous or as sexy as naming one of the big Hollywood panels my top spot, but the many improvements made this year by the organizers were noticeable and welcome.
First, the exhibit floor layout was shaken up a bit to move the video game booths on the north side of the convention center and away from the big studio booths. Because of this, congestion on the show floor was easier to navigate and logjams caused by a sea of attendees crashing toward the many giveaways and signings were kept to a minimum.
Second, the congestion outside of the Convention Center was also improved over years prior. Entrances and exits were many, and the many staff and volunteers working the convention kept the flow of attendees moving. Never once were people prevented from moving toward our intended destination by a wall of people. This might have something to do with the broad programming schedule that forced attendees to make some tough decisions, but also because it kept people in their seats across many rooms simultaneously. Crowd control, in a word, was excellent.
Third, staff directing the lines were knowledgeable and helpful. Finding the right line, and most importantly the end of the line, for the different rooms was a breeze. And when people had a question, staff was readily available and with the right answer.
Other improvements included scheduling panels in Ballroom 20 earlier in the morning on Thursday, letting folks in line inside at 6:30AM, and scheduling more panels outside of the convention center.
The long lines of Hall H on Friday and Saturday, and the increasingly early line-up time on the days before, may cause concern with attendees who are shut out of the big programming events, but that’s no fault of CCI, nor is it a problem they can solve. It’s unfortunately a product of the convention’s success, that Comic-Con continues to lure panels that would make people line up 18 hours in advance for.
Orphan Black at Nerd HQ
If you’ve ever sat through a few panels at cons, you know at some point you’re going to hear questions and even answers repeated. It doesn’t matter if it’s for comics or the biggest stars in Hollywood. It then becomes something of a game to see just what can be different in a panel. But that’s not what happened at the Orphan Black panel (Conversation for a Cause) at Nerd HQ.
For some reason this panel was all about connections. How the cast connected to each other. To their show. To us. And how we connected to them and the show as well. The 3 cast members present, Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, and Dylan Bruce, were there having fun. You could tell they actually enjoyed being there, in each other’s company, and ours. We enjoyed the experience and being able to see them in person, and ask them questions. They alternated between serious and hilarious to downright goofy. There was not one particular thing that stands out to me as being a jaw-dropping moment. It was the entire panel as a whole that really got me. The sum of all the parts really did add up to a whole lot more.
I walked away feeling good. Like I had seen something special. And it was the first panel they’ve ever done!
I don’t feel like it’s something I can explain in detail. You should just go watch the panel and see for yourself.
I’ll be honest: I had a terrible time at Nerd HQ last year (blasphemy, I know). The Doctor Who panel I attended was the best thing I saw at SDCC in 2012, but Nerd HQ was an organizational nightmare where I waited over two hours for a signature, had to stand in the back of the room for two panels and had to queue for 30 minutes just for that, and basically did not have fun. But after two very good, but not necessarily great, years for Nerd HQ, the offsite event held by Zachary Levi and his clothing line The Nerd Machine finally knocked it out of the park (which is ironic, as this was also the event’s first year in the ballpark).
With a move to Petco Park, Nerd HQ finally found a space big enough to accommodate everyone who wanted to just hang out in their ultra-cool lounge, complete with gaming, electronics charging stations, and plenty of cool things to peruse. In years past, the Nerd HQ’s lounges have typically felt like a waiting area between panels, but by offering so much to look at and do, they finally made the space feel like a week-long party. They also had seats. More companies at SDCC should realize the value of just giving me a place to sit.
The main attraction of Nerd HQ has always been their Conversations for a Cause, intimate discussions with hot Hollywood properties with all proceeds benefiting Operation Smile. I’ve been to at least two panels every year, and the caliber of guests this year (which included Tom Hiddleston, Richard Madden, Jim Lee, Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, and the casts of Doctor Who, Hannibal, and Supernatural just to name a few) actually rivaled the roster at the convention center across the street. The relaxed and open vibe Nerd HQ has fostered allows panelists to cut loose and be more spontaneous than they would at a traditional Comic Con panel, which resulted in surprise moments like Orphan Black‘s impromptu beat-box session or Tom Hiddleston’s velociraptor impersonation.
Staff and volunteers also proved to be much more equipped this year, keeping things moving and on time. The dance parties were a hot topic of conversation (and the Hall H line music requests helped keep attendees feeling involved even on the night of the private party). The new venue also offered plenty of food options (though definitely overpriced – $4 for a bag of M&M’s?!), which kept hungry attendees satiated. Our quibbles are few and far between, and I trust Nerd HQ will work those out in the coming years. Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Man of Steel Sequel Announcement (Batman vs. Superman)
Saturday, July 20th of 2013 will go down in history as the day an integrated DC universe was officially born. Although there have been rumors and false starts leading up to the announcement for years, it was at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con that fans were finally given the news we’ve waited so long for-Superman and Batman are going to join forces on the big screen.
Despite the fat that we’ve seen Marvel eloquently intertwine the stories of its heroes in suh a way as to provide massive appeal that goes far beyond the fanboy community, it felt at times that Warner Brothers would never make the committment to get a Justice League project underway. Although we are still far away from seeing these characters all unite in the Hall of Justice, Zach Snyder delivered a glimmer of hope in Hall H on that epic Saturday. As big of a day as it was at SDCC, could there have been a bigger announcement than that the DC film universe was born? As much as we salivate over the notion of Supes and Bats at each other’s throat for an obligatory fight scene before they team up to become the worl’d finest, it is what happens after that is even more exciting. Will Arrow and Flash spring from the television screen to join forces with Superman and Batman in 2017? Will Wonder Woman finally get her time in the entertainment sun? Will Green Lantern reboot or will they try to salvage the most recent film and fit it into the mythology? Questions like these are the gift that WB gave us this year in Hall H. It really is the SDCC gift that will keep on giving.
Nerd HQ Thursday Night
Much like Kerry, most of my favorite moments this year happened at Nerd HQ (or, as Alan Tudyk calls it, “Nerd Hook”). Along with the amazing and fun celebrity panels, Nerd HQ offered an escape from the mobs over at the convention center. With the move to Petco Park this year, the HQ was able to expand and give visitors plenty of room to play games, check out the displays, or simply relax on a couch. On Thursday night, my friends and I decided to wander over to Petco Park after the eOne/Haven party, and check out the HQ’s new set-up. Little did we know that what we would come upon was an epic nerd dance party, complete with appearances by Nathan Fillion, Matt Smith, Richard Madden, and of course Zac Levi as our master of ceremonies. There was dancing, singing and much merriment — oh, here. Just watch a video. It was the perfect way to celebrate my friend’s birthday at midnight… to 3 in the morning. What a night!
Oh, and you know what else can’t be beat? Loki in Hall H. Due to the wonders of the Interweb, we had video of that moment online almost instantaneously for those of us not lucky (or patient) enough to be in the hall. It was glorious.
The Comic-Con Online Community
I have been attending SDCC for a very long time and I feel like I have seen it all as I watched this convention grow from a small comic book gathering to the megaton pop culture extravaganza that it is today. So things like star appearances, one-of-a-kind items, amazing offsites/events, etc doesn’t have that “knock me off my feet” effect anymore (although the BBT panel picking a fan to send into space last year was an exception). To be quite honest I come to expect those things and would be very disappointed if those things did not happen. But what does amaze me every year and I am always awestruck by it, is the compassion and kindness of the Comic-Con Online Community. If you really think about it… no one really has to help anyone but we all do and that makes it special!
So my fav moment of this past SDCC was watching the Comic-Con Online Community bond and help one another out. I saw acts of kindness I would not have believed if I didn’t see it with my own eyes and a perfect example of this camaraderie and kindness is shown in the Google Event that we had, SDCCBlog’s 2013 San Diego Comic-Con Photo and Video Experience, so many of you wanted to participate and contribute that it genuinely blew me away! For the people that participated who were willing to try something new in an effort to share their experiences reassured me that the Comic-Con spirit is still there and growing stronger. So by leaps and bounds my fav moment!