This is the time of the year where news about San Diego Comic-Con starts to filter in and anticipation grows day by day. We’d like to tackle some of your favorite SDCC topics here at the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog and to kick it off, we are talking about our first SDCC panel. If you’d like to suggest a topic, you can either send us a tweet or email! Each week we will pick a topic and a few of the staff will give their answers.
I’ve written about it before, but in 2010, I found myself fresh out of college and with some disposable income for the first time in my life – so I hopped on a plane and headed to San Diego because my favorite show Psych was going to be there.
For reasons I’m pretty grateful for, they’ve since stopped waiting on Thursdays to open Ballroom 20 until mid-day – but at the time, the first panel of the day in B20 wasn’t until after noon. I had done my homework, and knew to line up early (though “early” was a relative term back in the heydays of 2010), which meant that we were in for a pretty long wait.
Let me tell you, there’s a big difference in spending hours outside on the concrete or the grass, where you at least have room to stretch out, compared to the blue-cloth roped-off area of the Ballroom 20 line — where they kept us sequestered for about five or six hours after we finally made it inside. We waited. And we waited. All scrunched up, backs aching, wondering if this was what Comic-Con was really all about (spoiler alert: basically).
Finally, at some point after noon, we were let in for the first panel – and all of that waiting had finally paid off, as we managed to score second row center seats. My con roommate and I looked at each other and went, “Oh. THIS is how you do Comic-Con.”
The first panel that day was actually Burn Notice. This was also back in the days when USA brought most of their less obvious genre fare to the convention, including Burn Notice, White Collar, and Covert Affairs the following year (though we never got Suits, which I’ve never quite forgiven). I had never been to a panel before in my life — and Bruce Campbell as an introduction was pretty, well, awesome. That, capped off with Psych two hours later, was all I needed to know that this was where I wanted to be.
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My first panel was LOST. Being a huge LOST fan, to me this was to be the best part of my con experience that year! The panel was in Ballroom 20 and at that time I still had no clue how attending panels, especially for the larger rooms worked. Luckily for me this was still right before large lines and long wait times became the norm. I decided to hit up the panel room 30 minutes before the panel began (silly newb). Luckily for me I was able to walk right into the room, however I was in the nosebleed section (back of the room). For me I was just happy to be there and my kids, well, they were upset we had to go 30 minutes before the panel. I laugh at that now.
As happy as I was to have this as my first panel experience (it was my first fandom show), I have to say, the panel for me was somewhat disappointing. Since I was so far toward the back of the room, I can remember being surrounded by people who just didn’t care about the show, meanwhile in the front of the room there were screaming fans. I wanted to be there! Being surrounded by fellow fans who share in your enthusiasm can certainly make for a fantastic experience. Being surrounded by those who don’t, well it can certainly hamper that excitement, and it certainly did for me. In addition they only brought out one actor from the show, which I was really disappointed with. I wanted the full experience but was left with a lukewarm one instead.
I will always be thrilled that LOST was my very first SDCC panel experience. Even though it didn’t give me what I fully expected, it was LOST. In addition, the experience did teach me to learn how to navigate the panel waters for the panels I have chosen to attend since that first one. And since then I’ve learned what to do to help make sure that disappointment is not repeated. And I’ve seen some great one’s since that first panel experience!
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The first panel I remember attending was my first San Diego Comic-Con in 2012. Yes, I’m a late bloomer when it comes to SDCC, as this was the first year I was able to score a pass. I had one day to see everything, and at the top of my list was seeing the panel that included William Shatner and Roger Corman, moderated by Kevin Smith. In a nutshell, I witnessed Kevin Smith fanboy all over these two screen legends. They spoke about their early careers together, the new project they were working on, and life in general, while Kevin wiped his drool with his hockey jersey.
When the panel was opened to audience questions, someone asked William Shatner if he would perform his classic “KHAAAAAN!” He refused but offered to lead the audience in it. If I learned anything from that panel, it’s that anything can, and usually does, happen at SDCC.
From that moment, I was hooked. Of course, there have been many panels I’ve been to since then, but I will never forget my first.
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