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Attendee of the Week: Annika

Every week from now until San Diego Comic-Con, we’re celebrating you: our readers! So let’s meet this week’s Attendee of the Week:



Where are you traveling from? 

Los Angeles, CA

How many years have you been attending?

I have been going every year since 2004, so will 2022 be my 19th? Do the two years of Comic Con @ Home count? Haha!

What was your favorite panel and why?

There have been some amazing ones over the years (the first Heroes panel, The Amazing Spider-Man panel in Hall H when Andrew Garfield showed up in a Spider-Man costume, Doctor Who panels with Peter Capaldi and later Jodie Whitaker, the Firefly anniversary panel, etc. etc.), but I think my favorite one is the first ever Lost panel held during my first year at Comic Con. It was the first panel I ever attended, and they premiered the pilot episode. The whole experience was just extraordinary! And I was pretty much sold on coming back to SDCC again and again (and again and again) after that.

What is your favorite exhibitor or artist booth and why?

Favorite artist booth goes to 100% Soft, I don’t think anything will ever beat the insanity of that Dumpster Fire drop in 2019, haha. As far as massive exhibitors go, it’s probably the WB booth. Met a lot of amazing people around there over the years!

What’s your favorite item you’ve ever taken home from the convention (swag, exclusive, merch, etc.)?

Hands down, the OG resin Dumpster Fire from 100% Soft.

What was your favorite autograph session and why? 

I’ve been to a few over the years, but the best and most meaningful one for me was the Glee autograph session in 2012, mainly because it was the last time I saw Cory Monteith before he passed. You see, Cory was the drummer of a band, Bonnie Dune, and they started playing gigs around California in early 2011. A few friends and I ended up becoming very dedicated and had gone to nearly every show they played, ultimately getting to know the band fairly well. I can’t say we were best mates with Cory, but he knew us and was always super sweet and friendly. So, when I got up to the booth for the signing that day, Cory took one look at me, grabbed my hand and with the biggest smile asked, “What are you doing here?!” It was just so sweet and has now become this really great moment to look back on and remember him by.

Tell us about your most memorable celebrity encounter? 

So, during SDCC 2018, my husband and I were wandering about the exhibit hall, as one does during Comic-Con. I was cosplaying as a female version of Draco Malfoy and was pretty much hating life because a long-sleeved button down, wool sweater, and robe were not wise fashion choices for a hot summer day in San Diego!

Suddenly a young woman came over and stopped us, asking me if I would like to be in a group photo with the cast of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I think I briefly died or had a mini heart attack or something because I do not remember how I responded, but obviously it was in the affirmative. She gave me the details, and as soon as we walked away, I had a proper freak out! Like, what just happened?!

So, as the massive Warner Brothers panel was going on, a group of us (handpicked by various WB social media people) were ushered into the WB booth ahead of the cast’s arrival for their autograph session. It was a really great, diverse group, made up of excited Harry Potter cosplayers and fans in HP related t-shirts and such. Soon we heard cheering and screaming from the usual horde of onlookers by the booth as the cast arrived. And what a cast it was! Jude Law, Callum Turner, Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Carmen Ejogo and Claudia Kim. They were all there! I remember standing with my fellow Slytherin students and Callum Turner came over and was like, “Slytherin?! Come on!” To which we replied, “What? It’s the best house!” They were all so nice and took selfies with pretty much anyone who asked for one. After a few minutes of chatting, the WB photographer got us all situated and snapped a few photos of the whole motley crew. It all still feels like a dream. Like, how was I part of something like that?!

That is essentially the magic of San Diego Comic Con though, isn’t it? Experiencing the completely unexpected.

What is (or was) your favorite offsite and why?

Oh, this is definitely a tie between NerdHQ and the Fandom Party! Though NerdHQ probably ranks just a bit higher.

Has there ever been an offsite as amazing as NerdHQ? Like in the history of SDCC? Small intimate panels, dance parties, Smiles4Smiles? All supporting charity? Come on! Nothing else could ever compare. Nothing else will ever compare. Zachary Levi put together the best companion event to SDCC. It was always so well run and the volunteers who worked it were the best. And those panels! I couldn’t possibly list all of my favorites, but the standouts were definitely Tom Hiddleston’s panels (especially the year he did an autograph signing, as well, and I brought my “Vote Loki” variant cover for him to sign and he just absolutely loved it!), the Doctor Who panel with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, and the Richard Madden panel where Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman crashed midway through! Getting tickets was definitely a stressful experience (especially the ticket sales that randomly dropped during the Con) but what part of SDCC isn’t stressful? It all added to the general vibe of the weekend and I’ve missed NerdHQ desperately every year since it has ended.

And what needs to be said about the Fandom party? Open bar, free food, entertainment, random celebrity sightings (though I will forever be bitter that Tom Felton was in attendance one year and I did not find out about it until the next day!). The party just has such a cool vibe and is so much fun. What’s not to love?


What is your favorite thing about San Diego Comic-Con?

All the amazing unexpected encounters. And some not so unexpected because you’d plan meticulously to be in certain places at certain times, haha. Most times though, it’s just being in the right place at the right time. Like, running into Peter Capaldi and the cast of Hannibal‘ outside the Andaz. Or stalking the WB booth before and after autograph signings, where I’ve run into many, including James McAvoy on one occasion. Or hanging out in the alley beside the Hilton Bayfront, where we saw Guillermo Del Toro or Milo Ventimiglia leaving the Bayfront after a Heroes panel. Or the time we ran into Stan Lee at some offsite at a shoe store?

The opportunities for encounters at SDCC are endless, and I love that you could be in the middle of taking a bite into a taco and see the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation sitting down at the table right next to you.

What are you most excited to see/do/experience at the con after three years away?

My first year at SDCC, walking through that exhibit hall, I just felt this intense feeling of belonging, one that I had never experienced before. For those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, there really wasn’t an Internet where you could find like minded individuals and grow these online communities with people who shared the same interests you did. For many of us, we were just kind of alone, I guess. Like, my high school friends were geeks and nerds, too, but it wasn’t like this thing that we could proudly shout about. It was just this small piece of ourselves that we kept relatively hidden away for the most part. It’s different nowadays, of course. But that first time in 2004 of being at SDCC, seeing all the cosplayers, looking at all the amazing nerdy merchandise, going to panels, it was all a revelation.

It felt like coming home.

And after the last couple of years we’ve all had, I think it’s time that we all got to go back home again.


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