by Oliver Layco
San Diego is the mecca of pop culture conventions. Throughout the year, there are different conventions in cities like New York, Boston, and San Francisco. However, they all culminate and gravitate towards the biggest one of them all in San Diego. My first convention was in New York in 2011 and that was overwhelming in itself. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend San Diego Comic Con this year. As I walked into the convention hall, a chill went down my spine; some of it can be attributed to the temperature in the room but the majority of it was due to the sheer awe that overcame me. Each direction I looked there was something that was an old friend or that I’ve recently gained an interest in. On this day, I would explore the halls with my sister and we would later be joined by her husband. We initially set out to meet Sean Astin and maybe even get a picture with him. Unfortunately the booth he was at was charging $40 for an autograph and picture. Momentarily we bowed our heads in disappointment, but later remembered there would be ample opportunities to see our favorite characters. My sister eventually split off from me, and I was left to wander the halls on my own; and wander I did. I found myself walking from booth to booth debating if I should wait in this line or that one. It was my own fault that I kept going back and forth that I never really started experiencing it right away. In my wandering times, I came across Lou Ferrigno sitting in a corner going unnoticed; it also served as a stark reminder to what Comic-Con has become. Yes, everyone is entitled to be a fan no matter how much you know, but he was the original Hulk! That’s like if years from now people would forget that Daniel Radcliffe was originally Harry Potter. It didn’t help that it was a paid meet and greet again, but the point still stands. As I wandered the halls, I wound up in a nearby hotel to check out a special Nintendo area. While Nintendo has slipped in the ‘hardcore’ gamer demographic, it was evident here that they are doing perfectly fine luring in gamers of all types and backgrounds. I saw girls, kids, and older adults that I would never picture playing games. Then just outside the center there were special tents for Ender’s Game and other items. I returned inside to find myself near the front row of the Marvel booth with the pleasant surprise of being near the front. This fortunate turn of events allowed me to take a picture of the cast of the new TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; the two main names on stage being Clark Gregg and Joss Whedon. I stuck around a while longer and was eventually in a bigger crowd for the appearance of the cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson highlighted the packed cast crowd that showed up. As the day was winding down, I figured I should make my way to one of the panels that caught my interest. I made my way up those treacherous stairs and found myself in line, and eventually seated at the Batman Animated Series 21 Years panel. I was expecting the likes of Kevin Conroy or Mark Hamill to make a surprise appearance; alas, I was left with the talents of the producers. Now I know that the show wouldn’t be possible without producers and the like, but I couldn’t get as excited about them as I would for the voice actors. As this news reached my ears, it’s like that was code for slowly go to sleep. I found myself nodding off and eventually would succumb to my slumber. I would wake up here and there and it really was just a plain panel that didn’t satisfy my wants. This concluded my first day at Comic-Con and surprises were sure to be around the corner for the final day.
I indeed started my second day off with a nice surprise. After being fortunate with a sister who was waiting in line for a Doctor Who panel, I hopped in right at the last possible second to see the panel for Supernatural. While I haven’t finished the eighth season yet, it was a riot to see the cast as their real life selves. Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, and Mark Shepard were the members of the cast that were present. The producers Robert Singer and Jeremy Carver rounded out the panel. From the get go, I could feel the joy and appreciation the crew had for each other, the series itself, and their loyal fans. Also to the crowds’ surprise, Felicia Day showed up a little less than halfway through. The producers claimed not to know she was coming so it was up to the cast to have her run in last second. They had such a lighthearted time up there while talking to us that it was my highlight of the past two days. It’ll be a shame once the show has their series finale, so hopefully we are treated to a few more years of their craziness. Afterwards, I filed out of the hollowed hall H and made my way to the exhibit hall. Lo and behold, I would come across the Supernatural signing! However, in order to get their autograph I would have had to sacrifice going to the panel. So I settled for circling their booth until the time came to see them once more. Even though I didn’t talk to them or see them up close, there was still a special feeling about being as close as I’ll probably ever get to them. The rest of my time for the day I just spent exploring the halls and seeing as much as I could. I did attend a panel, but it wasn’t about what I thought it would be. Overall, I know I didn’t see everything I could have. There was a whole lounge dedicated for Xbox and another for Nintendo. Then there were rooms for watching anime, playing board games, or anything else that I may not have been aware of. San Diego Comic-Con is truly the centerpiece of popular entertainment. While it has deviated from its comic-centric point at one time, it is still enjoyable for fans of any kind.