The Magic, The Madness: 2013 San Diego Comic-Con Part 1

Written By: DonnaKeeley - Jul• 22•13

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San Diego Comic-Con 2013. Wow, I’m not really sure where to start because so much happened over the 4.5 days of the con and it all tends to blur together sometimes. But I’ll at least regale you with the highlights.

First of all please know that I have been attending this con since 2002 as a member of the Star Wars fan groups. It’s a great place to recruit new members and just talk to people in general. When others took over running the tables I was able to go as an attendee during 2011 and 2012. What a completely different experience that was.

I know people on the board of the non-profit group that runs this and WonderCon and APE (Alternate Press Expo in San Francisco), so I asked if I could submit as a professional since the book was published and the gleefully said “go for it”. I felt like I found the Holy Grail when my application was accepted.

Small press tables are available for $400 but I don’t have that kind of money to invest so my goal for the con was to take copies of my first book and place it in the hands of people who had influence – not just in writing/publishing but also in many other creative arenas. Sometimes I told people I wanted to give them a gift to thank them for inspiring and entertaining me. The list is eclectic but all these people are ones I am happy to give me work to, even if they never talk about it.

So here is my day-by-day journal of my 2013 Comic-Con experience.

Preview Night, Wednesday, July 17
This is a limited attendance event and allows people to see what is on the dealer floor. I made my usual stop at Blind Ferret Entertainment; my older son is a fan of the Looking For Group comic and they were really nice to him when we first met them in 2008. Writer Ryan Sohmer is a reader and artist Lar DeSouza is a wonderful geek about my age so I wanted to give each of them a copy.

Their booth had this great Twitter tag to put in your convention badge holder. I actually gained a couple of followers during the course of the con.

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Day 1, Thursday, July 18
Since I was attending in a professional capacity I looked for panels that would help me with my writing and publishing. One panel I attended in the morning was called “How to Get News Coverage for Small Press Publishers.” Unfortunately it was mostly geared towards comics, but I did get a couple of pieces of advice I could apply to self-publishing. At the end of the panel I gave copies of my book to Rich Johnston (Bleeding Cool) and Heidi MacDonald (The Beat). I probably won’t be reviewed by either of them, but I hope to do a follow-up by e-mail once they get home and recover from the con.

After that panel I got to do a fun panel from Dreamworks that showcased new and upcoming films. The directors for Turbo, Sherman and Peabody, and How To Train Your Dragon 2 were there and we got to see scenes from the films. I’m a HUGE fan of How to Train Your Dragon director Chris Saunders (even though he’s not directing the second one) and fortunately for me he had a booth on the dealer floor. I presented him with a copy of my book and we talked about how we met last year. Very nice man.

Another perk of not running a fan table is that I actually got to collect freebies passed out in the panels. During the Dreamworks panel everyone got a ticket that they had to take to a room at the hotel next to the convention center to collect their “goodie”. In the old days they used to pass it out during the con but with the huge number of attendees (130,000 – no, that is not a typo) it was mass confusion so now they give out a ticket and your turn it in for your freebie. It works a lot better this way.

The freebie was a beautiful poster of concept art from How To Train Your Dragon 2 on nice art paper, pins from the 3 movies discussed, and a plushie of the sloth named Belt from The Croods (directed by Chris Saunders). Because my son and I both went we got two of everything, which came in handy because once we got home my plushie fell out of the bag and the kittens took off with it. I’m not sure if I should let Chris Saunders know his creation is now a cat toy.

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Day 2, Friday, July 19
There was one non-professional panel I really, really wanted to be in this day. Marvel was going to showcase the new TV series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” coming this fall. People who know me know that I love the character of Agent Coulson from the Marvel movies and his death in “The Avengers” had me cursing director Joss Wheden, who has a habit of killing off main characters.

I lucked out and was able to see not only panel but the 3 before it (Big Bang Theory, Legend of Korra, and Bones). I didn’t give out many books that day but I did satisfy the nerd in me by attending the panels.

Bear in mind that the San Diego Convention Center is about 5 football fields long and the dealer floor takes up the entire ground floor during the con. Add in the fact that some programming takes place in the hotels on either side of the convention center and there is a lot of physical exercise involved in attending this convention. Running back and forth between panels and the dealer floor involves a lot of walking, climbing stairs, dodging people in giant, elaborate costumes and avoiding getting run over by strollers. This con is not for those afraid of crowds; it’s its own obstacle course. I always feel like I’ve done a marathon or Iron Man event over the course of the 4.5 days.

If I measure my success at the con by how tired I am after it ends, then I have had a great con this year. I’ll probably need another day or two to completely recover. But it is SO WORTH IT.

Part Two up soon.

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