It was July 2013. The long-awaited Comic Con-weekend had finally arrived and I could not contain my excitement. Instagram and Facebook were flooded with photos from the week I previously spent touring colleges in Los Angeles, Malibu and San Diego. My followers were not ready for the storm of pictures that would document my long weekend at the biggest comic book convention in the world.
Attending San Diego Comic Con was always a dream of mine. I grew up watching the wide arrangement of Marvel and Star Wars movies and television series with my three brothers. We read each other the comic books before bed and chased the villains away in our dreams. We pretended to be Power Ranges while dancing around our yard, shooting each other with nerf guns and blocking the shots with cartwheels. We draped blankets over our shoulders like Jedi’s and pretended our stuffed Yoda was the real thing.
As we got older, my brothers saw the movies as good or bad homages to the original comics and I began envying the actors who portrayed our heroes on the big screen. I let the cathartic feelings consume my every thought and not only became attached to the characters, but to the actors who played my favorite heroes and villains. I cried at every movie, out of a jealous fit because these people were living my fantasies.
My Aunt Jean has lived in California since she graduated college. She has been the first thing I thought of when I thought of glamorous California. She wears glitter in her bright red hair, walks with the most confident pep in her step and has never stopped chasing her dreams. She always encouraged my love for the movies and the people in them. She fed into my obsession for Robert Downey Jr. when she got me a personalized autograph from him when Iron Man II came out. When I told her I needed to go to Comic Con, she got us signed up and waited up all night watching the computer screen as the ticket lottery progressed. She ended up getting my brother, herself and I weekend passes.
Comic Con, San Diego in 2013 was from July 18th to the 21st at the San Diego Convention Center. We got up just before sunrise on the 18th to wait in line for our badges. The line moved faster than we expected and we were in the exhibition hall by 10 a.m. The exhibition hall was overflowing with booths from various production companies, stations with independent artists, collectibles on display and memorabilia. We spent all of Thursday assessing our setting, while admiring the talented cosplayers and amount of passion that radiated from all the people at this special event.
Saturdays at Comic Con are notorious for their exclusive trailers and stunner surprise guest appearances. 2013 was the year Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were set to premiere. It was also anticipated that announcements for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of The Galaxy and X-Men: Days of Future Past were going to made.
From the start, it was a goal of mine to get into Hall H on Saturday. I didn’t want to just get in… I wanted to be front row. With no prior experience and zero expectations, I spent Friday on the look out for people waiting in line for Saturday’s Hall H panels. Around 6p.m., we walked past the Hall H tents, which are located on the far end of the Convention Center. We noticed a line forming on the side, so we went up to one of the people in that line and politely asked a women what they were waiting in line for. “We’re not waiting in line for today,” the women said, her short brown hair bobbing with a slight cockiness, “we are waiting in line for tomorrow.” My eyes widened and I can remember the word “tomorrow” ringing in my ears as soon as she said it. I grabbed my Aunts arm, rushed to the end of the line and threw myself on the ground. I looked up at my Aunt and said, “we’re not moving.”
My Aunt and her radiant personality quickly made friends with the people waiting in line with us. When she felt comfortable, she left my brother and I in line while she went to find blankets and towels at a local CVS. She later drove back to the hotel to get us all clothes for the next day. Uncomfortable, restless, and excited, we slept 16 hours in makeshift sleeping bags made of towels and charged our phones in the bathroom that was open in the Convention Center. We shared stories with our neighbors and laughed the night away. The vibes were nothing but positive and a mutual passion radiated from everyone we met.
The sound of excitement woke us up around 6 a.m. and we were condensed into a more uniform line by 7 a.m. We could see the hall entrance, as we were about 15 people from the beginning of the line. By 9 a.m, we were slowly shuffled into Hall H with the first group let inside. My group, friends that we made while waiting in line, consisted of about six people. We planned to split up to the corners of the hall, as the chairs near the front were grouped into three sections (left, right and center) and separately diverge on all sides to see who could get the best seats. My brother and I bolted to the left side, and immediately sat in the first three chairs in the front row. We also grabbed the three seats behind us our group could also stay together. When we looked around to see what seats the other members of our group got, they did not have any front row seats. We got them. We were about to sit front row.
And that’s what happened. We sat front row at San Diego Comic Con’s Saturday Hall H panels. It was the most amazing experience of my life and I left the convention that days feeling an extreme amount of passion and hope. Passion for the films and actors I so earnestly connect with and hope for a bright and impactful future.
My advice if you’re going to Comic Con and hope to have a Hall H experience like mine is to keep a look out for people waiting in line, be prepared to sleep overnight under the tents if you want any sort of good seat, make friends, and have a plan. The more you have looking out for you, the better chance you will have to have the overall experience you want. Trust me, a lot of people want to have the same one. Good luck!