Age of the Geek

 

Everything's The Same But Different

 

     It's that time of year again.

     By this time next week I will be back in San Diego for my annual pilgrimage to Comic-Con International.

     This year promises to be quite different from previous trips. Over the years I've developed something of a regular schedule when it comes to the five days of madness that is Comic-Con. There are panels that take such a high priority that I plan my whole day around them.

     Joss Whedon, for instance, generally has a panel in the massive Ballroom 20 on Friday afternoon. It's an hour of Whedon talking about his various projects and whatever else is on his mind. It's also often the highlight of the convention for me. In the ten years I've been going to Comic-Con, I've missed this panel once. Never again.

     To be sure of this, for the last two years I've spent the entire day in that room, sitting through a full schedule of other panels that I may or may not be interested in to make sure I'm there for Whedon.

     For the most part, it's a good plan. There are always at least one or two panels I would have wanted to see anyway, and the rest are generally entertaining enough. Last year there was only one panel so uninteresting that I actually fell asleep, which is, in its own way, another benefit.

     Another regular for me is Sunday's "Doctor Who" panel in the vast and glorious Hall H. By far the largest room in the convention center, if a walled off section of the exhibit hall even counts as a "room," Hall H is where the biggest attractions of the convention appear. The line to get into the room literally stretches farther than the eye can see. Inside there are thousands of seats. Giant projector screens hang from the ceiling because otherwise only about a tenth of the people in the room would be able to see what's happening on the stage. In the back there are food vendors and bathrooms. If they didn't clear the room at night, people would never leave.

     This is also the room where somebody got stabbed with a pen a few years back.

     Generally I avoid Hall H. Not because of fear of pen stabbings, but because the time investment to get into the room is generally better spent elsewhere. There's no point in trying to get into Hall H if you're not planning on spending the entire day in there.

     On Sundays though, I make an exception. Partly because that's the day of the Doctor Who panel and partially because there's never much else to do on Sunday anyway.

     Well, this year I'm going to have to come up with a new plan. Joss Whedon has been too busy making the next Avengers movie to have anything else to talk about, so there's little incentive to camp in Ballroom 20 on Friday.

     Instead, Whedon will presumably be in Hall H on Saturday, which means I will likely have to literally camp overnight on Friday to make sure I get a good seat. Fortunately, I have many friends at Comic-Con, and they can hold my place for a few hours so I can catch a shower and a change of clothes.

     But while I'll be camping out for Hall H on Saturday, the cast of Doctor Who will be filming a world away, so there will be no panel on Sunday.

     My schedule is suddenly very open to try new things.

     Of course, this isn't the only way Comic-Con will be different this year. This will be the first time being back in San Diego after living there for six months last year.

     Granted, you can't make an annual visit to a city without becoming somewhat familiar with it, but it was always a place I was just visiting.

     There's a different attitude that comes when visiting a different city. Everything is new and exciting. You don't know where you're going half the time and everything is special. You go out to eat at restaurants or go shopping in stores just to see what they might have.

     It's not quite the same once you learn the roads and those stores become places that you drive by on your daily commute. What was once a restaurant you visit because you want to make the most of your vacation eventually becomes the restaurant you get take-out from when you don't feel like cooking.

     (Note to self: Get a slice from N.Y. Giant Pizza while I'm there.)

     So yeah, this will be a different trip from any previous year. Which is good. After a decade of Comic-Con, it's nice to switch things up.

 

     Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and needs to invest in a small pillow and a folding chair.