Diary of a Comic Con Veteran: Day 2
Day 2, Saturday
5:10am Wide awake. Know I set alarm for 7. Why can’t I sleep in? WHYYYY?
5:17am Get up. Brush teeth. Sinus rinse. Shower. The usual.
5:38am Dress with care in Tee Turtle Rey and BB-8 shirt and brown pants.
6:12am Ramen for breakfast again.
6:28am Need smaller bag for today. Larger bag was too heavy after about hour 6 yesterday.
6:40am Finish parsing down bag items to fit in small purse. Check for passes. Select dark brown Birkenstocks for today’s proper con footwear.
6:42am Realize I still have an entire hour to kill.
6:48am Read Facebook “On This Day” in its entirety.
7:30am Check for passes.
7:45am Message friend in Ontario to see what she’s up to. The usual: eating poutine and riding moose like horses.
8:10am Head upstairs to wake up teenage boys.
8:12am So. Much. Muttering. And groaning. And grumbling.
8:25am Teenagers sit in kitchen enjoying breakfast of Snickers and Root Beer. Hope son’s friend does not report to his parents on what I feed children for breakfast in my house.
8:38am Check for passes. Get in car.
8:44am Driving to train station. Teenagers express wish that “Maybe we’ll see those girls from yesterday.” Maybe. Maybe we will.
8:56am Inexplicably long line at one of the train ticket kiosks. Glare and huff and skirt around these people to empty machine.
9:03am Catch the 9:03. Tell teenagers not to talk to any weirdos on the train this time. Son says, “What about you? Can we talk to you?” Feel I have walked right into this one.
9:28am Arrive at Convention Center. Bring teenagers with me to media entrance, bracing myself for third degree by security at door (I am permitted to bring my minor children inside with me regardless of their ticket type, but son is always perceived as being older than he is due to tallness and his HANDSOME FACE, so last year I was given a hard time by misinformed door people each day, and it kind of stresses me out). But I needn’t have worried: There is NO security at the media/volunteer/guest/exhibitor entrance this morning. Literally no one checking badges or monitoring the doors.
9:36am Really, anyone could just come in this way. And they are – regular pass holders flowing off elevators from parking garage.
9:38am They are at least guarding the doors to the convention floor with some degree of strictness.
9:45am Carolyn meets me. We have a hot date to see the Lena Headey panel first thing. Ask where Megan is. Carolyn hasn’t seen her yet. Suggests a hangover might be in play. They were out till all hours the night before carousing with writers. You know how writers are.
9:50am Watch people coming up escalators. See a guy in a combination Green Lantern- Captain America costume. Debate ensues: Is this inspired or weird? Also why are he and his cohort carrying four different shields in all different colors? Teenage boys come down on cool side. Carolyn and me come down on “What is the point?” side.
9:53am Oooh, someone’s made a lifelike Artoo robot!
9:54am Lifelike Artoo robot. Heh.
10:00am Doors open. We rush through. We are on a mission to beat the lines for the Main Event stage.
10:04am Are now 41 minutes early for panel.
10:06am Leave teenage boys to the regular pass holder line.
10:45am Room is filling in. Panel not starting. Is fine. We are chill. Totally chill.
10:58am Lena Headey! OMG you guys. I am 10 feet away from LENA. HEADEY. CERSEI LANNISTER. OMG.
11:00am Control my fangirl squeal and take my seat.
11:02am Guess what Lena Headey is wearing, you guys? BIRKENSTOCKS. Proper con footwear. Sparkly black and white Birkenstocks.
11:04am OMG she is adorable. And British. And sassy af.
11:06am Of COURSE Cersei is my favorite character on Game of Thrones. What other characters are there???
11:10am Okay. Just breathe. It’s fine.
11:11am Someone asks Lena Headey what her favorite thing about playing Cersei is. “The long blonde hair, “ she says. “And… erm… I don’t know… so many things…” Questioner: “You can just say it: You like to be bad.” Lena Headey smirrrrrrks and says, “I like to be baaaad.” I turn around to see who has asked this question. Is my friend CJ. Yiiiisssssss. (Edit: CJ has informed me that I have this wrong and his question was actually at the end, and he asked “If you could play any other character, which one would it be?” and Lena’s answer was “Ramsay Bolton” and everyone died. Maybe next year I will take better notes.)
11:15am Lena Headey tells funny story about grabbing ass cheeks of Cary Elwes as he made his way into the convention center in front of her that morning.
11:18am I’m in love with Lena Headey, you guys. Whatever. It’s fine.
11:24am Carolyn goes all Hermione on me and flips out because I keep sneaking photos when we are not sure we’re really allowed to be taking photos (spoiler alert: We are allowed to take photos, just not block anyone’s view with taking of photos). I roll my eyes and tell her to simmer down. Just like a sister would.
11:45am Lena Headey leaves and my life is sadder now. But I feel really good knowing that she agrees with me about proper con footwear. Obviously we would be best friends if she got to know me.
11:52am Whoa. Terrible traffic jam of people trying to leave theatre. This seems like a bit of a crowd control fail.
11:58am Walled in by people. Starting to panic.
12:00pm People start exiting the building instead of sticking out horrible line. We have bright idea to follow.
12:04pm Being outside with personal space feels good for three minutes. Realization that it is almost 100 degrees outside already hits quickly. This was maybe a terrible idea.
12:06pm So hot.
12:07pm So much cement.
12:13pm Ahhhh front doors. Hello, air conditioning.
12:15pm We decide it’s lunch time and then I will go get in line for Stan Lee panel, which is not till 1:30 but I assume it will be full.
12:20pm Purchase terribly mediocre turkey sandwiches and expensive drinks and commandeer a table in the café. Commence people watching. Text friends Russ and Julio to ascertain their whereabouts. They say they’re coming to find us.
12:35pm No sign of Russ and Julio. Whatever. Sitting is comfy.
12:45pm Still no sign of friends. Carolyn has an author interview to get to and I need to join media line for Stan Lee. We split up with plans to meet up for John Barrowman panel later.
1:00pm Oh. Whoa. Line for Stan Lee is out of control.
1:02pm They are not letting anyone through the line to get to ADA and Speed Pass waiting area, which is also designated media waiting area.
1:04pm Is fine. I met Stan Lee last night. Will go find friends instead.
1:09pm Have text from Russ: They are up in food court area. I head that direction, pausing to take lots of photos.
1:18pm Food court area is scene from apocalyptic nightmare. So many people. So much concrete. So few places for sitting. So humid.
1:22pm There is no way I am finding friends in this place. Tell them to meet me at Hayley Atwell panel and beat it on out of there. Horrifying.
1:30pm Cue frantic texting from teenage son. His friend’s parents want him home by 6:30pm. We have no plans to even leave con before 7:30pm, let alone be home that early. Do not wish to make complicated parenting decisions for other people’s children in midst of 80,000 people. Tell him to find out if friend’s parents are okay with us putting friend on train by himself (they are 15 years old) and picking him up at the station close to home when he gets there.
1:35pm Friend’s parents are no longer answering his calls or texts. I now have all kinds of thoughts about these people. Tell boys to keep trying.
1:39pm Since midday yesterday, we have noticed that we are not alone in the convention center – by which I mean there is another convention going on besides Denver Comic Con. Keep noticing stuffy-looking people in business attire. Pass by large group of them on my way down main concourse. They look confused. I smile to myself as I walk by. Then I decide to go ask them what they’re thinking – I’m wearing a media badge, after all, so they’ll assume I’m official in some way. Walk up to woman and man who seem to have the most open-minded expressions on their faces. Greet them by saying, “Hey, you all look super confused!” Funny conversation ensues in which they all insist that seeing cosplayers and con-goers is “cool” and “awesome”. One guy says, “I never knew something like this even existed.” I ask them what their conference is for. Awkward silence and sheepish looks. “You don’t want to know that,” a couple of them insist. Automatically I’m assuming they’re either contract killers or undertakers. But it turns out they are all in collections. I make sympathetic noises then take my leave with an awful joke about how I better hide now. Like they’ve never heard that one before.
1:42pm Seriously though. That must kill every party they ever go to. I would just lie and say I’m an undertaker or a contract killer.
1:53pm Reach theatre. Volunteer is sneaking a bunch of late arriving media people into the Stan Lee panel via the side entrance and asks if I want to go in too. I decline, because I do not feel that my media badge entitles me to special treatment.
1:54pm Find nice spot to sit and wait near ADA line. There is an air conditioning vent. I check in with teenagers and friends, and review my photos. It is silent here except for the occasional burst of cheering or laughing from inside the theatre. This is bliss. I love con but it’s hard for an introvert. I’m sure you understand.
2:15pm Stan Lee panel ends with him shouting, “EXCELSIOR!” to the crowd. People start spilling out doors. All are steered left. Bottleneck happens almost immediately.
2:18pm I get some good crowd photos though.
2:28pm Am allowed into theatre to sit down. Sitting down is one of my favorite parts of con.
2:35pm Get text from Russ and Julio that they are here too. Tell them to stay put when panel ends so that I can come up and find them.
2:38pm Son texts to let me know that his friend’s parents are fine with him riding train home alone and will pick him up at station at other end. I tell son to make sure he makes sure his friend gets on the right train.
2:45pm Hayley Atwell! Agent Peggy Carter! OMG! She is ten feet away from me! And she is just as adorable and lovely in real life!
2:55pm My favorite thing about this panel is all the young girls getting up to ask questions, mostly of the “What’s it like to be such a good role model for girls and young women?” variety, and how genuinely Hayley Atwell responds to them. Even a little boy gets up and asks what it was like to get to boss all the Army men around (referring to the first Captain America film), and she says it was “Quite fun, actually, and a bit empowering.”
3:10pm My least favorite part about this panel are the two fanboys sitting at the end of my row in the media section, muttering under their breath about how stupid “all this girl power crap” is, and scoffing every time another girl asks a feminist-themed question. For real, men of the world: If your manhood is so fragile that it’s somehow threatened by young girls finding power and meaning and representation in a movie character, you have some serious issues that need to be examined.
3:25pm They can’t ruin this for me though. Hayley Atwell says she is fully up for another season of Agent Carter if it somehow gets rescued by Netflix, and believes a series of Agent Carter films would be a fantastic idea too.
3:35pm I finally find Russ and Julio! They are cosplaying as Captain America and Ant-man. We spend some time bashing the jerky dudes who were sitting by me during the panel. Russ goes to find us some water. Julio and I are entrusted with his shield while he is gone.
3:45pm Russ comes back with water. I decide to hang out with them for the Cary Elwes panel. The theatre is getting packed. I didn’t realize Cary Elwes was so popular but Russ and Julio explain about The Princess Bride. Confession: I have only seen The Princess Bride in its entirety once. It is a phenomenon I don’t really get. I don’t connect with that movie at all. But I do enjoy Cary Elwes!
4:00pm Cary Elwes! The crowd goes wild.
4:10pm Damn, Cary Elwes is funny. He has spent the first ten minutes telling a story about this epic fart that Andre the Giant let rip while they were filming a scene for The Princess Bride, and no one in this room will ever watch that scene the same way again.
4:30pm Fan in the audience asks Cary how it felt to have his ass grabbed by Lena Headey. He just gives us all a devilish smile.
4:45pm Russ and Julio leave me and I go back down to media seats to wait for Carolyn and John Barrowman. Is clear I have priorities: I will sit up in the cheap seats for people other than John Barrowman. But for John Barrowman, I am all about the media seating perk.
5:00pm There is some sort of drama happening involving the ASL interpreters who are working Denver Comic Con. Lots of huddling up and whispering and switching of places and stuff. Is oddly fascinating to watch in close proximity as it is difficult to imagine what sort of drama there could be.
5:02pm I would be remiss to not give a shout out to the ASL interpreters. They are AMAZING. Our media seating is directly behind the ADA rows and the grouping of seats reserved specifically for those in need of sign-language interpretation. The interpreters at this year’s Denver Comic Con are with Rose Interpreting, a Denver-based agency. I assume a lot of us think having sign-language interpreters present at public events is over the top, just a concession to political correctness, but as I’ve learned with this weekend’s panels, there are around 20 or so people in need of visible sign language interpretation in each of the larger event rooms. And what’s fantastic about these interpreters is that they aren’t up there just signing, but mimicking the entire tone of whatever’s happening onstage with their facial expressions and body language. It’s almost like acting! And that way, the hearing impaired fans at this con are right in on the jokes with everyone else. Anyway, I could go on for days about just this, but let’s leave it at Carolyn and I are super impressed. Kudos to Denver Comic Con for bringing on board such a great team of interpreters, and many kudos to Rose Interpreting for being so awesome.
5:15pm OMG it’s JOHN BARROWMAN! In a DRESS! And a WIG! He is dressed like Castiel from Supernatural!
5:16pm The crowd goes insane!
5:20pm I can’t even – it’s JOHN BARROWMAN. He’s HILARIOUS and awesome.
5:23pm John Barrowman teases the sign language interpreters a bit – they are not remotely phased — and asks for a show of hands from the crowd to indicate who all is need of the interpreting. Way more people than I would have expected. See?? He talks about one of his philanthropic projects in which he’s worked with deaf and hard of hearing people.
5:26pm Then he just gets silly. And takes questions from the crowd. And acts silly.
5:38pm John Barrowman climbs over the seats in the front to go take a question from someone sitting right behind us. I can see it in Carolyn’s eyes: Grab him? Don’t grab him? She goes with “don’t”, which is good because a little kid nearby is gripping his leg for dear life and for a second John Barrowman looks a bit panicked.
5:46pm John Barrowman tells funny story about his parents sharing Tim Tam biscuits with Lena Headey. Lapses into Scottish accent every time he addresses his parents directly.
6:00pm John Barrowman leaves us and now everyone’s life is sadder.
6:06pm Oh god with the crowd control issues.
6:08pm Still, it turns out this is better than walking outside.
6:15pm Consider going to a panel that starts at 6:20 since I have to wait for my son to finish his last panel, but having to visit the ladies room and then get a snack wins out over one last panel. Am worst reporter ever.
6:28pm It is a sad time in the convention center: They have run out of hot pretzels. I settle for peanut M&Ms and a diet soda, then look for a place to sit down. We figure we’ll just hit the floor again like yesterday but then I see my friend CJ manspreading on a comfy couch. He’ll totally let us snuggle up so I drag Carolyn over there instead.
6:35pm Aaahhhh couch life is the best. We can sit here and watch everyone walk by and talk about things and eat snacks.
6:40pm CJ is confused about Donald Trump cosplayer. I look where he is pointing. I laugh and laugh. Is not cosplayer. Is participant from that OTHER conference, with the bill collecting.
6:44pm Other friends come over to meet up with CJ. Kyre is dressed as Ariel and her brother Gib is cosplaying as a punk rock version of Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender. My friend Ashten shows me his Stan Lee photo and admits that he almost started to cry when he met him. He looks even more insane in his Stan Lee photo than my son and I look in ours, so I feel less alone now.
6:50pm Husband texts to see if we’ve eaten dinner yet. We haven’t even left con, let alone eaten dinner. He wants to go to Illegal Pete’s with us and decides he will drive downtown to pick us up. I assume he remembers that both PrideFest and Comic Con are happening and don’t try to talk him out of this plan.
7:02pm Megan shows up. She has been upstairs on the convention floor all day talking to artists and authors and taking cosplay photos. She looks exhausted. We make room on our couch for her.
7:22pm Teenage son shows up. He is all happy from being in the hyper-nerdy VERSUS! panel just now. It is his favorite thing from last year, in which fictional characters are put against other fictional characters in a hypothetical battle and the audience gets to argue for or against one of the characters winning or losing.
7:28pm As son tells us about some of the battle scenarios and their results, boys sitting next to us jump in to share their thoughts. It is the nerdiest conversation I’ve heard so far this weekend and I love it. This is the best part of con: Making friends with random geeky strangers.
7:35pm Megan and Carolyn finally call it a day. Son and I have to wait for husband. We watch the dudes running around in giant inflatable T-Rex costumes tease and chase people.
7:40pm I tell son to go provoke the T-Rex so I can get a chase scene on video. Said video is priceless. Here… go ahead and watch it:
8:00pm Husband picks us up. Attempts to drive through a route that is blocked off by PrideFest in Civic Center Park. I guess he didn’t remember after all.
8:15pm Illegal Pete’s on South Broadway. Taquitos, beer, and hipsters playing bocce. Son is all, “Why are grownups so chill?” In unison, husband and I say, “Legal marijuana, son. Legal marijuana.”
Stay tuned for Day 3, which I promise will not take me as long to post as Day 2!