Monday, April 21, 2014

Rebecca Blogs Comic-Con, Saturday

Day Three of Salt Lake Comic-Con's Fan Xperience was Saturday, April 19. What a ride. In case I haven't made this point enough, conventions are awesome and I love them, the end.

I worked Saturday morning, so unfortunately I wasn't able to meet or see either Nathan Fillion or Karen Gillan, the featured guests of that day. I would have loved to be in the same room with Nathan, as he's one of my top ten favorite actors, but a girl's gotta pay the bills too. I met who I came there to meet and everything else was icing on the cake. Patrick Stewart was also signing autographs this day, but I didn't even touch that line. I can't afford him, haha. Instead I got in line for the Adam Baldwin panel, sat down on the floor, and read my Star Wars Shakespeare book The Empire Striketh Back. I shared it with a few other guests-- conventions are the best place to find new areas of geekdom.

About the panel: Umm, what can I say? Adam Baldwin is a delightful person. He was giving out hugs left and right and it was pretty adorable.

There was a six o'clock panel that I much wanted to go to, but there were a few hours yet to come, so I tried to make the best of the final day. I walked through the booths and took more pictures of cosplayers and just attempted to suck up the spirit of Comic-Con to keep in my heart for another five months.

Look at mini Deadpool! So much cuteness, wow!

Disney cosplayers are the best. And please take note of Pocahontas in the back.

Characters hanging out with characters they would never hang out with are my favorite thing.

And while looking around the meeting rooms I found a whiteboard with this awesome dragon art drawn on it. Check it out!

This makes me want to cry because TALENT.

Anyway, it got to the point where I couldn't wait anymore to get into line just to be sure that I got into the Joss Whedon discussion panel. Joss Whedon is the reason I have trust issues, but his work is genius and I couldn't think of a better panel to end Comic-Con on. So I headed on up and parked myself in line. As the time lapsed the line grew, and I was glad to be where I was. The room they held it in has three hundred and fifty seats, and it was packed to bursting.

The panel was great. One of Joss Whedon's brothers, Matt, was there "not as an expert, just a brother of Joss" haha. The moderator started out the discussion by saying, "You're all here because Joss Whedon has made something that you just can't get out of your head." So true. I know I've written about Buffy the Vampire Slayer before, but seriously I can't get over it. Buffy Summers is the most freaking legit person. Giles, Xander, Willow, all the other characters are just so well written. I believe I've mentioned how I feel about Spike. And I'm not at all exaggerating when I say that I ship Spike/Buffy harder than I've ever shipped a ship, EVER.

Anyways, the panel was nice. There were six panelists and at one point they went down the table answering who their favorite character was in the Whedon-verse. These are people who are well versed Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog, Buffy, Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods, all of it. Well, except for Matt. He admits that there are some things he hasn't even seen. But out of the six panelists, four of them named Spike as their favorite character. Awwww yeah. :D The others mentioned were Malcolm Reynolds and Simon Tamm. Matt said he also really liked Dr. Horrible.

It was so nice to be in a room full of Whedon fanatics like myself. Joss Whedon is a genius. Maybe it was the fact that the convention was coming to an end, maybe it's because we were talking about gut-wrenching moments in television and film that Joss has forced upon us ("Joss knows exactly what his fans want and he never gives it to them."), maybe it's just because I get emotional at unpredictable moments, but I was moved almost to tears. It was a great way to end the convention. I have trouble articulating it, but there is something extremely beautiful about seeing so many people that LOVE so strongly. Seeing Batman and Princess Leia just chilling together. We might love Battlestar Galactica or Portal or Disney or comic books or steampunk or whatever but we love it SO MUCH. We want to talk about it and dress up like it and just basically celebrate it and it puts joy in my heart. <3

These are my people.

Rebecca Blogs Comic-Con, Friday

All right, all right, all right, who's ready for some more Comic-Con stories? Friday was the highlight of the convention for me. It was the only day that I was there from start to finish and by the time it came to leave I was exhausted, but it was one-hundred percent worth it.

I arrived on Friday and stood in line for probably half an hour or forty minutes waiting to get in, since now everyone was registered and had transferred over into what had previously been my lovely short line. But, as the man in front of me pointed out, these were the most polite people out there. I mean, we were exchanging high-fives with strangers as we made our way forward. A hundred thousand people went through Comic-Con over the three days and not once did I see a single argument about cutting in line or literally anything else. That's how we geeks do it!

The first thing I did upon entering the main Expo hall was head to James Marsters' table and get in line. Having kept on eye on the line yesterday I knew that it would only grow as the day progressed, and I needed to meet James Marsters. I chatted with a Harley Quinn cosplayer and her boyfriend as we stood and waited for an hour. Occasionally I would stand on tiptoe and yup, there was James Marsters, chatting away. Our general admission line was being superseded by the ever-expanding VIP line, so we weren't making much progress. Eventually a volunteer came with the news that James was going to a panel, and would be back at 1:30. It was about eleven now, and this news was not pleasing to me. The line mostly disbanded, and I went down the tables to Ioan Gruffudd's table.

You all remember Ioan Gruffudd. I loved him in Amazing Grace and went to his spotlight on Thursday. His table was virtually deserted, so I strolled right up and paid the volunteer (I don't think I mentioned that autographs/photos come with a price.) before nervously stepping towards the man himself. Having to wait in line would have been nice in this case, because I would have thought of things to say. As it was, being a spur of the moment stop, I was even more flustered than I had been with Adam Baldwin the day before. My end of the conversation went something like this: "Hi will you sign this I love Amazing Grace it's the best movies my sisters are going to freak out my name's Rebecca R-e-b-e-c-c-a. Thank you can I get a picture?" As he came out from behind the table I said, "I meant to have clever things to say but I got flustered." Him: "It's okay, happens to everyone." (Welsh is a beautiful accent.)

I started heading to the ballroom but decided it might be best to just go wait in James Marsters' line so as to avoid the crush of fans that would return after the ballroom let out. I was surprised to find that James Marsters was still at his table signing and chatting away. I was pleased to see that the dispersed line had not yet returned. I got back in the shorter line and found that there had been a mix-up; James hadn't left at all, the volunteer just thought he was going to. Well, I'll take it.

I made friends with the girl in front of me, Kelly, who was cosplaying Jayne. We bonded over our inability to breathe because James Marsters. We both hardcore ship Spike/Buffy and hate Angel, and I've had friendships based on less. My excitement was uncontainable and she kept telling me, "You're going to touch him!" and then "Breathe, breathe...."

It finally got to me being at the front of the line and I was taking the last few steps towards him, my hands already shaking, when I realized that though I'd practiced what I was going to say I'd forgotten the awkward hellos at the beginning of every meet and greet. So this is how it went down--

James Marsters: Hi, what's your name?
Me: Rebecca.
JM: How are you today?
Me: Thank you. *realizes mistake and goes straight into script* I got into Buffy over the summer and Spike is my all-time favorite fictional character. I watched all of it in like a month. Thanks, Netflix.
JM: Netflix is great. When the show was on the air we worried that people wouldn't remember what was going on, because sometimes there would be three or four weeks between episodes.
Me: I would have died!
JM: We'd ask, "Will people even remember what's going on with the story?" That's why we had those "Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer..." at the beginning.
Me: Haha yeah I always skipped those.
JM: *laughs as he signs his photo for me*
Me: I heard you were going to be here and I had to be here, so here I am. (I'm not one of those fans that knows how to say clever things.)
JM: Is this your first Con?
Me: Yes.
JM: Can I give you some advice?
Me: *noises of assent*
JM: There are a lot of great people here dressed up like storm troopers or whatever else. They're smart and geeky and you can meet a lot of people, make a lot of friends.
Me: Yeah, these are my people.
JM: Here. *gives me an m&m*
Me: Can I get a photo?
He came around the table and put his arm around me, then we got the photo and I was bending over to pick up my backpack when he touched my arm and said, "Thanks for coming out." I said, "Thank YOU." and he said, "You have a great smile."

So that is the story of how James Marsters likes my smile. He was so down to earth and kind to his fans; everyone I talked to was impressed as well. Seriously the coolest celebrity ever. At that point I floated back to my car to put my signed photos (he wrote "To Rebecca, Bite Me) away for safekeeping. I went back into the convention, but meeting James Marsters was definitely the highlight of the day. I went to the spotlights for Edward James Olmos and Jonathon Frakes. Actor stories are the best stories. I listened to a few panels and then I went home.

Friday was fun. I wasn't quite so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, and I got brave enough to ask to take some pictures of cosplayers as I wandered about.

Cosplayers are legit.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rebecca Blogs Comic-Con, Thursday

Friends, this post is going to be a long, rambling, fangirly one and the first of three.

I spent the last three days at Salt Lake Comic Con's Fan Xperience here in Salt Lake City. I've never been to a fan convention before, and I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, but it turns out I am most definitely a fan. I won a free multi-pass, so I was able to go all three days. This is a good thing. Had I bought my own tickets I would have likely just gone one of the days, and there is way too much going on to take it all in during one day.

In case you want the TL;DR version now: Cosplayers are awesome, I got to meet one of my favorite actors, and I'm now a convention addict. And now, the stories of Thursday, April 17.

I knew Comic-Con was going to be a horse of a different color from the first time I tried to find a parking spot. Lots with available spots were blocks away, and I walked up to the Salt Palace (where Comic-Con is held) behind Spiderman, Zelda, and what appeared to be a purple fox. (All of us recognize some of the characters being cosplayed, but no one recognizes all of the characters being cosplayed.) The lines for registration stretched across many crisscrossing lines, and I was glad to have pre-registered the day before. I flashed my wristband to the security volunteers at the start of the hall of vendors and was sucked into the most condensed population of fellow geeks I've ever been enveloped by.

I cannot explain the hall of vendors to you. I can't really explain much of anything, but a description of this main hall just completely eludes me. There were booths side by side like an old-school open market stretching up and down in rows and columns, all completely filled with people. I spent three days walking up and down the hall trying to figure out what all was being sold and I'm sure that I still managed to miss some booths. T-shirts, posters, board games, natural medicine, comics, action figures, food, autographs insurance, movies: you name it and it was being sold by a vendor in that hall. I spent almost an hour on Saturday searching for a booth I'd seen on Thursday with FanX t-shirts. It wouldn't be quite as difficult if the passage ways weren't always obscured with people, of course. Traffic flew pretty smoothly, which was a blessing. I don't have a high crowd tolerance and being stopped for longer than a few seconds in the crush of humanity would definitely have started lighting up my panic buttons.

A tiny, tiny portion of the vendors' booths

So that took up the main portion of the Expo Hall. In the back were a line of folding tables set up for the celebrities who would be meeting fans, signing autographs, and the like. I saw the banner for James Marsters and just kind of got anxious/excited/is this the real life?

[Side note paragraph: You may recall that I became deeply obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer last summer. The obsession has not abated. James Marsters played Spike, who from his very first appearance on the show caused me to go, "Who is that and why is he not onscreen more often?" As I shotgunned the rest of the seasons Spike rose to the rank of my Favorite Fictional Character of All Time, and I adore legions of fictional characters, so that is very lofty praise indeed. He is perfect. Anyway, I have been freaking out about James Marsters being here ever since it was announced that he was coming, and seeing the banner made it seem that much more real.]

There are so many people at Comic-Con. I mentioned that in regards to the hall of vendors, but it bears repeating. There are people everywhere-- cosplayers, volunteers, just regular attendees lounging on the stairs and walking about and snapping pictures. There are so many more people than I am used to. I have never been around so many people that have interests similar to my own.

The first event I went to was Ioan Gruffudd's spotlight. These are the panels where a generic host sits on stage with the featured guest and usually asks a few questions and then members of the audience can ask questions. It's a good time. Ioan Gruffudd starred in of one of my favorite movies, Amazing Grace, and I was quite excited to see him in person. My sisters and I quote Amazing Grace literally every time we are together and can do the whole movie pretty much verbatim. Turns out that we've all been saying his name wrong-- it's pronounced Yowan Griffith. Yes, Gruffudd is pronounced Griffith. Welsh is a weird language, but a beautiful accent. The best part of this panel-- besides the fact that he basically called Amazing Grace his favorite-- was having him pick pirates over ninjas and Star Wars over Star Trek. Right on, Ioan. Right on.

A horrid, blurry picture of Ioan Gruffudd

After getting out of that I went on a quest for the south ballroom where James Marsters would be spotlighted because there was no way that I was going to miss it due to my inability to find places. It was being taken up by one Sean Patrick Flannery who I cared about not at all. I went to look at some more vendors, then came back to find that most of the people milling about were like me, waiting for James Marsters. The volunteer at the door told us they were going to start early seating, so we should go in and listen to the end of the current spotlight, then we could move up and claim better seats when the current guests left. This I did, and it turns out I don't like Sean Patrick Flannery. But I did get a nice seat out of it in the center section with an unobstructed view of the stage.

The host came out and the intro clip played and it was literally all clips from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, aka this was where I started screaming. The host said, "James Marsters!" and he ran out saying, "Hello!" in the most cheerful voice you ever heard and it was so cute. Before my camera battery died I recorded the first half of the Q&A (which he started by saying that we could ask literally anything because he has no shame) and friends it was delightful. He sang one of his original songs for us (he's in a band if you didn't know) and did his Spike voice (my only problem with him is that he's not truly British. Nobody's perfect, I guess.) and was hilarious and awesome. There was much feminine screaming.

I'm somewhere in this picture!

After James left the stage I went back to the vendor booths, having resolved to not seek after his autograph until the next day. Spread out your James rations and all that, haha. I bought a few things and then stood in line to meet Adam Baldwin. He's most well-known for Chuck (Agent Casey) and Firefly (Jayne Cobb). I tried to think of clever things to say, but that was an exercise in failure. I just stuttered on about liking Firefly and I am sure that he could tell how flustered I was. He gave me his signature and said, "Nice to meet you, fangirl." I should note that my shirt said Fangirl, so this was cute and not rude. He shook my hand (he has a warm handshake) and I said my stuttering adieus. It was so surreal to see people that I watch on television standing right in front of me.

I went to a panel on the unsung heroes of the film industry talking about people like makeup artists, sound mixers, location managers, etc. but I wasn't really into it, haha. Too up in the air from just being at Comic-Con. I was in sensory overload the whole day; a friend trying to get my attention had to yell at my three or four times before I realized he was even talking to me.

And that ended day one of my Fan Xperience. As I headed home I drove past the convention center and watched everyone exiting the building. I saw Batman's cape billow up as he jumped down the steps, and Maleficent taking a picture with a little girl, and so many other people that had come together to celebrate these things that we love. Fandoms are so wonderful. Thanks for including me, fandoms.