Mike Willmoth (mwillmoth) wrote,
Mike Willmoth

San Diego Comic Con 2014 Review

San Diego Comic Con 2014 Review

Having survived the memorable LibertyCon 27 / Westercon 67 (see previous post) trip we looked forward to a docile SDCC. Jean and I were, once again, working full time on staff; she worked Artists Alley Check-In and I worked Programming. Jean needed to be at work early Wednesday morning in mid-July, so we drove over Tuesday. Manchester Grand Hyatt was our hotel of choice for two reasons: they have self-parking (unlike lots of hotels in San Diego during Comic Con); they are on the same side of the trolley tracks as the Convention Center (thus preventing a frustrating experience waiting for the trolleys to pass in order to return to the hotel). We shared our room with a friend from northeastern Arizona (first trip to SDCC) and an artist friend from Chicago. 2014 was the last year we got free passes by being on staff. Apparently, the State of California decided to change the law (or interpret the law differently) so that the convention had to pay sales tax on the advertised value of the free passes (or so the story goes).

Jean had to go to work early, so she left before I got up. After cleaning up I did lunch at Seaport Village (outside the Hyatt) with AZ friend before we walked to the CC to get our badges. I was due to work doing tech check-in where program participants test their hardware / software using the con's equipment (actually, rented from the CC) in advance of their program items later in the weekend. I worked until late afternoon and returned to the hotel room to find Jean napping; she had gotten off work earlier, so was resting. Artist friend was setting up in Artists Alley and AZ friend had wandered around downtown San Diego to kill time. He and I did dinner nearby, then brought some back for Jean. I returned to the CC for the Program Team meeting Wed night. We got our orientation, updated on the latest and greatest policies, and returned to the hotel. Artist friend was back so we all talked until we ran out of steam and crashed.

Thursday meant starting work about 9am. I put on my SDCC grey shirt (Programming uses light grey polo shirts) and walked to the CC. Upstairs I grabbed a soda and visited the Program Office to check in. As usual I was in charge of Room 6A and learned who my team would be over the weekend. Say hello to the tech guys along the wall (one for audio, one for video), put up the name placards, make sure the water pitchers have fresh water, be sure the correct number of seat covers are out for the reserved (green), deaf (yellow) and handicap (red) seats. Ushers were in place and I remembered several from the previous year and met the new ones. Later in the day my AZ friend showed up all excited like a kid in a candy store. I found him a seat and he enjoyed the program in the room. We took off for lunch to Seaport Village, grabbed a sandwich and drink, and returned so I could go back to work. More programming until 5pm when I got off work and went back to the hotel. We did dinner offsite, then returned for more conversation before getting online. As usual I had to wash my polo shirt to reuse Saturday (they only let us have two polos per weekend).

Friday was more of the same. Programming, lunch, more programming, dinner out. We have our usual places to hit for food and hope to find new places as well. We met local friends tonight and caught up on stuff. Jean stayed in the hotel to rest, so AZ friend and I did food and I brought dinner back for Jean. We had a good time before bed. Washed shirt for reuse Sunday.

Saturday was similar except that AZ friend opted to stay in my room all morning. He arrived before we opened, so I picked the best seat in the room for him. Front row, middle section, just left of the head tables on risers and just right of the big screen for camera feeds and video. He said later during lunch that in between each event he had comic fans rush up to ask if he were moving. "No way dude!" Afternoon programming was good and I got off duty at 5pm again. We did dinner elsewhere with more friends while AZ friend checked out the Masquerade. Conversation later before sleeping. No washing polo shirt, yay!

Sunday was the last day of the con. More programming, lunch, more programming, then wrap-up Programming meeting. Met everyone at hotel, headed off for special dinner north of downtown, back to relax and reminisce the weekend. Oh, and I left the polo shirts at the meeting; had to bring my t-shirt to put on at the end of the day.

Monday brought packing up, checking out and heading home. We said goodbye to artist friend and brought AZ friend back to our place to retrieve his car. It was an uneventful drive back along I-8 to SR85 to I-10 to SR202. He was so jazzed that he asked to work in Programming for 2015. I told him I'd recommend him. That way he'd get a comped staff badge :-)

After 20+ years of working SDCC as staff it all blurs together. I got to meet Evangeline Lily, see a couple of premier television episodes, make some new friends and see some old ones one more time. And it's San Diego in July vs Phoenix in July. No brainer!

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