From the Comic-Con front: taking the good with the bad

Writer David Mello got the autograph ticket for Dollhouse, but ended up turned away

It’s hard for me to believe that a week ago, I was dealing with huge crowds, long lines and a laptop that died at the worst possible time.

That, in a nutshell, describes Comic-Con 2009 for me.

It’s wasn’t as wonderful as my first time in 2004, when I saw Sarah Michelle Gellar from a distance; or 2005 when I saw Bruce Campbell and Stan Lee up close, and got my Sunnydale HS yearbook signed by Joss Whedon; or even last year, when the MST3K cast joined for a rare reunion; or saw the wonder of Felicia Day and the Guild a year ahead of everyone else.

I suppose I was due to have a less-than-perfect Comic-Con, especially I was really lucky a few months earlier at Wonder-Con, meeting Summer Glau and Shirley Manson up close.Still, this year’s even convinced me that San Diego has to start expanding its Convention Center, or use a couple of hotels next door as additional space. Otherwise, LA Live will be Comic-Con’s new home four years from now. I mean, what would fans prefer, a great big room holding 6000 fans or a cool theater holding 6000 fans? Since the downtown businesses already know the event should stay at any cost, the city fathers will get the message, too.

I had a lot of plans, but they fell by the wayside thanks to one reason or another: the Twilight fans practically hijacked Hall H on the first day, leaving many people who wanted to see “Disney 3-D” or other panels before Twilight out of luck. Also, the long lines that were usually outside of Hall H also showed up outside Ballroom 20 and even smaller venues. I was lucky to get into the Dr. Horrible showing on July 23rd because I stuck around, hoping the staff would allow some standing room only. Hundreds of others were turned away. It makes me nostalgic for the day when there was more elbow room, and dropping by at the last second to see Quentin Tarantino or Kevin Smith was still possible.

It’s apparent now, though, that everyone goes to Comic-Con not for the latest Captain America or Iron Man, but for Robert Downey Jr., Johnny Depp, the casts of the hottest TV shows. Not even a recession will ever slow down the reputation of Comic-Con as THE place to be in late July.

I was still able to get into the panels that were top priority: Dollhouse, The Guild, Juliet Landau at the IDW panel, and the two sing-a-longs. What’s ironic is how easy it was to get inside the IDW panel because everyone else was trying to get into the TV and movie previews. That’s right, folks: comics aren’t as popular as they used to be at Comic-Con.

My big disappointment was losing another chance to thank Eliza Dushku for helping bring Dollhouse to our TV screens. I thought I’d have a chance when I got a ticket to an autograph session with her and Joss after the Dollhouse panel. Unfortunately, when I got there, security rudely told me that too many people had shown up for the session, and that my ticket was now worthless. Then they told me to leave immediately because I was blocking the floor.

As I was leaving I saw a mother whose daughter was also told that her ticket was worthless. The mom got so angry, she was able to get security to let her daughter get a quick picture with Joss. I noticed some other fans who thought they’d get face time with Eliza and Joss found out they would not.

I am sure this had happened at least a couple more times, especially with the casts of 24 and Fringe. Fox really made big mistakes here. For one thing, if they knew they’d make promises they may not keep, they should have added a disclaimer on the autograph ticket, saying that just because you had a ticket doesn’t mean your place in line was guaranteed. They do the same thing for movie passes, implying the sooner you get there, the better.  That would have eased the tension a bit. I also noticed the Dollhouse session had three extra people, which would have cut back on the number of people who could get autographs before 7 PM.

Complaining any more would be pointless. If Fox had put more thought into how many people you can squeeze into an autograph line, it could have been handled better. Still, it would have been nice to see Eliza’s smiling face up close, and thank Joss for “Epitaph One.”

I’m also kicking myself that I didn’t go to the annual California Browncoats meeting,  since Nathan Fillion was there as a surprise. Gah!

But one must take the good with the bad: I did end up with an autographed picture of The Guild cast, and became one of the first Americans to see Inglorious Bastards. I also saw Bruce Campbell up close.

And there is always next year. I will make doubly sure my laptop works, and get more fun swag. Of course, that depends on whether the Comic-Con crew comes up with a way to prevent Twilight fans from taking up too much space. Since Eclipse is coming up in 2010, that could be tricky… and then there are the Harry Potter fans waiting for the final two movies through 2011.

Breathing space at Comic-Con could continue to be as rare as Action Comics #1.

David Mello (AKA “Impaler General”) is a news anchor for a Sacramento radio station. He has been a fan of many things from Dr. Who to MST3K and all things Whedon. Read more of his writings at his blog.

David Mello

Overnight news anchor for KFBK Sacramento, long-time fan of Buffy, Angel and all things Whedon, plus fan of MST3K and micking bad movies in general. Contributor to Whedonoplis

David Mello

Overnight news anchor for KFBK Sacramento, long-time fan of Buffy, Angel and all things Whedon, plus fan of MST3K and micking bad movies in general. Contributor to Whedonoplis

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