The largest exhibition room at the San Diego Convention Center is Hall H, a huge 6,000-plus seater situated at the complex's south end that every year during Comic-Con International hosts the biggest, baddest, and most fan-anticipated movie and TV sneak previews of all. It's gotten to be such a hot ticket that fans regularly camp outside the venue - sometimes all night - in order to secure a good seat, or even to guarantee that they'll get in at all. (The rooms are never cleared after each panel. If people leave, seats open up and more folks waiting in the long lines are allowed inside the venue.) Because we're as geeky to the core as any of them, and because we're a little bit insane, we decided to slug it out with the masses and get up in the middle of the night to brave our way through the madness, the glory, and this year the shocking drama of random violence (?!) that was Hall H on Saturday at Comic-Con. Here is our journal:
3:34 am: Packing up our gear for the excursion. Desperately trying not to wake our one roommate who has half a brain and is sleeping in today.
3:49 am: Elevator conversation: "I love being up at Ridiculous O'Clock!!"
4:22 am: Walking to the convention center down nearly-deserted Sixth Street, downtown. A man with no shirt is banging furiously on the door to a closed restaurant. C'mon, no shirt, no service, buddy.
4:38 am: We've arrived! And we can't get comfy and unfurl our blankets because they are already compressing the line to make more space. Dozens of slumbering fans being rudely awakened and forced to move. It's like a nerd Hooverville.
5:20 am: Relaxing under the tents, at last. Overheard: "I've had a crush on Jennifer Connelly since junior high school!" You and every other straight male under 35.
5:32 am: First cosplayers spotted in line! A very fetching Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy girl-group. They must have pulled an all-nighter to freshen up their outfits. Respect.
6:18 am: Marvel gossip is so hot right now. The name Joss Whedon has been dropped at least fifty times in the last half hour.
6:39 am: Sustenance required immediately. There is even a huge line for Starbucks at the Hilton nearby. Not that anyone is surprised. (It's also the slowest moving line of the con so far.)
7:15 am: Geek breakfast picnic! Best blueberry scones ever. (Or at least it seems like it at the moment.)
7:43 am: Someone's on the phone to her friend who went astray and can't find her now. "I'm here... my hand is up... just keep walking, now turn... go straight... go straight!... my hand is up!"
8:50 am: Conversation has drifted toward estimating chances of upgrading to better seats after the Warner Bros. (read: Harry Potter) panel. A fellow in a Marvel Universe shirt opines: "Lots of Hogwarts robes. That's all I'm sayin'."
9:45 am: Second wind waning. Mass out-breakage of snacks. New hot topic: Wondering just how early they'll let us in. (Warner Bros. panel, first of the day, is still two hours until start.)
10:10 am: Complaints all around that someone must be sabotaging the phone and wifi signals around the con. Jessica Dwyer, reporter for Horror Hound Magazine sitting next to us in line: "I'm more excited about possibly getting a solid internet connection than any of the panels right now."
10:13 am We're headed in! Everyone, take your last look at sunlight for the next several hours. (Or daylight, anyway. It's been overcast all weekend.)
10:24 am: Complete and utter crowd control fail on the part of Hall H ushers. Directions to follow the back curtain to the far side of the room and fill in seats from there is blatantly ignored by several dozen people. Not enough ushers to stop them all. Potty-mouthed and justifiably angry protests from the folks who have been in line for six hours (or more) and are playing by the rules (present company included.)