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I’d heard tales of the mythical land of Comic-Con: the costumed superheroes, the frenzied crowds, the multiple-hour lines to see your favorite stars. But I now must agree with those who told me, with a metaphorical pat to the head and indulgent smile, “You won’t understand until you see it for yourself.”
To say Comic-Con is overwhelming to a first-time visitor is an understatement along the lines of saying collectors are “kind of excited” to get their hands on the latest Transformer figures.
Perhaps that’s not the best comparison, unless you had seen the insanity at the Hasbro booth as I tried to track down something called “Derpy Hooves” that my 15-year-old son just had to have.
Yeah. It’s a My Little Pony figure. I don’t get it either, but believe it or not, I managed to score one. More on that later.
Into the Fold
My first venture onto the Exhibition Hall floor was on Wednesday’s Preview Night. I don’t actually recall walking so much as flowing along with the crowd, an innocent dolphin swimming with a school of sharks. With elbows and knees flying, they raced from booth to booth collecting free posters, T-shirts, and pins, as well as buying up limited edition toys. Their routes were carefully planned out with diagrams and spreadsheets, leaving a newb like me in the dust.
I left that night empty-handed, wide-eyed, and a teensy bit scared for my life.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say Hello
I did see some celebrities, which was a bit of a rush. The cast of Breaking Dawn, Part Two visited the fans lined up for the panel on Wednesday night, and I happened to be there to see some friends. Sadly, they didn’t all make it back to where we were in line, but we did move up in time to see Kellan Lutz, who was really sweet to all the fans. He took his time, chatting with people, signing autographs, and picking up children for pictures. He even spoke to someone’s mom on the phone!
On the exhibit floor I spotted Chad Michael Murray, LeVar Burton, Michael Biehn (“I came across time for you, Sarah!”), the cast of Teen Wolf, Chewbacca, and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. (Those last two might have been imposters. I can’t say for sure.)
I also scored tickets for an autograph session with Colin Morgan and Katie McGrath from the BBC series Merlin, of which I am a huge fan. They were both
so lovely, and I admit to having been more than a little star struck by Colin in person.
(Or maybe a lot star struck. Maybe.)
The next day, a group of us got in line at four in the morning for the Merlin panel and scored front-row seats. I am relatively certain Colin found my staring charming rather than creepy.
On another evening, while sitting and chatting on the patio of a local restaurant with some friends, I was informed with hushed squeals (and some not-so- hushed, to be honest), that Joshua Jackson from Fringe (and Dawson’s Creek – that’s right! Pacey Witter!) was seated across the fire pit from us. We proceeded to become a bunch of twelve-year-old girls, feigning taking pictures of each other so we could snap one of him. I’m not embarrassed. Much.
Of course, we dared and double-dared each other to approach him, but he was sitting and chatting with friends, and I didn’t want to be invasive. However, I couldn’t resist saying hello as we made our way out.
Me: “Hi Josh, I’m a big fan.”
Him: “Thank you very much.”
Me: “I just wanted to say hi. You have a great night.”
Him: “Thanks. You too.”
And that was it. I would have said more, but was pretty certain it would have led to a declaration of undying love on his part, and I’d have to break it to him that I was married and couldn’t give him what he needed.
Or maybe he just would have called security. It was difficult to judge.
Still, he was very nice. It almost made me feel guilty for always wishing that Joey had ended up with Dawson.
Crazy Loves Company
The one thing my son asked me to bring home from Comic-Con (once he got over being extraordinarily irritated that I wasn’t taking him with me) was a limited edition My Little Pony toy officially called The Unnamed Pony. Unofficially, it was referred to as Derpy Hooves.
I was warned that the toy would go quickly, so on Preview Night, as soon as I got through the door, I bee lined to the Hasbro booth, only to be told that the line was closed for the night.
After haunting the booth the next day to no avail, I finally asked a worker if there was any chance they would be replenishing their supply of the elusive Derpy Hooves.
Worker #1: “Oh, we’ll probably get some Derpy--”
Worker #2 (clears throat): “You mean the Unnamed Pony.”
Worker #1: “Sorry, yes, the Unnamed Pony. Just check the board throughout the day.”
So I went back periodically to check what I came to call the Board of Doom, which was where they posted the availability of various items in the booth. Sadly, the words “Out of Stock” continued to taunt me, reminding me of my failure as a mother and a person in general.
Perhaps I am being overly dramatic, but Comic-Con tends to do that to you.
Finally, I wearily passed by the booth one last time, stunned to find they’d received another shipment of ponies. Adrenaline pumping, I raced to the end of the line. Only to find that you needed a ticket to purchase...
...a ticket I didn’t have. A ticket that apparently required camping out at the ticket table to appropriate.
Dejected, I turned to leave, when I felt a tap on my arm. A young man leaned in.
“What do you need?” he asked quietly, holding out the Hasbro order form.
Tentatively, I raised a shaking finger to point to the picture of the little plastic pony that had become my nemesis.
“But you need a ticket,” I lamented, turning once again to leave. Another tap on the arm. “I can get it for you if you want.”
One Great Weekend
Despite the adrenaline of meeting celebrities, seeing exclusive footage, and scoring that must-have item, I have to say the best thing about attending Comic-Con this year, for me, was the people I met. Some I didn’t know before, but many I’d chatted with online – fellow fans of this or that, or people who had either read my stories, or whose stories I’d read.
I made some wonderful new friends, and was finally able to put faces to names (or Twitter handles), and really miss some of them so much already! There’s just something so bonding about sitting with a group of fun and crazy ladies at five in the morning and watching the sun come up as you wait in line.
I also met some wonderful people while waiting in line for the panels I attended – and you get to know someone pretty well after sitting in line with them for five or six hours.
And when you’re able to collapse together in a fit of hysterical giggles, all a bit stunned after meeting Colin Morgan, and share each other’s pictures and compare stories, it makes the experience that much more special. Honestly, it’s like being a kid again.
Which is kind of the point, I suppose. We all need that once in a while, don’t we?
T.M. Franklin is an author of original and derivative fiction. Her debut novel, MORE, the first in a Young Adult Paranormal Suspense/Romance trilogy, comes out October 4, 2012. She loves to hear from readers, or readers-to-be, and can be found at www.TMFranklin.com, www.facebook.com/TMFranklinAuthor, or on Twitter at @TM_Franklin.