Hello, fandom friends! Well, the Nerd Olympics (or a better analogy) is over for this year. Time for us all — or, more accurately, the ones who were lucky enough to snag tickets — to retreat back into the Internet. Perhaps to come out again at New York Comic Con. Perhaps only to peek our heads out when San Diego Comic Con rolls back around next year.
Comic Con gets a lot of crap for the amount of lines one must stand in just to see anything, get coffee, go the bathroom, or even get her badge to enter the exhibit hall. For me, this is all worth it and, I’m guessing if you’d ask one of my more than 100,000 compatriots at this weekend’s Con, they’d say the same thing. That being said, my experience was slightly different from past years I’ve attended Comic Con. This was my third Con experience (the first was as a volunteer in 2008, my second as a four-day badge holder in 2011), but it was my first with a press badge.
So, how did it change my time within the hallowed halls of the San Diego Convention Center? Well, it actually limited my time spent within the convention center by a lot. Really, I was part fan, part press this weekend. In my time as a straight-up fan, I waited in line and screeched in the panels like a normal person. In my time as a TV blogger, I spent most of my time in the Hilton Bayfront, interviewing the casts and creative teams behind some of my favorite shows. It’s hard to pick which experience meant more to me. I will always be a fan. I was unreasonably excited to see DC Night, as Arrow is my favorite show. I slept overnight in Hall H on Wednesday night to hang with friends and get the best seats for the Doctor Who panel that would be featured in the 6,500-seat space the following day. It was tiring, but exhausting. On the other hand, getting a chance to sit down and talk to the showrunners of my favorite shows was a dream that the 14-year-old, Alias-recap-writing version of myself could never have imagined.
I want to stress just how special this weekend can be. I didn’t talk to anyone who had a bad time. Even those who didn’t have badges for all four days or who didn’t get into something they’d really hoped to seemed to enjoy themselves. Because so much of the Comic Con experience is talking to other fans. Most of my favorite memories from this past weekend didn’t talk place in Hall H or Ballroom 20 or within the pressrooms of the Hilton Bayfront. They took place when I was in line for DC Night, obsessing over Arrow and The Flash with the random people in line with me. And they took place in conversations with my fellow TV bloggers, people I had previously only “hung out” with online. We got to compare notes and talk shop. Unlike many of my lovely at-home friends (yes, I keep them locked in my closet), my fandom friends don’t have a limit on how long or intensely they will talk about pop culture — or, if they do, we haven’t reached it yet.
I often think about talking pop culture with my fandom friends as comparable to speaking a language. I am very fluent in fandom, pop culture, and — most especially — TV. Most of my IRL friends (for want of a better way to designate them) speak it a little to a moderate amount. (Except for my lovely roommate Bettny who I’m not convinced could pick Iron Man out of an Avengers line-up.) But the people I hang out with on Twitter and at events like San Diego Comic Con or the ATX Television Festival? These people are fluent like I am. We have the same knowledge base. We know the same words. We think about this stuff ALL OF THE TIME. It is our passion, and there’s nothing like sharing your passion with others.
Without further ado, here is how I spent my time at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con…
Preview night: Containment, Blindspot, and Supergirl
I came into Comic Con very excited to see the Containment pilot. I love Julie Plec, and I will watch pretty much anything she does. Containment, based on a Belgian show called Cordon (the original title of the American series, as well), is about an ebola-like outbreak in Atlanta. When it becomes apparent that the virus could kill thousands if not millions of people if let out, the city officials and CDC set up a quarantine area. The show follows the lives of the people on either side of the cordon. The pilot didn’t disappoint with high stakes and a diverse cast of characters you immediately care about. It is, however, unclear how the premise can support an ongoing series. But, if anyone can do it, it’s Julie Plec!
I’m interested to see how the show does on The CW. It’s not their usual fare, though that definition has changed somewhat in recent years. The network is actively going after more men and a slightly older audience, while still maintaining their core demographic of young women — and it’s working.
Another, bigger part of the show’s genre success lies with its new network president, Mark Pedowitz. He took over in 2011 and one of the first things on his docket was to shift the target demographic from women 18-34 to adults 18-34. “Adults” is a politically correct way of saying “we need more dude-based eyeballs.” That’s the big difference between a channel that airs a Melrose Place remake and one that airs Arrow. Outmoded sexist stereotypes notwithstanding, it also means the difference between bigger budgets, bigger risks, and more genre diversity in television. (It also means more white cis-het male leads, which makes me sad for actual diversity.) The CW is glad that a lot of women watch Arrow, but they’re especially glad that women and men watch it. I look at it like The CW has finally given up trying to get women to like pretty pink princesses and is willing to let us have some adventure for once. And if that adventure dresses up in a superhero costume or slays demons or can teleport, all the better. (From Tor.com’s 2013 article: “All Hail The CW, Television Overlord of SFF”)
Containment could be the next step on that expansion ladder. It is an older cast then we’re used to, and has more characters of color than on most network shows. It could be the next drama to expand the CW audience in new directions.
Guys, I am so over this kind of show. I really like Jaimie Alexander. I was a Kyle XY fan and I dabble in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. world, but I just can’t with this show. Maybe it will get great after the pilot, but the first episode pretty much consisted of this pattern: Boy tells Girl to stay in the car. Girl insists she can help, but stays in car anyway. Boy and Boy’s agent friends realize they need Girl’s help. Girl helps. Repeat.
Again, this could have been the pilot, but I don’t even care. I have seen variations of this show before (I know it reminded a lot of people of Blacklist) and I just didn’t care about the characters by the end of the first episode, which is kind of a prerequisite for me. For those who are fans of more plot-driven, high-suspense shows, you might enjoy Blindspot. Let me know if it gets any better.
I may have, ahem, already seen this pilot, but it was very cool to see it on the big screen. I very much had the same reaction to the Supergirl pilot as I did to The Flash pilot: It was a lot fun, did exactly what a pilot should do in introducing compelling characters and setting up the world of the show, had some awesome special effects sequences, and made me fall in love with the protagonist. Maybe I’ll write up a more intense reaction to this pilot, but, for now, I’ll just say that I can’t wait to see more. And thank god there is finally a female-centric superhero show on TV. More, please.
Hall H Line
Hanging with the wonderful Kim and Sage from Head Over Feels in the Hall H line.
You didn’t think I was going to skip over the most important part of my Wednesday, did you? Comic Con is known for its line culture, and I can attest that this is totally a thing. I spent hours in line with my friends Kim and Sage from Head Over Feels. They got in line around 12 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and were within the first hundred or so people in line for the following day’s Hall H programming. The two major draws on Thursday’s Hall H schedule were Mockingjay Part 2 and Doctor Who. I was excited about both of them.
The way Hall H camping out works: Wristbands are given out the night before at a specific time. They correspond to different sections of the line. For example, we got Section A wristbands because we were near the front of the line. So, as long as you are back before 7:30 a.m. the following morning, you can get into the hall. If one person from your group saves a spot in line, you can even join them in that spot, rather than joining the end of the wristband line. Most of our group stayed overnight. I smuggled a blanket out of my hostel (don’t tell anyone), while most of the rest of the group had sleeping bags from a local Army/Navy Surplus Store that they later passed onto folks already in line for the Star Wars panel, set to take place on Friday night in Hall H. (Yes, people get in line very early.)
Some of my Hall H line friends and their awesome Firefly cosplay. (Note Baby Mal.)
The idea of sleeping overnight on the sand flea-ridden grass outside of the convention center might not appeal to you (and it definitely has its downsides), but being in line is also so much fun! You chat with the other superfans around you. You share toothpaste when everyone is brushing their teeth in the convention center bathroom that stays open for Hall H liners every night. You catch a glimpse of Peter Capaldi when he comes to visit the line. You talk about how terrible the local news affiliate who came to ask questions like “Does your family think you’re weird?” is. (For real. This was one of the ABC News guy’s questions.) And, no, you don’t get a very good night’s sleep and probably crash at some point the following day, but, for me, it was worth it. I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it every night, but I was glad to check the experience off of my fangirl bucket list.
Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Liam Hemsworth laugh at moderator Conan O’Brien’s joke during the Mockingjay Part 2 panel.
This Con marked the last time The Hunger Games gang would be coming to Comic-Con, and there was a lot of nostalgia going around. It was fun to see the cast interact. I was very impressed with how articulate Willow Shields, aka the 15-year-old actress behind Prim Everdeen, was. The best part, however, was the new trailer they premiered. It’s similar to the first trailer, but with a bit more action. We got to see the trailer twice, and, each time, Hall H literally shook with the bass from the trailer. It gave me shivers. I’ve been a huge fan of Francis Lawrence’s direction of the previous two Hunger Games films (especially Mockingjay Part 1), so I am beyond excited to see the final installment. Even if I know where this is all going and how difficult and heartbreaking it will be to watch.
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman share a smile during their 2015 Doctor Who Comic Con panel.
Oh, Doctor Who. The first year I came to Comic Con, I attended the Doctor Who panel in Ballroom 20. The panel included John Barrowman, Steven Moffat, and the amazing Julie Gardner. This was a decidedly different experience. So much has happened in the Who verse since 2008, including the great Peter Capaldi and the lovely Jenna Coleman. I haven’t been a huge fan of Moffat’s reign as showrunner, but this past season is the season I have enjoyed most since Donna left. We got to see the new trailer (released onto the Internet by BBC minutes before we saw it in Hall H), and it looks Doctor Who-y.
Yeah, you guys can judge for yourself. It sounds like this coming season might be more adventure-oriented with Clara teaching The Doctor how to interact with people. The friends will be more comfortable in their dynamic compared to the drama of last season.
Fandom is My Fandom Or: We All Live in a Coffeehouse AU
This was really the only small panel I had the chance to go to, and it did not disappoint. I already stalk fandom journalist Elizabeth Minkel on Twitter, so when I found out she would be on this panel, I was so there. Also, is that not the best title ever?
This panel was super interesting, with representatives from various entry points of fandom via the amazing panelists: Amanda Brennan (community and content associate tumblarian, tumblr), Flourish Klink (Chaotic Good, Inc., Transmedia producer for East Los High), Meredith Levine (Fanthropologist, ZEFR), Aron Levitz (head of business development, Wattpad), the aforementioned Elizabeth Minkel (writer, New Statesman, The Millions), Betsy Rosenblatt (legal committee chair, Organization for Transformative Works), and Jules Wilkinson (founder, SuperWiki), with moderator Heidi Tandy (founder/essayist, FYeahCopyright). The underlying theme of the discussion (at least, for me) was the intersection between fandom and money. In recent years, fandom has been pulled into the spotlight in ways that it never has been before. With major successes like Fifty Shades of Grey, corporations and media conglomerates are realizing they can make money off of the passion of fans. What does this mean for fandom? Obviously, the answer is different for everyone, and demands a more complicated answer than can be given in an hour-long panel.
The best part about this panel? How informed both the panelists and audience members seemed to be about fandom. This isn’t surprising, but it’s always refreshing to be in a space where a common fandom language is spoken and a base knowledge exists. It allows that conversation to reach new levels and complexities, like the realization that there is no such thing as one monolithic fandom. When we say “fandom,” we are all thinking of different things because, while fandom can create these amazing communities, it is also a very personal experience. Whatever your definition of fandom, there is no denying that it seems to be at a crossroads. Where will fandom(s) go next? What new communities will they create? And how much will money-making entities (both positive and negative) be a part of that constant evolution?
Press rooms : The 100, The Originals, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Vampire Diaries, and Arrow
Stephen Amell answers questions about Season 4 in the Arrow press room.
I’m not going to go into details about my pressrooms here because I will be writing up separate articles about all of the spoilers I gathered (for The Televixen), but I do want to talk a bit about the experience. As I mentioned before, this was my first press room experience and it was amazing. I was very anxious leading up to this, and was afraid that I would be starstruck when the time came, but that was not the case at all. As cool as most of these actors seem, it isn’t them I spend hours every year watching on TV; it is their characters. That sounds trippy, but it felt like talking to a third party about these characters we both respect.
The 100′s lovely Eliza Taylor responds to my question about Jasper and Clarke’s relationship in Season 3.
But the absolute coolest part for me was chatting with the executive producers of these shows I love. Having the opportunity to ask Julie Plec, Caroline Dries, Marc Guggenheim, and Wendy Mericle questions about their respective shows was pretty much the coolest thing ever. If I was going to geek out, it probably would have been in these moments, but I was too interested in learning what is next for my favorite shows to do so. This was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my TV blogging career so far.
I was particularly encouraged by what Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle had to say about Arrow. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, Arrow is my favorite show right now, but (like many fans) I was pretty disappointed by the last season — especially in comparison to Season 2. But the producers seem to be aware of what didn’t work in Season 3 and are making changes to address those problems. We’re looking at more Oliver as Oliver Queen — his public persona and how he can make a difference as the man versus the superhero. And we’re looking at a more lighthearted tone in Season 4. Sure, it’s easy enough to say you’re addressing problems that other people have brought up, but Arrow has shown a talent for addressing narrative problems in the past. Basically, I’m not ready to give up on this show just yet.
The lovely Emily Bett Rickards answering a question about Felicity’s Season 3 character arc.
I spent much of my weekend hanging out with Lindsay MacDonald, a fellow TV super-fan and burgeoning blogger. (Follow her on Twitter — she is THE BEST. Also: follow me on Twitter, dammit.) We connected on Twitter sometime last year, but this was the first time we had met in person — and it was awesome. Like myself, this was her first time going into press room to interview the people who make our favorite shows. We are in that awkward, exciting intermediary stage of the transition from fangirl to professional TV blogger. I hope I never lose the passion I have as a fangirl for TV (because, otherwise, what’s the point of being a TV blogger?), but learning the logistics and realities of TV blogging at the next level was an invaluable experience. One that Lindsay and I spent the entire weekend gushing about.
Lindsay breaks out the Fruit Roll-Ups in the Hall H Line for DC Night.
DC Night: Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl
After two days of press rooms, I was very much looking forward to transitioning back into “fan mode” for DC Night. I love Arrow. I adore The Flash. I’m very excited about Supergirl. I’d heard that this event was one of the highlights of last year’s Comic Con. Did the evening live up to expectations? Not really. As most of these shows haven’t begun filming yet (Comic Con was slightly earlier this year), there wasn’t any new footage, which might have been fine if not for the rushed manner of the entire event. Because DC had so many shows to get out on the stage, each one was only on stage for a short period of time. When the moderator announced that The Flash cast and creative team would have to leave the stage because their time was up, Grant Gustin expressed his surprise and disappointment — and I was with him. Morena Baccarin, onstage for Gotham, didn’t get to utter a single word. Frustratingly, the night included a wire routine that took time away from the shows everyone was there to discuss. (For the record, the routine was very impressive, just not what I was there for.)
— Kayti Burt (@kaytiburt) July 12, 2015
That being said, I wasn’t sad that I attended. I had a great time chatting with my fellow DC TV show fans in the line while waiting to get in. And there are no words to describe how cool it was to watch the sizzle reels and promotional media that expanded past Hall H’s massive screen in the front of the room, stretching almost halfway down the walls of the massive space. The Supergirl cast was adorable. The Flash cast was adorable. Plus, we got to see Stephen Amell introduce the entire night in character, dressed in the new Green Arrow costume. All in all, a pretty solid way to spend an evening. I’m just glad Comic Con will be later next year, so we can hopefully get some new footage from all (or most) of the TV shows presenting at Comic Con.
To hear more about the DC TV news that came out at Comic-Con, check out episode four of Den of Geek’s SDCC podcast, featuring… ME.
The Heroes Reborn stuff really impressed me. I never watched the original series, so I went into this one somewhat blind, and liked what I saw. It definitely has an X-Men vibe to it, i.e. humans with powers who are systematically oppressed for those powers. It has a bright, articulate, enthusiastic cast. They showed a few things: the first episode of the Dark Matters digital prequel series, an extended trailer, and a scene from the show. All three were great. The scene has a moment that had Hall H audibly reacting. I’m definitely going to give this show a chance.