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Nerdlocker – San Diego Comic-Con – Day 1

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It was that time of the year again where every fanboys dreams came true. The 44th annual San Diego Comic-Con has finally arrived! The epicenter of all things pop culture took place at the San Diego Convention Center, as every source of entertainment was showcasing their next big thing as they interacted with over 140,000 people who were expected to converge over the next 4 days (July 18-21st.) to get a glimpse and find info on upcoming movies, what was coming to their favorite television shows and comic books; play demos of upcoming video games, meet their favorite celebrities and book authors, and pick up every type of novelty that you could think of!

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As I was driving into downtown San Diego, you knew something was in the air. From the promotional Comic-Con signs that dangled on the lamp posts to the retail stores, the hotels and restaurants that were taken over by studios who transformed them into huge billboards that showed off different franchises like The Amazing Spiderman 2  movie, to the final season of Breaking Bad  and fan favorite show like Defiance. I wasn’t even in the convention center and was totally blown away at the facelift the Gas Lamp District took to get the people excited for whatever they were trying to promote.

After retrieving my Comic-Con badge from registration the night before, I made my way to get into the line for the Exhibit Hall, the long windy hall wrapped around as I passed by the meeting rooms where I quickly saw the sign of the line up for all the panels. I luckily got pretty close to the front of the line where about 400 attendees were already waiting patiently for that 9 A.M. mark for those exhibit hall doors to open. Mind you that this was a little over 6 A.M. and the line was only getting bigger! I’m glad I got my credentials as early as I did, with that many people coming to the convention I didn’t want to get caught in the melee for my badge!

When the announcement that Comic-Con officially started, the eruption of applauding and thunderous roar of the cheering crowd echoed the halls. It gave me goose bumps as the excitement sky rocketed while I shuffled my body down the escalators and through those doors. Upon walking into the exhibition floor the first thing I was greeted by was artist alley, where artists that ranged from independent to well known veterans like Rob Liefield who greeted the hundreds of fans that quickly gathered a line that wrapped towards the back wall to meet the Deadpool and X-Force creator. As I continued down the aisles I noticed the booths from Fox Entertainment and Warner Brothers who had a tree like scaffolding that were lined with televisions which were showing their most popular television series.

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From the distance as I sprinted down the aisle (don’t run kids in convention halls) you could see the massive DC Entertainment booth which had gaming demos of the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins  game which was engulfed with people who wanted to get a chance to play a young Batman. A line for the artist and writer talents who were doing signings throughout the day and booth employees who were giving out freebies like pins, buttons, poster and comics. Over at the Marvel booth a rotational wall gave a glimpse of the Harley Davison motorcycle that Chris Evans rode in the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier  movie which will be released April 4, 2014. And just around the corner of the Marvel booth was the live Marvel stream hosted by Marvel executive editorial director Ryan Penagos or famously known by this Twitter followers as Agent M, which broadcasted everything that Marvel Entertainment was doing during Comic-Con.

Further down the aisles were retailers from toy companies like Hasbro who were selling limited edition items that had collectors of all ages lined up to capture the Bobba Fett action figure with Han Solo trapped in Carbonite accessory, the collection of Deadpool Corps action figures contained in a taco truck looking box, or the  Jem and the Holograms Glitter ‘N Gold Jem/Jerrica Benton Doll. Mattel who had special signings with World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers like Real World reality star veteran Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and “Dolph Ziggler” who got the early crowd hyped! Entertainment Earth had a wide variety of collectable novelties like the Venture Bros. Doc Sampson figure or the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary shot glasses.

But as much as we all like limited edition toys, let’s be frank, we all know why most of us came to Comic-Con was to find sought after comics! Am I right? Over on the opposite side of the convention center was the area where most people migrated. Pretty much all comic book retailers, novelties, and video game companies had booths swarmed with people looking through bins and bins of comic books in the hopes of completing their comic book collection. I know I was! Over in the video game section of the convention center gaming giants Microsoft and Sony had first hand demos of the X-Box One and PlayStation 4 system with eager gamers salivating at a chance to try the next gen systems. They went head to head playing the new Killer Instinct  and the highly anticipated Watch Dogs game.

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As much as I wanted to live in the exhibit hall, there was so much to do outside of the convention center. By the time I looked at my watch it was 4 P.M.! My mind was boggled at how fast the time went by, so I went out to check on the scenes around the convention center. I set myself on a quest to find any free activities that were going on in the surrounding areas. I thought to myself at this time, with so many people who converged on to the convention grounds, there are many people who were unable to secure a Comic-Con badge. I know that feeling and wanted to suggest areas via Twitter and Facebook that the non attendees can checkout to get that Comic-Con feeling without actually having to be there. And trust me, there was a lot!

First place I went to was the Interactive Zone right across the street from Petco Park. The Interactive Zone, just like the SDCC exhibit hall, had a plethora of things going on like demo stations for the new Mad Max game which is slated for a 2014 release date. Just a few feet away were zombies slowly pacing back and forth trying to chew on attendees who were trying to get a photo with them as they promoted The Walking Dead Escape Survival Course that was going to take place in Petco Park on Friday and Saturday. To my surprise The Silver Samurai armor from The Wolverine  movie was there to promote the films as it opens in theaters this Friday (look for my film review soon). The Course of the Force’s media van/Jabba the Hutts Pleasure Barge was also in attendance at the Interactive Zone for people to take pictures of. The Course of the Force which was a weeklong race held by Nerdist Industries/Attack of the Show alumni’s own Chris Hardwick. The Olympic style torch race from San Francisco to San Diego where runners held a light saber as opposed to a burning torch kicked off the Comic-Con festivities as they raised money for the Make a Wish Foundation.

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After the Interactive Zone I headed to Petco Park where Nerd HQ was taking place. This is the third year that The Nerd Machine and founder Chuck  actor Zachary Levi held Nerd HQ, a huge interactive chill zone for Comic-Con attendees which had panels, gaming demos, lounge areas and photo booths that had the attendees having the time of their lives. At the time I walked into Nerd HQ, NASA System Engineer Bobak Ferdowski finished his panel where he explained everything that’s been going on with the Mars Curiosity Rover and his instant fame and recognition he has received with his now famous Mohak.

After milling around Nerd HQ, I headed back over to the convention center for a live taping of PodCrash with That Chris Gore panel where he was joined by Queen of the Nerds Adrianne Curry (America’s Next Top Model),  Stephen Kramer Glickman (Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush), comedian Yoshi Obayashi (DVDASA, YoshiDidnt) and the cast of comedic improve group Comic Book Live. And let’s just say hilarity ensued, between the blind folded superhero dating show game and the S&M fan fiction Man of Steel parody they performed. It was the perfect way to end Thursday’s Comic-Con festivities and start the Comic-Con after hours portion of my journey. (You can listen to the not so kid friendly “PodCrash with That Chris Gore” podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/podcrash/089-san-diego-comic-con-2013

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After the live PodCrash taping I headed back to Petco Park for the MTV2 “Party in the Park” Comic-Con after party, where I was greeted by attendees who had the time of their lives, the neon lights of the ferris wheel and performance stage where opening act New Politics performed and closing out the show was headliner Dj Dillion Francis. After a few hours of checking out the activities that included a virtual 3D rollercoaster simulator, free food and drink booths and face painters, and a fireworks spectacle that ended the party; I headed over to the Nerd HQ party where everyone from actor Nathan Fillion, Attack of the Show alumni Alison Haislip, NASA’s Bobak Ferdowski, and host Zachary Levi partied till the wee hours of the morning with fellow nerds which was the end of my 22 hour day.

As insane as day 1 of San Diego Comic-Con was, this was the slowest day of the convention and it was only the beginning…

Some photos are credited to Rick Mendoza

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