Conventions & Events

  • Guide: How to Ask Your Friends to Get You Swag Last Minute at SDCC

    Don’t Do it.

    But, I am a fan too. I get it. I’ve also been that person asking for friends to get stuff at con for me. Here’s why your friend might not respond. Or may give you the side eye, even if they love you. SDCC swag/exclusive hunting can be… well, a challenge.

    Why not?

    1. SDCC is a nightmare to traverse.
      Sometimes, a “t-shirt at a small booth” can end up being 2-3 hours of effort to get to the con, crawl through the snail-pace of the con, find the dang booth, and then wait in line for a shirt… to discover they don’t take cash. Ouch.
    2. Exclusives sometimes require overnight waiting to get.
      And even that’s not a guarantee. Read the sad Twitter stories of people in line for 12-14 hours to get denied last minute.
    3. Sometimes people ask for something and don’t pay.
      Wasting your good faith effort and precious SDCC time (because you went against your judgment and got them something without payment first because they are a good friend and you trust them). Bye bye friendship.

    But what if they offer?

    1. Don’t over-ask.
      If you’re asking, imagine that 10+ other people are asking them for help too.
    2. They might not realize how time consuming it is.
      It might be their first SDCC and they wanna help their friends. Then they realize what a nightmare it is but feel guilty pulling out.
    3. Make it easy for them.
      Always ask for things in a manner like this if they offer (YMMV), give them as much information as possible AND GIVE THEM AN OUT:

      Hi!

      Since you’re offering: I would love XYZ exclusive at XYZ booth, I have circled it on this map for you. Their booth should be right next to Square Enix. The item shouldn’t sell out, but it is only available at SDCC and I really need it for my husbando collection. I am happy to Paypal you right now if you can provide me your info, as well as a tip to get some Tin Fish after because you seem to love that place.

      I really appreciate your offer to try to get this for me, but if anything comes up, I completely understand. Have an amazing SDCC!

      Cheers, Your Friend

    And if they do help you out..

    If your friend is nice enough to get you something, and they are successful, please consider the following:

    1. Tip them for their time. Well.
      I had a friend tip me almost 15 bucks as a surprise to get them something that cost $20 at Star Wars Celebration, because they understood the effort involved. Please be that friend, and not the cheapskate to stiff them a buck or two.
    2. Cover the shipping. 
      SDCC has a FedEx. Pricey but convenient. The stuff you want might not fit in their luggage. Yes USPS can be cheaper but FedEx is right there. If they are willing to deliver or allow pick up in person, read #1 again. (And pick it up. Don’t make then come to you back in your home town.)
    3. Pay it forward.
      Do something incredibly nice for someone at another show. Pay the good con geek karma forward.
    4. Give them a good swag item in return.
      If you are going anywhere or have access to something they wont, see if you can pay them back this way.

    Thank you for reading and understanding. 🙂

  • Anabel’s SDCC Stress Management Guide! (For Crowds & Beyond)

    Managing Your SDCC Stress

    SDCC is one of my best and worst shows. It’s the “best” in terms of the spectacle and immersion in geek culture and the people from all around the world I get to me. It’s the “worst” in terms of my stress level with planning logistics and crowds. 150k people, many in long lines and in the middle of mind-numbing crowds, are all feeling some degree of stress at a point. But it doesn’t have to be that bad!

    I’m feeling a lot more prepared this year, thanks to many helpful guides I’ve found online and tips I’ve discovered through my own SDCC adventures. Here is my curated list. Feel free to comment with suggestions!

    Arm Yourself With Knowledge Guides

    You’re reading this blog, so you have the internet at your fingertips. YAY! Seriously, I have mitigated most of my pre-con anxiety by coming up with battle plans.

    Unofficial SDCC Blog’s Mega-Guide – Any kind of general event questions you have, especially for a first timer, will very likely be addressed here. The Unofficial SDCC blog has helped me find so much information (and cool events/giveways!).

    Also: Follow them on Twitter.

    Outside Comic-Con Calendar – Giant. Events. List. Don’t panic! Some things will be full. This is normal. Stay flexible and be open minded as things open up. Stalk Twitter as people report back from parties (sometimes they report back when a party has room or is too full).

    Also: Follow them on Twitter.

    Comic-Con International FREE Shuttle Lines – I share this down below but I love it so much I’m gonna link it twice.

    The Geeks’ Guide to Not Getting Hangry at Con – My friends are geek food bloggers and put together a simple tips guide that apply to all cons. I completely forget out room has a fridge and that instant coffee was a thing. 😛

    Team Click’s SDCC Pop Culture Guide – I was afraid this guide would be a little hand-holdy (sometimes geek culture guides are), but it’s actually a great summary of the popular movies, comics, tv, and more that will be featured at SDCC. (A TON in here I didn’t know was coming out.)

    Bonus: You can use the bingo at the end of the guide for a de-stresser game. 🙂

    Packing Essentials for SDCC – This is my packing suggestion list!

    Plan Your Schedule

    Official SDCC App – The official app put on by Comic-Con internation has a helpful scheduler for panels! And will ping you with alerts!

    Google Sheets – I use a personal spreadsheet that I link to my friends, so we can plan around each other’s schedules if we want to meet up.

    Dealing With Crowd Anxiety at the Con

    Right in the thick of it!

    Crowds get intense. There’s no question about it. This is where a strategy comes into play. Think about might go wrong, and have a plan of action when you hit those “I gotta get OUT OF THIS CROWD NOW” moments. Your mileage may vary (YMMV), but here are some places you can escape to:

    A Panel (not a massive one)

    A good chunk of SDCC panels are half-full. Find one in the program guide that matches your interest. You get to sit quietly in the back and listen to cool people discuss geek stuff. Win!

    Upper Floor (Hidden Halls & Areas)

    There are some great nooks and crannies upstairs where security won’t hassle to you sit! Also:

    If you don’t wanna leave the convention there is a nice open air walkway between registration and the exhibit hall. 2nd floor. They serve hot dogs right next to it, it’s the only place that people can finally SIT DOWN for a minute without anyone yelling at you to keep moving. Not many people up there either.
    -Karen

    Note: If you have a professional badge, there is a pro lounge upstairs in 30AB. I always forget it exists. Honestly, there aren’t a ton of spaces to crash inside the convention center – security will scold you if they catch you sitting.

    SDCC’s Con Hospitality Lounge

    There is a free hospitality lounge to sit and relax in at the Marriott Marina Ballroom G. SDCC also provides free snacks, soda, and water.) Thursday through Saturday nights from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am.

    Sails Pavilion Patio

    If you don’t want to walk down to the park, there is usually seating behind the con by the Sails Pavilion. (Where folks line up to do autograph drawings, sign up for the blood drive, and more.) This seating overlooks the harbor and usually isn’t *too* occupied.

    The Park Behind the Con

    It’s beautiful back there. Have a sit. You can always bring a book or your music with you and just schedule breaks to exit out of con and have a breather.

    And you can’t beat the view, the park space behind SDCC by the water is gorgeous.

    One of my favorite parts of SDCC is that many restaurants get their geek on 😀

    Chill At a Restaurant Away From the Chaos

    Honestly, I fully recommend plotting out 4-5 restaurants. Depending on where the crowd anxiety hits, you can sneak off, order a delicious snack or drink, and collect yourself. You can check out the general Gaslamp Dining website, or check out some suggestions below.

    Seaport Village

    Seaport Village usually doesn’t have many events going on there and I’ve usually found it to be uncrowded, relatively speaking. It’s located behind the Grand Hyatt. There’s some nice food places as well, albeit slightly pricey since it’s kind of a tourist-targeted spot. You can also get there pretty quickly via the backside of the con center. (Random story: I randomly saw Adam Savage skateboarding while headed there once. 😀 Took me a second to register). I’ve gone there for lunch with a relatively decent sized group (8-10 people) and we got seated immediately, so that can give you an idea of how low-traffic it is. (from Dani)

    Dragon’s Den

    On the side of the walking bridge there’s a little restaurant called Dragon’s Den that is just a short walk from Petco Park. It’s always been fairly empty every time I’ve gone and the food there is wonderful. The bartenders are always super nice and will let you chill at the bar even for a glass of water. (from Laura)

    The Cat Cafe

    Sit down with some kitties, have a drink, and feel human again. 🙂 It costs a little bit, but it’s worth a mental health break.

    Ghiridelli

    The few times I’ve been inside, it was relatively quiet! Ice cream + rest = yay!

    Chill in Geek Lounges

    Warning: these may get crowded. But I have managed to find some solace at gaming lounges. Nintendo and Geek and Sundry are hosting lounge space at Marriot Marquis & Marina, next to the con. They are a shot walk away and you might find a nice geeky area to hunker down and enjoy some gaming!

    Microsoft Lounge back in 2013

    Getting Around

    I used to walk everywhere. But, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. SDCC is, if anything, a game of endurance. Waiting in lines. Standing around. Walking from one side of Gaslamp to another to get from one event to another. Take care of yourself!

    SDCC Shuttles

    There is a free SDCC shuttle service (view the schedule here), during the con, 24 hours a day (kicking off on Wednesday). It’s big, it’s beautiful; the only problem is that during peak con times, it can be slow in traffic. But you can’t beat free. There are also signs posted at the stops with information the that shuttle line’s route.

    The great news? You don’t have to show your badge. And you’re not locked to a single route. Sometimes, if I’m tired and want to get to a friend’s hotel, I just hop on the free shuttle to it.

    Note: There are some changes from last year, so if you have a few stops you rely on, double check it.

    Uber / Lyft

    Yes, it’s a splurge. When my legs are starting to get achey, and I want to do more than a 20-30 minute walk to an event, sometimes I’ll just call a ride. The good news it that Uber and Lyft typically have free rides going on during SDCC to promote different shows. The bad news it that these can be hard to get.

    If you see a free ride – GRAB IT. We’ve gotten free themed rides from Gotham, Colony, and Ghostbusters. If you don’t snag a free ride, 5 bucks is still a great deal to give yourself a well-needed rest (and you don’t have to wait forever for the shuttles).

    If you haven’t used Uber or Lyft before and want a free ride via a code, you can use the following links.

    • My Uber Code ($20 off first ride): hdrvs
    • My Lyft Code ($10 off first ride): anabelamis

    Disclaimer: I do get a credit if you use those for free rides (up to the $ offered). 🙂 So you get a free ride and I get a free ride during SDCC if you use it.

    Pedi Cabs

    Some of these are free (sponsored by the studios), though it IS nice to have a cash tip ready. Be warned: some of the “themed” pedicabs are NOT free. Double check with them before hopping on. Some of them won’t want you and try to gouge you after they drop you off.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Ditch Your Friends

    Initially, you’ll wanna walk around with your awesome friend group and enjoy things together. After a while, that friendship will strain when one person wants to stay at Petco Interactive Zone, another wants to sit in panels all day, and another wants to veg in the hotel room for a bit. This is normal. And honestly, it’s part of the SDCC experience.

    It’s perfectly okay to split off for a few hours and reconnect! In fact, it can help you divide and conquer. You can’t do everything at the show, and some people’s priority will lean towards one event over another. Schedule time to break off, then reconvene. Sometimes my husband and I have done this, and came back with “You have to come back and check THIS out tomorrow!” I love the gaming stuff, he’s majorly into horror. If I want 3 hours in the Nintendo lounge, that’s 3 hours he can spend at the IT experience. We don’t feel like a burden on each other, we get a little break from being together alllll day, and then we meet back up and ramble about what we just did while enjoying the rest of the show together!

    Don’t forget to stay in touch while you’re apart, either. I recommend a Facebook group or any similar group chat, so everyone can stay updated. This also allows friends with anxiety the chance to take a break without feeling like they’re being a buzzkill.

    Accepting Murphy’s Law

    Something can, and will, go wrong during SDCC. For some attendees, it’s traveling thousands of miles and not winning an autograph raffle. For others, it’s the party filling up that all your friends are in and you’re stuck outside, feeling like a loser. It’s missing the chance for a commission with your favorite artist because you could only get a Friday pass and they’re already filled up.

    True story: It’s okay to cry. I find it helpful to accept that sometimes con life, no matter how nicely it’s planned and scheduled, will go wrong. Recently, I ended up sick with severe food poisoning at Emerald City Comicon and missed 75% of the show because I was curled up on a lounge couch. I felt like a burden to my friends and amazing host, but they took care of me and I still had a good time. I accepted I was in a crappy spot, and that it would pass. And I recovered enough by Sunday to walk around the show. Yay!

    At SDCC, the stress opportunities are amplified. One thing might end up being the straw that broke the camel’s back of stress for you. If you do catch yourself in a moment like that, get away for an hour or so. Get some water. Watch some cute puppy videos. Center yourself. The crappy thing that has happened will pass. While the con is crowded, there are still a ton of people who would love to be in your shoes. Get what you can out of con, and work around challenges.

    Take Extra Caution in Cosplay

    I was in tears from walking around in full armor, from Friday-to-Sunday, and so exhausted I fell off a bus. DONT BE LIKE ME. Take those extra-self care steps, lots of breaks, and have a handler on standby if you are in cosplay.

    YES you want to be seen.

    NO you don’t want to die. 🙂


    Through it all, planning can only take you so far. You really just have to listen to yourself and trust yourself. If you’re feeling a little unwell – stop and take that break. And don’t be afraid to communicate that to your pals.

    SDCC will fly by no matter what-do what you can to mitigate the stress and have your escape plans ready! I still do, even though I’ve been attending the past few years.

  • Anabel’s Top 10 Essential Items to Bring to SDCC!

    SDCC “What to Bring” Hacks

    This list was created with a casual attendee in mind, or a first-timer who wants to have a lookie-loo out and about inside and outside the con. If you plan to buy a lot of art, comics, or prints – you are probably already familiar with bringing portfolios, tubes, and bag/board. If you plan to camp out for Hall H, here is a nice blog post.

    Now, your mileage may vary, but these are the items I’ve found indisputably useful during my past 5 years at SDCC to survive the long days and crowds. 150k fans packed in San Diego’s downtown doesn’t have to be a nightmare!

    #1 Day Pack (Hiking Backpack)

    You are on your feet all day, and sometimes enough happens that you dont want to return to your room for several hours. A daypack helps distribute the weight you are carrying. Also, you can deck it out with buttons and pins. 🙂 It IS a splurge [Mine was $45 at Ross (normally $80)], but it has lasted well over 20 shows with minimal wear and tear, because they’re build to endure people having a hike.

    • Warning: The free bag SDCC gives you WILL tear. Leave it in your hotel room unless you wanna wear it to trade it.
    • Additionally: Some places do not allow daypacks. If you’re hitting party after con, you can leave the daypack at your hotel room.

    #2 Tri-Fold Stool

    There are more affordable ones – these were an emergency purchase from Amazon to our hotel one year when we were aching and they’ve continued to save our butts.

    If you plan to wait in a single line, a compact tri-fold stool is a lifesaver. Get jealous looks in line from the suckers who are standing! 🙂 (We forgot them one year, so I ended up Amazon Prime-ing them to the hotel). They are a LITTLE annoying to sling over your shoulder, so we actually hook it up to the daypack to distribute the weight.

    For Hall H, you will need a different strategy to stay comfortable. I don’t do Hall H, but I’ve seen people there all day with some intense set-ups. A quick search pulled up this guide. If you need extra suggestions, you can try the SDCC FB group or the subreddit.

    • Note: If we don’t plan to be in lines, we leave it in the room. But, every time we’re like “we don’t need it today,” we’ve regret it. :X
    • Updated: This is the stool I got for Non-Hall-H line waiting. (AKA outdoor event lines, inside the lounge when the food court chairs are all taken, outside in general when we need emergency seating for a snack/water break). YMMV, it depends on your weight and how heavy of a stool you wanna carry. But Allen and I do just fine with these!

    #3 Business Cards

    Even if you’re just a fan – have a little card with your contact info. You’re in geektopia and you WILL make random friends. Having a card is handy, in case your phone dies. And just for general networking.

    And having a card makes you feel cooler.

    #4 Water Bottle / Snacks

    It feels like a no brainer, but it deserves a spot on this list. You’ll get dehydrated faster than you realize. And tired if you don’t get any fuel. Take care of yourself. Check in every hour and have something to drink. Every 2 hours, have a little snack. I prefer turkey sticks, baggies of cereal, and protein bars. YMMV.

    • Emergency drink/snackage: Too exhausted to walk another step and you need food NOW? There are two lounges inside the con itself to get food/drink at. Is it overpriced? Yes. but you need to take care of yourself. If you can find the will to escape the con (I’ve been there, with the wrong boots and crying from pain of walking), the Hilton also tends to set up a spot directly in front of the hotel with burgers, hot dogs, and drinks. If you can get to the Gaslamp (right outside the con), you can hobble to the Tin Fish or a nearby restaurant.
    • Bonus: My friends at Geeks Who Eat have a great guide on not getting hangry at con!

    #5 Ibuprofen / Pain Reliever

    Depending on what you do, you will find surprise aches and pains. I’ve gotten sore from the walking, waiting in line, etc. Allen needed some after doing a bungee chord thing with the Square Enix adventure area, haha.

    #6 Spray-On Sunblock

    You don’t think you’ll be outside long.. But you may be. Just, trust me. I prefer the spray on, and it’s super quick and easy to do before you head out and about. I have seen waaaaay too many victims of the sun.

    #7 Cell Phone

    For the following reasons:

    • Track your schedule (with the official app, or your own calendar or spreadsheet)
    • Save contact info
    • Navigate to events and parties
    • Lyft/Uber for rides (including FREE rides if you’re lucky!)
    • Following the #SDCC hashtag on your favorite social platform
    • Pics/selfies of cool stuff!

    #7.5 Battery Pack for Phone

    Your phone’s gonna die. Don’t rely on finding a spare outlet. Yes, they can be a little heavy. This is why I have my daypack. 🙂

    #8 Camera

    For the love of God, take pics of cool stuff so your friends can live vicariously through you. 😉 Spend a day scouting if you’re not sure you want to bring a camera. Some folks like to dedicate a “take all the cool pics” day so they’re not lugging their DSLR around all weekend.

    #9 Hygiene Products

    SDCC will funk you up. Take care of your hygiene with your favorite products, even if you just snag sample sizes. Absolutely bring: deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothpaste, feminine care products (if you need them), etc. Feel too tired to shower? Just do it. I take a shower every morning and do a little pamper routine. It really helps me feel better to endure the day. Also, people will appreciate that you’re not wielding the con-funk.

    • Note: Okay, okay–you can hit a grocery store during the con. There is a Ralph’s nearby, and you can even access it from a stop near the free SDCC shuttle. But I’m a planner. I’d rather hit a Target before con, rather than worry about finding tooth paste and deodorant once we touch down in San Diego. But if you do forget some stuff, you can have your errand before you go out and about for con that day.

    #10 Comfortable Shoes

    DONT WORRY ABOUT YOUR FEET LOOKING CUTE. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. PLEASE. Sorry for the all caps, but I am an idiot who, in 2012, wore cute boots for my cosplay. I was in tears by the afternoon and was walking so painfully that a waiter from a local restaurant brought me inside because he thought I looked like I was gonna die.

    #11  Rubber Bands (Suggested by Lisa)

    Great suggestion! There are a ton of street teams and posters are a popular item. I’ve unfortunately damaged posters in the past by not having something to wrap them up in. I’ve even given up my own hair tie to a fellow fan who was stressing on ruining a really gorgeous X-Men Apocalypse poster we got from a street team marketing rep.

    #12 Honorable Mentions

    • Your SDCC Badge (if you have one)
    • Power Strip: if you have multiple people in your hotel room
    • Extra Towel and Pillow
    • Triple Count all your Cosplay Stuff

    Need extra help? Reddit’s /r/comiccon board has a GREAT survival guide!

    And if you have further suggestions, let me know so I may add them!

  • Didn’t Get SDCC Passes? Don’t Panic! (Why It’s Still Worth Attending!)

    It’s Absolutely Possible to Enjoy San Diego Comic-Con International Without a Badge~!

    It’s that time of the year again. You tried to get a pass through San Diego Comic-Con International‘s open registration, or through volunteering, or through a friend who’s a professional… and it didn’t work out. You’re sad. You’re heartbroken. You’ve heard and seen all sorts of amazing things about this geek mecca from friends who have gone (blast you, social media!), including the notable “you have to experience it at least once in your life!” or “you don’t REALLY need a pass to get in!”

    You may have even scoffed at that second assurance. How the heck are you supposed to enjoy all the cool stuff — the exclusives, the movie studios, the artists, the panels — if you don’t even have a pass to get inside?

    Well, if you have the opportunity to crash in a friend’s hotel room (or have family in the area) and just wander around outside, I promise you it is absolutely worth it. SDCC is a world of it’s own and one of my favorite geek meccas for people watching and just being in the moment of geeky spontaneity.

    First, the Break-Down

    Most free things are going to be available in the following areas right outside the San Diego Convention Center:

    • Petco Park or Petco Park’s parking lot
    • Gaslamp Quarter 
    • The green parks around the con – usually directly around the convention center building in the common greenspace across from the X hotel, or a little across the pier (X Park), or a little ride up the shuttle stop (X Park).
    • Nearby Hotels and Venues in general (some of their events are for badge holders, other things are free for anyone to enter)

    Follow #SDCC on Social Media

    Companies post last minute cool freebie stuff to do outside the show all the time on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Other attendees also share swag and fun things they find. Check in on Instagram and Twitter as much as you can!

    Blogs/Sites to Follow

    What to Carry

    • A mini hiking backpack in case you run into marketing teams passing out oodles of swag
    • A battery pack character
    • Possibly a mini camping chair (some events have long lines – tripod stool rocks!)
    • A buddy to share the experiences with (or make a friend there)
    • A hat if you’re stuck waiting outside
    • SUNBLOCK. It gets sunny/hot.
    • Comfortable shoes. To see a lot, you will walk a lot.
    • A sharpie (sometimes celebs walking around are happy to sign stuff. BE POLITE WHEN ASKING.)
    • A camera
    • Snacks

    Take Advantage of the SDCC Shuttles

    You don’t HAVE to be staying at the host hotels to use the shuttles! Careful check out the shuttle map. We use these to get to free events at certain hotels, or stop at a hotel near where an event is happening. They come around every 15-20 minutes and can save you a walk. You can also use them to scout out the area.

    My Favorite Free Things

    That food truck gave out free pizza 😀 Free food was everywhere. (2013)

    Free Food!

    Some companies take over restaurants in the Gaslamp and offer free breakfast, lunch, even happy hours. These often get packed, but occasionally you’ll find people leaning towards one party over another and get in for a great meal!

    You Can Still Dress Up

    Lots of cosplayers prefer to walk around outside. Many bloggers, new outlets, and entertainment sites flood the outside and set up mini photography studios to capture photographers for their sites. I got on Entertainment Weekly this way!

    Viral Events

    A lot of the fun shenanigans at SDCC aren’t even advertised. A lot of companies pour money into viral marketing on the street, versus having space inside the con. We’ve run into Sharknado Mardi-Gras style parades with tons of swag, creepy AHS popcorn booth swag,

    Free Pedi-Cabs, Uber Promos, and Lyft Promos

    Me on the Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag ship promo. You can still wander in costume outside! You’ll meet a ton of photographers. (Media and fans)

    Just wanna scout the area without walking through the outside crowds? Enjoy a free ride! Sometimes companies have free pedi-cabs to promote their shows. I’ve seen Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, and more. Make sure they’re free/promotional before you hop on. Sometimes they pass out swag! Additionally, Uber and Lyft, for the past few years, have offered FREE. Here are some fun free rides we’ve gotten.

    • USA’s Colony – free ride in a military vehicle AND free hats/buttons
    • Gotham – free ride in a Gotham-themed “police car” AND lanyards with a holographic tag
    • Mr Robot – free ride in a repair van AND a virtual reality experience that came with a free t-shirt
    • Ghostbusters – free ride, no swag but free rides are always a bonus.
    • Vice Principals – free ride in a school bus AND free food and swag. This one was my favorite, it was a random school bus on the street with people waving frat paddles. Allen was like “there’s no way we’re hopping on that.” I was like “I NEED TO SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING!” and ran on. He had no choice but to follow me. On the bus, we got treated to free lunch bags of food and frat paddles. They drove around the Gaslamp area. They even told us the actors were joining the ride in a little bit!

    Outside Parties

    A lot of companies are kind of crappy at promoting the fun parties or event spaces they have. We got into the Mars party last year when we were wandering around the street in our Star Wars and Aliens costumes. A random lady with a clipboard asked us to check out “A Mars PowerPoint and meet some actors.” We almost walked away, but then she said “free food” so we went inside. It was free VIP food and drinks all night, around a BEAUTIFUL pool/lounge area, with Mars themed stuff for the Nat Geo show! And the actors were just kind of chilling and chatting with fans. Once of the best random things we got into.

    This happens a lot. Especially if you are in a cool costume, wandering around. A promoter may not have the headcounts they want for their event, and ask cool-looking people off the street to come on in and flesh out the area for their promotional pics.

    Outside Programming

    This is the meat of the matter. I can’t count all of the past thing we’ve done outside the con itself. We’ve run as zombies in the Walking Dead obstacle course,  climbing a rock wall for Tomb Raider (which I also fell off, haha), made a 4-story leap off a platform for an FX show, done multiple trippy VR experiences (Mr Robot, American Horror story and more.

    This year, check out Petco Park area, the Children’s Museum, Gaslamp Quarter, the Hotels — it really depends on your fandom, honestly. Watch the forums, the SDCC hashtag, and Twitter.

    And honestly, just LOOK AROUND. Lots of viral stuff happens. This year apparently Pennywise is gonna be stalking people (Stephen King’s IT). Just keep your eyes open and pick and choose what looks fun.

    Celebrities

    Yes, you may run into celebrities. 🙂 Don’t freak out and hassle them! But, if they dont seem too busy, they’re usually happy to do a quick selfie.

    * * *

    In Short: You never know what’s going to happen at SDCC, and that’s half the fun. 🙂 If you go without a badge, you still won’t get bored.

  • Mummy Fans Can Snag Passes to an Escape Room Experience (in LA)!

    Mummy Escape Game Coming to LA (Right Next Door)

    Back in February, I covered my experience doing my first-ever “escape room” type game that was The Legend of Zelda themed (Defends of the Triforce: A Real Escape Game by SCRAP). Well, it turns out that a spooky-sounding The Mummy-themed escape room is coming a skip and a hop away to LA (and Tokyo but I mean… LA is way closer for me)!

    I know that excitement about the new movie has been split down the middle. Allen’s a fan of the classics, we both loved the cheesy Brendan Fraser ones, and the new trailer has us a little mixed. But I do love spooky mummy movies (as tropey as they are), and LA is just a drive away for a lot of us. The Zelda game was a lot of fun with friends – I think the themed escape rooms really do add that extra geeky element. And maybe with it taking place in Los Angeles (and Tokyo), the production value will be kicked up!

    And, NGL, Tom Cruise does still put out good movies. Edge of Tomorrow is one of my favorite recent sci-fi flicks. 🙂 I still want to catch The Mummy.

    If you are interested, I fully recommend getting tickets right now. (Tickets went on sale yesterday, May 11.) The Zelda escape room sold out pretty quick, and I only got in because friends had an extra ticket!

    Press release below for all the fancy details. 😉 Cheers! And if you go, let me know how it was!

    *  *  *

    SCRAP Collaborates with Universal Brand Development to Launch The Mummy Escape Game

    Tickets on Sale Today for the Thrilling and Action-Packed Escape Room Game Drawn from a Timeless Legend
    The Mummy Escape Game Will Premiere in Los Angeles on May 20 and Tokyo on July 27
    The Mummy Arrives in Theaters on June 9, 2017

    UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, May 11, 2017 — SCRAP, the leading producer in Real Escape Game events, has partnered with Universal Brand Development to create The Mummy Escape Game, it was announced today. The world of Universal Pictures’ The Mummy will transform into an immersive live-action fan experience when The Mummy Escape Game premieres on May 20 at The Mummy Day at the iconic Hollywood & Highland center in Los Angeles and expands to Tokyo’s GUNKAN East-Shinjuku Building on July 27, 2017.  This collaboration marks the first time SCRAP has partnered with a major film studio.  Tickets for The Mummy Escape Game are on sale, beginning today.

    Recruited as security guards, guests will enter the sweeping story of The Mummy through the Escape Game.  They must solve interactive puzzles to save mankind from the revenge of an ancient princess who has awakened in current day.  Ahmanet’s thirst for justice has spanned centuries, and players must outwit the fearless warrior to survive.  Turning the storyline into reality by traveling through multiple rooms, up to 10 players work together within a 60-minute time limit to solve the puzzle and defeat The Mummy Escape Game.

    Pioneering the new genre of Real World Adventure, SCRAP introduced the world’s first live action puzzle game, REAL ESCAPE GAME in Japan.  The innovative company has forged partnerships with industry leaders in interactive entertainment such as Square Enix, Nintendo and Funimation.  More than 3.3 million people have participated in events run by SCRAP and its partners throughout Japan, China, Singapore, France, Spain, Canada and the United States.  SCRAP’s escape room was selected as BEST ESCAPE ROOM in the United States by USA TODAY’s READERS’ CHOICE 2016.

    The Mummy Escape Game allows us to creatively extend the world of The Mummy into a fan-driven live experience,” said Vince Klaseus, President, Universal Brand Development.  “We are fortunate that SCRAP—who is at the forefront of live-event trends and whose innovative games have become a cultural phenomenon—is helming this live-puzzle-game event.  With The Mummy’s sweeping story and SCRAP’s proven success in this genre, we are creating a shared experience for fans around the world.”

    “This is SCRAP’s first partnership with a film studio, and we’re incredibly excited for the opportunity to introduce The Mummy into the live-action game genre,” said Satoshi Yamabe, SCRAP Producer of escape games.  “Working alongside Universal Brand Development, we are creating a one-of-a-kind ‘in-world’ fan experience that allows participants to step inside The Mummy and create their own memorable adventure.”

    Tickets will be available for purchase today, as will additional information on ticketing and touring updates at www.themummyescapegame.com.

  • Visiting Seattle as a Geeky Tourist During ECCC

    Geek Mecca in Seattle

    Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) is one of my favorite pop culture cons, and I’ve been to a ton of shows! If this is your first year attending as an out-of-towner, you are in for a treat. This will be my fourth ECCC, and it’s one of the few cons that I can whole-heartedly say that I recommend as a top-tier event.

    Now, while ECCC itself absolutely deserves most of your time, you should consider seeing some of what Seattle has to offer. So, as you scour their program guide, be sure to look up things to enjoy in Seattle in between panels, signings, and vendor hall shopping.

    The downtown around the convention center is extremely walkable. You can easily get to Pikes Place Market in 10-15 minutes. Just note that it’s forecast to be a bit cold and rainy!

    Before You Get Ready to Adventure

    If you’re like me, you like having lots of options to pick from. Well, here are some great resources to check out AND some general tips for Seattle.

    • Download the ECCC Guide! – You never know what you’ll need to look up. You can also save panels, look up guests, and more! That way you can explore Seattle without stressing about panel times to run back for.
    • Be ready for the weather! – While the “rainy weather” rumors are a little exaggerated, Seattle is expecting 40 degree temperatures and some rain showers. Bring a jacket and a comfy pair of shoes for the weather if you plan to explore outside. I’m actually implementing a rain jacket into my Rogue One cosplay to accommodate. 😉
      Note: Make sure your shoes have traction. The sidewalk can be slippery around the con in the rain.
    • Dont forget to catch new Pokemon with Pokemon Go! – OK, this might be just me, but I love seeing what new cities have in terms of poke-hunting. >_>
    • There’s a Target downtown – Need last minute cheap snacks or lady products? This is a life saver.

    Parties & Events!

    I am a little bit of an introvert, so I’m pacing my party consumption. 😉 But definitely take advantage of these events if you want! Hit me up if I’m missing one, sometimes there are random FB events that I don’t catch!

    WEDNESDAY (March 1)

    THURSDAY (March 2)

    FRIDAY (March 3)

    SATURDAY (March 4)

    SUNDAY (March 5)

    • ? Not finding anything yet.

    My Personal Recommendations

    Seattle’s Free Walking Tours 

    Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

    I always encourage new visitors to get a comprehensive (while compact!) tour of the downtown via SFWT. They have two tours, and you can’t go wrong with either – one covers the infamous Pike Place Market (The Market Experience) and one takes you all across the downtown (Seattle 101). If you wanna visit the gum wall and walk around the downtown, do Seattle 101. If you want to get an intimate visit of Pike Place (and recommendations on what to buy/eat there), do the Marketplace Experience.

    Both tours will give you a great mix of history, tips on what to eat, and general cool things to do in the area. The hosts are fantastic – I had Jake the past 3 times I did it (two solo, one with Allen).

    • They don’t do an underground tour, but those are highly recommended. You can look up underground tours online.
    • The Golden Age Collectibles comic shop is also located down in the market.

    http://www.seattlefreewalkingtours.org
    Cost: Free, but tip appreciated

    Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop)

    Image from Living City Seattle

    MoPop is one of the stops at the top of most of Seattle’s visitor’s guides for a good reason; it’s a gorgeous facility, and the exhibits are beautiful and interactive. If you have a diverse group, there will still be something for everyone; music geeks, movie geeks, gaming geeks – everyone! My personal favorites last time were a leather jacket exhibit (may no longer be there), the horror film exhibit (with props!) and their sci-fi exhibit, which they are always expanding (also with props!).

    • Don’t Miss: Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame Celebration
      Additionally, they are having a party at MoPop Saturday night, with guest of honor freakin’ Aaron Douglas of BSG! Tickets are limited and can be purchased here.

    Cost: A little pricey but worth it. $20-30

    General Geeky Things for Different Interests

    Image from Road Trippers -Archie McPhee

    Pick and choose what sounds fun for you to visit! If you’d like me to add a place, let me know. 🙂

    Got recommendations? Comment and I’ll add them to the list!

  • Hyrulian Hijinx at the Zelda Escape Room: Defenders of the Triforce!

    My friends Dustin and Alexandra drove into town (with their bud John) just to try out a geeky escape room: Real Escape Games’ Defenders of the Triforce! They had invited me and Allen recently, but Nintendo fandom isn’t really Allen’s thing, so we initially declined. Now, February 16 sneaked up, and Dustin threw me a message saying they still had one pass left for toniiiiight…. so I decided to bite the bullet, see some Albuquerque friends, and attempt my first escape-ish room! 😀

    Note: There may be minor spoilers, but I will not reveal clues.

    This event was Ocarina of Time-themed, and you did NOT need to have previous knowledge of the games to play – though it was strongly encouraged for you to be an existing fan to appreciate it. The event also costs $30 a ticket (per person, not per group), which I was initially worried about (it seemed pricey to me, but I’ve heard that’s norm for escape rooms!). In the end, I did think it was worth the cost!

    The “escape room” is really just a “rushing against the clock” experience and hosts multiple groups at about 2 dozen tables in the main area. You get a bucket, a binder, and your starting clues. You get to rock a Link hat (that you have to wear while playing the game). They do an intro – basically, Gannondorf is being a jerk again, and you have to save the world. Somehow. With your clues, and the domains in the next room.

    That’s right, domains! Actors portray the Kokiri, Zora, Gerudo, and Gorons. You have to stagger yourself between the kingdoms and ask the right questions as you collect clues. Clues are found by solving riddles and puzzles, which were fairly creative. Some require being perceptive, and some require getting over your fear of damaging the stuff they give you. (I wont delve too much into that – but I did have to ask the host, who was dressed as Sheik, if we could damage something that was given to us, and he confirmed it was part of the solution.) The clues weren’t super easy – we  just happened to have a really good group that worked well together.

    We breezed through most of the game in the first half hour. Unfortunately, we missed an item that many others missed on the last clue. It was incredibly frustrating, and you’re not allowed to discuss clues or ideas as you run around – they make you go back to your table so you dont clutter up the pathway. After 25 minutes of serious stress, a team member realized what we had missed and we were able to complete the game with THREE MINUTES to spare!

    We were just one of three groups that finished the game in time. The host walked us through the clues at the end on a projector, so that people knew where they had gotten stuck (which I thought was very nice). Winning also let my team have a hands-on playthrough of the Switch version of The Legend of Zelda: Breathe of the Wild!

    Our winning team! <3

    Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I hope to sign up for their Final Fantasy XIV: The Rise of Bahamut event coming up!

  • Taking a Recovery Day in Downtown Mesa with Annabelle Gurwitch

    Addressing the Elephant in the Room (PCC)

    Life has been a bit weird since the Phoenix Comicon ban stress settled down (always save your emails!). I’m still banned, but the one good thing that came out of it was that they did rethink their decision to indirectly charge volunteers.

    Usually, February is when Allen and I start to ramp up our plans for PCC, including an X-wing cockpit he and a friend wanted to make for the booth for fans to take pics in. Well, with what happened and the emotional rollercoaster it had on me, I’ve taken some time for self-care and self-reflection. I can understand why PCC did what they did. They’ve grown to the point where they need to make some difficult decisions, and emotions were high from many sides (those within and outside the event) and what happened happened. The convention bubble has burst around the country, and many events have had to evolve. PCC isn’t the first and won’t be the last to deal with the myriad challenges.

    While it’s outside of my control, I have been gifted a lot of free time that I wasn’t anticipating. I realized just how much work and love I was pouring into Phoenix Comicon, and having my ability to participate revoked means that I need to redistribute my passion elsewhere. (As I tend to do – I can’t function as a human unless I can pour myself into projects!).

    I’ve felt restless, but you all have been anchors. I really want to take a moment to thank you all for the overwhelming support. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s still hard, but there are still many amazing people I know who work with the show in some way or another, and I whole-heartedly wish them the best and a successful 2017.

    Getting Back on Track

    Okay, with that out, I can finally say that a month has passed and I’m feeling 90% Anabel again. 🙂 I’m working towards some incredible opportunities because I adopted a “well why the hell not, let’s give it a shot and do my best” attitude thanks to friends dragging me out of my post-ban-sad-state.

    • My husband quit his job in December to pursue props full time and he’s doing really well. (I am seriously so proud of him that I could burst!).
    • I’m learning to flex my creaky creative bones again – Sarah of Geeks Who Eat has been a huge inspiration to consistently blog and keep my brain lit.
    • Elly Snyder also inspired me to start working on a novel when I read her draft last year, and I hope to submit the first 4 chapters to Cirque du Livre in April.
    • I’m also trying to see if I can be absolutely crazy-pants and attend Puerto Rico Comic-Con in lieu of PCC. (Or Vegas, which would be much more affordable. ;))

    I’ve gotten a lot of invitations to hang with people, but I kind of folded into introvert mode for the self-care part. And it helped a lot. (And I caught up on some video games. :))

    Downtown Mesa Adventure + Annabelle Gurwitch!

    While in introvert mode, I was able to win Rings movie passes thanks to Geeks Who Eat (got my ass out of the house!) and tickets to see a one woman comedy show (which I’ll touch on below). I asked Rasheda if she wanted to hit it with me, because Allen got swamped with work, and we decided to make it a chill ladies hangout.

    Okay, firstly, downtown Mesa is underrated. There are so many amazing shops down there, and 2nd Friday had a ton of gorgeous art tables out. We had a recovery girl night with some delicious food at Margaritas Grill. Rasheda had the sushi burrito and I had the taco/enchilada combo plate. I pretty much exploded the portions were good and the food was *fresh*!

    Annabelle Gurwitch

    Afterwards, we headed to the show: I See You made an Effort (Compliments, Indiginities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50). I picked up my box office passes, and I ended up winning a little gift. I mused that it might be a gift card, but I could not have been more wrong. I ended up winning a pair of panties from the star of the show, signed to me. 😛 The show itself was really fun, and Annabelle Gurwitch (actress/comedian/author) discussed her reality check when facing her 50th birthday.

    Rasheda and I were easily the youngest women in the audience, but we still had a good time. The show was about 80 minutes long, and Annabelle made some creative use out of her presentation screen.

    Post Event Geekery

    After, we wandered around a little, got some organic cotton candy, and ended up at Gotham City Comics. Because 2nd Friday was wrapping up, it was pretty mellow. We did get to chat with a few people! Both Miguel and Denae asked me about the PCC ban, so I guess it’s gotten around. *_* Thankfully they were very supportive and really made me feel a lot better. They got hugs and the reassurance that I was doing okay. 🙂 My haul from the shop was the Dragon Age Coloring Book, a Doctor Strange figure, and a Fallout Brotherhood Dorbz for Allen. They redid the store a little and have a ton of new things to check out. I really wanna try to snag the Nathan Drake figure they had there next time. 🙂

    Miguel even gave me three sketch covers, just to be a great friend and get me inspired to create again and move pass the stress. AND he said I was welcome to join them for downtown Mesa’s giant Free Comic Book Day event! I really feel like I have to take them up on that. <3 It also takes place on my birthday this year! Maybe I can offer up the sketch covers there, some new prints, and Allen with a display of some of his new items?

    Losing PCC still stings, but I can always create and keep my inspiration up for other events. Many in the community have supported me in my artistic endeavors that shelving them away would be a slap in the face for everything they have supported me in.

    The one awful bit of the night was that unfortunately Denae’s tip box was stolen by a raging asshat. Ugh. People who steal from artists just trying to make a creative living need to be locked in the sewer. 🙁

    In the end, going to 2nd Friday, the show, time with friends & and that glorious comic shop really reminded me why I got involved in geek culture in the first place. I am looking forward to an amazingly artistic 2017 despite it’s rocky start!

    (Cover photo courtesy of http://www.mesamusicfest.com/)

  • ASU to Host Diversity in Star Wars Panel This Friday (Free to the Public!)

    One of my fellow GeekyLeaks mods, Jessica Fishell, shared that ASU is hosting a free-to-the-public panel on race and gender studies in Star Wars. The event is this Friday. Check it out!

    Update: A panelist confirms that they will cover the first six films, though it may touch on TFA and Rogue One.

     Star Wars Films & Discussion 
    Free Event

    Agribusiness Center, Room 134 | Arizona State University Polytechnic campus
    Register: https://csrd.asu.edu/CreatedEqual

    The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) and The Philosophy and Film Series at ASU present the “Star Wars” films and discussion.

    In the last 14 months two new Star Wars films, Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Rogue One, released to widespread critical and popular acclaim; however, while largely celebrated, both films have drawn the ire of those unhappy that these films feature women and people of color as principal leads.

    Join us for a discussion that will use this controversy as a catalyst to examine the role race plays in the Star Wars film series and how Star Wars asks viewers to rethink their own prejudices at the same time as it encodes markers of systemic racism in American culture.

    Note: *The “Star Wars” films will not be screened in their entirety, rather a “supercut” of relevant film clips will be shown.

    Star Wars has definitely made some improvements in representation. I mean, SW: TFA’s “holy trinity” marketed good guy characters are a woman (Rey), a black dude (Finn), a Latino dude (Poe)! But, other female characters and POC do still feel fairly under-utilized and under-represented. (I’m looking at you, Phasma, who had a bajillion freakin’ awesome toys and figures and had a teeny tiny movie presence).

    But, for a major franchise, it was still a very important step.

    Rogue One, I actually do have a few more qualms with. They took some major strides with POC but it was kind of a bummer to see Jyn do her final suicide run with… a billion dudes. And of the rebel pilots, I just saw one lady pilot. (Still more lady pilots than the OT, so small victories. Also, TFA had a ton of lady pilots, and Poe Dameron’s mom Shara Bey was a famous pilot.)

    Either way, I am super interested to check this out. I may have to rearrange my schedule!

  • Maricopa Con’s Kickstarter for 2017 is Live (through Feb 19)!

    Maricopa Con will take place August 5 and 6, and they need to fund by February 19. I have no doubt that they will fund, after successfully funding the past few years!

    Tickets are limited, so snag yours!

    Our community has an abundance of smaller, intimate shows where you can chill and get to know people without the looming anxiety of missing the “big panels” or “big guests” at the larger shows. Tus-Con is another favorite of mine.

    A common complaint about Maricopa Con is that by the time folks learn about the event, it’s sold out and the Kickstarter is long over. (Another common occurrence with smaller shows that cap attendance!)

    Well, no excuse now. 😉 Get your ticket(s) and swag and support local!

    Holy cow this is gonna be our fifth Kickstarter project for the convention!  Did you love last year’s new venue?  We plan to return there with the same or a similar layout.  Did you meet new people and gain new gamer friends last year?  We hope you did, and we plan to have another 250+ people at the 2017 convention.  Join us that weekend for some of the best board game, card game, RPG, and miniature war game events in the valley!  Our Core Values remain strong, and we continue to run without debt each year.  The Game Library will return as well.

    What is MaricopaCon?  MaricopaCon is Arizona’s first kickstarted convention.  We are for gamers and run by gamers with business experience.  It was started in Jason’s house in Maricopa many years ago now.  We play board games, card games, RPGs, and tabletop miniature games at MaricopaCon.  Demo groups run games and volunteer GMs do as well.  MaricopaCon also brings together many successful game designers under one roof for one weekend.  Welcome home.

    http://www.maricopacon.com/