Comic Vine News


SDCC 2013: Waiting for Hall H

Saturday, July 20th, at San Diego Comic Con, I waited in line for Hall H and had a tremendously fun time.

San Diego Comic Con is all about experiences. While the convention floor is what so many people focus on when talking about the show, there's so much more to see and do. Many times, the most memorable experiences aren't the ones you plan. They're the ones that happen by circumstance. You're placed in an unfamiliar situation and make the best of it. On Saturday, July 20th, I went to stand in line for Hall H in order to report on the Marvel and 20th Century Fox panels. I expected to work and spend the day sitting quietly, alone. What I got was to be a part of a family of other people in the same exact situation.

My home, for 8 hours, on Saturday
My home, for 8 hours, on Saturday

"Hall H." Those are two words that used to send shivers down my spine. Since I first started reporting for Comic Con, for Comic Vine, I've been the guy that usually dedicates a day or two to standing in line all day to cover the news from within the 6,500 seat hall. Last year, I swore off the hall. The waits were getting ridiculous, and I could cover a lot more by just going to the panel rooms. However, this year, there was one particular day with a few panels I wanted to check out, so I bit the bullet and decided to wait in line for Hall H, and while I waited around for 8 hours and never got in, it was, without a doubt, the most fun I had over the weekend.

My first panel was supposed to be at 4:15PM, so I got in line at 10AM. The line wasn't long at all, I was only a couple rows away from getting in. I didn't see anyone else rushing towards the line, so I thought I would just sit in line, relax, and maybe I'd be let in within the next hour or so. I sat behind two brothers. Their last name was "Grimm." One of them was a film critic, and the other was along for the ride. Next to me was the man who will forever be known as "Tom Line" and only because that was how I put him into my phone. For a short while, no one sat behind us. We chatted about our jobs and where we were from. We then all guessed during what panel we would get into Hall H. At this point, I was a part of a family of four.

These guys rocked.
These guys rocked.

We all got along well, and the line started filling in behind us. Two female Waldo cosplayers filed in, and I had the willpower to not scream "I found you!" They were followed by a larger group. The line started to become the Hall H line I was more accustomed to. As the hours flew by, a few of us left and came back to the line in order to get food or use the bathroom. We hadn't moved forward, in the actual line, at all. Tom Line decided he needed something to eat, and told us he'd be right back. That's when the line started moving. While we didn't get into the hall, we were now in a different row. I was worried he wouldn't find us. At this point, it had been four hours waiting in this line, and Tom was gone for a while. During this time, a pirate band came by to lift all of our spirits. They played a few songs, and it got everyone in line excited and happy. However, we still didn't see Tom. When one of the Grimm's spotted him, it was this weird wave of relief for the three of us, as well as the group in front of us and behind us. We strangely felt whole again.

As we continued, games were being busted out. Behind the Waldos, a game of Dungeons and Dragons broke out. At least, it sounded to me like D&D. I don't remember any d20s being rolled though. The group in front of us was playing a cool card game. Tom Line busted out his DS and asked the people around him if they had as well. We were all just making the best out of a very boring situation. We all began conversing more with the people around us, and I found the lady-Waldo duo to actually be mother and daughter from a little north of San Diego. They were both incredibly nice, and I was in awe that these two came down together. By now, our little family of four was substantially bigger. We all cheered and applauded when a line jumper was caught, and we all laughed at each other's dumb jokes. There was truly a feeling of unity between us all.

At this point, it was 4pm, and while we were about 100 people back from the front of the line, we all knew we weren't getting in for the 20th Century Fox panel or the Marvel panel. We all accepted this, but refused to get out of line because there may be a slim chance that we could get in, and maybe we all just enjoyed each others company. Lots of people left the line, during this time, but the vast majority of our larger group stayed to hang out. Around 6pm, when there was literally no hope for me to cover any panels, I left. Everyone said goodbye and we all waved. "Nice meeting you" was shouted from our group as I shouted it back at them. My only regret was that I didn't say "It was nice finding you" to the Waldo family.

While I had this overwhelming feeling of failure because I couldn't cover the panels I wanted to for the site, I was happy. I was thrown into a new experience, with a group of strangers and made the best of a not-so-great situation. As much as sitting in roughly the same place for 8 hours sucks, it was also my best memory of the convention. Sure, working with Comic Vine is always a blast, and there are many other times, during this year's con, that were note worthy. We connected with old friends, made new ones, worked together to provide as much content for you guys as possible, and had a little fun along the way, but this is a moment, or day, that I can't get out of my mind. I keep thinking back to this day and get a smile on my face. At this point, my only memorable experience from Hall H, in years past, is when one man stabbed another man in the eye, fighting over a seat. This memory is much nicer and no one got carried off on a stretcher.

I was drawn to this sign. It was the ONLY sign near the line.
I was drawn to this sign. It was the ONLY sign near the line.

I've noticed a lot of negativity, online, around Comic Con this year, mainly before the show even began, whether it's the crowds, prices for food/water, rudeness of people inside, and the city of San Diego itself. I remember reading one particular article in which the writer said Comic Con always smells like "hot garbage." If you put thousands of people, regardless of sub-culture, into a giant room, you're going to have a few smelly ones. And one thing I noticed this year was that this was the least smelliest comic con, but hey, that's not what the con is about. It's a celebration of nerd culture. We're all coming together as one to enjoy something that others deem "nerdy," which in recent years has become synonymous with "cool." Sex, race, sexual preference doesn't matter because we're all part of the same sub-culture shouting from the rooftops and letting our "nerd flags" fly high. Although we may not know each other by name, we are the same type of person. We have the same interests and ideologies, which makes it easy to befriend the person next to you, even if you've never met.

It's moments like the one that I had that made me love Comic Con, and everything about it. However, everyone has their own stories from conventions, and each one is unique and special. What are your favorite convention stories?

Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a writer, comedian, host of Vs The Net, and professional line-waiter. Check me out on the Twitter.

Avatar image for mahzian
Posted By Mahzian

Why oh why don't they clear the halls?! I swear that would fix all of this needless lining up. When we went last year there were people in the panels who had no interest, they were there purely for the next panel, or the one after that, taking up space that people waiting in line could use. Ridiculous!

Avatar image for redheadedatrocitus
Posted By RedheadedAtrocitus

I'm far too impatient to be in a line for eight hours I'm afraid. Personally for me, I've long locked on to the fact that panels you could easily just view on Youtube not long after the actual event itself. Nope, for me its about the purchasing, artist alley, cosplayers and more when it comes to conventions. Panels for me are only filler if I have nothing else to accomplish.

Avatar image for mild_karl
Edited By Mild_Karl

I'm glad you had fun, but I'm not gonna lie, SDCC sounds hellish, personally speaking. Waiting in line for anything at any convention (whether it's for Hall H at SDCC or a demo at PAX or whatever) seems like the worst to me. I'd rather be walking around, talking to people, taking pictures of cosplayers, getting free swag, buying comics & collectibles on the cheap instead of spending hours & hours waiting for what amounts to advertisements (Q&As are fun but trailers/clips of films that'll be online within hours of their debut at SDCC doesn't interest me). More power to you for making the best of the situation though and if it's worth it to you, it's worth it to you and nothing anyone else can say can diminish the fun to be had at Hall H!

I'm going to try to go next year to comic con. What do you recommend? Five day pass? Or how? I'm 17 btw

Five day pass absolutely. I survived by only getting tix to Thurs & Sun back in 2009, still didn't have enough time to do everything I wanted to do but I still had an amazing time.

Take these two things to heart though: 1. make plans and attempt to stick to them and 2. don't get bummed out if your plans go awry because of long lines or whatever.

Avatar image for blastaar
Posted By blastaar

For me, SDCC is all about Hall H. Nothing else. You don't have to spend the night outside to get in either. Just get in line at 5 am and you'll be able to get in and not miss a single panel. You always meet awesome people in line too.

Avatar image for thefirstlantern
Posted By TheFirstLantern

I'm going to try to go next year to comic con. What do you recommend? Five day pass? Or how? I'm 17 btw

Avatar image for inferiorego
Posted By inferiorego

@inferiorego Did the other guys have accounts in the site?

Line Tom does now. But he's only been on once.

@inferiorego Also this seems like an article that would appear on CrapTrap... Too bad it's DEAD.

You can still find articles like that on, when I get time to update it. Otherwise, it's all going on CV!

Avatar image for abnormalal
Posted By AbnormalAl

You know what I hate about halls? Hall monitors. Stop running! Quit exposing yourself to the cheerleaders! Pfft. Whatev.

Avatar image for jamdamage
Posted By JamDamage

8 hours and you didn't get in. FUCK THAT!!!!

Avatar image for jonny_anonymous
Posted By Jonny_Anonymous

This just makes me want to go to a Con even more :(

Avatar image for mucklefluga
Edited By Mucklefluga

@inferiorego Also this seems like an article that would appear on CrapTrap... Too bad it's DEAD.

Avatar image for mucklefluga
Edited By Mucklefluga
Avatar image for rulerofthisuniverse
Posted By RulerOfThisUniverse

Ehhhh.... Not exactly my idea of fun, but glad you had a good time.

Avatar image for bladewolf
Posted By bladewolf

Sounds like a blast! Meeting cool people is definitely the high point of any Con

Avatar image for gmanfromheck
Posted By gmanfromheck
Avatar image for impossibilly
Posted By impossibilly

How early does one have to show up to get inside Hall H's doors? Before sunrise?

Avatar image for overlander
Posted By Overlander

I'm happy to say I've never waited in line for Hall H, but I'm always grateful for the reporters and recorders who do. Even though you didn't get in, thanks for trying.

Avatar image for haydenclaireheroes
Posted By haydenclaireheroes

Love Ballroom 20 and other panels, but I don't think I would ever have the patience to wait on the Hall H line.