Sporadica – ‘Line-con..errr…SDCC’
Written by John Benedict on August 8, 2018
The opinions expressed by Stephen Sprouse are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Parlipod. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
Line, line, everywhere a line.
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
So…Parlipod…long time listener, first time contributor, I guess. Let’s see how long before I’m asked to take my opinions and go.
Last year at the Conan SDCC taping, they did a bit on ‘Line-Con’, for people who really like lines.
It was funny then. Funny now. Also, a little sad.
I should probably be writing about how cool it is to go to SDCC. How cool all the booths are, the panels, all the off-site stuff. I mean, I was going to do that, but then I remembered that the first thing I saw as I steppe out of my hotel on Preview Night was a line of people sitting on the sidewalk six blocks from the convention center. No idea why they were there or what it was for, but it was probably con-related, too many nerd-shirts to be anything else. I thought about asking what it was for, but I couldn’t even figure out where it started or ended. Judging from where everyone’s attention was, it must have started on their phones.
Welcome to Line-Con. Preview Night:
I passed two more pop-up ines on my way to convention center. One was legit. Bait was selling some exclusive Bruce Lee Pops and Wu Tang Transformers, you know, because WTF. The other was another mystery line. Again, I was going to ask what for, but then I forgot to. At the hall itself…more lines. I just needed my lanyard and convention program (I have a Frankenstein illustration in it), but there was a line, and to get to that line, I had to get through the line of people queuing up to get in the hall. That’s so ‘meta’ it borders on the sublime. I’m not good with lines especially those that block my line so after getting my bags, books and necklace, I bounced back to the bar. No line there.
Thursday was my only day inside the con. I decided to make the most of it so I got up early (easy to do when you’re still on CST), and headed down to the convention center. Again, I passed a couple of pop-up and offsite lines on the way. At the con, I had to pick between two lines to wait in before the hall opened. I know enough of the layout that the line to the right was my better choice and just barely jumped into it before it capped….an hour and a half before the con opened. I’m not proud that I was there that early, but whatever. Not only was the line capped, but I was ‘THE END’. It happens when you wear a Dunkin Donuts ball cap. You’re easy to pick out in a crowd. Question: if a line doesn’t move, is it really a line? Doesn’t matter. I spent the next hour and a half getting to know the people in front of me. They were nice, some of the collected Funko, like me. Others, to be honest were utter tools. Didn’t talk, didn’t look up from their phones. They were on a mission. Maybe. I guess. They didn’t talk so who knows.
Oh, speaking of utter tools….so I’m standing in line, next to a trash can. We bonded. It was nice. Anyway, somebody asks security if they could put their books, bag and lanyard down behind the trash can while they ran to the bathroom. Security says ‘Ok’, and the guy takes off. Another guy walks over and picks up his stuff. Security says to leave it be, it belongs to someone, and the guy basically starts arguing ‘Losers, weepers. Finders, keepers’ for taking it. He looks to me for support. ‘He left it, it’s fair game. Am I right?’
‘No. No you’re not. You’re not even close. You’re about as wrong as you could possibly be.’
Rebuked, he slinks off. I’m pretty sure in his retelling of the tale, he’s the hero and I’m the dick for not going along. Well, suck it, f**khead. You’re the amoral creep. Somebody count the silverwear.
Sad, but that was the highlight of the wait in line.
After the doors opened, I rushed right in and got lucky. The booth I wanted to go to only had a line about 30 people deep. I was going to get my exclusive DC Artist Alley Adam West Batman. Con level 2 unlocked! I was so thrilled, I went ahead and splurged on another Batman because it was still in stock. Good for me. Five minutes in and I was pretty much done. The only other thing I wanted was a shot at the Funko booth, which wasn’t going to happen. In years past the booth was a swirling mass of chaos and anger. Too many people, not enough walkway. This year, SDCC held online lotteries for several retailers and a bunch of signings, including Funko. You signed up for things that you wanted on the days you were in attendance. The system went through and picked attendees at random. To be honest, it’s a pretty fair system and cuts down on lines and wait times significantly. If you’re going to be on the floor, you can better plan your day and better enjoy the show. That’s if you get picked for a slot. If you don’t, the system totally sucks and it’s completely unfair! I’m of the latter opinion. No Funko for me!
Without having to worry about Funko, I went from Entertainment Earth to BBC looking for the 13th Doctor Who pop. The line was double wrapped around their booth, the pop was gone, and I don’t collect pins so I moved on. Wandered from booth to booth in the vinyl toys area. Nothing I had to have. Some friends helped me out with the Funko stuff that I wanted (including a 13th Doctor) so I actually had a pretty good morning without wasting most it standing in any more lines. I took my purchases back to my hotel room, rested, had a nice Peruvian lunch and went back to the con, walking the floor from side to side, front to back. Quality of life/standing in line was my guide for the rest of the day. I went by Marvel, but the line for pins was stupid long…hard pass. DC, Walking Dead, Hasbro, LEGO, sorry folks but I have things to do. Any booth that had a line got skipped. I walked by Funimation, which is where the chaos and anger of the Funko line went. And it went hard. There were two fights and someone punched a security guard/person. I think you can find some of that on YouTube. They’re toys, people. A little perspective would be nice.
I spent a lot of time looking for Trade Paper Backs to fill some hole in my collection. Amazing thing, for a comic book show, there are very few vendors selling books. Didn’t take long for me to check them all out. And no, I didn’t find what I was looking for. Artist Alley and small press were pretty cool. I picked up an awesome ‘Pickle Rick’ print from the incredible Justin Orr. All in all, I managed to spend almost the entire day at the con, very little of it standing in lines. An amazing accomplishment! Too bad it hurt my feet, knees, and hips so much. Nothing that a little time at the bar couldn’t fix.
For the last eight years that I’ve gone to SDCC, Friday has always been reserved for Fundays, Funko’s over the top collector bash. The first year I went, there were 200 people there, maybe. This year, there were 1500. And with that many people anxious to get in and get in right as the doors open (even though we all have tickets and are guaranteed a seat), that means: LINE! People started lining up for an 6pm event, that they have a ticket to, at 10am. I was still eating breakfast when I got the text. F**k.
I actually don’t mind the Funko line, but 10am? Go do something, people! I meandered on down, passing pop-up lines as I went. I hit up some more of the off-site stuff, did some little things here and there like the Star Trek: Discovery costume exhibit (no line, cool display, tiny bunch of actors on that show), and got down to Funko line a little after noon. Found some people to hang with and waited for the rest of my group to show up so I could leave. Again, I actually like the Funko line. It’s always been something of an impromptu mixer. Collect long enough and you end up knowing a lot of people, who end up standing in line with you. Last year, someone brought a cooler and a tent and the line resembled a tailgate party until they made us take down the tent. Jerks.
Fundays had a theme this year, which was 80’sProm, and a lot of people dressed the part. So instead of a tailgate, this year’s line resembled the worst high school dance ever. A lot of big hair and poofy dresses. People roamed the crowd giving out homemade buttons, pins and swag – the coolest of which was a wooden nickel from Los Locos Funkeros – Viva La Mosca! It wouldn’t be a prom if people didn’t try to spike the punch bowl, so there were parts of the line getting pretty loose. Once my group arrived, I went back to the room to dress for prom and a mixer run. San Diego has rentable electric scooters all over the place. My ride to the room and back to the line was quick and uneventful. Also, what an entrance! Riding upon my electric steed, tux jacket fluttering in the wind, rock star wig blowing in my face. Stroke be damned, I still have my balance and a sense of style. All hail the Prom King!
The party, as usual, was a blast. Funko outdid themselves this year. I know I got a bunch of stuff, but most importantly I go to hang with my friends. We spiked our own punch so no need to hit the bar afterwards.
In years past, I used Saturdays to check out the off-site stuff. A mistake, really, as it’s the biggest day of the con. I hit one line last year, felt pretty good about my place in it until someone told me that from where I stood, it was a four-hour wait to get into the event. And that was at 8am. This year, I pretty much skipped all that. Today was ‘hang out with peeps day’ so that meant lunch with John, second lunch with the Millers, then a quick bounce by Super7, and an afternoon proto pizza party. I was going to try to do Purge City, but again, LINE, so no. Finally hit the wall at the pizza party. The heart was willing but the body said ‘F**k this, time for a nap’. I think I left mid-sentence.
There was no line at my bed, so I fell right in.
Woke up just in time for one last trip to the bar.
By now, the hotel staff know me by name and have breakfast at my table without having to order it. All my goodies are shipped, my bags are packed, and the only line I have to look forward to is airport security, which I go through twice because TSA checks my id, but not my gate assignment, and I go to the wrong terminal. On a positive note, the Pop figures I bring back in my checked bags are flagged and I have to unpack them to prove they’re not dangerous. When asked if the agent can open the boxes, I turn into the worst box-nazi ever and demand to open them myself so he doesn’t damage them. They’re not bombs. They’re ‘tha bomb’. I don’t make that joke out loud, I’m already being patted down and having my hands swabbed because of glucose meter stuck on my arm. I don’t need any more screening.
If only they had a bar at the airport.
Now, two weeks later, I’m currently enjoying the Pacific Northwest, and standing in line for Voodoo Donuts. I’ve been told, via Instagram, that the Voodoo Dude on their sign is code for pedophilia. That’s new, so I engage. I guess someone saw my photo and decided to turn the noise in his head up to eleven. Says I need to do the math, read an article, lick a light socket or something. Bad idea. I have no patience for stupid and time to craft a response. Goodbye, nut job.
Goddamn internet, just letting anybody hop on and spread the crazy. There ought to be a line.