I’ve been kind of anxious to bash out a con report for SDCC because I knew it would never happen if I let life get ahead of me. Chuck Wendig did his the day after! Some people are so efficient.
I try to avoid having blog posts publish on weekends because apparently people look at the Internet less during the weekend (why? what are you all out doing??), but SDCC is OLD NEWS now so let’s get it out.
I’d known SDCC would be big and crowded and overwhelming, but I don’t think I’d realised what an institution it was. We took the train down from LA to San Diego on the Thursday and the train driver announced that there were extra carriages because of Comic-Con, and could everyone be sure to fill out all available seats because the train was going to be crowded. And these weren’t little UK train carriages, right — these were hulking two-storey behemoths.
And when we arrived in San Diego, everything was Comic-Con! There were banners everywhere and ads for geeky things on buses and people in costume and/or geeky T-shirts waiting at all the traffic lights.
San Diego itself is sun-drenched and relaxed. We looked around ourselves and decided to go to the zoo.
My first Comic-Con event was in the evening — it was the Penguin Random House party at the San Diego Public Library. This is a really striking building and I recommend a visit if you’re ever in town — it goes on and up forever and must be gloriously light during the day. The party was the best because it was in a library but you were allowed to talk and there were free books!!!
It was really funny seeing the rows of books gradually getting decimated throughout the night, as people went around tucking them under their arms or making big piles of them.
Oh, and also there were cool people there or something, I GUESS.
It was really lovely to see Naomi Novik again <3 and Vanessa Len who I actually met through Naomi at WorldCon 2007 in Yokohama. (This trip was totally a reprisal of that WorldCon: I’d also met Rachel Manija Brown at Nippon 2007, and spent the weekend before SDCC eating cake and frolicking upon the storied pier of Santa Monica with Rachel!) My favourite part of cons is always the opportunity to catch up with friends I don’t get to see much of otherwise.
I met and chatted to several cool people at the party (including my editor :O and my publicist :O), but the two most famous were probably Diana Gabaldon and Terry Brooks. Though I didn’t talk to Terry Brooks, I just gazed at him in impressed silence as he told Naomi how much he liked her work. Ha!
I only got to the actual convention centre on Friday, a little in advance of my first signing. (I spent the morning wandering around the Gaslamp Quarter and checking out the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, which I found really charming and quirky. It’s simultaneously quite low-key, with signage that doesn’t seem to have been updated since the 1990s, while also being really interesting and having spectacular things, like a Buddha head from 500 CE.)
I found the Penguin Random House booth and admired the GIANT BANNER of Sorcerer to the Crown for a while:
They were giving out free ARCs of the book! That’s what I was there to sign.
And then I went to walk the floor.
When you’re at SDCC you should really take lots of photos of cosplay, but I don’t really have any, partly because I am too shy to ask people to pose for me, and partly because my reaction to being amongst huge milling crowds of people is to walk very fast and bulldoze towards my destination regardless of any obstacles in my path. This is usually a good coping mechanism but I still felt a bit sick and overwhelmed! I thought it was “omg too much comic-con” — the floor is really like GEEK OVERLOAD lor — but by Saturday I was perfectly OK, so now I think I was just worried about my signing.
There was nothing to worry about! It was fine. It was nice doing it with Naomi, she is one of those fearsomely competent people so you feel reassured, and also you can learn from what she does.
What I mainly learnt from this is that I really can’t multitask. I was all like acknowledge new person! say hi! make eye contact! write name in book! I can’t actually do all these things at once without messing up at least two of them! So if you ever ask me to sign a book and I seem rude or distracted or, er, just kind of incompetent, give me face k please. I can’t help it!
In the evening there was the Penguin previews panel, when Penguin editors (including mine, Diana Gill!!) talked about their upcoming SFF books. The lighting wasn’t great so my pictures sucked, but I found this one entertaining:
I wonder if their photos came out better!
What this previews panel was was basically a Powerpoint presentation, just like the sort you’d have at work, only everyone was really, really excited. It was like if you were presenting on recent developments in maximising widget efficiency and your audience hooted in joy every time their favourite widget came up on a slide.
I also had dinner with my editor and publicist, which was really really nice. Even if my first time eating mako shark was a bit disappointing!
I continued to do my thing of mixing up general tourism with SDCC, which was not a bad idea given what the con was like.
So after a pleasant breakfast I went shopping for geeky nails and then rushed off for my second signing.
This was by myself and I’d sort of thought there might be fewer people, so I might have time to have a pleasant chat with any who did turn up. Um. Not so correct! I guess people at SDCC are keen on free books. I did have a couple of nice chats with people, mostly aunties and uncles. (I suffered a moment of awkwardness with a few people in the queue — they come up with Post-It notes with their names on, so you know what to write in the book, but a couple of them were of an age and demographic where if I’d met them in Malaysia I would never call them by their first name. But you don’t want to haul out “auntie” or “uncle” unless you know they would prefer it, and American social conventions mean you don’t. #asianproblems)
It was also nice to see a familiar face!
Er, not Jubilee, but the person cosplaying her! She wasn’t actually wearing this — she was an AU version of Wedge Antilles who was a baseball player, because why not — but I am posting it because I don’t have a proper photo of the Rogue Squadron cosplay. Thanks for coming to the signing, Steph! It felt very glamorous to be basking in the reflected glory of a Proper Cosplayer. :D
In the afternoon we went to San Diego Old Town, which I enjoyed a lot, and then I saw off my husband at the station and went to have cake and tea and gossip with the fabulous Kate Elliott and Cindy Pon!
Which was an excellent way to wind up the con.
So I got home and unpacked my Comic-Con loot and admired it.
Clockwise, L to R from the bottom:
- Tiny awkward foodstuff plushies from the Awkward Animal booth (where I had my most fangirly moment of the con, haha)
- Gentlemen dinosaurs on a T-shirt, because why not
- Japanese sweets from Jubilee/Baseball Wedge Antilles. Om nom nom
- My Comic-Con pass
- Ukiyo-e Katamari :D :D :D
- A postcard for Cindy’s upcoming YA fantasy SERPENTINE and two cards featuring her art! She is so talented. *_*
- Nerdy nails! I got nebulae, Sherlock Holmes and comics.
Obviously I didn’t buy all of these at Comic-Con, but I included them all because I kind of feel they stand in for my con experience — which encompassed not only exuberant (and *koff* occasionally expensive) nerdery, but also random cuteness, fannish nostalgia, great food and the generosity of friends old and new. It was wonderful. Hope it won’t be too long before I get to go again!
I didn’t take a lot of photos — several of the photos in this post belong to other people, ahem, who I hope will not mind that I nicked them — but you can see the few I did take on Facebook. (My Facebook account is public, but if you want to be added please message me and let me know who you are!)