Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chik Solo's San Diego Comic Con Adventure, part 4

On Saturday we had an easy morning.  I woke up early to get ready for my cosplay, braiding my hair and making sure I had every part of my costume.  My boyfriend put on his Chewbacca shirt and we were ready to go.

We arrived at the Convention Center around 10:00 and checked out the line for room 5AB, where the Sailor Moon panel was scheduled for 12:30.  There was no line, and people could just walk into the room for the first panel, which was something about Snoopy and Peanuts.  While I like Snoopy, the experience of sitting through panels I wasn't interested in on Thursday made me hesitant to go in so early.  After the Snoopy panel was a panel for the Monsters High dolls, neither of which we wanted to sit through, so we decided to see what else we could do and risk not getting into the Sailor Moon panel.

As we were walking around, I ran into another woman dressed as Endor Assault Leia!  I asked her for a photo, which she happily said yes to.  Her baby was dressed as an ewok, but was asleep in the stroller and not included in our photo.

The Marvel Animation panel was starting in 6BCF, so we headed over there and walked right in.  They premiered the first episode of the newest season of Spiderman.  We were sitting there, watching a cartoon on Saturday morning, eating cereal bars.  It was kind of perfect.

In addition to the Ultimate Spiderman: Web Warriors episode, we were shown clips of the newest seasons of Avengers Assemble and Hulk and the Agents of SMASH.  All of these shows are going to air on Disney XD, which was great to learn because we usually watch them on Netflix after they have aired.  At the end of the panel they showed an exclusive clip of a new Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon, which looks kind of awesome.

As soon as the Marvel Animation panel ended, we headed for the 5AB line.  The line was so long it was looped around the hallway, but we got in it anyway with the decision to leave if it became obvious we wouldn't get in.  The line kept filling in behind us, with many girls in Sailor Moon cosplays.  When the Monster High panel started seating, we moved around the loop and up the hallway, close enough to see the doors to the room.  I wasn't sure how many this room seated, or how many were in front of us, but I began to think we might make it in.

We ended up making it into the room for Sailor Moon, but just barely.  Maybe a dozen people after us were able to get seats?  I felt bad, so many cosplayers dressed as Sailor Scouts were left in the hall.  It was always a bummer to see obvious fans not make it into the panels they were waiting for.  We were seated in the back, but could see the screen just fine.  At the panel, the voices of Viz's Sailor Moon 90s anime redub were presented - we got to hear Sailors Mercury and Mars and Queen Beryl!  We also got to see clips of Tuxedo Mask and Luna from the redub.  

The original dub, by DiC, is what I am most familiar with.  My family didn't have internet until I was a senior in high school, so I would not have even known where to look to buy tapes of the Japanese version let alone been able to, but my friend had taped every episode, in order, off of USA and always let me borrow those.  So hearing this new dub was strange for me.  The voices are great, and have similar qualities to the original voice actors that a casual listener might not pick up the differences right away.  But they are just different enough - especially Luna, who sounds young like in the Japanese version and not like an old British lady, like in the original dub - that it feels like a dub instead of the characters' voices.  Does that make sense?

The panel was a lot of fun - the Viz representatives running the show clearly love their jobs and Sailor Moon, and the room was very enthusiastic.  I think the video clips are available online now, if anyone wants to watch.

Once the Sailor Moon panel ended, we left the Convention Center and headed to the Vikings Experience.  There was a line, but it was mostly in the shade and not too long.  At this interactive zone, fans could register on an iPad for a Viking identity.  I became Freya the Shieldmaiden.  This account was linked to a QR code that was printed on a badge you carried around the exhibit.  Once registered, you could go to hair and make-up for some scars and fake blood or a Viking hair style.  That line was the longest one at the Vikings Experience, and since I was cosplaying and my boyfriend isn't too keen on having make-up on his face, we passed.  This ended up being a good decision, because when we finished the entire zone we could see the people who were in front of us at registration were still getting their fake blood applied!

At the Vikings Experience, you took your QR badge around to three stations where you would get your photo taken.  At each station was a rack of costumes - smocks to go over your street clothes and headbands or wigs - and a crate of fake weapons, such as axes, shields, and swords.  This first station we went to was the Village Raid, where we posed with a woman dressed like the Lagertha character in shieldmaiden armor.  The background was made to look like a Norse house, and at the signal of the photographer we were asked to growl and scream at the camera and make it look like we were raiding that village.  I was complimented on my Viking yells by the people behind us in line, and learned that one of them used to do Viking reenactment like me!  How cool!

The next station we went to was the boat scene.  Part of a dragon headed Viking ship had been built, with steps into the prow, and behind it was an ocean backdrop made to look like storm tossed waves.  We put on our new costumes, grabbed our weapons, and climbed the steps to the ship.  Again, at the prompt of the photographer, we yelled at the camera and made it look like we were wild Vikings riding a stormy sea on our way to pillage new lands.  This was my favorite photo from the Vikings Experience.



At the last station, which had been the busiest when we started because everyone was heading there first, the photo was taken before a green screen.  The photographer then printed out your photo onto a poster with the rest of the show's cast, making it look like you were a new character on the show.  I forgot to look at the screen and approve my picture, so my mouth is open in a growl and I looked ridiculous, but I had a great time so I don't mind!  My boyfriend looks just like Floki from the show in his poster.

After all three stations were visited, users were emailed a video of the Vikings season 3 trailer... with the photos added in!  This was one of my most favorite things from this weekend - it is hilarious to watch this video and see our photos, with us looking like tough Vikings.  Also, after visiting all three of the photo stations, users received plastic drinking horns emblazoned with the Vikings show logo, but they had run out by the time we got there.  Booooo!  But it was the last day this exhibit was going to be open, so I'm not surprised.  These are already selling for $30.00 - $40.00 on ebay!  Crazy.  

We spent the afternoon at NerdHQ once we were finished at the Vikings Experience.  We had tickets for the "Badass Women Mystery Guests!" panel at Nerd HQ that evening and didn't want to be late.  

Earlier that weekend, someone I follow on Twitter had tweeted to complain about NerdHQ not honoring the assigned seats printed on the tickets.  I was surprised at this, but it turns out that person had not arrived until right before the panel started and everyone was already being seated - having experienced the seating layout, which uses the bleachers at Petco Park with a stage built around them, I understand why the NerdHQ staff didn't let them climb over those already seated and placed latecomers in the back.  But we had front row seats, and I wanted to at least be near the front, so I made sure we were in NerdHQ long before seating started, and ready to get in line as soon as they opened that area up for ticket holders.

We ate lunch at NerdHQ, then wandered around looking at all the exhibits.  It was crowded, so we didn't actually get to play the games, like Sonic and Alien, but we did get our photo taken at the Intel green screen booth.  With my Leia poncho on, most of my body disappeared!  Props like masks and comic-style "Pow!" effects were available to hold in the photos, so we made it look like I was a masked superhero punching my boyfriend, who held a "Pow!" sign near my fist.  It ended up pretty cool, with me being a disembodied head and fist, and the face he made.

While I was there, I was asked for my first and only cosplay photo of the day - a NerdHQ volunteer thought my costume was cool and asked for my picture!  I was so flustered and flattered that I left my stupid SDCC badge in the way!  Speaking of my costume, I'm very pleased with it.  It was very comfortable to wear - even with the shirt, vest, and poncho I didn't get overheated walking around.  The belt buckle came undone a few times, but my boyfriend safety pinned the belt to my poncho so I wouldn't lose my pouches.  And my boots ended up being really uncomfortable - the heels are kind of busted, so they were rubbing weird.  I'm sad, because I might need to throw them away.  I ended up switching to my sneakers after the Sailor Moon panel so I wouldn't get blisters, and I'm glad I did.  Other than that, the costume fit well and looked good.  My cell phone fit inside my holster perfectly, too.  And as I was wandering around the Con, I ran into a few Stormtroopers - lucky me, cosplaying as Leia on the same day the 501st is hosting a panel and taking group photos!

This Stormtrooper was cracking jokes about me being a filthy Rebel and said, "Don't talk to me about Endor. It was a dark day for the Empire."  Loved this guy!

The Badass Women panel was my favorite of the Con.  The panel included Ming-Na Wen (Agent May on SHIELD and the voice of Mulan), Missy Peregrym (Reaper, Rookie Blue), Retta (Parks and Rec), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck, 24), Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time, House), and Sophie Turner (Sansa on Game of Thrones).  Zachary Levi was seated at the side of the stage, bantering with the panelists and audience, and keeping things on track (or derailing it!)

The panel was conducted as a Q&A with the audience, and I was very impressed with the questions.  No one asked Zachary Levi to do the smolder.  The conversation stayed focused on the women, their experiences as females in Hollywood, as women of color in Hollywood, how they respond to a lack of roles and the tropes that govern them, and how do they try to subvert those tropes in their work.  Personal stories were shared, each panelist explained where she got her inspiration and who she thinks of as a strong woman (I think everyone mentioned there mom/sisters, Sophie said Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on GoT, and Ming-Na said "Princess Leia" which made me happy since I was dressed as Princess Leia and obviously love that character too!)



Everyone on the panel was wonderful and had insightful answers.  But Ming-Na and Retta were absolutely perfect.  The humor among the panelists made for a relaxed atmosphere even when the discussion became personal and emotional.  It was therapeutic to experience these women, and hear them talk about relatable experiences and how they overcame sexist situations or discovered that they could say no to roles they disagreed with, or go against expectations (like parental expectations) and still have the support of their loved ones.  That last bit, when they were talking about expectations and just doing something because someone else expects it - that really hit home for me.  For a long time I've wondered if I am really getting my PhD because I want it, or because my entire relationship with my family is based on their expectation that I finish it.

One thing that really stuck with me was something Ming-Na said.  She pointed out that so many of us were dressed up, cosplaying at some point this weekend as female characters that we admire, and she reminded us that when that costume comes off we don't have to lose that strength.  We don't have to pretend to be these characters - we are strong, and confident, and whatever attributes we like about these characters that we wish we had too.  This hit me because I was cosplaying that day as Princess Leia, a character that I love, who is integral to the Star Wars storyline, who solves problems and stands up to the men and gets shit done.  I could have started crying, and almost did - last year I went through a serious bout of depression, where I felt like I was a complete waste of a person with no qualities of any worth.  I am still working on my confidence and self-worth, and there are so many female characters that I admire and try to draw inspiration from, that to hear that and remember how low I was this time last year really affected me.

So, thank you Zachary Levi, Ming-Na and the other panelists, and the staff at NerdHQ, for hosting this awesome panel.  And thank you to the audience members who asked such insightful questions.  This needs to be a panel every year.

After the Badass Women panel, we left NerdHQ and went into the Gaslamp for dinner.  We ate Indian food at Masala - Spices of India, which was delicious, then headed back to our hotel.

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