Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Jenn's Pick: The Best (and Worst) of Comic-Con 2016

I was fortunate enough last year to be able to attend Comic-Con for the very first time as press. It was the biggest event I had ever covered and provided me with so much scoop and awesome interviews. I loved the opportunity to travel cross-country and the fact that my friends at 4YE were so gracious in letting me crash with them at the last minute. But this year I was even more excited for Comic-Con because I wouldn't be going alone — I would be bringing some of my team with me!

Chelsea, Maddie, Jen K., and I ventured to San Diego in order to attend days and nights of panels, bringing you all the coolest and most exclusive scoop from panels and interviews. (Laura was also there with us, though she was at Nerd HQ and the off-site events most of the weekend. Still, we love Laura and it was so great to be with her!) Over the next few days, we'll be posting about our experiences (and giving you some exclusive interviews with the casts of Time After Time, Frequency, and Wynonna Earp). But before we get to all of that, I wanted to post about my experience at the convention — both the good and the bad. This year was more relaxed for me (even more so when I unintentionally fell ill), and it was strange in that regard, but totally welcome. I was able to actually rest, which is not something you usually hear in conjunction with Comic-Con.

So let's kick off a recap of my week, shall we?



The best part of this year's Comic-Con for me involved the people I hung out with. We laughed and danced in the ballrooms. We yelled about shipping and flailed at the MTV Fandom Awards. We ate together and snarked together and stood in line together. We hugged each other for long amounts of time and we battled crowds and fandoms together. This year, I got the chance to be with Chelsea (who is, like me, an old lady at heart), Jen (who is the most exuberant, articulate, fun woman ever), and Maddie (who is the literal embodiment of sunshine and sparkles), which was amazing enough. But then we got to see some of our other writers while at the convention. Sidewalks were the place to be, and we literally ran into Connie and Isabella while walking into the convention center.

But it wasn't just the ladies from Just About Write who met up with one another. We also got to see our #LadiesSupportingLadies friends from Tell-Tale TV and Fangirlish and 4 Your Excitement. Lizzie and I hugged for so long that I legitimately thought someone might have to pry us apart. All of the women we met and hung out with were amazing, so sweet, and so complimentary. I also got to meet the most precious, perfect, adorable human being named Keely. I already knew she was sweet from talking to her about Hamilton and writing, but from the first second that I met her, she proved just how great she is. I'm so excited that she exists and I know that if I ever get to go back to L.A. to visit, I'll be crashing with her.

She's the sweetest human ever and I love her so much.

Jen and I also got to meet our friends from TVOvermind, which was a blast. Seriously, every person we met in person was just as kind and awesome as they were online.


Curse you, MTV Fandom Awards! I'll spare you the gross details, but I was sick with food poisoning all day Friday because of something I ate the night before at the awards. That meant that I, unfortunately, didn't get to see the panels for The 100, Powerless, or Orphan Black. Thankfully, I was able to take the entire day to sleep, drink lots of water, eat a cup of Jell-O, and watch 10 Things I Hate About You. The day spent recovering was a bummer, but it was definitely worth it because I needed to take the time to rest up for Saturday.


Yes, our roundtable for Frequency DID talk to Mekhi Phifer about whether or not he was playing Pokemon Go, and yes Peyton List DID reveal to us that she's obsessed with Splenda and Equal and all bad things she can put into her coffee. I love getting scoop at Comic-Con in the press room, but what I love even more is when we just get to hang out for a few seconds with the talent before the interviews even begin. That is honestly one of the best and most enjoyable parts of every conversation.


Last year, I had an amazing experience with the CBS press room. The staff who ran the room was organized and efficient. When I sent a request to be in the room, I heard back within a few hours. There were multiple emails, all from the same contact, sent out throughout the course of the week with check-in times noted and information clearly stated. And because of that organization, I had no issues checking into the press room and picking up my panel passes last year. It made for an enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately, this year was a cluster-mess. For starters, CBS sent out their RSVP emails extremely late (July 13) and, when Jen and I replied to accept, we literally did NOT HEAR BACK CONFIRMATION UNTIL THE DAY BEFORE WE LEFT FOR THE CONVENTION. That should have been my first sign that things would be a mess. Jen and I communicated with the same contact and both sent in our requests to be at roundtables on the same day. However, when we got to the Hilton Bayfront to pick up our panel passes for the CBS TV block on Thursday afternoon, Jen’s were nowhere to be found, even though mine were. And she wasn’t the only one. Our good friend Emmy had the exact same experience with missing panel passes. Again, that should have been an indicator of the day to come.

This next part is partially our fault: we attended the CBS TV block which ran from 12-3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. I hadn’t double-checked my email and thought that check-in for the press room was at 3:30. You know, it makes sense since the panel itself didn’t end until three, right? Emmy, Jen, and I decided to stop to get something to eat (we left the CBS TV block early because we were hungry and getting bored with MacGyver, which was the last panel before the block ended). We walked over the hotel to check into the room at 3:27, only to meet a woman at the door who asked if we had already checked in (which, hello, we’re by the door so obviously that’s where you check in). When we told her “no,” she looked at us and then said: “Sorry, the room is full.”

Obviously, the three of us were taken aback because we had RSVP’d. We gave her that information and she said: “Sorry, check-in was at 3 p.m. and the room has already started.” (She wasn’t sorry, obviously.) We were growing more and more agitated, because it was clear that the CBS press had made a huge mistake or miscommunications occurred and they way overbooked the room. When you have an RSVP to an event, it means that you get into the event. What happened was that CBS overbooked their room, and RSVPs ultimately meant nothing in the end. Your RSVP wasn’t valid because they messed up and quite a few of us (there were at least six of us by the door — that’s an entire table of press) were hung out to dry because of someone else’s error. The thing is, press contacts will TELL you if a room is full when you ask for access. I’ve had my fair share of emails stating: “Sorry, our room is at capacity.” But when you RSVP to a room — no matter if you get there at 3 p.m. on the dot or 3:27 p.m. — that means you have a spot in the room when the interviews begin at 3:30 p.m.

(Furthermore, the woman telling us that the interviews had already started was telling us that at 3:28 p.m. when the scheduled start time was 3:30 p.m.)

The disorganization of the room was apparent, but what was even more telling was that there was an entire empty table left in the room and two-thirds of the talent who was going to be in the room WERE NOT IN THERE YET. We literally passed the casts of American Gothic and Scorpion as we were leaving the hallway. They hadn’t even gotten into the press room yet to take photos, much less be interviewed. The best part of this all was that the network made check-in at 3 p.m., when their panels didn’t end until that time. There is usually at LEAST a half-hour window between panels and rooms to allow press enough time to walk from the convention center to the Bayfront hotel (it takes about ten minutes or so to get from one to the other). Everything about the room was absurd this year, and it’s clear that someone was trying to cover up the fact that CBS screwed up and overbooked.

Overall, Jen and Emmy and I were upset and baffled by the complete and utter lack of communication present and we spent the rest of the day doing other things. If next year is anything like this one, you can count me out of your panels and room, CBS.


This is, by far, the best part of Comic-Con: you get a lot of exclusive content that people who don’t attend the convention have to wait to see. We got to see four different pilots this year (our roundtable about them is coming soon!), as well as get some cool video trailers and scoop about shows like Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, Once Upon A Time, Scorpion, The 100, and more. If you’re a spoiler-free kind of person, I honestly don’t know how you would do at the convention. Because everywhere you turn, some actor or producer is dropping spoilers about their upcoming seasons. Comic-Con is the best place to speculate storylines and casting choices, and seeing trailers and clips first-hand is amazing. I’ll never forget being in Hall H last year to watch the Deadpool trailer with thousands of other people, and them chanting: “One more time!” It’s an experience like no other, truly.


If you’re willing to stand in line to get the scoop you want so badly, you’ll be rewarded. But accidentally sleep in or arrive an hour later than you intended and you might just be spending a lot of time under the tents of Ballroom 20 playing Heads Up and draining your phone battery. It’s always best, for Ballroom 20 panels, to arrive in line at LEAST two hours early. Though this line generally isn’t as crazy as Hall H’s, if the day is jam-packed with programming (like it was on Saturday), sometimes the best option is to spend the day camping out in the room. Ballrooms don’t get cleared between panels, which means people who arrive at 8 a.m. in line on Saturday (or earlier) were probably those people in the front center rows for Arrow that night. When it comes to Hall H, depending on the time of day you attempt it and the programming within it, you might just be spending the night in a sleeping bag on the ground. If that’s worth it for you to see the trailers and panels for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, then by all means: you do you! (I never could.)

You’ll be rewarded with scoop and photos and lots of live-tweeting, but only if you allot enough time in your schedule to stand in line for a few hours beforehand.


By far, the coolest display that I saw this year was the one that ABC did for Designated Survivor (an excellent pilot, by the way, which you all need to watch when it airs). They replicated The White House and you could actually go inside of it! Really though, networks and movie studios go all-out for their displays during Comic-Con. The floor isn’t just lined with artists and Funkos but with costumes of popular superheroes, interactive experiences, and photo opportunities. WB’s autograph signing booth caused a traffic jam nearly every single day, however, which leads me to...


If you’re even remotely claustrophobic, then getting into Comic-Con, through the convention sidewalks, or navigating the floor might not be the best places for you to visit. Imagine Disney World at capacity, and then try to picture everyone squeezing themselves down half the width of Main Street, U.S.A. to exit the park. Yeah, it’s that bad. My friends and I walked the floor on Thursday afternoon, which was — in retrospect — probably a mistake. We formed a little human chain so that none of us would get separated and pushed our way through throngs of people just to see costumes on display and booths with souvenirs for our friends and family. It was a nightmare. But then I returned to the hall around 11 a.m. on Saturday morning after my Once Upon A Time panel. And it was such a relief, because the vast majority of attendees were in Hall H (or its line) for the WB Studios block. That meant I actually had space to walk around without constantly running into someone. And it meant that the line I needed to stand in to get my boss his Star Wars Christmas ornament was ten minutes, as opposed to the two hours it was on Thursday. Pro-tip: go to the floor when the biggest panels are happening if you’re not attending them. You’ll have a much nicer time.

Mingling at a rooftop NBC party with our friend from TVOvermind! #LadiesSupportingLadies


Comic-Con is all about who you know. Last year, I got to talk to Rowell before the convention and he gave me so many helpful tips and tricks that I would have never known otherwise. He was my guide and my friend through my first year, and this year was no different. When he texted me and asked if I was going to the NBC party, I chuckled a bit because Just About Write isn’t big enough to score an invite to THAT. Instead of thinking only of himself, Rowell said: “I’ll ask them for an invite for you.” He didn’t have to do that, and he doesn’t have to give me tips and press contacts, but he does because he’s a kind person who is more concerned with helping someone else navigate the world of press at a huge convention than he is about himself and his outlet. I loved hanging out with Rowell this year, and because of him I got to attend my very first (and big!) Comic-Con party: the NBC party!

We got to meet Michael Ausiello, and we were really excited about it!

And what was even better was that we mingled with others while mingling with our friends from TVOvermind! And they’re the absolute best, especially Nick and Araceli who we hung out with the entire night. Jen got the opportunity to meet Jaimie Alexander and take a photo with her. Nick talked to Alan Tudyk and Ron Funches. And we all got a photo with our entertainment writing hero Michael Ausiello. It was an incredibly fun evening of relaxing, mingling, and food: all overlooking the city from a beautiful rooftop.


I love my day job and I love where I live, but I definitely didn’t want to get on a plane Sunday morning and fly back to Orlando. Leaving behind the fun, crazy energy of Comic-Con is always difficult and I know that no matter how many years I attend, it won’t ever get easier. This event is just non-stop: from parties to off-site events to panels and press rooms, being at Comic-Con is a whirlwind adventure and it’s all you can do just to hang on and roll with whatever happens. I encourage everyone, if they can, to attend at least one Comic-Con in their lifetimes. It’s just such a unique experience, and I’m not sure anything I know of really compares to it.

Getting back to the “real world” was tough (though I have to admit that I really enjoyed showering in my own bathroom and wearing clean clothes after an entire day of travel), but now I get the chance to tell the stories from the convention and hopefully convince more people to attend in the coming years. And isn’t that really what the spirit of Comic-Con is all about?


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