Silicon Valley Comic Con.  It’s been a long time coming!  As a Bay Area native, I can say us “nerds” have been waiting for an event like this to come to our area.  I feel very lucky to have been a part of the first ever Silicon Valley Comic Con.  I have never been to a Con before so this whole experience was brand new for me.  Good thing I’m always up for a new adventure!  And this was, in ever sense of the word, an adventure!  Let’s start off with the whole parking situation.  I am a Bay Area local and did not feel the need to get a hotel close to San Jose Convention Center as I was staying with family only about 20 minutes away.  I am familiar with the convention center and have never had any problems getting into a parking structures, so I didn’t even think this was going to be an issue.  Maybe part of me didn’t think this event was going to be as big as it really was because HOLY COW! All the parking structures and lots within a 6 block radius were completely full, and this was at around 10am!  The Con had just started!  My sister, who I drag along with me to everything, was shocked as we have spent time in San Jose before and it never took us 90 minutes to find parking!  After that whole debacle, my jaw literally dropped when I saw the line just to get into the convention center.  LITERALLY down the street and around the corner, and we are talking city streets here.

My sister had purchased a regular ticket and I had gotten registered for a press pass.  Once we were in the convention center, it was painfully obvious that this was the first year they had put this event together.  There were so many different lines.  While I was looking for the press check-in area I was sent to the wrong place twice and when I finally found it, it was int he most hidden (and sad looking) place at the end of a long hallway on the second floor behind the actual convention.  My sister had it a bit worse as she had gotten us tickets for Meet and Greets with Stan Lee and Christopher Llyod.  She had to get in line to get her attendee wristband, in another line to get a ticket for the photo with Christopher Lloyd and a ticket for the Stan Lee meet and greet.  Then there was another line to get into the actual convention and it was starting to sink in that I wasn’t the one expecting this many people to show up.  Once we were in, I was amazed at the amount of booths that were set up in the middle area.  They had so many local artists and companies, vintage toys and comic books, and different vendors.  While browsing through this section, I noticed posters for a comic book that was about Stan Lee and his wife and their love story.  I was too distracted by the book itself to even notice it was written by J.C. Lee!!! and not only did she write it, but she was due any minute to show up to the booth to sign autographs!  I stuck around the booth and got to talk to J.C. a little bit about the book.  I asked her to sign a copy for me and is she would sign my Marvel shirt I was wearing.  Actually, what I said was “I want to ask you to sign my shirt, but I don’t want to seem like a weirdo freak,” to which she so sweetly responded, “Ha! You’re not a weirdo!” and she signed my shirt and drew a little face on the Captain America shield.  After all this excitement, I needed some water and maybe a snack.

The Convention Center was packed and the crowds had made the room quite warm.  I went to find the refreshment line and…dear God… I waited 45 minutes in line for a goddamn water!! My sister went outside to the food vendors that were in the lobby of the convention center and those lines were even longer. Again, I don’t think anyone expected it to be as big as it actually was.  After that it was time for us to get in line for the Stan Lee meet and greet.  While my sister waited, I went exploring.  There was a replica of the car from Ghostbusters, various R2D2 replicas roaming about, and a bunch of props from Back to The Future.  They had set up an area that had original artwork from Marvel Comic Books that I, of course, geeked out over and had sever mini nerd meltdown moments, especially when I found an original drawing of The Hulk.  He’s my favorite.  On the other side of the convention, they had a mini wax museum with various sculptures.  My sister had a fun time later taking selfies with Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and Steve Jobs.  Each had a little plaque describing what contributions they had done towards “nerd culture” and making it acceptable.  This area of the convention had a more technology geared feel.  When I walked by, people were getting ready for a speaker that was coming to talk about the new advances in space travel technology.  Had I had more time, I would have spent more time here for sure.

So back to the meet and greet, what was originally supposed to be a 3pm meet turned into a 4:30pm, and then 5pm, and then 5:30pm.  My sister was getting worried because the Christopher Llyod meet and greet was at 6 and people had started lining up at 4, just like we had gotten in line for Stan Lee around 1pm.  We asked one of the event workers what she thought we should do since we didn’t want to lose our place in line for Stan Lee, but we also wanted to meet Christopher Lloyd.  She looked at our tickets and told us before we could even do the actual meet and greet, we had to go get our tickets switched out to a different kind of ticket.  The one we had gotten at the door was more of “check-in” ticket and we needed to get the actual meet and greet tickets.  I kept telling myself that this was the first year this event was here and it was obviously a lot bigger than most people expected, but this whole ticket deal was ridiculous.  We kept getting different information from different volunteers.  At the end, we decided to not lose our Stan Lee spots and cross our fingers that he would arrive in time for us to make it to Christopher Llyod.  I’ll tell you now, we didn’t make it.  More on that later.  Meeting Stan Lee has to be the highlight of my life up to this point.  They were running behind on his schedule (he was about 2 hours late) so we didn’t get to chat for more than just a few seconds.  I had a vintage Magento action figure with me that he signed.  I thanked him for helping create a universe where a troubled kid like me could escape and find hope.  He smiled at me and shook my hand.  I then went over to the press area and was able to take some pictures from there. They weren’t allowing picturing during the signing for fear of forgeries (I’m not sure how the two related but okay).  We then ran over to the Christopher Llyod area, crossing our fingers and hoping we could make it.  We got in line and noticed that the tickets the people in line had were different than ours.  We asked a volunteer and she said this was a different meet and greet and we had already missed our meet and greet time.  We explained how Stan Lee was late and we really had no choice.  They gave us the option to either call the ticketing place and try to get a refund or pay the difference since this meet and greet was Christopher Llyod with the Delorean and an extra $60 per person.  I was extremely disappointed at how they handled that considering we would have been able to do both had we avoided all the running around and had the schedule been running on time.  Feeling defeated, we decided to watch the costume contest, which actually ended up being one of my favorite parts.  The cosplays were so crazy on point I felt like I was at Disneyland for a second with all the costumed characters roaming around.  I was especially impressed by someone who had dressed up as Groot, stilts and all.  There were some great Batman, Harley Quinns, Deadpools, although my favorite costume was a guy in full Wreck It Ralph costume, even his hands and feet!  He was even wearing a pixelated backpack which just added to his whole costume.  I loved it!  We sat there and watched the people go up on stage and show off their costumes and props.  This is what I feel like conventions are really about.  People being able to share their interests, passions, and for some us, obsessions out in the open while meeting other people who feel the same way.  I was chatting with a woman sitting next to me about how great it is to be able to go to events like this and appreciate all the time and effort that go into detailed cosplays.  Her and her whole family were dressed up as the Avengers.

Overall, I would give the Silicon Valley Comic Con experience a solid B or 3 out of 5 stars.  All the lines were so crazy ridiculous!  I am an avid Disneylander and even those lines were not as bad as some of the line we were in.  I was very disappointed at the meet and greet schedule and how they did not accommodate people who had gotten tickets to meet multiple people and missed some due to last minute changes in their schedule.  There were people in line with us at Stan Lee that we saw come over to Christopher Llyod with us and they were all told the same thing.  There are much larger arenas in the area that would be better suited to accommodate an event like this where parking wouldn’t be that big of an issue and things could run more efficiently. That convention center was definitely not equipped to handle that many people which resulted in it being crowded, long lines, and very warm inside – which if you have ever been to a convention you know is not a good thing.  I’m looking forward to the next few years to see how SVCC improves and grows as it finds its place as a Bay Area event.  I am grateful to have been a part of it and no matter what, at the end of the day, I left with memories I could not have gotten anywhere else and memories I will never forget.

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