Comic-Con 2018: 'Is existence futile? Survey says yes'

Drawing a line in the fans: 24 hours, 5 lines, 1 plea for mercy.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
4 min read

Going to Comic-Con involves a lot of waiting around. 

Erin Carson/CNET

Here at San Diego Comic-Con International, fandom expresses itself in more ways than you can count. One of those ways is standing in line. For hours. Sometimes, folks camp out overnight to snag an audience spot for a panel.

Panels promise anything from never-before-seen footage to behind-the-scenes trivia to trailer drops. This year, as a Comic-Con newbie, I got my first taste of the line-waiting madness, where con attendees assemble collapsible furniture, talk superheroes and Star Wars (lots of Star Wars), and sometimes just stare into the middle distance to pass the time.

Here are five lines I've waited in so far.

The press line for Doctor Who's Hall H panel

There are, arguably, few people more smug than a reporter with a press pass to a popular Comic-Con event. And I was, at the very least, quite pleased to dodge the Hall H hordes and easily nab a seat to catch the new cast and showrunners of BBC's Doctor Who making their first big joint appearance. 

This, it turns out, will be my first and best line of the event so far. It's small, with reporters and bloggers chattering away about Comic-Cons past. There's even some shade to hide in as the sun starts baking everyone else in sight. We casually fan ourselves with our passes. The rest of the day will go downhill rapidly.  

The line for the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend panel

Arriving an hour and some change ahead of a panel for the CW's musical comedy show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I experience my first slow horror of trying to find the end of a line. It snakes across two endless hallways. Someone tells me to go outside. I have grossly underestimated the show's popularity and cautiously ask a woman behind me if she is, in fact, just waiting for the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend panel. She is. Everyone is. I nervously Google the capacity for room 6A and start bargaining with the gods. When I finally make it into the room, there's plenty of space left. I wonder if we're all just being tested.  

The line for a Friday Hall H wristband

Thursday evening, I delude myself into thinking it will be possible to nab a wristband that will gain me entrance into the main programming room (Hall H) and still have dinner. But as my sore feet and I walk and walk and walk and ask probably four different volunteers if I'm headed in the right direction, my dream of a cheese-smothered burger and frosty glass of beer dies. Quickly. 

When I get to the end of the line, across the street from the convention center, on a sidewalk overlooking the water, the scene is deceptively serene -- if you ignore the other queued-up nerds and just focus on a distant point somewhere on the water. Time wears on, the sun sets, and a woman in front of me starts telling mythical-sounding tales of volunteers in blinking, light-up vests who will eventually scan our badges, give us wristbands and let us go home. After a few hours, I've run out of water, everything hurts and I'm not sure I've ever had a home.

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The line for the hotel shuttle

Wristband fastened to wrist, it's time to start yet another trek across the pedestrian bridge near the convention center over to the shuttle that will take me back to my hotel. Surprise: There's a line to board the bus. I squint at every bus that pulls up to see if it's the right route color. A guy behind me hovers near my elbow. I will fight him if necessary to keep my place in line. Two buses and a small black van you might rent for a sleazy bachelor/bachelorette party come and go before I manage to get a seat on something with a motor and wheels. I stare out the window thinking of the bag of jerky waiting for me for dinner from the hotel commissary.

The line for Hall H on Friday

After getting a whopping five hours of sleep Thursday night, I'm back in line waiting so I can catch a reunion panel celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I step in line, and within minutes, volunteers come around handing out the very wristband I waited hours for last night. Is existence futile? Survey says yes.

It takes more than two hours to crawl toward the convention center, from underneath one tent to another, passing through the waft of body odor. Trapped with my own thoughts, which mostly revolve around snacks and shoe insoles, I foist them on my Twitter followers until my battery starts dying. Having put my phone in my pocket, I have time to consider the wide variety of small, collapsible seating options apparently on the market. Who knew? In the end, I make it into the panel, without anyone giving more than a passing glance at my precious wristband.

I pop a Vitamin C tablet and dream of a better pair of sneakers. 

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