Fans say camping at Comic-Con Hall H – KPBS is an unforgettable experience | Gmx Pharm

Comic-Con International is back and one of the things that makes it unique: the excitement about Hall H.

Once upon a time, a geek fan could go to Comic-Con on opening day and buy a ticket to enter the gates of the pop culture kingdom. But then “Twilight” fell across the country.

Comic-Con Flashback: “Twilight” Moms

OK, so it’s not entirely Twilight moms’ fault, but this scintillating vampire flick garnered an influx of obsessive fans just as Marvel was launching Phase One of its Cinematic Universe. Around 2009 things started to change for Comic-Con and the attendees determined to come to Hall H.

“The queues are crazy, aren’t they? And people sleep in and you get tired because you’re like, yeah, I spent 12 hours in line by myself,” said Brooklyn, who agreed to share an inside perspective as long as I didn’t use her full name. “Why are we doing this?”

Because being a geek means passionate commitment.

Brooklyn, who agreed to provide an inside look at Hall H as long as her full name is not used, in this July 20, 2022 illustration.

Brooklyn operates one of several line groups in Concourse H, where people work together so they can sleep, eat and use the bathroom in shifts as they may have to wait in line for longer than 24 hours.

“I read on Reddit that their group is 100 people this Saturday in Hall H,” Brooklyn said. “So it kind of intensified where you had to be more organized because everyone around you was also more organized.”

She has a Google spreadsheet to organize shifts for people waiting in the Hall H and EE queues — what insiders call the “everything else” lines.

The 6,000-plus panel space is one of the things that defines Comic-Con. For some attendees, that means Comic-Con has sold out and outgrown Hollywood after Hollywood. To outsiders, it’s that annual madness of people queuing at the San Diego Convention Center and camping overnight. And the people waiting in line even have a hard time explaining why they’re doing it.

James Rolfe, better known on YouTube as The Angry Video Game Nerd, was also happy about the queue in front of Hall H on July 10, 2015.

James Rolfe, better known on YouTube as The Angry Video Game Nerd, was also happy about the queue in front of Hall H on July 10, 2015.

“You’re staring at the sidewalk, you’re staring at the gravel for so long you go into some kind of sensory deprivation,” James Rolfe told me while waiting in line at Hall H in 2015. “If you’re lucky, you get into something, and then you see something great, and then it’s like sensory overload. And then you just feel great that you’re part of something. I’m here for the spectacle.”

Attending Comic-Con now requires tactical skill if you want to get an exclusive toy, get an autograph, or visit Hall H when Marvel has a panel. But it’s worth it.

“We’re all going to the same thing, and we’re all hyper,” Brooklyn said. “And then when you come into this room and you’ve worked so hard and you’re with all your friends, Tom Hiddleston comes out dressed as Loki.”

Loki at the Marvel Studios Comic-Con panel in San Diego – officially

The panel was 2013.

“When everyone has camped outside and then sat in this room all day for this Marvel panel and the sense of the crowd is just something you won’t get anywhere else,” Brooklyn said.

But not everyone gets that.

“My husband thinks I’m crazy,” Penny Goodman told me in 2009 as she spent the night on the concrete outside Hall H waiting for the “Twilight: New Moon” panel. “He still doesn’t understand why I want to do this. He’s at home with our daughter and everyone just shakes their heads and looks at me and my mother too.”

But in a way, overnight camping is a geek badge of honor that proves how much you love something. I’ve never quite understood why Twilight Moms weren’t embraced by a lot of the other fandoms at Comic-Con. These Twilight moms were fans, just like all the other geeky attendees who attended Comic-Con before them, but they happened to be older women and teenage girls, a demographic that had never been seen in such large numbers before.

But Comic-Con attendance has increased overall, which has contributed to a number of problems. Brooklyn recalls joining a crowd as they pushed forward to enter the tents for the Hall H-Line.

Hall H tents.jpg

The tents to accommodate the visitors waiting in line for Hall H. July 2009.

“So once I sat on the planters and people were waiting for them to open the line in Hall H, and then they opened it, everyone rushed into the tent,” Brooklyn said. “In hindsight I shouldn’t have joined everyone but my feet were off the ground and the crowd just carried me. I thought, ‘I could just get trampled on at this point, right?’ But luckily I was carried and then everyone tries to find their group afterwards because everyone just fell in.”

Brooklyn never intended to lead a 60-person line group. She was drawn to Comic-Con in 2011 because she was tired of just reading about and watching YouTube videos. She wanted to be more immersed in pop culture.

Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla Encounter at San Diego Comic-Con 2013

“I love the Godzilla movies,” Brooklyn said. “So it was amazing to walk into a warehouse that was completely stripped out and then remodeled again like you’re walking through a Godzilla movie. But you hear about these things at Comic-Con and you’re like, ‘Well, that sounds so cool. I want to go.’ And then you hear about the panels and you’re like, ‘I wish I’d been at the Doctor Who panel with David Tenant. That would be great.” And that was my original attraction, it was the panels and the activations and different things like that. But now that it’s a monumental task I’d say I’m going back for my friends and everything else is a bonus is.

And that’s important to remember, because if you just want to get into Hall H, you either have to focus entirely on making it – which means overnight camping, finding snake groups, making friends in line — or be prepared not to come in.

Brooklyn’s advice?

“Find out what you’re into. What are you comfortable with? If you don’t like sleeping outside, that’s fine,” she said.

Because if you just want to experience Hall H, there are “walk-in” days. So consider just going to Hall H if there’s a panel you want to attend and see if there’s no queue. But don’t expect that on a Saturday when Warner Brothers and Marvel are bringing their superheroes.

But the most important thing to remember is that Comic-Con can be whatever you make it. You can do panels, or shop, or play, or cosplay, or just hang out with friends and kindred spirits.

“You connect on a level that you don’t connect with other people on a daily basis,” Brooklyn said. “It’s a place where I don’t get a lot of judgment, and that’s always nice.”

In other words, Chewie, we’re home.

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