I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It feels as though I’ve only just arrived, and I’m already beginning my journey home.
I begin writing today’s piece during the first leg of my trip back – a short 26 minute flight from San Diego to Los Angeles (where I have another three hour wait before my final journey to Vancouver).
Somehow, I slept in today. Matt, Josh, and Megan were nowhere to be seen when I finally woke up, so I made my way to the shower (no line!) and afterwards began packing my things. I had no idea how much stuff I’d accumulated during my time in San Diego. I left Vancouver with a standard sized carry-on (meaning I didn’t pay for a checked bag or have to wait at the baggage claim, yay) that still felt as though it had plenty of room left in it during my initial packing. This wouldn’t be the case on my way home – I’d accumulated a myriad of, well, crap that I don’t need over my five days in San Diego, from a series of WWE t-shirts and other items that Jonathan didn’t want out of various LootCrate products (which I actually will use and am stoked for), to water bottles, candies, books, lanyards, an entire bag of The Tick promotional material (read all about it right here), several books, a Sami Zayn autographed picture (read all about that one right here), and numerous other items that I can’t remember at this moment (but sadly, no Stranger Things hat, sorry Mikaela).
It was to the point where when packing this morning, I had to decide which non-important items were the most non-important, and other members of the group seemed to claim them pretty quickly. Still, there were numerous items that I wanted to bring home and never look at again, so it took nearly twenty minutes of intense struggling to actually get the bag zipped up, and I swear that I still have imprints on my fingerprints from pulling on the tiny zippers.
Zack and I left the room together and stopped at 7-Eleven for a quick Chiller Club (and a donut for breakfast, as at this point I have less than $20 left to my name). He told me all about the insanely cool Atomic Blonde screening he’d been at the night earlier, how much of a potty mouth Charleze Theron has, and how much he’s looking forward to seeing the film again. This also explained why he’d been wearing a blonde wig ever since I woke up this morning. It was a good look on him for sure.
We continued our trek to the convention centre (in what would be my last walk there of 2017, as I had my carry-on with me at this point) and we decided that Zack would be starting a new podcast for the Geekscape Network, entitled “Speaking Spuds With Zack Haddad.” The dude is a vegetable broker or something (I forgot the correct term) and knows a lot about potatoes. Who wouldn’t want to listen to that? I said that he could theme it like that little kid who eats peppers and reviews them on YouTube, except he could just cook different types of potatoes and review those. It for sure wouldn’t be as cute, but… actually maybe it’s just an all around bad idea.
Once inside of the convention centre, I did one last tour of the nearby booths (and once again failed to get any Stranger Things swag that I could now not fit in my bag even if I didn’t fail at obtaining it), and simply spent the next 90 minutes sitting at the Geekscape booth. We removed the mouse traps and broke down the Box of Mystery and Danger as at this point it was empty aside from some posters that nobody would even take for free. People kept swinging by for badge flares, to sign up for the giveaways still in progress, and to talk about Horror Movie Night once Matt lured them in with his “Podcasts you won’t listen to on a website you won’t visit” spiel. The booth felt less busy this morning, and it marked a great time to again connect with the people inside of it. This was a chill, relaxing way to end the convention, and I’d definitely do this again over a morning of being hung over or another day of appointments.
Then the goodbyes began. Courtney came by as she’d be in an appointment by the time I left. She actually lives just a couple of hours south of me, so I invited her to Canada, she invited me back to America, and meeting up again in real life (outside of the insanity of SDCC, which also marked Courtney’s first convention ever) is something that I’d really, really like to do in the near future.
The rest of the farewells came in quick succession as noon passed (I needed to be at the airport for one), hugs came from all around (including a very tight Matt/Jonathan group hug that lasted so long that I almost thought I’d be late for my flight. Matt let me know once again that he’s always around if I need to talk, or simply need anything at all. He’s reached out to me numerous times over the past ten months, just to check in or to see how I was doing. In most cases, he’d never receive a response, but I truly hope that he knows just how much I appreciate him doing that at all (and continuing to do it after being ignored).
It felt like a long, long walk from the convention centre to the ride share pick up point, because at this point and time, I simply wasn’t ready to say goodbye. This week ended up being so refreshing, so relieving, and exactly what I think I needed – I just didn’t think that I’d had enough of it yet, and I’d have loved the opportunity to be around these same people in a different, less busy context.
Guido the Lyft driver picked me up (when I travel I tend to ride share as much as possible as it still doesn’t exist in British Columbia, and after all of weird Uber shit that’s been going on lately, Lyft seems substantially less sleazy). It’s a pretty short trip from the Convention Centre to the airport, but we chatted about how cold it is in Vancouver (not very), the San Diego airport, and how Guido would be headed to Ecuador in September as his 88 year-old father is sick. He helped me pull my bag out of the trunk, I wished him and his father the best, and we parted ways.
Being the day that San Diego Comic-Con ended, I expected a packed airport. Delta noted that as I was taking an international flight I should arrive at the airport no later than 3 hours before my flight, and as I arrived with just less than that, I thought that I’d be cutting it close, and that I’d be in for a stressful time (as was my trip down to San Diego just a few days before). Five minutes later, I was through security and at my gate, in what may be the fastest airport experience that I’ve ever been through. I grabbed some quick Jack in the Box as it was the cheapest thing in the airport (and we down have them in Canada, and the curly fries are delicious).
After eating, I decided to spend the several hours I had remaining in the San Diego International Airport to simply relax. I made my way back to the gate, popped in some headphones, and watched some more SDCC reveals and trailers (during this time, thinking about how everyone shits all over every DCU film every time one releases, and then again goes ga-ga over each and every new trailer for the next one), scrolled Facebook, and essentially waited in boredom until the plane was finally read to board.
My first stop was Los Angeles, and the Journey there was just about the shortest flight that I’ve ever been on at about 25 minutes (if I remember correctly), the only shorter one being the ~12 seat, 20 minute seaplane flight from downtown Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver. This was a fairly uneventful journey, aside from two things: the lady who was very angry that the cast of Riverdale was seated before her and her child (like, several minutes before… the nerve), and my tooth, which again gave me several painful pops at random times during the flight.
Now that I was in Los Angeles, I had the amazing opportunity to wait another few hours for my final flight to Vancouver. At this point I was feeling pretty hungry yet again, and I grabbed some grub from the crappy Chinese food place inside of the LAX terminal. At the same time, I purchased a Gatorade, which I promptly forgot to bring with me and felt too awkward to go back for. Not my finest moment, but I hope that whoever picked it up got to enjoy it.
During the wait for this flight, I worked on this piece, and potentially had a bit of a nap, before the gate attendants finally began pre-boarding for the last leg of my journey. At this point I could tell that I was getting exhausted, as it annoyed the hell out of me when what seemed like every single passenger got up and attempted to get on the plane during the pre-boarding stage, again at zone one, and again at zone two, despite numerous messages from the crew that you would not be seated until it was your turn. Annoying AF (again, non-ironic usage). As I sit, relax, and finish this paragraph why warnings continue as the airport staff notes that “There seems to be some confusion at the gate, as we are not ready to seat the majority of you yet.”
I hop on the plane, and before I actually watch one of the Netflix items that I’d downloaded (before the plane would land, I’d get through most of The Wave), I took some time to reflect (more on that towards the end of the piece).
As the plane hit the tarmac, I began to realize just how exhausted I was. I slumped my way off of the plane, through customs (again, just say you’re going to / coming from a comic book convention and security won’t give a shit about you), grabbed my bag (which was checked for free as the plane was so full), and finally made my way outside of the airport. Mikaela waited for me in the lobby, and for the duration of the drive home I perked up and told SDCC stories that I’d forgotten about or that didn’t make it into these journal pieces. Before crashing, I opted to unpack, telling Mikaela that I needed to find my toothbrush, while secretly wanting to give her the WWE Championship fanny pack that was secretly in my bag. This came from the Box of Mystery and Danger, and I knew that she’d find it hilarious due to her love for fanny packs (which I really don’t understand). Also in unpacking, I’d realized that somehow I’d left my Canadian SIM Card in California, meaning that I had at least one important task on my plate the following day.
This Comic-Con felt pretty different, and to this point I’m not really sure why (but it felt mostly positive). Obviously, Shane wasn’t in attendance, and I missed him a lot (this was probably the only negative change vs. previous years), though the toilet did look a lot better after five days than after a few hours with our resident Brony around (say the word, Shane, and I’ll remove that last sentence).
One thing that was pretty different for me personally was the fact that I was carrying around substantially less gear than I typically do. In past years I’ve used GoPros and mirrorless cameras to shoot Shane running the Assassin’s Creed obstacle courses, or numerous other events. I’ve taken hundreds of photos that wouldn’t see the light of day until months later. I’ve brought notebook computers and carried them around all day for the off chance that I’d find some working wifi and could get some work done before returning to the hotel. This year I stripped down. I got rid of my computer, picked up an iPad Pro, took photos on my phone, and ended up writing substantially more words, producing more content, and feeling substantially less weighed down than in years gone by. I can’t say that these pieces would have been as in depth or as accurate without these devices and the WordPress app, which meant that while standing in line, grabbing a bite to eat, or waiting to meet up with others, I could continue where I left off, on any device, with just a few taps.
It also felt easier to describe Geekscape this year. Over the past few conventions, with the death of things like our long lost forums (which haven’t felt viable in some years), and the rise (and rise and rise) of what feels like 30,000 other geek culture blogs, we sort of lost our identity somewhere along the way. For the past few years, we’ve been scraping and clawing and trying to hold onto some semblance of what we were, instead of looking towards the future and thinking about what we could be. We’re a little (tiny) player in a world of Inverse’s and Nerdist’s, and it’s simply not viable anymore to focus on things like news when a myriad of other publications have offices with people sitting in desks waiting for the next piece of news to break. Many of us have (multiple) jobs, are going to school, or live in the middle of nowhere. As much as many of us would like to turn this sort of work into a career (and plenty of former Geekscapists have), there are plenty of us that simply love this brand, and want to try to see it grow into the best that it can be.
This year, we started describing ourselves as a podcast network. We’ve grown from one long running show into a handful, all with their own topics, hosts, personalities, and listener bases. There are more, secret shows in the pipeline, and the feedback for all of the podcasts (aside from Geekscape Games’ consistency) has been overwhelmingly positive.
We’re still in the work in progress phases of this transition, but we think it’s definitely the right move for us going forward (and I hope it’s alright that I’m spilling the beans right now). Deciding not to compete in areas where we simply can’t will give our people more time to focus on the things that they’re actually passionate about, podcasts or otherwise. The plan for the written content is not to stop it, but for it to evolve. The growing number of podcasts become the daily content that keeps us looking lively (and that has our listeners becoming connected with the people associated with the brand), which means that people will become more interested in the personal pieces that our writers bring to the table. Natalie sounds super passionate about toys, I’d love to see more personal articles like this from her in the future. Adam’s incredibly passionate about Puyo! Puyo! and I’d love to know why. Is Shane still a card carrying member of the Brony club? Why does Zack want to talk about potatoes so badly? These are all things that I’d love to learn more about because I feel connected with these people, and I think that with time our regular readers will be too. Becoming more personal with what we’re writing is the goal, which is something that I don’t think we see enough of in this industry today. Within these journals, I tried to give some insight into the way that SDCC ebbs and flows for those of you who may not have had an opportunity to experience it, and I also wanted to give everyone a little insight into myself and the way I operate. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about this journal as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you.
This was a great Comic-Con. Jonathan brought some new energy to the brand that I haven’t seen from him in years, and it makes me excited about our potential future in a way that I haven’t been for some time. It was incredible to see fans of Matt’s podcast come up to him just to shake his hand and to let him know how much he enjoyed the show. It was cool to meet and get to know Courtney, and to make a plan to hang out in real life since we live so close together. I had a blast chatting wrestling and being introduced to New Japan by Josh and Magan. It was awesome to reconnect with Zack after not seeing him since Shane nearly killed his cat. Eating dinners as a group at Lolita’s (mmm, burritos) or Horton Plaza and simply trying to catch up (as I feel like I barely saw Adam or Natalie all weekend). These were the best moments, and as fun as being at Comic-Con, checking out the show floor, hitting up parties, panels, and offsites are, these are the things that I’ll remember way down the line. Jonathan said that he started Geekscape in order to make new friends, and I truly appreciate the lifelong friendships that I’ve made, and the people that I’ve gotten to know because of this brand.