Home Behind The Curtain Behind The Curtain: ‘State Of The Union’ August 2014

Missed me?

Wow – Comic-Con International promised us that San Diego Comic-Con was going to be one of the epic ones; an SDCC for the ages. And that’s exactly what they delivered! With expanded attractions flowing beyond the perimeters of the Convention Center, with partners providing attractions and diversions across the city and with off-site events making the party last twenty-four hours, from the second that first attendee’s cosplayed boot hit the ground to the second a weary and well-worn sports trainer, fraying at the edges, left it, it simply. Just. Didn’t. Stop! (No wonder Wil Wheaton nearly felt beaten this year!)

image - SDCC 2014 (view from mezzanine)

And I felt the strain, too. It didn’t help that I went to San Diego with an agenda which was going to be a tough beat to begin with. I filled my timetable to the brim which was never going to be achievable and just staying in touch with the world was hard – mobile internet was a bit of a struggle for me this year. (I’ll explain more about that in my Recap Of SDCC 2014 posts that will be appearing this week – more on those posts in a bit.)

My SDCC was split three ways: working on the website (networking, reporting, spreading the word, etc.), working for CCI itself as a Volunteer Staff member, and trying my damnedest to enjoy the Con. It was never going to work. Hell, it even got to the point where people that I promised myself that I would see and meet up with this year, I ended up missing. Again, for how many years running! Madness! When it comes to Comic-Con, why aren’t there simply more hours in the day?!

Indeed,  as I was walking around the Con this year, it became very apparent very quickly,, that all I was doing was preparing myself and this site for SDCC 2015. Copious amounts of business cards were handed out, hands were shook, contacts made – I’ve been tied up for the last month, sending out emails, making transatlantic phone calls and laying down the groundwork for a very full year for me. It’s all got to start somewhere… And it’s all for you, Dear Reader (to borrow from Stephen King). My sole objective is to give you the best coverage I can about the biggest and best comics convention on the planet. And that’s where 2014 fell on its arse.

I didn’t see enough, I didn’t take enough pictures, I didn’t talk to enough people, I didn’t get enough people involved. At the end of the day, unlike any number of pop culture sites out there, it’s just me, on me lonesome. I counted on a couple of people of help me with photo taking but I could hardly expect them to do it on a professional basis – they were there to enjoy themselves, not work for me. If Comic-Con 2014 taught me anything, I’m going to have to take the whole thing to the next level. So – and you better understand, I hate manifestos, they’re New Years Resolution Lists, written by anal retentives – I’m going to make a couple of goals and personal promises. Let’s see how these fly.

  • Help more people. The one success story of my trip this year was our Twitter feed. I did only have limited internet but that I did have allowed me to get out short bursts of information, instantly passed to followers on a rolling basis, something a lot of people, both those who joined us before the Con got started and those who jumped on board once the Con got underway, was very well received. Good. I’ll be doing what I can to keep that up – but on a more industrial level. How To posts, instructional videos, guides, hints and tips: I’ll being adding a new section of the site where I’ll help anyone I can, in anyway I can, to enjoy their Con better and easier, especially if you’re making your way to SDCC from the UK – always my first priority.
  • ‘The Cup O’ Tea Hangouts Will Return’. Damn, these went down so well – our weekly chat about everything Con got itself a nice little regular audience and it’s something I think we can probably keep going throughout the year, if to a slightly paired down format, until we’re ready to kick off the 2015 countdown. We’ll probably be covering other Cons and news taking place in the peripheral vision of San Diego Comic-Con but it’s good to keep talking, especially if anyone needs any questions answering or needs support, especially what with the Pre-Registration Sale coming up shortly. (Just one thing: I need more guests that are willing to talk and jump in with the discussion. When I ask a question and everyone goes quiet, that’s not good – it’s a fear I have and one of the reasons I don’t shut up. Here’s a sub-goal for this year: “Shut Me The Hell Up, Please. Thanks.”) You’ll be hearing about when these Hangouts will start back up before the re-launch – more on that in a second.
  • Strength in numbers. This, to me, is the big priority. I want to cover so much and I simply cannot do it on my own. I’ve made in-roads with companies that are going to be sending me promotional and preview materials and I’m going to need people to help me go through it all, especially if it’s in waters where I’m unfamiliar – console gaming, table-top gaming, films and TV reviews, comics reviews… It’s just going to be too much for me to handle on my own. So, this year, I’ll be working my arse off to get some great people involved and hopefully you’ll start to get more acquainted with some new voices on the site as I rope in some bodies, not only during the next year but at the Con itself.
  • Work, not play. It’s my full intention to apply for Press Badges for SDCC 2015, for myself and whoever the AEISD team consists of at that point, so we can get more access to interviews, press lines, photo pens and panel rooms – I’ve got to shift my focus so I can provide the best coverage I can for you guys. 2015 is going to be weird one for me because it’s going to be tough to balance actually enjoying the Con and, well, working the Con. I suspect it’s going to be more of the latter. I won’t be working as CCI Volunteer Staff next year and one things for certain, I sure as hell won’t be doing Hall H either, certainly not on the Saturday, not unless I can get some priority seating granted to me by a studio somehow and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Hey, I’ll be working my arse off building relationships and establishing contacts but I don’t think they’ll be letting me sit next to Elmaymbe, Chris Hewitt and Eric Vespe just yet. Easy, tiger. That means the sites got to go up a notch first and that takes money. Which leads me on to the next point.
  • Greasing the wheels. I want this site to be Nerdist. I want this site to be Bleeding Cool. I want this site to be… I dunno, a site that’s really popular and for that to happen takes content and that takes, well, more than just me on my lonesome. To get good hands to get involved, especially when it comes to writing posts and covering the Con more as a reported event than Nerd Holiday, takes money to make it worth their while. So, yes, there may be a bit more posting where I’m looking for sponsorship and financial backing – it’s something you might just have to get used to until we can get things truly off the ground. I’ll make the shilling as subtle as possible, promise.
  • A fresh look. There’s stuff I learnt I can do with the site, technically, just as I was about to set off on the plane. They are things which I’m excited about and I’ll be tinkering with the engine to make it a smoother ride but this also means a couple of changes. It’s not that I see SDCC 2014 as a personal failure for the site – far from it, I had an absolute blast. But I do see this year as the first proper step for An Englishman In San Diego and that means needing to draw a line under this Con and re-establishing us for all to see as a great site to visit for all your SDCC news so, as of Monday 1st September, the site will under go a bit of a facelift and paint job as part of a re-launch. More stuff to read, more features, more interactivity… generally, ‘More’. (Man, I’m going to be knackered!!)
  • Bold ideas. The Road To San Diego. The Englishman’s Independence Day Ball. ‘Hall Of Mirrors: The San Diego Comic-Con Blogging Community’ Comic-Con Panel. I’ve had them for a while, people who know me are sick of hearing them but I’m going to do my hardest to make them happen. They may be ambitious, they may be highly impractical but they’re unique, they’re compelling and, damn it, if I can pull them off, they’ll be fun. Watch this space.

And that leads into the thing I feel I’ve let you down on this year: the content. I haven’t posted enough, often and with any regularity, especially, especially, especially during the Con itself. A Twitter feed is one thing; posts to the site, making it a go-to source of information is another entirely. I need to work on that.

  • So, here’s the pledge: unless I announce otherwise in advance (due to a holiday or a electrical blackout or, whatever, the plague or the rapture or something), there will be a minimum of three posts per day, with, out of those, a minimum of three posts a week dedicated specifically to San Diego Comic-Con, on An Englishman In San Diego. Bold, huh?

I’ll either be writing up the non-SDCC in full or, at the very least, sharing on the press releases pretty much as they arrive to me – you’ll easily spot which is which. The SDCC posts will be either be direct news coming from CCI/related to CCI and Comic-Con or flashbacks, memories and highlights from years gone by. This all starts as of today – and here’s the cherry on top. For every post that I miss filing, I promise I will donate five pounds to a charity of my choosing, one that is incredibly personal and dear to my heart: Cancer Research UK. I’ve no idea how I’ll keep a record of that but I’m sure there’s somebody out there that will keep me on keel.

The first bunch of these SDCC posts will be the ones I post this week: on Friday 24th August, I’ll be looking back at the run-up to San Diego Comic-Con 2014, my personal journey to the Con, Preview Night and the first two days of this years event, the Thursday and the Friday. On Saturday 25th August, I’ll be recapping my Saturday and Sunday of the Con which will mostly entail my Hall H experiences. A huge day for everyone who lived through it – both positive and negative. I know these are coming a bit late and for that I can only apologise.

Just be reminded of this: the main focuses of the site will be, and will always be 1) San Diego Comic-Con headlines and updates, straight from the source, 2) covering the Anglophile element that runs through the Con like a stick of Blackpool rock, and 3) making the event enjoyable from wherever you are in the world. The exhibitors, the attraction of the special guests, the sheer volume of news that comes out of the Con and, of course, the passion and enthusiasm of the remarkable people make the journey from across the globe to take part in this incredible event warrants a dedicated site like this one. And I’ll do what I can to keep the news flowing to help make SDCC 2015 the next one that you’ll be telling your friends and family about for years to come.

Hold on to your hats – the ride’s about to (re)start.


Leonard. xx

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