What It Means To Be A Fan At Comic-Con

San Diego Comic-Con International is a convention like no other. It’s population size and location expansiveness is similar to South By Southwest but features a different caliber of people. The super fan, the uber fan, THE fanatic. These are the people who spend every penny collecting t-shirts, posters and various memorabilia. These are the people that create the websites, podcasts and arrange the fan gatherings that dive deep into various created realms. In a nutshell, San Diego Comic-Con attendees are the ones who keep the comic, film, TV and collectible market alive. You will never find a greater asset than these fans.

But what does being a fan at Comic-Con really mean? Is it an experience worth having? We heard from many attendees about the difficulties of acquiring a badge or hotel this year. The waiting room (this is where one log-ins to have a chance at purchasing said badge) was over-populated and badges/hotels were sold out within 20 minutes. But the chaos doesn’t stop at advanced registration. Upon arrival at Comic-Con fans are forced to make tough decisions as to what aspect of the ‘Con is most important to them each day. Is it a panel? An exclusive collectible? A pop-up activation for their favorite show? And no matter the choice made, they have to dedicate anywhere from two to 15 hours waiting in line for a CHANCE to “get in.” Which leaves the question, is it really worth it?

Well, the only way to answer that question is to experience it yourself by picking your ultimate fan-dom. So, on Thursday, July 24th at 9:30pm this journalist joined the Hall H line (that’s the biggest room at Comic-Con, holding around 6K attendees) to camp out for Friday’s 1:40pm Game of Thrones panel. That’s 16 hours of waiting, outside, in the humidity, with 5999 of your new best friends with no guarantee you’ll even make it inside. There’s chaos as you realize that being number 500 in line actually means you’re number 2500 after everyone’s full parties join the line. There’s disappointment as you wait three hours for the wristband guy to get to you, to find out you’re in the second entry group. There’s extreme levels of mood-swings as people’s blood sugar levels drop from hunger (which they refuse to do anything about, in fear of losing their place in line). And for what? A 50 minute high as your favorite TV show creators and cast discuss previous seasons, the upcoming season and possibly show footage… to only leave the panel and do it all over again for the next desired Comic-Con panel, party or exhibitor hall line choice.

Basically Comic-Con is a convention of line parties. It’s the best people watching you’ll experience, with the best people. You’ll never meet another group of people more genuine, happy, sincere and honestly excited to be part of it. This isn’t like your average concert where fans are vicious and anti-social towards one another. Part of the Comic-Con fun is meeting fans who become new friends. If you’re lucky you’ll attend six or seven “events” over four full days to satisfy your palette. But discovering you’re not alone in your overly enthusiastic love for various topics is worth every frustration, line and minute spent. Especially when you get to soak up the energy of 5999 other people being just as “geek’d out” about seeing this exclusive footage first as you are. Sure, you could watch most of the panels and their exclusive footage later on YouTube. But you’ll miss the unique experience of being there, in that moment, with the cast, crew and like-minded fans from around the world, in one room after several hours of built-up anticipation. And that, my friends, is what being a fan at San Diego Comic-Con is all about.

Psst, above is the exclusive blooper reel from the Game of Thrones panel. Enjoy!