What started out as a casual line of two to three hours has evolved into a monster of an experience. The idea of camping is relatively new, and before 2008, not even on the radar. Then, after the Twilight panel in 2008 when a particularly passionate group of fans camped out in order to be first in line, it occurred to people that this was an option. However, in the past few years, camping out all night was a quest only accepted by the most loyal and perhaps most eccentric fans. Now it’s mandatory, if you want a chance at getting into Hall H that is. This year, the line started at about 1:00pm for the next day and if you were not in it by 6:00pm or 7:00pm, you were out of luck. Every year it gets harder, especially as major film companies like Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Marvel try to out-do their previous appearance. But even crazier than how early you are now expected to line up is that I am here to tell you it is completely worth it.
Hall H is a worthy adversary, but you don’t face it alone. This is the easiest way to make friends at the con. For starters, you are both crazy enough to be lining up over 24 hours early for the Marvel panel, and two, you better get used to each other’s company. Not only is forging alliances valuable for much needed coffee breaks and seat saving, you get to see a side of the con lost in the frantic running from one booth to another for exclusive swag. This year, two guys used their foil emergency blankets as a cowl for their surprise 2am Batman costume. One girl went around handing out cereal, twinkies, and snack packs to anyone awake. Pizza gets passed up and down the line because people go out of their way to buy extra to share. Surprisingly there is less conversation about the upcoming panels and fandoms than you would think. Instead cut-throat games of UNO, swapping childhood memories, and current career aspirations are the norm here. It’s a rare opportunity to interact with people all over the country and receive support and advice from a total stranger, that also just happens to watch The Walking Dead.
Sleeping is a necessity. It’s a long next day in Hall H and the lines start to move at about 4am, so it’s wise to at least try to get some rest before. However, for those who are unable to sleep on concrete, there is always a shot at a rare celebrity sighting. In the past several years, celebrities have made surprise appearances at the Hall H line to thank fans for their support and dedication to their work. In previous years, Joss Whedon, Ian McKellan, and Nathan Fillion have walked up and down the line taking pictures and signing autographs, just to name a few. This year, Lee Pace and Andy Serkis paid a visit to their loyal fans and it's a much more low-key intimate way to meet a celebrity. So while you might regret the lack of sleep later at the 3pm slump, eventually you will only remember that time you hung out with Andy Serkis at 2am.
It's tough, don't get me wrong. The uncertainty can really hit hard in the wee hours of the morning. Rumors and information pass up and down the line like a game of Telephone until everyone is convinced at 5am that the line could go into the hall at any minute. People frantically check twitter all night, created a psuedo hive-mind as rumors become facts and we attempt to piece together information from the previous nights. This year, a new wristband system was implemented; wristbands were handed out after the last Hall H panel at an unknown time and if you were not in line at that time to get a wristband, you were not getting in. While wristbands added another level of panic among the line goers, it did eliminate the old fear that around 8am, the line would double as people cut in to join their friends.
But when 8am rolls around, it becomes all worth it. People walk into Hall H, chanting, holding blankets and pillows, and exchanging high-fives with the security guards. Chairs were never such a welcome sight. And as you settle down into the first panel, this year the very first look at Batman V Superman, you feel like you just took part in something pretty special. For the full comic-con experience, add camping at Hall H to your geek pilgrimage. This is the most fun you will have sleeping on cement, ever.