That Time I Was a Panelist at New York Comic-Con

My experience at Comic-Con this year can be summed up in one gif:

This year, I got a Speaker Pass to Comic-Con, thanks to Outer Places, my new freelance employer. I was signed up to speak on “The Science Awakens: The Science of Star Wars” panel, which meant I had to study up on what kind of blaster Han Solo used (DL-44) and what that Starkiller Base runs on (quintessence). Best of all, I had an excuse to rewatch all of Harry Plinkett’s Star Wars reviews and see the new one on the Force Awakens, So I rolled into NYCC ready to nerd out with the best of ’em.

I also got my yearly reminder that Comic-Con is the biggest fucking thing ever. This year, NYCC had a record attendance of over 180,000, apparently. Here’s a shot of a section of the floor, seen from the VIP Lounge.

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The panel was on Saturday, but I had events to report on all four days. In between my reporting, though, I did a lot of other stuff.

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First, I visited the Dark Horse booth and got a copy of “I AM A HERO,” which is one of the best manga I’ve read in years. Good call, Dark Horse booth staff.

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“You will never experience true serenity until you’re holding 15-pound recreations of giant video game guns.”– Me

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Met up with Daft Punk and asked them about the ALIVE: 2017 tour. They said nothing. I think Bengalter was on drugs.

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Saw Paul & Storm at the Bell House and celebrated Storm’s birthday. They sang “Opening Band,” but no one threw panties.

paul-and-storm-2Listened to Jonathan Coulton play some new songs off his upcoming album, including “Brave.” That’s JoCo’s 11-year-old son in the corner. Coulton came on stage, then looked over at his son and asked the audience “Can you see him too?”

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Saw some of the best cosplay I’ve ever seen. There were a thousand Harleys, Negans, Dippers, Deadpools, and Team Rockets, but there were a couple gems.

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My favorite purchase this year was definitely my new grimoire. It’s a bound leather book with hand-made paper pages and deckled edges from Poetic Earth. They said they’d sell me a Necronomicon for $2000 (along with a certificate of authenticity), but I was dubious.

Then Saturday rolled around, and it was time for the panel. Here are some shots from behind the mic on the stage. We had a full house!

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panel-picture-2Besides my editor and me, we had Drs. Travis Langley and Mara Wood, Charles Liu, and two FX designers, one of whom had a fully accurate recreation of Wedge Antilles’ helmet from the original trilogy. I’m still looking for the official video of the panel, but it was a lot of fun.

During the panel, Dr. Liu and I exchanged a couple ideas about the nature of hyperspace, with Dr. Liu speaking a bit about 10th-dimensional physics. When it came my turn to speak, I had to physically stop myself from saying “Well, Chuck, we got a theory about magic…and miracles” and busting into a recitation of “Miracles” by ICP.

I also got to talk a bit about artificial intelligence and the sentience of droids by bringing up the Lovelace Test as a possible alternative to the Turing Test, then a bit about the economic realities of flying starships around and building something like the Death Star.

We ran through our whole time, got to fan questions, and ended up having to cut the whole thing short to stay within our time slot. It was a great thing to see a whole room filled with Mandalorians, Stormtroopers, and Jedi–the whole thing was a blast.

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Pictured: me having fun.

The thing I loved most was the sense of wonder, community, and genuine excitement. There were so many people my age and older who were psyched beyond belief, but the kids were the best. You could just tell this whole thing was blowing their minds. And some of the conversations I had within a 2-mile radius of Javits Center were great–geeks just radiated out across the city, and odds were, the person next to you on the train had just seen something amazing.

All in all, I give the whole thing a tenouttaten.

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