SDCC 2014: A Comic-Con Retrospective

San Diego Comic-Con is at a tipping point.

This was my second year at Comic-Con, so I’m by no means an expert, but I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say that SDCC has become bloated, unwieldy, daunting and to be honest, kind of miserable, at times. It’s exhausting, insane and becoming less worth it by the year. There’s enough programming, panels and events to fit over a whole month: if that happened, the result would be much like The Hunger Games. But instead, it’s all squeezed from Wednesday night to Sunday night.

This year, there were innumerable moments where I wished I was in bed and wondering why I was operating on 2 hours sleep to hear god awful fan questions (“Can I hear your Bones laugh, Emily?” THERE ARE 189 EPISODES OF BONES TO REFER TO, WOMAN), and this time I didn’t have to set up or break down a booth and work for months before the event to prepare. It was just me, and what I wanted to do. That should be enough, except it’s impossible to do exactly what you want to do at Comic-Con.

It certainly feels like Comic-Con could very well collapse in on itself, that we’re fast approaching a Ragnarokian implosion, something that might be necessary to bring the event under control. Hollywood loves a good reboot, right?

Comic-Con bills itself as an event for the fans, but I think that’s a naive way of looking at it. Comic-Con is a massive money-making scheme; it’s not for the fans. It’s for the studios that are using Comic-Con and us to do the marketing and word of mouth for them, taking advantage of our passion and love for these characters. Comic-Con can make or break movies. We are killing ourselves waiting in line to watch trailers a few months before we can pay 17 dollars to see them in theaters, or watch them online for free. It’s pretty silly, yet we keep doing it year after year, and feel like we got a show.

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Comic-Con has become a place where Playboy has a Bates Motel-themed party. You can’t get in unless you’re somebody, and San Diego’s Gas Lamp quarter is filled with these parties with exclusive guest lists, open bars and/or covers throughout the week. Unless you’re high ranking press or a celebrity, or you’re lucky enough to win a contest, you’re not cool enough to get in, exactly the kind of thing you’d think Comic-Con shouldn’t be about.

Bless Zachary Levi and NerdHQ, who hosted a free-for-all dance party on Thursday night, and hold panels with the benefits going to a good cause. Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry turned Jolt ‘n Joes into a lounge and party through Wednesday and Friday, open to anybody. These are the kinds of events that Comic-Con should be about, and the equivalent of Slamdance to Comic-Con’s Sundance. Every year, more and more people flock to NerdHQ instead of the Convention Center, to the point where their panels featuring Nathan Fillion, Stephen Amell and Tatiana Maslany sell out in minutes (so maybe it’s not that accessible, but at least your money goes to Operation Smile rather than 20th Century Fox). This is the future of Comic-Con.

If you asked A., who came all the way from Moscow, her face would light up, as she promised to come back to San Diego again as soon as she could afford it. She got to meet Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica, happy to pay his signing fee (even knowing it was irresponsible), and raved nonstop about John Barrowman’s hilarious panel. She also got to walk in to Hall H to see the hunks of Supernatural on Sunday, when many of us were too tired to give a fuck.

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Al. flew all the way from Kitchener, Canada, and spent Friday night in line just to see The Hobbit panel, and left before Marvel and the rest of the fanfare. She came with her mom and sister, who were happy to sleep in the hotel. I got the sense that she was drawn to San Diego for the experience, and wanted to live it, rather than needing to be in Hall H, or obsessed with the shows and movies many of us spent hours talking about while we waited.

D. has been going to Comic-Con for 8 years straight, ever since she moved to San Diego. She lives and breathes it, and coordinates line waiting with her friends, and was in Hall H every night save Thursday, when she only got in line at 5 AM before the 10 AM panels.

If there’s one upside to the lines, it’s making friends with whom you’re stuck with. You meet people from all over the world, people who share many of the same interests as you, and will also pound mercilessly at you for the shows and movies you haven’t seen (do I really have to watch The 100?). Everyone’s different, but we’re all the same, wondering incessantly if we’re going to get into Ballroom 20 or Hall H, and debating how many in the cast will show up for the panel. Many complained, but still others accepted their fate, and were happy to camp outside.

Everyone is going to have a different experience and that is part of the beauty that remains of Comic-Con. Some people camped out to get into Hall H all four nights, and will do the same every year until they have crippling back injuries, and that’s worth it to them (many I think do it out of imaginary obligation, wanting to prove how much they care about a movie or show or movie star; the longer you wait in line, the bigger Walking Dead fan you are).

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Some actually go to San Diego to see their favorite comic book writers and artists. Whoa. Many just like to dress up, as cosplay is an industry and sub-society on its own (and it’s wonderful). Others just want to take part in the spectacle, to be where the party’s at. I wonder how many even get in; there were these two elderly women who somehow got seats in Hall H on Saturday, and looked blankly at me when I told them Marvel was up next (“What’s that?”). Seriously?

I love catching the various pilots, months before they come out, discovering the next hit shows before everyone else. The 12 year old who still resides in me who discovered Kevin Smith movies was delighted to see the man himself rejuvenated creatively, and talking excitedly about his next trilogy of movies. I got goosebumps and teary eyed watching and singing along to Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Once More With Feeling” in a jam-packed room of Whedon worshipers, as Nicholas Brendon ran up to the stage to sing Xander’s songs with the rest of us, something he’s done for the past four years. That is the power and magic of Comic-Con, that still lives and breathes in corners of the Convention Center. You just have to know where to look for it.

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San Diego Comic Con 2014 Photo Gallery: Cosplay, Celebs, and Other Cool Stuff

San Diego Comic-Con has graced our TV-loving, movie-watching, comic book-reading, video game-playing lives once again, and you know what that means! Lots and lots of pictures.

Check out some of the awesome cosplayers who attended SDCC this year:

Celebrities making adorably wonky faces:

And some of the amazing, jealousy-inducing sights to be seen walking around the convention:

Photos taken by Andy Greene of Seven Inches of Your Time. You can follow them on Twitter @7inchesofyotime or Like their Facebook page here.

‘Gossip Girl’ Cast: Where Are They Now?

Gossip Girl ended more than 2 years ago with the famous last words: “That’s one secret I’ll never tell. XOXO, Gossip Girl.” Curious to know what the cast has been up to since then?

Leighton Meester

Dating History: Sebastian Stan, Aaron Himelstein, Adam Brody
Upcoming Projects: Life Partners, The Judge, God Only Knows, Like Sunday, Like Rain, Any Tom, Dick, or Harry

Since wrapping up her stint as Queen B of the Upper East Side, Leighton Meester went on to marry Seth Cohen himself: Adam Brody. The two starred in the indie comedy The Oranges together. In 2009, she released a single with Robin Thicke called “Somebody To Love” but her pop music career never took off. Instead, she’s been performing and recording songs with indie folk band Check In The Dark every now and then. Her movie Life Partners where she plays Gillian Jacobs’ best friend premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. She’ll be starring alongside Robert Downey Jr. in The Judge, which opens in August. In the meantime, you can catch her playing the female lead in the Broadway Revival of Of Mice and Men, which will run until July 27th.

Blake Lively

Dating History: Penn Badgley, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Reynolds
Upcoming Projects: The Age of Adaline

Blake Lively A.K.A. flighty socialite Serena van der Woodsen married her Green Lantern co-star Ryan Reynolds in 2012. Since then, she’s kept a pretty low-profile despite being named one of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People in 2011. Most recently, she made a brief appearance in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s fake movie trailer to promote their On The Run Tour. All in all, we’d say she’s struck out more as a fashion icon, landing the cover of Vogue twice since 2008, getting ad campaigns with Gucci and Chanel, and turning heads at this year’s Cannes Film Festival with her red carpet looks, than as a serious actress. Her next movie is The Age of Adaline about an ageless woman who falls in love and has to decide whether or not to give up her immortality.

Penn Badgley

Dating History: Blake Lively, Zoe Kravitz
Upcoming Projects: Parts Per Billion, Cymbeline, The Paper Stone

Scenes where Dan was shocked by Gossip Girl’s posts, even when he was by himself reading them, didn’t stop the writers from making Penn Badgley’s character into the notorious gossip blogger herself (himself?). We’re still trying to figure out if Dan is a sociopath or not. Putting his blogging days behind him, Penn Badgley earned favorable reviews for his performance in Greetings From Tim Buckley where he played the late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley. Badgley happens to be a musician, as well. His Brooklyn-based band is called Mother. You can listen to their tracks “Easy” and “Victim” on their SoundCloud page. Recently, however, he was cast in The Paper Stone, which he will star in opposite Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany; the film is about a college student who forges essays and ends up falling for her client.

Ed Westwick

Dating History: Jessica Szohr, Phoebe Tonkin
Upcoming Projects: Last Flight, A Conspiracy on Jekyll Island, Kitchen Sink, Bone In The Throat, Take Down

He played the ultimate bad boy (and sexual assaulter) of the Upper East Side, Chuck Bass. After committing patricide on Gossip Girl, Ed Westwick played Tybalt in Carlo Carlei and Julian Fellowes’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet; the movie wasn’t received very well, garnering a mere 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. He was in the Chinese action thriller Last Flight, which opened earlier this year. He also signed on to play the lead in Bone In The Throat, based on celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s novel. Westwick recently joined the cast of Jim Gillespie’s Take Down, a thriller about a group of sons and daughters of international billionaires who are taken to a remote island in order to learn basic survival skills and subsequently kidnapped.

Taylor Momsen

Dating History: Natt Weller
Upcoming Projects: N/A

Taylor Momsen quit Gossip Girl in the middle of the series to pursue her music career, which turned out to be the right call to everyone’s surprise. She’s the grungy lead singer of rock band The Pretty Reckless, who put out their second album Going to Hell in March. Their debut album Light Me Up made it to #1 on the UK Rock Albums Chart in 2011. The Pretty Reckless is currently finishing up a North America leg of their Going To Hell Tour before heading to Europe.

Chace Crawford

Dating History: Ashley Greene, Rachelle Goulding
Upcoming Projects: Undrafted, Mountain Men, Eloise

Besides a guest appearance on Glee as Quinn’s douchebag boyfriend, there isn’t much going on for Chace Crawford, just like his character Nate Archibald who became less and less relevant as the seasons went on. We could easily see him winding up on another CW show or playing second-string in a slew of mediocre romantic comedies. Although, it’s worth noting he has a couple projects lined up, including Joseph Mazzello’s directorial debut Undrafted.

Jessica Szohr

Dating History: Ed Westwick, Aaron Rodgers, Luke Pasqualino
Upcoming Projects: 10 Cent Pistol, Two Night Stand, The Life

Since her role as Lonely Boy’s bestie Vanessa Abrams on Gossip Girl, Jessica Szohr has done the odd stint in well-known and highly lauded films such as Piranha 3D, Pawn, I Don’t Know How She Does ItThe Internship, and Tower Heist. In addition, Szohr was in episode of Punk’d with Dianna Agron and had a cameo role in Taylor Swift’s music video for “22.” She’s also been cast in the pilot for USA Network’s upcoming medical drama Complications and was recently spotted giving PDA to a “mystery man.”

Kelly Rutherford

Dating History: Daniel Giersch
Upcoming Projects: N/A

Shortly after Gossip Girl ended, Kelly Rutherford went through a very messy divorce that involved a lengthy and expensive international custody dispute. In fact, it was so expensive that she had to file for bankruptcy in 2013. Last we heard, her two young children were still living with her ex-husband Daniel Giersch in Monaco. This past year, she’s made TV guest appearances on FOX’s Bones and BET’s Being Mary Jane. We’re wishing her the best!

Matthew Settle

Dating History: Naama Nativ
Upcoming Projects: Ouija

Not much is going on for Matthew Settle, who played Dan and Jenny’s ex-rock musician dad Rufus. On the show, Rufus ended up with Lisa Loeb, who played herself in the first season of Gossip Girl, after getting a divorce from Lily (Kelly Rutherford). In real life, he divorced his wife Naama Nativ in 2011. According to his Twitter feed, he’s still close friends with Rutherford.

Sebastian Stan

Dating History: Leighton Meester, Dianna Agron, Jennifer Morrison
Upcoming Projects: N/A

Sebastian Stan made numerous guest appearances on Gossip Girl as globe-trotting bad boy Carter Baizen, who was romantically involved with both Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen at different points on the show. He made a huge splash as Bucky Barnes in Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier. While promoting The Winter Soldier, he revealed that he signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel so we’ll probably see Bucky again soon. In addition to his role in the two-part miniseries Labyrinth, which premiered on The CW to mixed reviews, he was also in the Broadway Revival of Picnic with Ellen Burstyn and Maggie Grace.

Julie Delpy, Dane DeHaan, and Shailene Woodley Reveal Their Cinematic Crushes

Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Dane DeHaan (Kill Your Darlings), and Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now) talk about their cinematic crushes in Lynn Hirschberg’s Screen Tests for W magazine. Delpy, along with her Before Midnight co-star Ethan Hawke and director Richard Linklater, are nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. DeHaan played opposite Daniel […]