And now, Scary-Crayon explores... The Petco Park Parking Lot @ SDCC 2012

Yeah, I know. The San Diego Comic-Con 2012 has been over for quite a while, what with it being October 2012 and the convention having taken place from July 12-15. Still, if you're considering attending next year (2013), you should probably be looking into it now -- I believe preregistration is already underway. And while a myriad of reasons kept me from posting this stuff during the convention and in the weeks immediately following it, seeing the diversity of stuff that goes on at the convention might still prove useful for informing your decision to attend next year. Right? Right.

As you know, SDCC really is a huge convention. There's a whole heaping bunch of stuff going on inside the San Diego Convention Center. But there's also a lot of stuff happening outside -- stuff that many people probably don't get to see, whether because they don't know about it or because they get caught up in all of the exhibits and panels and workshops and lines upon lines upon lines. If you do get to attend SDCC at some point, though, you should make a point of venturing outside the convention center and exploring a bit. You might find some nifty things -- and you might come away with some cool swag from places like the parking lot outside of Petco Park!

I ventured over to the Petco Park lot for one main reason -- which we'll get to later, but which those of you who know a little about what went down at SDCC can probably already guess -- but arrived an hour or two before that attraction opened. Yet despite the early hour (it was maybe 9:30am?), there were already things happening. Not many things, but things! At the expansive setup for Django Unchained -- an upcoming Western directed by Quentin Tarantino -- promoters were offering free cans of Red Bull to get attendees airborne (or at least on their feet) at the start of another long day. This was actually my first time trying Red Bull, and it definitely did help to perk me up after three hours of sleep! (Stuff was nasty as heck, though.)

Most of the other attractions were quiet; as you see, the GameTruck and Norton/Avengers truck were shuttered and still (until I came back two hours later; then the Avengers truck had that loooong line of people waiting to get a t-shirt). The Oxygen Bar was open at that early hour, though, which kinda makes sense since there's always oxygen hanging around in the atmosphere. Still, the cost at the OB was $10 -- and here I was under the impression that that stuff was free! I guess you've gotta pay top dollar if you want to freebase quality O2; it costs money to cook the nitrogen out.

The Walking Dead EscapeAnother nifty display at the Petco Park lot was this elaborate advertisement for The Walking Dead Escape: an interactive zombie escape event in which participants are challenged either to navigate an arena while surmounting obstacles and dodging "zombies"... or to antagonize the "living" players as members of the shambling dead. Personally I think it sounds kinda dangerous for both the "living" and "dead" players -- it's way too easy to imagine someone getting caught up in the moment and taking his/her role a little too far -- but I've gotta admit that it's a cool idea even if I'd be hesitant to participate myself.

In any case, I really dug this ad for the attraction. A blood-smeared car with a mostly eaten corpse inside; gated areas crisscrossed with police tape; body parts strewn about (and while they weren't there when I was taking photos, apparently there were also zombie actors munching on these body parts at other times)... what's not to like?

I was really entertained by the multiple "missing" posters, as they added depth and background to the setup. These weren't just random bloody props arranged in cool ways; there were actual characters involved and potential fates that might have befallen them. Even though it doesn't take much to slap a youngster's photo on some pink stationery (is all paper soaked in blood at the end of the world, or do the wealthy folks safe in their fortresses just keep all the bright white paper for themselves?) and scrawl a line about the kid being missing, I spent a full six minutes feeling sorry for those neglectful parents (because seriously, who leaves a two year old alone in the driveway during a zombie apocalypse?) and wondering if the walkers were able to appreciate the tenderness and subtle textures of toddler flesh.

There were also a bunch of food trucks in the lot. I don't really have a bunch to say about food trucks, but they were there -- so if you're in the mood to sample "bomb ass, authentic" sausages (seriously, that's a descriptor from the founders) and raclette cheese or buy snacks from a terrifying snowman clow barbarian thing in a chariot pulled by a polar bear and a tiger, you know where to go.

But as neat as some of the above stuff was, I didn't actually know it was going to be at Petco Park! See, I went solely because of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles promotion. The promoters were doing this Ninja Turtles vs Foot deal (which is still happening online, albeit in a different form) where folks had to approach the truck and declare their loyalty to either side. On the way to the lot, however, were folks with various promotional goodies: flyers, a comic book featuring the new TMNT toys (which you can download on the Target website), and even colored ninja masks like the ones the Turtles wear!

The main draw, however, was the prize for choosing a side at the TMNT truck: having done so, a new Turtle ally or Foot Clan minion would receive a baseball cap bearing his/her chosen side. It was mostly a social media thing -- so folks would just hold up their phones to confirm their allegiance -- but people who lacked that technology had to shout out their affiliations. I nearly went hoarse (apparently I wasn't loud enough the first time I cried, "HAIL SHREDDER!" so I had to shout it again), but damnit I pledged my allegiance to the Shredder and earned my Foot cap. And considering that I picked up and saw a bunch of cool stuff along the way -- like TMNT masks (one in each color!) and a nifty comic and a nasty but uplifting can of Red Bull and a fairly involved zombie-themed advertisement -- I'd say the visit to the Petco Park parking lot was a definite success. So if you end up at SDCC in the future, make sure you trek over there to see what's happening. If nothing else, you'll enjoy the breath of fresh air... even if you don't plunk down $10 for the good stuff.

-- Wes --
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