Week 7: Where in the World is [Isabel?] San Diego.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Isabel Binamira

This has been a crazy week, to say the least. I am currently onboard my flight back to DC from San Diego, where I spent the last week working at the APS booth at Comic Con!

Comic Con is amazing. I don’t think I’ve been so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in one place in a very long time. The exhibit hall itself is full of a ton of publishers, artists, producers, channels, and more. The sheer number of programs was impressive, as they covered almost every aspect of comics, publishing, education, television, and movies. This entire place was the epitome of sensory overload… and it was incredible.

This was the first large-scale test for my summer project, PhysicsCentral’s Snapchat account. I think it turned out to be quite a success, as we were able to share what we were doing at Comic Con with our growing number of followers. Hopefully people found our story to be interesting and fun, as I tried to give followers an inside look into the Con if they missed the chance to attend. We gained a few new followers at the convention through basic marketing of the account. This was particularly exciting for me because it showed that people had an interest in what we could offer via our account. 

Working the booth was enlightening, it was wonderful seeing the impact APS has made on Comic Con attendees first hand. Many people came up to the booth saying that they looked forward to picking up the new Spectra edition every year, and many others that said they gave the comics to kids, grandkids, friends, and students. Seeing the positive reaction to the comics was the perfect reminder that the work the APS outreach division does is truly making a difference, and that people find our work worthwhile.

My experience at Comic Con, especially all the times I got to interact with our consumers, further strengthened my feeling that science outreach is something I would seriously consider going into after graduating from university. If you’re interested in the director’s cut version, keep on reading. If not, enjoy all these pictures from San Diego!

Extended version:

I flew out to San Diego early on Tuesday morning. We all had to be at the convention center in the early afternoon to wait for our shipment to arrive, so we could set up the booth for the convention. After checking into the hotel, I headed over to the exhibit hall to pick up my badge and meet the rest of the team. We were joined by Rachel, who writes for APS News, as well as the illustrators of Spectra, Dave and Amanda. While we waited for our shipment, the Comic Con veterans introduced us first-timers to a game where you write down an interesting sentence you heard from the day, then pass it on, and the next person draws the sentence, and passes it along, starting the process over. This yielded hilarious results, and the difference in drawing ability made the final products that much more amusing. We finally got our shipment after a few hours, and proceeded to start to unload boxes of comics, as well as frames to hold up promotional tarps. Rachel and I volunteered to set up the frames (made of PVC pipes), as we thought it would be a relatively simple job, involving matching up symbols to create a standing frame. We quickly learned that constructing PVC frames is not as simple we we expected, as over the years of attending Comic Con, symbols were drawn over other symbols, and each frame wasn’t identical and had a different number of parts. Eventually, everyone ended up helping out with the frames, which led to many jokes about the number of physicists it takes to put together PVC pipes. After a quick dinner, we went back to the hotel to prepare for the next day.

Wednesday was Preview Night, which meant that people could enter the hall before the Con officially started, to get first access to exclusive toys, or giveaways. We weren’t required to be at the convention center until late afternoon, so I spent the morning walking up and down the coast, exploring the piers and Pokéstops near the hotel. I had some time to relax by the pool before work for the night began. Preview Night itself was exciting, though people were mostly interested in exclusive releases. We got our system pretty down pat, and we learned how to create throwies (LED giveaways for participants), as well as the basic pitch for hawking comics.

Thursday was our first full day at the convention. I helped open the booth, then had a few hours off in the middle of the day to explore the convention. Walking up and down the main aisles of the exhibit hall took a couple of hours because there was just so much stuff to see. I did my souvenir runs for friends, and stopped to watch a couple of trailers and play a few games for prizes. I ended up running into a friend of a friend who gave me a free skateboard! Now I have to learn how to ride it…

On Friday, Becky had her first panel titled Comics for Impact. There were a few technical difficulties that made the panel seem choppy, but it was still an interesting topic to explore. The range of uses for comics was cool to see and hear about. APS sent a video crew to document the work being done at Comic Con, so they were filming at the booth for a little while on both Friday and Saturday.

Saturday was the second panel, which focused on teaching STEM through comic books. This panel went a lot more smoothly than the first one, with no technical difficulties. It was very interesting hearing about how other writers and artists were inspired and use topics in STEM in their comics. There were a ton of celebrities at the convention for panels and signings on Saturday, so we caught glimpses of Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Will Smith, Kristen Shaal, Margot Robbie, and Conan O’Brien. 

We had a lot of success of Sunday, which was kid’s day at the convention. Lots of people were excited about the throwies and comics, and we finished out the day with a last rush of people before the convention closed. All in all this was an incredible week, and I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to attend Comic Con with APS. 

Isabel Binamira