Comic-Con isn't just for the convention center anymore. Over the past two years, with this year especially, we have seen several off-site events pop up during San Diego's biggest event of the year.
I genuinely believe that Chuck
star Zachary Levi really helped pioneer the world of "off-site" Comic-Con. His Nerd Machine company started NerdHQ, and while this year was just their sophomore run, it was bigger and better than ever. Last year they were considered to have the best off-site events at Comic-Con, though there was little competition. This year was much different. With off-site events bought by Warner Bros., YouTube, and others, NerdHQ stood their ground and I still think they were the
place to be if you weren't at the convention center.
What is NerdHQ?
NerdHQ is a place for nerds to come hang out, test out some new video games on one of the many XBox stations set up, have a drink, grab some food, get your photos taken in the free photo booths with your friends, or sit down in a room with about 200 other people in one of NerdHQ's Conversations for a Cause. These intimate panels would cost $20 but all of that money would go to benefit Operation Smile; a charity for which Levi is an ambassador.
Check out photos from the Chuck Panel at NerdHQ>>
The Doctor Is In
One of the highlight Conversations this year, especially for me (a long time Whovian), was the Doctor Who Conversation. The panel featured stars Matt Smith, Arthur Darvill, and Karen Gillan. The panel tickets sold out in 15 seconds. The only panel to sell out faster was the Twilight panel which sold out in only 14 seconds.
Whovians who were lucky enough to get one of the tickets to the Conversation helped raise over $5,000 for Operation Smile. The main difference between a typical panel at Comic-Con and a NerdHQ Conversation is the fact that there are no moderators at NerdHQ. It is strictly Q&A from the audience, and the questions are not screened, so anything goes. While that may have meant we didn't hear too much about what is to come on the next season of Doctor Who, we were privy to some of the inside jokes the actors had on set, and at the end we were all in a sing-a-long with the cast to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. One fans question even lead to Karen Gillan giving her best impersonation of a dalek.
Smith arrived on the panel wearing a bowler hat, and while mum was the word on the new companion, Smith was more than happy to talk about his new head piece, stating that it was also the new head wear of choice for the doctor -- adding "Bowler hats are cool". We also know that we will be saying goodbye to the Ponds forever by the time the Christmas special rolls around. We were told there will be tears.
The actors also had a hard time coming to terms with the end of their era. "I was crying for about two weeks," Gillan says, "Everything was setting me off. I didn't hold it together at all." The evidence of their tight friendship was apparent on the panel, and for those 45 minutes the 220 people (plus however many who paid for standing room only) were a part of that friendship.
Another Verse for River Song?
One fan asked about River Song and her story arc in the coming season, and Darvill quickly deflected the question with a classic non-answer answer, which of course means we have not seen the last of her. They all had such kind words about Alex Kingston, who plays River. Smith called her "the most flirtatious woman on the planet," adding, "She could flirt with a fish."
All of the NerdHQ Conversations for a Cause were sponsored in part by Break.com who filmed and live-streamed all of the Conversations. If you were unlucky enough to have missed out, you can still check out the Doctor Who
Conversation for a Cause (and others!) in full on demand at the Nerd Machine website -- thenerdmachine.com
. From there you can also make a donation to Operation Smile or buy yourself some sweet Nerd swag.
Being a part of NerdHQ during Comic-Con this year was a blessing, and I cannot wait until next year. What were some of your favorite moments from Comic-Con? Sound off in the comments!
(Image courtesy of Sharlene Mousfar)