San Diego Comic-Con is an impossible place, because everything that’s terrible about it is basically mitigated by everything wonderful about it. The annual gathering brings together tens of thousands of geeks to celebrate their fandom as movie studios market upcoming blockbusters with exclusive trailers and clips. On one hand you spend incalculable amounts of time in line; on the other, you meet George R.R. Martin. There is nothing easy or relaxing about the biggest event in all of fandom; everything feels more or less like a fight. But then you win a few fights, like securing a seat inside Hall H for the day, and by the end you feel like you could do it again next year. Maybe.

For my first Comic-Con, I decide to jump in with both feet. At 3:30AM on Thursday morning, I wake up and get in line for Comic-Con’s biggest venue, Hall H. The lineup for the day is a mix of things that no one could possibly care about (clips from Penguins of Madagascar) and things that will probably be cool (a mystery presentation by Paramount Pictures). Surely something interesting will happen inside. But first I have to get in.