San Diego’s Comic-Con is an event that attracts more than 120,000 visitors, a far cry from the 300 visitors that showed up for the first Con in 1970. Back then it was a calm and collected comic book fan experience. It is now a mainstream movies, TV shows, games and merchandise extravaganza. It can be overwhelming to say the least and frustrating at the worst. Zachary Levi (Chuck) and his business partner, Dave Coleman, set forth to create a bit of an alternative to the Con, thus Nerd HQ was born. Located a few blocks away from the San Diego Convention Center, Nerd HQ is a haven for self-proclaimed “nerds”. This year’s HQ was housed at Block No. 16 a 20,000 square foot venue with ginormous LED screens as well as plenty of seating and a place to hold concerts or live performances. The facility was pimped out with video games, a Nerd Machine merchandise store, charging stations sponsored by Best Buy (so desperately needed for the multiple Tweets being sent from the Con), and many other splendors to draw the eye.
Though all of these are very cool in their own right, the coolest thing of all is the fact that Levi booked smaller panels for fans to attend for a fee of $20. Fans had the opportunity to go online, purchase tickets for a panel (for Nathan Fillion, Matt Smith, Jared Padelecki, or even Levi himself, to name a few) and they were guaranteed a reserved seat. That meant no standing in line for Hall H (the notorious panel hall at the Con) for hours on end for a potential seat to attend a panel. On top of all that, the proceeds from these panels and fun celebrity auctions go to Operation Smile, an organization that provides free surgeries to repair cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities for children around the globe. While fans are having fun and interacting with their favorite stars, this amazing organization also benefits. Last year, in 2011, Nerd HQ earned $40,000 for the organization.
With the focus on minimum waiting times, the Nerd guys offer an amazing alternative to the craziness that is San Diego Comic Con and they offer a wonderful chance to help an impressive organization. Being sure not to sell tickets to their panels until Comic Con has sold out, they are truly being cooperative and not competitive. Bravo to Nerd HQ, I can’t wait to see what they do next year.