First off, to your left you'll see two Comic-Con links. One will take you to Variety's insanely immersive post-event coverage. The other to my photos from the week. In a nutshell, this was another completely awesome event with what seemed like even more people attending than last year. They in fact sold out for the second year in a row.
So here's the rundown:
I arrived at The Marriott Hotel & Marina around 4:15 to check in and get our rooms ready before heading over to the airport to pick up Bill. It was great to finally have the two of us there and ready for the week. But yes, Allen, we missed ya!
PREVIEW NIGHT: Oh My God, THE PEOPLE!!!
This was probably the biggest blow out night I've seen since I started attending! The crowds were on par with what you'd normally find on a Saturday, especially around the DC and Marvel Comics booths as well as all the major studio booths. The first thing I wanted to do was introduce Bill to how long the exhibit hall was. So I took him to one end of the main aisle and pointed to the speck off in the distance that was the far wall. His head continued to explode with amazement for the next hour!
I dropped about a $70 on graphic novels which included Batman: The Long Halloween, part inspiration for "The Dark Knight", Demon In A Bottle, rumored inspiration for the next "Iron Man" movie, and finally, Watchmen. Twenty two years after it's first printing, and with the big screen version coming next March, I decided it was time to immerse in this classic. Even before I read the book I'm very psyched about the movie! I also picked up a few T-shirts along the way. Bill and I basically decided to do an overview as opposed to taking our time checking things out in detail. There would be plenty of time for that.
THURSDAY: "The Greatest American Hero" Day
As covered in my last post, according to the schedule the "GAH" panel was to have William Katt and some of the artists of the new comic coming in the fall. To my and everyone's utter surprise, Robert Culp and Connie Sellecca were also present! A number of people rushed forward to get photos including me who was right up front. Connie and William commented on my GAH shirt and asked where I got it, which of course was Comic-Con 2006. BTW, Connie Sellecca looked like she stepped out of a time machine from 1983...she hasn't aged one bit and was gorgeous! Culp certainly looked a bit older but was still sharp as a tack, if not just a tad slower in his delivery. Also present was Dennis "Danger" Madalone, the stuntman who did all of the crashes, drops, and slams for Katt in the jammies. They had a couple of awesome montages set to music for Danger, Culp, Katt, and Sellecca, all greeted with big smiles and wild applause from the audience.
New "GAH" comic coming in the fall and talk of a feature film, which Stephen J. Cannell has a script for, finished the hour, heading everyone in the direction of the Catastrophic Comics booth (Katt's comic company) for autographs with the stars. Sellecca had to depart, but Culp and Katt were ever present, greeting fans and signing preview copies of the comic as well as 1-sheet sized posters promoting the comics release. It didn't start that way, but soon I had to consider Thursday as "The Greatest American Hero" Day for obvious reasons.
While continuing to make my way systematically through the exhibit hall, I found something I completely dropped the ball on a year and a half ago, and recently found was either out of stock on most websites or insanely overpriced. I really wanted to buy the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman statue when it was released in April '07 and was now hoping I might be able to find it still available somewhere. Low and behold at one of the action figure booths I usually frequent during Comic-Con, there she was! The guy had two, brand new in the box. I happily snatched one up for the obscenely perfect price of $100! $97 less then the original retail price. Wow!!! I kept looking at it in my bag on and off for the next hour thinking how lucky I was to finally own something I thought I'd missed out on. Me so happy!
Rebecca joined us late in the day, managing to score a pass for a few hours of fan immersion. We continued our looking and buying frenzy until it was time to have dinner. But before that we headed over to see Robert Smigel and the creators of TV Funhouse panel. Although we were really there in hopes of seeing Smigel bring Triumph The Insult Comic Dog out which he did at the very beginning. He proceeded to poop on all of geekdom for about fifteen minutes!
After that we realized our legs and feet were so tired we opted to just have dinner in one of the hotel restaurants.
FRIDAY: "Watchmen" Day
Anticipation was practically to the Andromeda Galaxy when Warner Bros. rolled out their preview panel for the movie version of "Watchmen". I thought getting in line to head into Hall H an hour and a half early would be enough time to get in...I was SO wrong. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, wanted in to this! But then again I knew it'd be mobbed. I was standing outside the building in a line that snaked out of sight, roughly 200 people to the door, when someone from the event came out and announced that the Watchmen panel was full and they would not be letting anyone else in. Just about everyone standing outside got out of line and headed back in.
I was definitely disappointed, but it hit me more later in the day when I found out they showed six minutes of footage (as well as the trailer we've seen) plus gave out tickets to get some free swag T-shirts. This was the buzz event of the weekend and I started kicking myself that I didn't make more of an effort to get there earlier. Although I'm sure people were camping out overnight for this. About an hour after the panel I spoke with a guy who had been waiting for two hours in advance and still didn't get into Hall H! Wow!
At the Warner Bros. booth they had Nite Owl's hovercraft from the movie. This had a full interior set up, complete with seats, controls, working monitors, the works! That became the photo-op moment for people on the floor just like the unveiling of Iron Man's Mark I suit was last year.
At the end of the exhibit hall there was a booth where you could try out the new "Ghostbusters" video game. I went to the accompanying panel which was scheduled to include Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson who were overseeing as well as lending their voices to the game. However when I arrived at the room where the panel was to take place I was told it had been cancelled with no explanation. After the event a few days later I learned that Sony had pulled the game to re-evaluate how and when it would be released. I also read this has something to do with the Vivendi merger and the possibility that Sony will go with Activision instead. At any rate, they decided to halt marketing until all of that was sorted out.
Also checked out Entertainment Weekly’s The Visionaries panel that focused on filmmakers Kevin Smith, Zack Snyder, Judd Apatow, plus graphic writer and new director Frank Miller ("The Spirit"). This was an amazing opportunity to see these guys interact which was very funny. Especially the back and forth between Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow.
Bill wanted to go to the King Kong 75th Anniversary panel but was a little busy shopping around the exhibit hall. I wanted to hit the "Robot Chicken" panel right after Kevin Smith and friends but really felt like I wanted to keep shopping as well.
Friday night we opted to head up a few blocks and have a real dinner at a nice restaurant. We settled on an Italian place where the steak was amazing! Effortless to slice, juicy, and incredibly flavorful. So much so we knew we'd want to return for seconds by event's end. After dinner we headed over to Ghirardelli's Ice Cream Parlor for some desert.
SATURDAY: "Terminator: Salvation" Day
I knew there'd be a rush on the "Terminator: Salvation" panel so Rebecca and I decided to wait in line first thing in the morning at 8:30am. The event was scheduled for 1:15pm. We sat through the "Heroes" and "Lost" panels (which Rebecca is a huge fan of), which were certainly entertaining, even though I haven't gotten into "Heroes" yet (want to) and was never a fan of "Lost". Then it was time for Director McG to take the stage and convince us that this new "Terminator" would wipe aside the crap that was "T3". Within minutes he accomplished that, standing next to a robotic T-600 positioned on stage with turning head and glowing eyes.
I knew McG was a huge and reverent Terminator fan, so I've been feeling like the new movie is in the right hands. After trotting out the cast, which included Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin, the lights went down to reveal a three minute exclusive Comic-Con trailer with never before seen footage very different from the teaser attached to "The Dark Knight". I have a lot of faith that this movie will is going to be awesome, especially with Christian Bale on board as John Connor. Bale was in Japan promoting the new Batman movie, but McG gave him a call so we could all leave him a message cheering his success and anticipation for the new "Terminator" film. Swag included a cool T-shirt with the T-600's head on the front and the title logo with some type of spray painted resistance symbol on the back. Unfortunately I missed the cards they were giving out at the door to pick up this item at the Warner Bros. booth later. Apparently they were handing them out right before the panel and I had entered Hall H first thing in the morning. Luckily a co-worker at Happy Hour, who unbeknownst to me was also present, snagged a second XL shirt and offered it to me at work last week. Yay! Now I have one!
Later in the day as we busied ourselves trying to catch up on shopping, Rebecca and I suddenly ran into Robert Smigel with Triumph The Insult Comic Dog firmly perched on his hand waiting to poop on some unsuspecting fanboy. Immediately I called Bill who was a number of aisles away. Over the course of the next several minutes Bill, Rebecca, and I kept in close contact on our cell phones to get him to intercept Smigel and Triumph who were constantly on the move. Bill finally did and we had the pleasure of watching Triumph take down a couple of fans dressed in costume, as well as the behind the scenes prep that goes into Triumph and Smigel's routine. We'll have to check Conan O'Brien's schedule to see when it'll be on.
SUNDAY: Final Shopping Day and "Hamlet 2"
After completing my run-through of the entire exhibit hall, which usually takes me only a day and half, I decided that Sunday would be a casual revisiting of some of the places on the floor I wanted to return to. This is usually when you find some good deals as well as see things you might have missed because of the crowds.
The afternoon brought the preview panel for "Hamlet 2" with star Steve Coogan, and writer Pam Brady (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Team America: World Police), among others. Prior to this there had been a troupe of twenty Sexy Jesus wandering around the event. They wore wife beater shirts and jeans, accompanied by someone giving out "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" wristbands. If you've seen the trailer you know what this is all about. The panel was great and they showed a "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" music video from the movie.
The movie preview panels, one of the big draws for me, seemed just a little on the lite side when it came to upcoming major releases. Sunday, which traditionally has a climactic end-of-weekend movie panel during the mid-afternoon, had nothing of the kind on the schedule. In fact Hall H was closed for the day with all the main programming scheduled in a slightly smaller room.
After the event closed at 7pm (sadly), we three trekked up the streets of San Diego once more to have dinner with a producer I know at New Wave Entertainment. I had extra tickets for opening weekend of "The Dark Knight" and he wanted to buy them off of me.
Monday morning Bill and I bid farewell to The Marriott, The Convention Center, and San Diego to make the trip back home. Took him to the airport and proceeded back to LA with a car load of goodies. And so once again, as I've done every year for the past three years, I'll be calling The Marriott Hotel & Marina to book rooms for next year.
Wanting more from the Comic-Con experience, and feeling like once a year is not enough anymore, Rebecca and I decided to finally attend Wondercon
in San Francisco next February. I came close to going this year but was not quick enough to book. Plus I was working quite a bit at the time. Wondercon is the sister convention to Comic-Con and is in fact run by the Comic-Con committee. I've already booked a couple of rooms at a Marriott about a block and half away and look forward to event tickets going on sale later this year.
Start the countdown now!!!