Monthly Archives: August 2007

San Diego Comic-Con 2007 Day 4

img_2903.JPGHere it is: the last line to get into the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. Although this day (Sunday) was also sold out, the entrance line didn’t seem as crazy as the other days. It was still pretty crowded inside, but outside of the exhibition hall it wasn’t too bad.

img_2901.JPGimg_2815-1.JPGThis was one of the minor hits of the show, because it was so novel. On the left is a cropped image from a crowd shot I took on Saturday. There are two guys with the huge bags that the WB was giving out to promote their show, Smallville. Lots of people had them: I’ve got three that I collected during the Con. They are made from a synthetic cloth and very sturdy. Well, pictured on the right is a very clever woman who took that bag and made a dress from it. She wore it to the Con on Sunday, and I saw a lot of folks stop and ask to take her picture. It was very cool. Of course, as Harriet pointed out, she’d look good in a burlap sack.


img_2907.JPGimg_2973.JPGimg_2954.JPGCostumes are everywhere, and some are pretty amazing. How much blue can one really wear? (that’s Mystique, a classic X-Men villain) What comics does Jesus collect? (that guy was very popular with photographers) How many Wolverines do you really need? (I saw several but these two looked the best) Who is the woman in red suppose to be? (I think she was promoting some game) Or the guy with the long white hair? (I have no idea) At what other events do you have a pirate band? (actually, they were pretty good, although the exhibitors kept trying to shoo them away from their booths) And remember, this is only a small sample of the complete range of costumes. They often get much more grotesque, violent, and revealing.

img_2970.JPGWhich brings up the ironic point that Sunday is suppose to be “kids” day. There are lot’s of art activities for kids, movies for kids, kids TV, kids this, kids that, etc. I don’t know that I saw any increase in the proportion of kids attending, but the program of activities was aimed their way.

img_2940.JPGFor me, the last day of the Con focused on art. I picked up pieces which I’d won at silent auctions (have I mentioned there were three benefit auctions – that I was aware of?), bought pieces I was admiring, and collected posters from booths that were getting rid of their last inventory.

img_2929.JPGThese three pictures are from an event put on at many Comic-Cons (yes, there are other conventions – this is just the biggest in the US). Several popular comic artists draw and ink pieces based on suggestions from the audience. img_2927.JPGAlthough all of the artists are working at the same time, they trade off so that one of them is working at a station where a camera captures the work and displays it on a large screen for the audience to see.

img_2931.JPGLater, the pieces are auctioned off as a fund raiser for the CBLDF (OK, so there are four auctions that I’m aware of). The two artists you see in these pictures are Jeff Smith (known for his comic Bone) and Matt Wagner (known for his character, Grendel). Jim Lee (incredibly well known for work on Batman, X-Men, Superman, Fantastic Four, and as one of the founders of Image Comics) and Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise) were also participating . It’s really a fascinating program, and interesting to see how differently the artists approach their craft.

img_2938.JPGI also had the chance to attend a Friends of Lulu membership meeting. They’re a national non-profit whose purpose is to “promote and encourage female readership and participation in the comic book industry.” I joined them a year ago and I was curious to learn more about their goals, accomplishments, and membership. They’ve just released an anthology titled The Girls’ Guide To Guys’ Stuff, and I picked up my copy at the show.

img_2945.JPGThe broad nature of Comic-Con lends itself to a lot of ironies, and this picture along with its placement in my narrative is in keeping with that nature.

As Sunday wears on, booths start slashing prices on their stuff to unload before packing. And, I was still discovering booths that I hadn’t really noticed before, especially some retailers that have inventory from small or obscure publishers. I was able to find a lot of the hard-to-find items on my shopping list. Yes, I do go with a shopping list – several in fact. I just don’t feel constrained to limit myself to the shopping list.

Well, that completes my reflections on Comic-Con this year. Concerned over how often they sold out this year, the last thing I did was buy my pass for next year! I left the exhibition floor a few minutes before they closed the doors (5:00 pm Sunday) and drove back to Santa Barbara.

I’ll leave you with a couple of shots I took on my final sweeps through the exhibition hall.


San Diego Comic-Con 2007 Day 3

img_2787.JPGimg_2818.JPGHere’s the crowd waiting to get into the Comic-Con on Saturday, Day 3. This was the day that everyone feared since it’s been sold out for weeks. Frankly, I don’t think it was that bad. Or rather, it wasn’t any worse than Friday, and that’s probably due to the fact that Friday ended up being sold out, also.

One of the differences on Saturday is that it’s heavily booked with presentations by the big movie and TV studios. Although I didn’t attend any of the presentations, I will admit to standing in line to get a few autographs. This is Amanda Tapping, one of the stars from the Stargate franchise. img_2802.JPGThis autograph booth was promoting her new project Sanctuary, a video series available only on the internet. So far there have been 6 webisodes, and I’ve devoured them all. The special effects are amazing, and the production values are stunning. Don’t think YouTube quality, think DVD. Anyway, she was delightful with the fans and it was probably the best organized line with the nicest people I’ve experienced at any Con.img_2814.JPG

I’ve been struggling with my attempts to express the breadth of experience here at the Con. I realize the name implies comic books (although at least one person in my improv class thought Comic-Con might be a festival for stand-up comedians), and there are a lot of comic book creators and publishing houses. img_2812.JPGBut, nowadays they are not the major players here. I’d be hard pressed to identify one industry as dominant.

I’ve mentioned the movie and TV studios quite a bit, and they probably had some of the biggest booths. Sony Pictures, LucasFilm, Disney, Warner, and New Line were all pushing their upcoming movies. Sci-Fi Channel, WB, BET, NBC, Cartoon Network, and Starz were all promoting their current and upcoming TV shows. They brought stars, showed clips, sold DVDs, and gave out promotional swag by the bagfuls. All of these players are looking to generate a buzz among early adopters and mavens (for those into the Tipping Point references). It’s big business for them.


But the toy and game manufacturers have a big presence here, also: Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, WhizKids, and a lot you’ve never heard of – especially the Japanese manufacturers and designers. They had special give aways, contests, unique “Con-Exclusive” items; all of which I am a major sucker for. Hence my nightly review of what I carry out of here.

The book publishers are here: Penguin, Pocketbooks, Scholastic (BIG Harry Potter presence), Random House/Del Ray, Disney (lots of cross-over), and a lot of smaller publishers. They bring authors for signings, free books, special samplers, and gobs of bookmarks (which makes my bookmark collecting head swim).

img_2845.JPGAnd then there are the artists. Many are mixed in with the publishers, but there are a couple of areas set aside for them. Artist’s Alley is the name of their primary ghetto where they sell original art, limited reproductions, prints, posters, and commission sketches. Some of these folks are the rock stars of the industry, with fans and wannabes surrounding them. Most are struggling to make a living, and conventions are a place for them to make some money plying their craft.

img_2840.JPGI think this last batch of costume photos have spoken for themselves. I just want to point out that this last one is a group of kids who happened to meet together upstairs. They are all in elaborate costume, and on their own they set up this image of Batman threatening a Jawa with a blaster as Darth Vader looks on. All the adult geeks in the crowd stopped with an “ahhh”.

img_2834.JPGI mentioned that Saturday has the popular movie and TV show sneak previews and panels. This is one line that snakes through the hall, out the door at the far end of the hall, and back along the windows outside. I can’t even tell you how long this sucker went. The start is not too far to the left, but the “middle” is some 100 yards away from me, and the end is somewhere very far behind me and to the right. I think they were in line for the Heroes panel, but I don’t really know (I was not in that line).

img_2868.JPGSaturday evening was a fund raising auction for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. They’re a first amendment rights legal defense organization that represents comic creators in a variety of censorship cases. Pictured here is Chuck Rozanski who served as auctioneer. He’s the owner of Mile High Comics in Denver, one of the biggest comics retailers in the country. He was perfect. An old hippy who is passionate about the first amendment, an experienced auctioneer, and a trader in comics and comic-art for many years. He has a great gift for gab, and kept us (or me at least) entertained for the many hours of the auction. Early reports are that they raised approximately $36,000. I know I contributed a fair share and came away with some pieces that I’m quite pleased with.

img_2884.JPGAfter the auction (I told you that these are long days), I caught the end of something called the Masquerade. Originally a costume competition, nowadays each entry seems to have some sort of performance component. My pictures aren’t very good since I arrived too late to get into the main exhibition hall and ended up watching on some big video screens set up in one of the ballrooms reserved for overflow viewing (this is a very popular event). Anyway, the costumes were over the top, img_2898.JPGthe skits were amateurish, and the entertainment value was out of this world.

And finally, a picture of Saturday’s acquisitions. My auction pieces (which I’m very pleased with) are lined up in the back. It was the end of a very long day.

San Diego Comic-Con 2007 Day 2

img_2674.JPGimg_2691.JPGI’m writing this three days after the Comic-Con has ended. The main reason for the delay is that the last few days of the Con started early and ended late, and there was no way I’d be coherent trying to write out a blog entry. I’m not sure that the first two entries in this series are all that coherent anyway.

In retrospect, I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to come home and review some of the blogs that are really covering the Con in depth. Despite attending everyday, and just about every hour possible, I still missed quite a few bits of news, announcements, and appearances. img_2630.JPGI realize that these entries of mine are more of a reflection on my activities at the Con and a place to give a brief view to folks who don’t normally see into this world. There are a lot of other blogs that provide analysis and reporting which is focused on the interests of their readers: movie announcements, creator interviews, new product releases, etc. I don’t think many of the folks who read this blog care that Mark Waid has moved to Boom! Studios as Editor-in-Chief (but if you do, here’s the announcement).

Friday was the first of the ‘sold-out’ days. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all sold out to the limit of tickets allowed by the San Diego Fire-Marshal. img_2695.JPGRemember, this is for the entire San Diego Convention Center, and although the official numbers haven’t been released, I’ve seen estimates that for a single day there were 60,000 people, with the total number over the four days expected to be 150,000 to 200,000.

One of the popular activities at Comic-Con is dressing in costume. img_2632.JPGThese last few pictures show a small sample of the variety of costumes: Star Wars, Steampunk, Superheroes with Western Sheriff, and I don’t even know what this last group is about. They certainly weren’t the raciest set of costumes at the show, but how many of you noticed that the woman on the left is holding a comic-book? Presumably they’re portraying characters from the book and are meant to entice readers.

img_2612.JPGAll the major studios and production houses are here along with the stars from well known movies and TV shows. This happens to be the Heroes booth, based on the TV show. The fellow in the picture is Masi Oka who plays Hiro on the show. As with all the popular booths, there’s a big crowd gathered to see him, and I was barely able to get the shot.

img_2625.JPGAlso making an appearance is the Society for Creative Anachronisms. They’re known for full contact dueling: weapons, armor, shields, and whacking on each other. They performed pretty regularly, and it gave me a chance to use the sports mode on my camera. When else would I be at a sporting event?

img_2638.JPGIn addition to the booths, there are a lot of panels and presentations. The comic publishers, movie production houses, TV studios, and other groups all have their own time for making “big announcements”. My personal favorite was from the Jim Henson Company. Lisa and Brian Henson (two of Jim Henson’s children and pictured in the middle) are now the Co-Chief Executive Officers of the company. We had a presentation about the current status of all the established Henson properties (The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, Dark Crystal, etc) and some announcements of what’s in store in the future.

img_2639.JPGimg_2644.JPGJulianne Busecher is a puppeteer on one of their new projects, The Skrumps. The unique part of this show is the use of some very cool animation technology. With it, a puppeteer is able to create a live action performance from an animated character. Julianne demonstrated the technique with this great character.

img_2652.JPGAnd then came the confluence of three different worlds for me. One of their new projects is called Puppet Up!. It’s an improv show using puppets where you can watch the puppeteers doing their craft. A video camera captures the standard puppet show view and displays it on the big monitors. But, watching the live puppeteers provides another level of entertainment. It was amazing to watch.

img_2669.JPGAnd then they added a sci-fi component! They brought in Ben Browder as an audience volunteer for an improv piece. Browder is a well known actor from two different sci-fi shows (Farscape and Stargate). So, in one show I had puppets, improv, and sci-fi. For me, it was a geek trifecta.

img_2681.JPGThe Lucas Arts booth (the Star Wars folks) had quite the interesting art project on display. They sent Darth Vader helmets to a variety of artists and asked them to paint, alter, and finsh them however they saw fit. They were pretty wild.




img_2692.JPGComic-Con is about comics, and most of my time was really spent with the artists and creators in the field. Here, the artist Moritat is signing the hardcover collection of the Elephantmen series that I bought. I enjoy talking to the creators of a book, and getting signatures and sketches from them makes it more personal.

img_2723.JPGThat evening, I attended two events. The first was the Klingon Lifestyles Presentation which is a continuing, episodic play performed every year at the Comic-Con. It’s the continuing story of the crew of the IKV Stranglehold, a Klingon warship. It was a hoot, and the appreciative crowd is loud and enthusiastic.

img_2778.JPGAt the end of the night was the Eisner Awards Ceremony. The Eisners are the biggest awards in the comics industry, and the event is treated like the Oscars. There’s a master of ceremonies and then a series of presenters who announce the awards from a field of nominees. The presenters are some of the most well-known names in the comics industry, as well as some crossover media celebrities. I had a great time, although the ceremony is only sparsely attended by people who aren’t nominees or their relatives. And it’s long. I got home after midnight.

img_2784.JPGAnd finally, here’s the days acquisitions. There’s a broad representation of comics, toys, clothing, art, trading cards, brochures, bookmarks, and assorted tchatzkahs.

And that concludes a long entry about Day 2 (Friday) at the San Diego Comic-Con 2007.