Category Archives: hobbies

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.

San Diego Comic-Con 2007 Day 1

img_2552.JPGThis was the first official day of the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. Yesterday was the “exclusive” preview, and today we had the normal crowd. This first picture is from the convention floor. The next picture…

img_2549.JPG… was from the line to get in this morning. Compare it to the picture of the line from yesterday. The increase is dramatic, and this is the smallest of the convention days. I got a late start this morning and ended up towards the end of this line (although there were some folks behind me).

img_2561.JPGFor those who remember the animated TV show Speed Racer, here’s the Mach 5 that’s being used in the live-action movie. I thought I’d show another picture of a genre car, in keeping with the batmobile shot from yesterday.

img_2573.JPG This is a set in the display area of one of the toy manufacturers. They’re selling some sort of merchandise from the Indiana Jones franchise. It was a pretty elaborate prop. I don’t know how successful a marketing tool this was, but there were a lot of us taking pictures of the set.

img_2557.JPGYes, there are a lot of folks in costume at the event. Wonder Woman and the Storm Trooper are a couple who will pose for pictures together. It’s a real blending of two totally different worlds. But, if you look carefully, you’ll see that the Storm Trooper is pushing a baby carriage. And, you can just make out the chubby legs of the baby in the carriage. This just goes to show that that Geekdom can cross generational divides!

img_2583.JPGLego is at this event with some very impressive sculptures. Here are R2D2 and C3PO made entirely from Legos. You can get a sense of the height from the granularity of the robot parts. It was really impressive work, and they aren’t alone. There were a lot of impressive statues at this booth, including a huge representation of Batman standing on a rooftop. These two seemed to be the newest of the statues. They are really amazing.

photo.jpgThis image was taken by the artist of the comic that I’m holding. I just happened to come to the booth where the artist (Rikki Niehaus) and the writer (Dana Gavin) had unwrapped and put out their brand new book. I bought the first book they sold, so they wanted a picture on me holding my new copy. The title is Art in the Blood, and is a re-examination of a Sherlock Holmes story where Watson has just come back from Afghanistan, and so there is a real tie in with current events. It sounds really interesting.

img_2590.JPGWeta is the special effects studio that worked on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and this is in their display area. Those are statues, made from a rubber/plastic material that is pretty creepy to feel. It’s a lot like skin – but not. There were a lot of us that had to touch the statues, and then wrinkled up our faces from how creepy they felt.

img_2582.JPGThere are lots of sessions on a variety of topics going on throughout the convention. I attended this one on graphic story telling. Some of the sessions are put on by media companies to talk about their shows and have cast autograph signings. Those can get pretty crowded. Saturday looks to be pretty heavy with movie presentations.

img_2548.JPGThis was my favorite image from the show today. Nothing elaborate, no special effects. It was just on the hand bag of a woman going to the show this morning. It made me smile.

There are a lot of little images and events that really add to the convention. It’s a great place for folks to show off their cleverness.

img_2600.JPGSo, here’s today’s damage (or haul, or score, or clutter). I start out trying to arrange things in order to emphasize individual traits. But about half way through I realize that it’s all about volume.

Remember, that’s just today’s stuff. More tomorrow, along with bigger crowds.

San Diego Comic-Con 2007 Preview

img_2530.JPGI’m in San Diego for the 2007 Comic-Con. This has become more than a convention about comic-books, and is now a pop-culture convention. Every geeky hobby is represented here: comic-books, games, tv shows, toys and collectibles, movies, graphic art, books, and costumes. The entire San Diego Convention Center is taken over from Thursday to Friday, and for those lucky enough to get a 4-day pass (they sold out this year) you can attend a Wednesday night Preview!
img_2531.JPGI checked into my hotel (The Sophia, which is very nice so far) and got to the Convention Registration at 3:00 pm. Registration was quick and I checked the lines for entry into the 6:00 pm preview. At that time, they were very short.

There aren’t a whole lot of costumes, yet. I did get a picture of the cat-woman. There will be more costumes, and much more elaborate costumes, later in the show. But, this one was simple and fun.

img_2542.JPGAfter going back to the hotel and rearranging my bags, I got some food (chicken from the deli at a Ralph’s Supermarket along my path) and got back to the convention center a little after 5:00 pm. This is the line that I found. That 1 and 1/2 hour makes a real difference. Still, even though the room for this part of the line was warm, everything was pretty orderly, and they let us in at about 5:50 pm, 10 minutes early.

img_2544.JPGI wasn’t particularly interesed in showing you the classic 60’s batmobile, but this is the only shot I have of the crowd inside. I was too busy trying to buy a few items that were in limited supply. I’ll have better pictures of the convention floor tomorrow.

The preview was pretty interesting. I have pretty thorough notes (that I prepared in advance) about vendor booths and what I want to get, so this night was pretty structured. I still found a lot of unplanned things. In fact …

img_2547.JPG…here’s a shot of all the items I acquired just tonight. There are comics, books, toys, posters, some nice lithographs, an original drawing/sketch, bookmarks, and give away items. It was a very good night.

Afterwards, I had dinner at a fabulous restaurant I happened to find off the main Gaslight District. It’s called Candelas, and I’ll talk more about it in another post.

For now, I’m cutting this off to go and get some sleep for tomorrow.