Saturday, July 25, 2009

Comic-Con days one and two

Spider-Man makes an appearance at the Marvel booth.

SAN DIEGO – I’m here at the 40th annual Comic-Con International, my 14th since 1992. I flew down Thursday morning on Southwest and think I was hit upon by both male and female flight attendants. Guess I still have it.

The lines here are, as expected, long. I had a 45-minute line simply to pick up my badge. I think Comic-Con should charge a couple extra bucks and male out the badges like they used to. Speaking of charging a couple extra bucks, pre-registration for 2010 is now $100! That’s up from $65 last hear and $50 two years ago. The CCI administration now recognizes it has a cash cow, but seems to have forgotten there is a recession.

Anyway, the first panel I attended was a retrospective by Richard Hatch, who starred as Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica series and Tom Zarek in the “re-imagined” version. I then got in the long line for the Burn Notice panel, worrying slightly that I was further tarnishing the Con’s reputation by supporting a non-genre show (of which too many are at Con – C’mon, “Glee?”)

But Burn Notice actor Bruce Campbell – a fan favorite thanks to his roles in the Evil Dead and Spider-Man movies – allayed some of my fears by pointing out, “If you’ve ever been to Miami, you’ll know there’s a lot of aliens there.”

I should point out that while I was in the long line, I was in front of two of the few stereotypes I’ve seen here. A couple bearded, overweight gentlemen were discussing the comics field, then drifted into the movie field with comments like, “May 8, 2009 – the day ‘Star Trek’ died. The guy from Lost killed it.” And even, “I’m not even going to correct people when they say ‘Star Track’ anymore.”

They did make one good point, which I independently came up with a couple years ago, that Comic-Con should come up with a system similar to Disneyland’s Fast Pass system, wherein one picks up an “appointment” for a certain attraction (or ballroom, in this case) for a certain time and can come back at that time for priority admission. Some sort of panel ticketing system is a must.

My Twitter account has been updated frequently on this trip, but not as often as it might. At times, AT&T’s 3G service has been so overloaded that I couldn’t even text. The “free Wi-Fi” Comic-Con offers is so bogged down in the Convention Center that it’s useless.

In other news, Comic-Con continues to be clueless over what’s popular. The panel on Thursday night for “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog” was in the smallest open ballroom, was full and had the equivalent of another full ballroom waiting in line. I ended up watching “Iron Man” for about the fourth time in a nearby room. For popular panels, they need to do what they do at events like MacWorld, where panels are often simulcast in a satellite ballroom.

I like these actors, but will likely not watch their show. I have too much TV on my plate already.

On Friday, I arrived early for the combined Battlestar Galactica: The Plan/Caprica panel. The line went faster than I expected and I caught the earlier panel in the room for Stargate: Universe, staring Robert Carlysle of “Full Monty” fame and Ming-Na Wen (whom I’ve had a crush on since she was on “The Single Guy” in 1995). African-American Stargate star Jamil Walker Smith got a laugh when he related that his mother said he would be “the next Levar Burton” after hearing he got the part.

In the BSG panel, moderator Faith Salie got a laugh when she noted that the Battlestar crew was passing the torch to prequel-show Caprica “in true sci-fi style” --by passing it backward in time a half century. Salie also noted ironically that Edward James Olmos played Esai Morales’ father in “American Family,” and now Morales would be playing Olmos’ father in “Caprica.”
The passing of the franchise torch.

Show runner Ronald Moore made a point of calling it “a fraking crime” that no BSG actors received Emmy nominations in the course of the show’s run, and I agree. Mary McConnell, I think, should have received several noms.

Him: "Exterminate." Me: "Hey, I saw Captain Jack just around the corner, go after him instead!"

After BSG, I picked up some lunch (and a packed meal for dinner) at a nearby supermarket, then came back to roam the floor. Besides almost literally rubbing shoulders with Gene Simmons of Kiss, I also got close to Torchwood star John Barrowman and Hobbit Elijah Wood.

A TV Guide panel on science-fiction television followed in the early evening (the remake of “V” looks interesting) and I caught a screening of last winter’s “Push,” which I found quite interesting, although seeing it sleepy made it seem more complicated than I think it should have been.

I closed out Friday by attending last half of the Eisner Awards, the comics industry’s equivalent of the Oscars. Highlights included “All Star Superman” winning Best Ongoing Series. I checked out the first volume from the library last month and enjoyed it, thinking it had Golden Age flair combined with modern sensibilities. Nate Powell’s "Swallow Me Whole" won best new graphic album.

After a few hours at Comic-Con today, I’ve renting a car and driving to the Los Angeles area, where I will attend my 20th high school reunion tonight (arrgh, I’m old!). The will then put on my suit and Converse sneakers and run back to San Diego for Sunday mornings Doctor Who panel. I should already be in line, in fact.
Folks camping out overnight for the Lost panel, which I could not get into. I lightened the picture with Photoshop, that's why it looks like crap.

I am in line now (10:45 a.m. on Saturday) for a "Futurama" panel due to start at 12:45 p.m. I'll make it, but will have to sit through an hour's worth of (ugh) Seth McFarland first.

Other random pictures:
A mere one-fifth of the Convention Center floor.
Even Rorshach gets tired at Comic-Con.


Rob Roy said...

I'm sure they are charging extra to thin out the herds. Attendance passed safe limits two years ago. Bruce is the MAN! Just finished rewatching Brisco County Jr. recently. Give it a go, John, I think you'd like it. It's Ian-friendly, too.
(RIP Julius Carry..Da Mastah!)

John C. Baker said...

I'm not sure about the attendance thing. They could just cut off ticket sales earlier if that were the case. No. Comic-Con tickets are an inelastic good -- people will buy them regardless of the price. I know I did. The only saving grace is that CCI is a non-profit, otherwise prices would be even higher.