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SDCC – Day 1

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SDCC – Day 1

SAN DIEGO – DAY ONE

The Embassy Suites is a decent enough place to stay. The wireless Internet connection strength varies from non-existent to laughable. The four elevators service the patrons at the speed of a snail. And the nearest soda machine with any Diet Pepsi in stock is two floors down from me.

Other than that, I love it here.

I waited patiently for an elevator down this morning. When it arrived, one sole occupant stood staring out the window into the courtyard below. Being the kind and personable fellow I am, I wished him a good morning.

“Good morning, Augie,” he replied.

That’s when I realized it was THE WALKING DEAD’s Tony Moore I had just unwittingly walked into. The cowboy hat should have been a dead giveaway, but you never know what Matt Fraction might be wearing these days. . .

That’s part of the fun of comic-con. You never know who you’re going to run into and where. I ran into Newsarama’s Matt Brady at Larry Young’s booth, fellow veteran comics reviewer Randy Lander at Robert Kirkman’s table, and a Lego Darth Vader at the LucasArts Pavilion. It was the best-smelling thing in that area.

The strange thing about Comic-Con’s evolution is that the really bizarre and freakish things aren’t happening in the realm of comics anymore. You need to get closer to the Star Wars area, the toy area, the manga zone, and the gamers tables to run across the outright bizarre costumes that put the overweight Spider-Man, the under-dressed Supergirl, and the seam-splitting Flash to shame.

It’s a zoo out there. The Transformers people have a tractor-trailer parked in a booth to display a sign letting you all know that their movie is coming out next year. I gather it’s supposed to be Optimus Prime, but I’ll withhold judgment until after it transforms for the crowd to fight a giant transforming hand gun.

There’s a giant blow-up Pikachu hanging over a booth this year. It’s got to be twenty feet long.

There’s an Aeon Flux booth attracting a crowd with its clips package.

Nickelodeon is here with a bevy of beanbag chairs to host kids watching their cartoons.

One booth has a design that could only have been created with a long evening’s work on a 3D modeling program. In retrospect, I have no idea what it’s there for. It had to be something science fiction or manga related, though. I’ll have to get a picture for you this weekend.

Marvel Comics is part of the larger Activision booth again this year, but it’s not a bad deal at all. They designed the booth this year to include the comics portion of the display. While the signage all around is for the video games, the comics people have two tables with space for lines to form in front of them. The display on the back half for the Ultimate Spider-Man game is very cool. The game, itself, is impressive. It really does bring Bagley’s art to life in game form. Oddly enough, I think the game play action looks better than the cut scenes.

Very early in the day, though, I made sure to stop by the AiT/PlanetLar booth. I broke in the new sketchbook with a little help from Fabio Moon, who did up a cool cowgirl sketch, with colors. Also chatted with Larry Young, who is one of those people ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY likes so much. I need to mention Larry Young’s name here more often, because Larry Young needs more Larry Young in his diet.

Larry Young.

Stopped at the Oni Press booth, where Jamie S. Rich stood in a dapper suit and tie. Greg Rucka was far more casual for his signing, and I presented my copy of QUEEN AND COUNTRY: A GENTLEMAN’S GAME to him for an autograph. I picked up NORTHWEST PASSAGE, UNION STATION, SHARKNIFE, and CAPOTE IN KANSAS while I was there. This was fairly early on in the day and I could already see the baggage home getting more and more packed. These books add up and get heavy after awhile.

Stopped by to see Dawn Brown at the Speakeasy Booth. There was a time when she was at every comic con I attended, it seems, before dropping off the face of the earth to continue her movie work. She’s back now with RAVENOUS, a new graphic novel influenced by Edgar Allan Poe. So, the con circuit begins anew for her. If I finish reading the book on the plane ride home, I’ll let you know how it is.

But, just as a general point of interest: Where do you begin when someone says to you, “How have you been these past few years?” Ask me how my week was and I can think of enough small but interesting things to fill the time. How do I sum up the past four years or so? Yeesh.

Picked up the BONEYARD VOLUME ONE color edition at the NBM booth, along with Richard Moore’s art book. Both are pretty. I’m withholding judgment on the colors for BONEYARD for now until I get the chance to read it and not just flip through it. They’re a bit flatter than I would have liked, and the palette doesn’t impress me at first. This is not on the same level as BONE. The book is also digest-sized, probably to help keep the price down under $11.

After all that, I was pretty well exhausted. My backpack weighed down with about 20 pounds of stuff. The new sketchbook is major weight, too, and so far it’s only been touched by Fabio Moon. He set the bar pretty high for all the following artists, though.

I also forgot how easy it is to dehydrate at the con. I picked up a bottle of water and downed that pretty quickly. I talked myself into walking back to the hotel for a break, and ended up downing a 20-ounce bottle of Diet Pepsi in record time.

The afternoon was spent walking around the con floor mostly with CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland. Talked to a lot more people, exchanged business cards, accepted more “comic book samples” to be read and potentially reviewed. It’s a hard knock life. I’m sure a lot of things happened there that needed to be blogged, but I’ll be darned if I can remember most of them. Some of them I’m saving for the Pipeline Photo Parade in the next couple of weeks.

We did have the big Comics Blog panel, in which I think I artfully sidestepped the fact that my blog isn’t directly a comics blog. I do have experience, however, with discussing comics on the web and with blogging, so I suppose I fit in OK. I think it went well, although the hour flew by far too fast to get into too much depth on anything. There was a nice crowd for the thing — definitely more than 50 people. I took pictures of the crowd, so I can get you a better estimate later. Peter David even coined a new word that I think we’ll be seeing more of in the future: “Spontinuity.” It’s a combination of “continuity” and “spontaneity.” Spontaneous Continuity will be the next hot thing on the blogosphere now.

I’m sure someone has blogged on the panel already. It was well recorded. I saw audio, video, and pictures being taken throughout the panel. In fact, I haven’t been photographed candidly so much since my grandmother’s last trip up from Florida.

The night was filled with a Padres game. We had great seats just a few rows up from shallow left field. It was Jonah, Image Central’s Jim Demonakos, and Pipeline Message boarders Patricia, Eric, and Tracie. Dinner consisted of Oggi’s Pizza. Weird spelling, but I think I like the final affect when you say it out loud.

Two foul balls came within a few short feet from landing in my hands, the latter only a few inches. The disturbing part of that story is that it climaxed my prognosticating prowess. I mentioned after two innings that the only thing the Padres had done right so far was that they had no errors. On the next pitch, the pitcher blew a toss from the first baseman at the bag. They scored it as an infield hit, but I thought it was a charitable home field scoring call. A few minutes later, I mentioned how careful you’d have to be to sit behind a dugout. Those foul balls come hard and fast over there. On the next pitch, the hitter fouled one off in that direction. So after those two bits of fortuitous timing, I had to predict a foul ball coming our way. On the very next pitch, one did. Sadly, it tailed away on the down slope and I didn’t have a chance. My heart raced more from the correct prediction than it did for the near-miss on the foul ball, I think.

The second foul ball in the ninth inning tailed away two, but only by a few inches from the tips of my outstretched fingers high above my head. The kid a row behind me wound up with the ball, so I can’t complain too much about that.

The woeful Padres lost the game 6-0, and looked painful doing it. This is a team in a pennant race? In happier news, the Yankees beat the Red Sox.

One last thought on the day: I wore my brand new pedometer to the convention and all day long today. These things are never an exact science, and you should always throw in a healthy dose of “margin of error” into the final calculation. However, I can tell you that the raw figures indicate that I walked 13,406 steps today, for a total of 5.92 miles and 647 calories burnt. Even with a 15% margin for error, that’s nearly five miles of walking today. Not bad at all. I’ll be sure to update you tomorrow. I think it might be a lower number, just because I have more possible panels to attend and sit down through.

Sorry, but there’s no podcast tonight. While I did get some audio clips at the show today, they were solely for transcribing purposes. I hope to record more over the weekend, though.

For now, though, I must rest. It’s pushing 2 a.m. and my voice needs a rest from a long day of talking. Good night!

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