CCI, Day 1: CBR Photo Parade

The first day of 2006 edition of Comic-Con International has come and gone and things seemed to go smoothly. Yes, it was crowded. There's no doubt the convention has completely maximized their use of space at the convention center. It was apparent last year and even more so this year. An impressive feat considering both the size of the convention center and the sheer number of people in the panel rooms throughout the day (no other comics or pop culture convention has the sheer number of panels that CCI has).

My day was kind of fractured. I got a late start to the con due to work demands and only got to spend two hours on the convention floor before I had to rush off to the DC vs. Marvel Softball game. I'm not complaining, mind you. It was really quite great to get away from the convention floor for a while and soak up some of the San Diego sun. In fact, I've got a bit of the lobster look going on. See, usually when I'm in San Diego I see mostly artificial light and don't need any sunscreen. Of course, I forgot this time I'd be out in the sun for a couple of hours. Oh, well.

So, after an hour or so at the game, I headed back to the convention center and criss-crossed it a number of times. In fact, at one point one of CBR's reporters needed some assistance immediately, but he was all the way at the south end of the convention center while I was all the way at the north end of the convention center. This out-of-shape shlub made the - I'm told - 3/4 mile length of the convention center in what had to be record time. Well, for me anyway. That wasn't fun, but you do what you gotta do.

As I was walking around, I stopped at the Marvel Booth for a chat with some folks. Before I left, I checked out the signing schedule for the next couple of days and saw that the end of Saturday is going to be dowackado-insane. From 4 - 5, Joss Whedon and John Cassaday will be signing, followed at 5 by "Iron Man's" Jon Favreau and Adi Granov. Now, Marvel shares booth space with Activision and only has about 1/4 of the space. That booth is going to be intensely crowded Saturday afternoon. If my schedule is clear I'll drop by to snap pictures of the insanity.

On the other hand, winning the award for best booths this year has to be a tie between DC Comics and Image Comics. DC kept the enormous size of their booth last year and Image changed to an entirely different format, with a much larger booth in a square shape, with artists lining the permiter. Much better than years before.

The only complaint I've heard about the convention thus far had nothing to do with Comic-Con itself, rather with San Diego. The convention center faces the historic Gas Lamp district, where a number of major hotels are located, including the Hilton and the Omni, where the CBR crew is staying. As you walk over towards the Gas Lamp district, you have to cross over some train tracks. One set of tracks is used by San Diego's excellent trolley system, while the other set of tracks is used by standard trains. That's all fine, except for when a very long freight train comes along and stops on the tracks, sometimes for prolonged periods of time. I spoke with a number of people trying to get into the Gas Lamp district today who got stuck for 20 minutes while a train decided what it was going to do. It's really quite annoying. I've seen some very large sized crowds get stuck behind those trains a number of times and, let me tell you, when it's warm outside those large crowds start getting frustrated quickly. The city really needs to put in a skyway that moves the crowds over the street and train tracks in front of the convention center. It would solve a lot of the traffic control problems seen outside the convention at the beginning and end of the day.

All right, that's enough rambling from me. Onto the Day 1 CBR Photo Parade.

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