Friday at Comic-Con really felt like a Saturday. The aisles were jammed, there were people with costumes everywhere, and every 30 seconds there was someone taking a picture, and someone else not seeing the camera, walking right in front of him.
I spent the morning in the comic book dealer’s area, marked on the map as the “Gold and Silver pavillion.” There were dozens of stores there, some focusing on more modern books, others focusing on the older, classic books. Last year it seemed like the number of actual comics dealers had dropped to disturbingly low levels. It seemed like there were more this year.
I also went looking for creators. I found the Studio Foglio booth, talked to him a bit, and got him to sign my copy of the latest Girl Genius trade. I’ve made a couple of trips through Artist’s Alley. I keep looking for Joshua Middleton — I’ve found his table, but either I hit the alley at all the wrong times, or he hasn’t arrived yet.
Crowd control seemed to have improved since yesterday. The two big panels I went to were both upstairs, and they’d managed to tape or ribbon off areas for the lines. Most importantly, staff was keeping an eye on where the end of the line was going. It made for a much better experience (though I did accidentally get in the wrong line). Now, getting out of the panels, on the other hand… They’ve tried to make traffic flow only in one direction in each corridor on the west side of Sails Pavilion. It helps, but sometimes it’s still a crush of people more reminiscent of a cattle drive than anything else.
The art show had its usual mix of fan and pro art, some comics-focused, some sci-fi and some fantasy. I noticed a lot more in the way of sculpture and textile work than I’m used to seeing here. There were actually a few pieces I was thinking of bidding on. I’ve never bid in the art auction before, so if I go back tomorrow, it’ll be a new experience.
One panel I always try to attend is the Neil Gaiman spotlight. Even when he doesn’t have his own panel, there’s usually something he’s working on, and he’ll show up to a gigantic, packed room.
Today, he didn’t have anything prepared for the panel (Stardust and Beowulf were covered yesterday), and still managed to be engaging and funny. Among other things, he talked about the very first San Diego Comic Con he attended, back in 1989 when only 9 issues of Sandman had come out and no one knew who he was. After a couple of other items, he opened the floor to questions.
While writing this section in the hall outside Ballroom 20, the following characters have walked past: a dozen Stargate troops. Witchblade. Two samurai. Several Renaissance women. A Navy captain. A number of schoolgirls. Green Arrow. Naruto. A Jedi in a full robe. Two pairs of catgirls. Someone in a dress with blue hair and a scythe. Several people with giant keys. A Death Star weapons technician. A woman in a corset and jeans. A man in a Jayne Cobb hat. A slave-girl Leia with a robe. And a chef. And of course hundreds of people in T-shirts and jeans or shorts (with the occasional suit).
TV show panels with actors can be interesting, especially if a show had been running several years and the cast has developed a camaraderie. The Babylon 5: The Lost Tales panel showed that, even though the show had been off the air for nearly a decade, that connection was still there when the cast returned to do the new movie. Peter Woodward especially was constantly making jokes at the others (and sometimes even JMS’) expense, but the rest of them held their own. And the sock-puppet edition of the movie was… unnerving.
Something I’ve learned in the last few years is the importance of making reservations for dinner. You can either wait for two hours because everyone is trying to have dinner in the Gaslamp District at the same time, or you can go off the beaten track, or you can call ahead of time. This afternoon I made reservations at Royal India, and even though there was a mix-up with our reservation, they were very accommodating and actually set up an extra table so we could be seated in a few minutes instead of waiting.