SATURDAY IN SAN DIEGO
Insanely busy day today, as expected. I was silly enough to not stay in panel rooms. I did the Quick Draw in the noon hour and the first few minutes of Voice Actors I, but that was it. As happened yesterday with the comics blogging panel, I lost track of time while running around on the con floor and missed another Must See Presentation -- Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics. It's the first time I've missed that panel in eight years of con-going. I feel oddly empty inside. I hope some of you had the chance to take it in this year in my absence.
I made up for it with lots of "face time" on the con floor with friends, new and old. There's no way to smoothly segue from one way to the next, so please forgive me for the uncreative bullet point list:
- Saw Stan Lee parading down the middle of the con floor in the afternoon. He was preceded by a camera crew and a man on a megaphone announcing Stan's presence. Stan walked with great speed, smiling ear to ear and waving at the fans as he passed them. It's all for his upcoming "Who Wants To Be A Super Hero" series. I don't know that I'll bother watching it, but I'll definitely catch the episode where they show off all the footage they filmed this weekend.
- With all the camera crews floating around the con floor this weekend, I think every attendee will be seen in the background on a TV or internet show somewhere in the next week.
- I joked yesterday about the fire marshall shutting down the convention. Today, it almost sorta actually happened. Read this report for all the details. Kudos to Intrepid Ace CBR Reporter Arune Singh, who handily won that bet.
- Today's pedometer count: 4.95 miles. 9800+ steps. To be fair, that included a walk to and fro the Hyatt Hotel from the Omni. That's about a length and a half of the con floor each way. More on the Hyatt later. . .
- Bought a page of art from FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE artist Steve Sanders. I tried not to buy any art this year, but I failed miserably. I couldn't pass up the chance to own a page with Mark Twain acting out on it.
- Caught up with Jimmy Gownley, creator of AMELIA RULES. I don't think I'd seen him since the last Pittsburgh convention I went to, two or three years ago. Picked up a page of AMELIA art from him -- I failed spectacularly on the No Art promise -- as well as the three AMELIA RULES! hardcovers I talked about in a recent Pipeline Previews article. They're very pretty books that I look forward to reacquainting myself with.
- Sadly, they're also a small paperweight that will prove difficult to bring home with me on the plane. I still have to pack tonight, but I don't know how I will manage to get all of this stuff home with me. I might have to ship myself a box. I did that once, and it took forever for the box to show up on my doorstep. UGH
- Thanks to Pipeline message board regulars, Patricia and Eric, I found the Stuart Ng booth. They deal in foreign publications, which means lots of very pretty oversized French hardcover books. The booth was packed with people while I was there. If more people could just see the art in these books, they'd want to own them even if they couldn't understand a word of them. It's just that nice, whether you're looking for an action/adventure animated style, or a more serious illustrative style.
- My backpack threatened to dig deep ruts in my shoulders today. I think the worst of it fell on my knees. I noticed the most pain from there, especially whenever I stood up and sat down. Getting old stinks.
- Saw some pages from Dynamite Entertainment's upcoming LONE RANGER series. They're drop dead gorgeous, and I hope to have a full preview for you on Tuesday this week.
- I saw a costumed attendee who was dressed up as either Ghost or Emma Frost. Still not sure.
- Had the most amazing run-in with Storm Troopers this morning. It's the kind of convention moment that instantly fills you with the weird euphoria of geek glee. A whole squadron of costumed Star Wars characters lined up in the back of the hall. After Darth Vader took the escalator, a seemingly never-ending stream of Storm Troopers followed. I've never seen so many cameras focused in one place in my life.
- Until, that is, Brandon (SUPERMAN RETURNS) Routh showed up at the DC booth unannounced later in the afternoon. That would have been a bigger mob scene if anyone knew he was coming. Security can be smart sometimes.
- Spotted Rosario Dawson at the Image Booth around the same time. She had the largest crowd in the Image area, but it was still laid back and small in comparison to some of the mania you see with the other Hollywood names. I kind of liked that. It seemed like people were accepting her as a comics person and not just a flighty Hollywood starlet.
- The local restaurants are really catering to the Comic-Con crowd this year. In the past, they didn't make much extra effort to getting con-goers into their doors. Now, it almost seems like they're fighting for the geeks in town. The restaurant here at the Omni had the Comic-Con logo on their menus with a special welcoming message. Another bar not too far away had an advertised Comic-Con Special on drinks. And others up the street were doing their best to make the attendees extra welcome.
- Storm Troopers assisted the staff at the Omni's restaurant tonight. One wore an apron with his Trooper gear over top. Another stopped at our table to check ID -- but nobody was drinking alcohol. The kids in the restaurant went crazy over it, especially one dressed as a Jedi a couple of tables over.
- I'm a complete softie. I can't tell you how many times I smiled this weekend at the sight of an awestruck child interacting with a costumed attendee. Little kids smiling in front of Batman and Spider-Man make this whole thing worth it. At least, it ensures a future for this convention. I just hope those kids' parents show them a comic book in their lifetime.
- Did I mention yet that it was crowded today? Did I mention that the fire marshal, in effect, shut the place down for the weekend? That's overdramatizing it a bit, but it's still remarkable. There's no more space left to take up in this convention hall, and they're turning people away. What's the next step? Is it time to spread the show out across multiple locations?
- On the disappointing side, my ticket was not drawn in Dark Horse's lottery for Kazuo Koike autographs. I carried those two editions of LONE WOLF AND CUB to San Diego for nothing.
- The Quick Draw went well this year, as usual. There's not much I can add to previous con reports for it, except to note that Scott Shaw! was the tightest artist of the group up on the dais, which also featured Kyle Baker and Sergio Aragones. Sergio can draw anything at the drop of a hat with an economy of line. Kyle is much looser, getting the generic idea of items off the top of his head. The ideas are clear, but they're not always the best-looking art. Shaw! is firmly in the H-B school of design with most of what he does. There's a certain structure that drawing all those funny animals has given his art, in general. It's interesting to contrast those styles as you watch them draw.
- The Quick Draw was held in room 6CDEF. That was a welcome relief -- finally, a panel in a room large enough to hold its entire audience, and then some. It was a nice place to relax this afternoon while enjoying the antics of some insanely talented cartoonists.
- Kudos also to Mark Evanier, whose wit is quick enough to keep up with both the audience's suggestions, as well as the artist's work.
- Played poker tonight. Didn't do well. Limit Hold 'Em is an entirely different beast from No Limit. It's all math and playing the cards, not so much the people. When your raises are limited, anyone can call you. The trick is not to chase the straight or flush, and only play quality hands. When you're not dealt any of them, it's tough to win anything. I won one hand, and lost the few others I dabbled in. When the format finally shifted to Pot Limit, I went all in with an open ended straight draw against a pair. I didn't catch any of the numerous outs I had, and busted out.
I can't claim much from tonight's round of poker, but I did outlast Randy Lander! I only wish we had some sort of feud going so that I could capitalize on that fact. Since I only outlasted him by about 15 minutes, it's nothing to write home about.
- I saw way too many men wearing mesh tops today. It was a little disturbing.
- I passed by the crowd leaving the Masquerade this evening. One gentleman attended in his costume as a Wal-Mart Employee.
- Right after that -- just past midnight -- a phantom trolley passed through town. Why is it running if it's out of service? I'm sure there's a good reason, but the empty trolley was a little spooky.
- The Hyatt Hotel bar is the hot spot of San Diego. Everyone who is anyone hangs out there. The crowd spills out of the bar, into the lobby, and then straight out the door for the smokers and those seeking open air. It's impressive, and very loud. Very very loud. I have no idea how anyone can make heads or tails of what the person next to them is saying.
- People I still have left to see: Stan Sakai. The guy who does the voice of Super Mario. Snoopy. I want my picture taken with Snoopy. You got a problem with that?
That's it for the live reports from San Diego. Thanks for stopping by all weekend long. I'll be back on Tuesday with a special preview of THE LONE RANGER, as well as some more thoughts from San Diego. I have enough pictures and videos to keep us all busy for a little while.