SO THE WEEKEND BEGINS. . .
It’s 7:00 p.m. on Friday night. I’ve already billed for eight hours today. I sat down at the computer after a homemade dinner, spent twenty minutes catching up on all the news that broke in San Diego today. And there’s still another three hours of convention to go on the west coast. By the time it all wraps up and the long lines at the restaurants in the Gas Lamp District die down, I’ll be fast asleep, my feet won’t hurt, and any drinks I pour myself will cost me a third or less of the hotel bars off the Bay.
This is all, again, a simple defense mechanism. I’d do anything to be there, walking the miles of aisles on the con floor, with a heavy backpack strapped to my shoulders and filling slowly over the course of the day and dragging me down with it, until it gets to the point where sitting on the ground with a $5 pretzel and can of soda combination seems like manna from the heavens.
Yes, I said “manna” back there, not “manga.” That was on purpose.
Rather than look back at today’s convention, let’s look ahead towards what Saturday has to bring.
Saturday is always the busiest day of the con, as a hundred thousand pairs of elbows rub together on the main con floor amidst talk of fire marshal intervention and overheard discussions of, “Remember when you could walk on the floor without being crushed?” It’s the day when the line outside of Hall H stretches several city blocks hours before the show opens, as people weaned on a steady diet of Entertainment Tonight, MTV, and a sick celebrity-obsessed culture desperately attempt to sit in the back of a hall large enough to seat more than 4000 people. From that vantage point, they’ll be able to watch large video screens hanging off the ceilings of what the celebrities are saying further ahead in the front of the room, where they most closely resemble a faint speck of dust on the edge of your glasses.
Those celebrities are sitting up on the dais and will be ushered into and out of the room by a bevy of security through a back door, where no fan will be able to get near them. It’s not a security issue — it’s just that the celebrity doesn’t want to smell it. Every year, one of them thinks it would be cute to do an autograph signing, and inevitably they’ll give an interview to a celebrity-obsessed magazine at the newsstand or weekend entertainment news show about how great the fans are and how it was the biggest mistake of their lives and please pass the Purelle.
But they’ll sell you their movie. Actresses fresh off Oscar wins have attempted to sell their upcoming bombs before and gotten away with it. Cult actors have convinced crowds that slithering things a mile high will make for great movies. And Kevin Smith will swear a blue streak while telling the crowd how much his directing sucks. The crowd will murmur back, “Eff, yeah” while adjusting their hoodies and backwards baseball caps.
Meanwhile, just upstairs and over to the right — well, to the left this year, if you’re coming off the CBR Party Boat — the panel rooms will be packed with the biggest names in comics, people with actual talent and no agents, mostly getting screwed by publishers who steal their “intellectual property” with a cleverly-worded document drawn up by lawyers long ago. A couple of them will be the lucky recipients of “exclusive contracts,” which just means that only one company at a time gets to throw their lawyers at them, in exchange for a chance to work with favored childhood characters and a health care plan. No details of these contracts are ever made public — they don’t even give you time frames, anymore — but the company will proudly trumpet their new creative signing and then drag him on stage to talk about how great it was to work at The Other Company, and how happy they are to be Returning Home, or getting a crack at their true childhood favorites.
Both Marvel and DC will re-announce yesterday’s big announcements before moving onto today’s GIGANTIC announcements, half of which would have already leaked out on the show floor before then. During the open Q&A, fans on the floor will ask for the endings of current storylines. Somehow, both Dan DiDio and Joe Quesada will keep from cutting off the heads of those who ask for such stupid stuff and actually expect an answer. And they’ll SMILE while they do it!
THAT is how they make the big bucks, folks!
One smaller company will announce with great gusto their Big Media Property signing. It’s their one connection to Hollywood, and the one that everyone else will wonder why Marvel and DC didn’t go after it. It’ll be the big news of the con for that small booth off in a corner of the show floor, and about six months later, the first issue will hit stands after being delayed due to contractual reasons and slow licensor approval officers. People will have shrugged and moved on by then, but the smaller company will still announce a sell-out, a second printing, and plans for a second mini to keep interest high. It’ll never happen, though, or it might in Very Small Numbers until it falls below the point of profitability and everyone waits for next year’s big announcement to draw attention away from Comics’ Last Great Hope To Draw In The Mainstream Audience.
Neither DC nor Image will be able to explain whatever happened to BATMAN/SPAWN, which was announced last year, solicited a few weeks later, and never heard from again.
Downstairs on the floor, well, it’s not even worth talking about. “Sea of humanity” and “fanboy funk” will merge into one slow-moving mass that defies physics, but would make for an insanely smart scientific study into swarming behaviors. (See the recent National Geographic magazine for a smart article on that, and then apply it to San Diego Comic-Con for yourself.)
In other words, it’ll be a fun day. Keep refreshing this page every fifteen minutes for the next 20 hours, if you want to stay on top of it all!
And check out The Pipeline Podcast for daily news updates after each day’s show!
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