San Diego 2004, Day 3


Outside, the weather will be clear and sunny, a high of 80 degrees at midday.

Inside, there's a chance of showers at the Star Wars Pavillion, as humidity rises from the masses passing though it. Thunder and lightning are expected in the area anytime Carrie Fisher and Mark Hammil both sign autographs. Some are speculating that hell might have frozen over, also. Carrie Fisher signing autographs at the con? No way... Couldn't be odder than the scene Friday when Val Kilmer was signing, looking like he just came down the mountain and still hadn't taken his radio headset off. Please, also make no eye contact.

Just passed the Star Wars pavillion will be a bracing cold front, in that Dead Zone area between toys and publishers. The Dark Horse book becomes the Continental Divide for the con floor, as air pushes away from it in both directions.

Cool breezes blow out of the north in the dealers area. With no mountains of people to stop the wind, the chilling effect will sweep through. Please note that this does definitely not apply to the cross alley around Aisle 400, where the goth booths are. The scantily clad latext and leather women there keep a constant crowd of camera-toters busy. The fanboy funk near there is illness-inducing.

No Weird Al or Leo DiCaprio sightings on Saturday, ending a long convention tradition dating back years.

On Monday, all of San Diego cools down, as 80,000 warm blooded creatures evacuate the area.

Tuesday, unemployment in the county reaches an all-time high, as the tourist trap restaurants in the area, security guard employers, and local policeman's union are all forced to lay off people. Those 80,000 plus people will certainly be missed.


Saturday began with the WildStorm panel, busily attended amidst rumors that Michele Forbes might be in attendance to promote GLOBAL FREQUENCY. She didn't make it, though I hear there was a pass waiting for her at the front door. Given the security around the convention and all the attempts to control traffic flow, it might have taken her hours to get to her pass.

But the rest of the WildStorm panel was still entertaining. It was also one of the most For Mature Readers Only discussions I've seen on a DC-related panel ever. From Howard Chaykin discussing tickling his thigh to the multiple use of certain foul four letter words, part of me cringed for the children. I don't think there were any children in the room, but as a matter of principle, I cringed for them.

Hollywood writers are much better at pitching their comics than regular comic book writers, who are much better than comic book artists. Chaykin and John ("Three Kings") Ridley expounded at great length about their books, while Brubaker told as much as he could without giving anything away, and Dustin Nguyen looked like he'd rather be anywhere else at the convention that on that dais.

At the end of the panel, Jim Lee gave out Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies and bottled waters, while Tony Harris futilely offered up his hot dogs. The panel started at 11:00 a.m. My stomach hurt for him.

I followed the WildStorm offering up with Mark Evanier's annual Quick Draw! Event, this time starring Sergio Aragones, Scott Shaw!, and Jeff Smith. (This paragraph features too many exclamation points already.) It's an improv art show, with Evanier giving the artists topics to draw that they haven't had the time to prepare for. Three big screens in the front of the room are hooked up to overhead projectors to show the crowd what's being drawn. Aragones, as always, wiped the floor with all competitors. But don't pity Shaw! and Smith. They got some good laughs and kept up with Aragones as best they could. Shaw!, for one, drew eight Hanna Barbera characters in two minutes.

Aragones' "trick" is pretty easy to spot. He just lays lines down without thinking about them. They all magically fit together. They're often suggestions of an image, and not fully rendered detailed illustrations. That's all he needs, and he makes it work.

His speed is amazing, though. At one point in a given contest, Aragones had drawn two characters on his piece of paper while Smith was just completing one character's hair, and Shaw! had one face drawn. This is the kind of panel that needs to be recorded for posterity and offered up on home video for the die-hard fans. Seeing a master at work like Aragones is worth every minutes of your time.

Sticking to the same panel room, Evanier hosted the annual Cartoon Voice Actors panel. While much time was spent defending the honor of professional voice actors versus Hollywood celebrity wannabes, there was also a lot of fun with a script reading from a Superman radio show. Participants this year included Billy West, Neil Ross, Gregg Berger, Tom Kenny, and Joe Alaskey. (A forum later in the afternoon was devoted exclusively to the great June Foray. I didn't make that one.)

Did you know that Joe Alaskey does a Jack Lemon voice, and used it for the movie GLENGARY GLENN ROSS? He didn't elaborate, but I'm sure he was there to loop in lines in ADR, or perhaps for reworking lines for television that had to otherwise be censored.

Alaskey also mentioned that the current theory on the prime time for the voices for Warner Bros. Characters would be in the Chuck Jones shorts from 1947- 1954. Hard to argue with that.

After that, I moved back to the con floor, and carefully observed everything around me. Would that other people crowding the aisles would do the same. ::sigh::

Overseen and overheard on the con floor:

T-shirts: "Just Another Stupid Fan Boy." and "Let the fools have their tar-tar sauce."

Heard this in a light British accent: "I have to tinkle. Mind if I tinkle?"

"Scads of critical plaudits."

"No angry pickle."

Made a list of places I want to stop tomorrow before the con closes. It's good to have a list like this. Focuses the mind. Here we go: Stan Sakai, Mike Royer (need to pick up another Winnie the Pooh drawing), Damion Scott, Sandra Hope, Mayberry Melonpool, Rob Liefeld, Todd Nauck, Pete Woods, Jeff Parker, Greg Rucka (hopefully at Oni tomorrow), Mark Englert, Mark McKenna.

Tomorrow is also the Comic Book Idol 2 Panel. I wish I had prepared for it past last night's drink-up. Don't worry; I'll make it look easy.

That's it for live San Diego updates this year. I have a red eye flight home tonight, so I won't be able to update this column for you again. A review column hits this Tuesday, and I'll have much more to talk about the show next week. I have a ton of pictures to go through.

And we only have 18 days left till Chicago as I write this on Saturday night. What was I thinking in agreeing to go to that one? I don't know how I'm going to wrap up all this San Diego stuff byh then. Stay tuned to see how I manage..

Thanks for stopping by this weekend to check in on these little updates. They were fun to put together, and while I still have another day at the con to play with, I'm already missing this place. I'm sure Pipeline will return for San Diego next year, which starts a week earlier.

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