SATURDAY AT THE CON IN JULY
Welcome to panel day. Welcome to the day of crushing crowds. And welcome, most of all, to the concept of Slowest Common Denominator. Crowds move slowly, because they can only move as fast as the slowest person. Thus is born the SCD. For a person of height such as myself, this can be a real headache.
Hit four panels today: J. Michael Straczynski's solo spotlight, Mark Evanier's annual gathering of cartoon voices, Mark Evanier's Quick Draw! competition, and Mark Evanier's friend Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics.
The cartoon voice panel included Bill Farmer (the current voice of Goofy), Rob Paulsen (Pinky), Bob Bergen (Porky Pig), Wally Winger (some FAMILY GUY characters), E.G. Daily (Tommy Pickles -- and I hope I spelled her name right), and the one and only Gary Owens. They did a reading of a Superman radio drama script, with plenty of ad libbing. Sadly, it's not something I can do justice for with any description. You need to hear it to believe it.
The same can be said for the Quick Draw! competition, which featured Sergio Aragones, Scott Shaw!, Jeff Smith, and Kyle Baker. Evanier's games gave them plenty of nightmarish things to draw, from the Hulk as a jockey to pudding to the color purple. No, not the Whoopi Goldberg movie.
I only caught the last 20 minutes of JMS' panel. It filled in a half hour gap in my schedule. I didn't have enough time to run down to the con floor and back before my next panel. JMS talked mostly about writing and idealism and Babylon 5. Most of it is the same stuff I've heard him talk about in interviews, on-line posts, and previous con panels.
He also had nice words to say about last year's Hawthorne convention. Being from neighboring Paterson, originally, he said they used to beat up the Hawthorne kids. I can tell you that things haven't changed much since then, although they've also moved on to burglary and vehicular manslaughter now.
Oddball Comics had a good start even before it began. When I arrived at the room about ten minutes before its scheduled time, there was a line stretching down the hall waiting to get in. A quick rough estimate showed about 50 people in front of me, total. Once the previous panel emptied out, the room filled back up again pretty quickly. It seems that a lot of people missed having the panel around and got excited for it with Scott's renewed presentation.
It was as fast and furious a look at a couple hundred covers as he promised. The hour and a half flew by with looks at Lois Lane's crotch, purple gorillas on go-go checked DC covers, THE RIFLEMAN (oh, yes, you know that cover), Richard Nixon covers, and Archie's BATS comic series, and more. The room was twice as full as it was for the blog panel I was on earlier in the weekend, with people standing up and lining the walls for a good view of the screen. You can get your daily dose of Oddball Comics right here on Comic Book Resources, but the live show is not something to be missed if you're doing this convention.
After spending most of the day in panels, it was time to approach the insanity of the floor, where the overall mass of people had exploded since Friday. Walking around was tough, although I think there were still more open areas this year than in years past. The growing space to fit the con into means slightly wider aisles and larger booths with slightly more elbow room inbetween. Still, I can remember just a few years ago when this con would be packed into less than half the space. There was less Hollywood and less aisle room. Of course, others will tell you all about the convention's original hotel home, so I'll just shut up now.
Didn't see all that many con freaks today. I think that's because I'm numb to them by now. I was bemused by the Storm Troopers waiting for an elevator, for example, but not freaked out. Oh, the costumes were out there, including the woman who wears two strips of duct tape for her top half, and others dressed in clothes that required hanging their name tags from the only available spot -- the tops of their knee high boots. The Storm Troopers are so old hat that I don't even look twice at them. I have a theory that there's only about four of them, though. They're all wearing the same costume, so how are we supposed to know that there aren't more than four? I think they're just really fast.
The Star Wars Pavillion was, once again, the smelliest portion of the con floor. Really, people, would it be so hard to brush your teeth in the morning, or maybe pack a stick or two of gun? I was nearly knocked out more by the bad breath of the people walking by me than their general odor. Is it this bad at E3, I wonder?
Dick's Last Resort had a 45 minute wait at 3:30 this afternoon. San Diego was overflowing this weekend with con goers. Everyone in town had a lanyard with their con pass hanging from it. I almost felt sorry for the locals.
Talked to a bunch more people inside the convention, including the always personable Todd Nauck and his wife, Dawn. Tracked down Frank Cammuso to pick up the new trade paperback of MAX HAMM. Finally caught Doug TenNapel without a long line in front of his booth, so I picked up his latest little sketchbook and got an EARTHBOY JACOBUS sketch in my sketch. There are still many people I've wanted to talk to at the con but haven't. I've passed by their booths a million times, but never stopped. This year, Tyler Page of STYLISH VITTLES fame wins the hard luck prize. I always pass by his booth when I'm in a rush on my way to a panel or to meet someone. I'll have to make it a point to stop tomorrow when the need isn't so urgent to be elsewhere. Sometimes, it's all about location.
I still found new aisles on the con floor today as I walked around aimlessly. I am now absolutely certain that I won't see this entire convention before it ends tomorrow. There are booths I know exist that I still haven't seen, three days in. Yet, there are booths I could do without that I keep passing by.
The con is now all but over. Tonight, there is packing to be done. Anything I buy tomorrow would have to be included in my carry-on baggage, so I'm not anxious to buy much, aside from a page or two of original art, perhaps. Tomorrow is the victory lap. This sounds so fatalistic, doesn't it?
It gets worse: I still have to fly home.
Today's pedometer readings: 5.24 miles. 11,862 steps. 572 calories burnt.
Coming soon to the Pipeline Comic Book Podcast: A soundseeing tour of the convention. We recorded one this afternoon. Sadly, I'm out of time to put it together, but I'll have it for you later this week. I promise.
For now, I must sleep. I'm nursing the wounds of busting out of the poker tournament tonight with top pair and king kicker. More on all of that next week. Thanks for reading!