Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Comic Con '09 Saturday

Saturday we got at the convention center a little before nine. The convention center hadn't opened yet, so we were sent up an escalator where we were told we could find a line to get in to the exhibit hall. We then narrowly avoided being sent into a line for the Masquerade, and were then directed back down some stairs to outside the convention center, where we were told to wait until the exhibit hall opened. Yes, this was only a spot a few yards away from where we were originally instructed to head up the stairs. When we found someone with a fancy-schmancy walkie-talkie who seemed to know what she was doing she received several garbled and confused responses and told us that we were sent back down in error, but by that time the exhibit hall was so close to opening we might as well just wait where we were. I think it was, in reality, about another half hour before we were let in, but at least we weren't technically spending a third morning in line--technically we were waiting in a blob.

When we got in we high-tailed it to the WB booth where we obtained one of the coveted WB bags that are about as big as I am with a fancy extra hole for posters. They were actually the least exciting WB bags of the whole week, but my sister seemed excited just to possess one of these badges of honor.

We wandered the exhibit hall for a bit longer collecting freebies and checking out the merch. I went to David Malki's booth, where I got him to do a free sketch for me and bought copies of his Wondermark Manor books, which he signed for me. I will review them when I finish, but I have already read a some snippets and love it so far. After all, my love of victorian literature is only surpassed by my love of parodies. I had already bought a steam-powered heart shirt from him on preview night for the guy I got to cat-sit for me while I was in SD. It was well-recieved when I returned.

After wandering the exhibit hall Laura and I showed up early for the James Jean panel. Apparetly we were too used to waiting in line for Hall H because there was no line and we ended up getting there a panel and a quarter early. So we sat through the end of a panel on the latest Dune book during which we discussed how authors who don't actually come up with any ideas of their own and merely piggy back on the works of others are the parasites of the writer community. Unfortunately they are also among the better paid of the writer community because people love the familiar and are reluctant to leave their favorite worlds even when they go downhill faster than a Jamacian bobsled team.

Next was a panel on cartoon syndication that was atually pretty interesting. Stephen Pastis was one of the panelists, and I love him because he is punny. Someone asked him about his occasional use of characters from other strips during the panel, to which he was able to respond that during the time he spent as a lawyer before becoming a cartoonist he learned a little something about fair use. Although the panel was interesting and funny at times I still don't see why more cartoonists don't just go the online route, especially considering the statics they cited during the panel with syndication companies getting thousands of applicants a year and only one or two being picked up a year. One or two a year! Then again, I've probably just been listening to webcomics weekly for too long. I don't actually read newspapers any more anyway.

The panel on James Jean was wonderful. He showed us a power point presentation of over 200 slides includin pictures of him as a little kid and works in progress, etc. He was very frank and open, but he still seemed a bit shy. Someone asked him about how he balances a social life with his painting and he replied that his house is known as a productive place among his friends and they'll come over and hang out and paint etc. He said that this works pretty well, although he said that he certainly doesn't spend his time clubbing.

Next up was the Ray Bradbury panel. We go there early, of course, and ended up sitting through a panel on Green Lantern: Blackest Night. I'm not even going to try to talk about it here because I know if I do somehow one of the people who waited in line to ask ridiculously detailed questions about the DC cannon will find my blog somehow and correct anything I write. While the panel was a bit interesting it was not altogether enjoyable as a couple that was fond of pdas and eating smelly tuna in crowded spaces with poor ventilation was sitting next to me.

The Ray Bradbury panel started off a bit slow as Bradbury's friend and I assume PR person took over and made a bunch of annoucements about things that Bradbury is supporting right now while Bradbury sat there mute. Luckily that didn't last forever and Bradbury had brought a tape of him being interveiwed by Walter Cronkite on the night of the moon landing. He was apparently scheduled to be on another show that evening, but he felt that the host wasn't honoring how important the night was and was filling it with cheap entertainment and jokes instead. When he finally heard the host introduce the next guest as one of America's cultural treasures (or something to that effect) he thought he was being called up, but the host finished with Englebert Humperdinck. Bradbury had enough at this point and walked right out of the studio and apparently defected to Cronkite. After the interview he was so excited that he just walked back to his hotel all the way across London looking up at the sky, an activity that took most of the night. When he saw the tabloid that morning it read: Man walks on moon at dawn Bradbury walks at midnight.

The panel continued with questions and answers which resulted in more wonderful anecdotes, that weren't always entirely on topic. However, Bradbury's official biographer was there and was sure to step in with precise answers to questions when this happened. My favorite anecdote was one towards the end when someone asked Bradbury for advice for writers. Bradbury replied that you should only write what you want to write. He then told a story about when he wrote the screenplay for his first movie. The studio wanted him to take the story in a direction different than the one he wanted to go. Bradbury replied that in one week he would give them two scripts, one the way he wanted it and the other the way they wanted it and they could choose the one they wanted. He told them that if they chose the wrong one they could go to hell. A week later they chose the right script and as Bradbury says it wasn't a great movie, but it was a good movie, and it was the story that he wanted to tell.

We stayed in the room because Myth Busters was going to be there that evening, and we wanted to have good seats for it. We saw the Human Target panel and the Vampire Diaries panel as we waited. Both consisted of the first episode and a Q & A. Human Target looked good, but I'm not a big action fan, so it wasn't my thing. The Vampire Diaries panel spent most of the time emphasizing the fact that it is based on a book series that came out before Twilight, which I can understand because there were certainly a lot of similarities. We were sitting in a group of people waiting for the Watchmen screening after Myth Busters, so we mostly just laughed at the capmy lines and made snide remarks. It turned out to be fairly entertaining making fun of it with these strangers. My sister told me that there were actual fans of it in the back, though. Then again, the show does seem to be aimed at pre-teens, so it's not surprising we found it a bit immature.

The Myth Busters panel was a lot of fun, and the crowd response was amazing. I was excited to see everyone else so excited about a skeptical show like that with at least some basis in science. Then again the crowd at Comic Con isn't exactly representative of all of America. The people who asked a question got a signed roll of duct tape. This wasn't announced, but I was sitting next to the question-asking mike. I don't remember much else about the panel because I was pretty tired by that point. I need to find a quiet corner somewhere where I can take a power nap midday during a lull in panels to maximize my Comic Con endurance. It's not my fault...I blame genetics!

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