San Diego Comic Con 2012 has come and gone, so it’s time to share a few thoughts and highlights. Michelle and I plan to talk about Comic Con on a forthcoming Comics Corner podcast, so be sure to look out for that, too. I’ve already posted a couple of blogs, and done a fair amount of Tweeting and Facebooking, so I’ll try not to repeat myself. And this is going to be a long post, so to keep the main blog page from scrolling endlessly, I’m going to put a cut right here.
The official days that SDCC2012 was in session were July 12-15, but Wednesday night (July 11) was “preview night,” open to professionals and those with special “4-day + preview night” badges. In the 4500-person ballroom in which they unveiled sneak previews of Fall 2012 TV pilots, we watched Arrow and Cult (neither of which really wowed us), and then we walked the exhibit hall floor (see image above) to see some of the big movie studio, toy company, and animation studio booths.
There was one thing that caught Michelle’s eye: a Comic-Con exclusive replica of the Atlas Portal Gun, P-Style, from the game Portal 2. These were limited to 50 per day (250 total). We’d planned on spending about $150 on merchandise for the entire convention…this one item was the entire budget. But it was rare, collectible, undeniably cool, and what baby wants….so Thursday morning, while she stood in line, I ran to the ATM machine (they were cash only), but we got one.
We took in three panels on Thursday. The first was a spotlight on one of our favorite artists, Becky Cloonan. It was a wonderful and lively chat (the interviewer was a podcaster and good friend), giving insight into her career, how she got started, her method and preferences, etc. And one of my highlight purchases of the con was down at her booth, she was selling the Harper Collins edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that included her illustrations, which she personalized for me with a sketch. Thanks Becky!
The “Bat Panel” featuring all the writers of DC Comics Batman and Gotham related titles was also very informative and interesting, and each of us was given a free mask of the “owls,” the newest villain in the Batman saga. Here is the LA Times Hero Complex photo montage including a picture of the crowd all wearing the owl masks snapped by Batman scribe Scott Snyder. It was fun as well as insightful, as was the following panel on DC Comic’s latest which I took in, while Michelle took in some art panels.
After eating at the hotel, our evening entertainment was W00tstock 4.0. Best described as “nerd vaudeville” it’s always a lot of fun, and this year was no exception. Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm, Adam Savage, and additional musical guests and author’s such as John Scalzi doing a skit based off of his latest book Redshirts were extremely entertaining.
Friday there was something special going on: the 10th Anniversary reunion of the cast of Firefly. It took a lot of waiting in line to get into, but the panel was enjoyable, emotional, and deeply personal to both the cast and creators and the attendees. I already blogged about it here so I won’t repeat myself. But suffice to say it was amazingly cool. Friday was also notable because I got to spend some time with a friend of mine from the audio world who scored one of the independent films being screened at Comic Con called The Kirkie. That was great fun and I love it when my “world’s collide.” We caught another fun spotlight on Scott Snyder (mentioned above) and then on to a live recording of The Nerdist podcast with John Barrowman. Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist himself) is a funny comedian and John Barrowman is hilariously over the top, and the result was a raunchy, non-stop laugh-fest, a great ending for a very long but rewarding day.
Saturday morning was devoted to DC Comics panels. The first panel delved into new titles they will be starting soon. The panel was informative, and the questioners were all asking really good questions, to the point that even the panelists commented that they were being kept on their toes. The second panel featured DC’s graphic novels. DC Comics, far more than Marvel, has featured standalone novels, not simply collections of monthly comics in book form, and they had Geoff Johns, Anthony Bourdain, and J. Michael Straczinski all describing their recent and forthcoming novels. Finally, DC had a panel to discuss their latest move into the world of Watchmen, with their Before Watchmen mini-series. We were curious if that would end up being an acrimonious panel, with lots of fan sniping due to Alan Moore’s lack of involvement. In fact, like the other panels, it was filled with thoughtful questions about process and art, just liked we hoped it would be. And afterwards, Warner Brothers had a display of all the Batmobiles from TV and movies, which we dutifully visited!
In the afternoon we took in the J. Michael Straczinski’s spotlight panel, where he officially unveiled “Studio JMS” his umbrella studio (with a partner) to cover all the various multimedia projects that Straczinski develops. He promised something that “you’ve never seen before” and he delivered: a dance troupe, all painted like zombies, doing a number from his “Living Dead: The Musical.” As ever, Stracinski’s panel was inspirational and informative.
Later, we took in another author spotlight, this time John Scalzi. He brought in a friend to interview him, fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss. His spotlight was more humorous (it began with a sing-along of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, of all things, lead by the staff of SDCC to pass the time between panels!) than inspirational, but it did give some insight into his thought process and career.
Of course, it’s not Comic Con without the cosplayers. Saturday is the day that they come out in earnest, and there were some truly wonderful, amazing costumes on display.
And Saturday night is The Masquerade, where attendees can sign up and compete in a costume contest with judges who are professional costumers. That was our Saturday night fun, watching the skits and dances by the 33 contestants along with many thousands of other Comic Con attendees spread throughout the ballrooms and convention center. Obviously, not all the contestants put as much into their costumes or their skits as others but the amount of time and guts it takes to design and rehearse for something like that has my respect no matter what.
Sunday we just did a final run-through of the Exhibit Hall, spent way too much money, and then drove back home before we could no longer afford to put gas in the car. We ended up buying (in addition to the Portal gun) three art prints, two indie graphic novels and one DC Graphic novel, a t-shirt, a statuette of R2D2 and C3P0, and a give for Michelle’s brother.
All in all, a fantastic and tiring convention. We were entertained, informed, and inspired to create—which is all one can ask. Can’t wait for SDCC13!