-- Part One --
Here`s part one of my Comic Con coverage. Parts Two and Three should be up by the end of the day. My write-ups have become much larger than initially planned!
Midnight is rolling around and I’m still burning a couple CDs and sending off a couple more emails. As is the story of most of my life, I’m trying to do too many things with too little time. The CDs are music mix discs of some techno-dance music that will be playing in the Fandom booth… hopefully keeping a great party-like atmosphere on overdrive. The CDs are laden with songs from BT, a great DJ that puts out some amazing songs. I totally recommend him. Finally around 1 am I head for bed with the last CD finishing up in my burner….
Thursday morning (or the convention begins)
5 o’clock rolled around WAYY too early. Don’t you love it when you sleep for what seems like 6 minutes and it’s been hours instead? The adrenaline of my first day at a major convention got me going though! Finished double-checking my bags, tickets, and so on and so-forth. I
hit the road by 6am and was on my way down to San Diego. Traffic in California is a totally unique beast. You will be in the middle of nowhere on the freeway and all of a sudden it will become gridlock; so a 2 hour trip quickly becomes a 3.5 hour epic! But eventually I made it down to the strangest looking convention center I’ve ever seen and got my car parked. Brought up some Fandom squirt guns to our booth for give-aways; always good to have an Exhibitor Badge, lets you in just about everywhere at anytime!
The convention hall was then opened to the public and the first day of Comic Con 2000 began! People started filing in through the large convention hall doors and heading towards their favourite booths. DC Comics and Marvel both had the largest booths; I was told every year is a kind of battle between the two of them as to who has the biggest, baddest booth.
I quickly learned that although lots of people buy stuff, most people are there for the free stuff; aka swag. It’s almost a science
to some. You start methodically going through the entire Con, picking up the biggest free bag you can get and just start throwing in stuff from the free table. Sometimes you have to sign up and you’ll get a freebie, like at the Fandom booth where we were giving away these bouncy-balls that lit up when they hit the ground. It’s funny how swag also brings out the worst in people. I was surprised at how people would make multiple trips to our booth to get free stuff, with no consideration for others that hadn’t had a chance to get some of the free stuff. I’m convinced that some people got 20 balls from us by the end of the Con! More power to them I guess!
My friend Mark joined me and we started checking out the Con floor to see what it had to offer. We picked up some pretty interesting swag as well! My favourite had to be the full-size Princess Mononoke poster, a movie that was dramatically under-promoted in my opinion when it was released last year. Also got to see the Highlander: Endgame and The
Crow 3 trailers being played over and over again. I have hopes that those movies won’t suck… cause they are both cool ideas, but in both cases the first movies were the best and they got successively worse.
We headed up to the 1pm Shadow of the Vampire panel. They had the director and a producer there, although the director did 98% of the talking. They previewed the new trailer for the movie, which was pretty funny in parts. Willem Dafoe looks amazing as Max Shreck (aka Nosferatu). I’ve heard mixed reactions on this one. Lots of people love it but some thought it didn’t live up to their expectations. Security was very tight during the showing of the trailer. No photography or recording devices were allowed.
Next up was a big "Troma: How to Create World-Class Special Effects for Less than $50" presentation. This was very interesting to me because I’ve heard so many things about Troma and never seen any of it! From my understanding, Troma is a distributor/film company that produces and distributes many, many lower-budget films. Today’s presentation was about how they did some of their
stunts and SFX at little or no cost at all! Very interesting stuff like how to rip an arm off of someone, slice a throat, and how to apply makeup to someone to make them look dead from dying in freezing water (the make-up person from The Titanic was there to show that one). I think I’ll be checking out some more Troma movies in the future to see what the deal is!
The last panel of the day for me was the "Spotlight on Harry Knowles" panel. Harry hosted the panel by himself and basically told the story from start to finish from more of a business perspective. It was the first time I had heard the story on how Harry started the site from his bed due to an injury and brought it to the level it is at now; one of the most well read sites on the Net. Harry also answered questions from the audience about how to create a website and tips and tricks for the budding Webmaster. A great quote from Harry: "Fandom is a powerful thing". Although to be fair, he wasn’t
referring to Fandom.com, but fandom as a general term to describe the fanbase of various genres.
After that panel Mark and I caught a bite to eat and went over to a local theater to catch a screening of a movie called The Specials. It was quite a webmaster reunion over at the cinema; we hooked up with Patrick, Suni, and Widgett from Coming Attractions, Brian from TheForce.net, Ken from Filmforce, and Nick and Dave from CHUD. Quite a motley crew let me tell you, but always great to hang out with fellow web peeps.
The Specials is similar to Mystery Men in that it is a movie about B-Squad superheroes with strange powers. I found the first 45-50 minutes to be amazingly funny, Jamie Kennedy (of Scream fame) had some of the best lines to deliver in any comedy. The movie took a strange turn towards drama/soap opera territory and never recovered. The theater really was laughing at lots of the jokes, I think it’ll do pretty well and get some decent word of mouth.
After the flick all of us webmasters headed to a local Irish Pub. Publicist Lisa joined us and it was quite a party. We all recounted the days’ activities and tipped back some of our favourite beverages. Corresponding with names via email is so strange sometimes; and I found it personally great to be able to interact with all of these great people in a laid-back setting.
I got back to my hotel and checked in at around 2:30 in the morning. What an incredible first day at Comic Con. What would Friday produce? I hadn’t even had a chance to check out the programming schedule so it was going to be a big surprise for me as well!
-- Part Two --
The continuing saga of my thoughts on Comic Con. Nothing related to Tolkien of note in this update, but perhaps interesting to those of you unable to attend the Con or those of you thinking of attending in the future! Enjoy! Part One is here if you missed it.
I slept in a bit this morning and it was about 9am when I left the hotel. To my surprise the Convention Center parking was already full, so I had to go bite the bullet and pay for parking at a nearby hotel (15 dollars there vs. 4 bucks at the Convention lot F.Y.I.) So I parked my truck and hauled the remaining boxes of Fandom squirt guns the four blocks to the Con. Note to self: wake up a little bit earlier next year.
Day Two of the Con started off much the same as the day before. Lots of people flooding towards the free swag booths.. hence Fandom’s booth was an immediate target! Bouncy balls were in high demand as well as the squirt guns (I’m glad people liked them!) I went over to the IGN booth and talked for a while with Patrick, Dave, Ken, and Nick The big panel everyone was looking forward to attending was the Bryan Singer panel.
Mark and I was again joined forces to fight the minions of evil. We headed off toward the Singer panel about 40 minutes early; anticipating heavy interest we wanted to get some
good seats to enjoy the show from. We walked into the tail end of The Crow 3 panel and soon others were filing in to take their seat. Thankfully the Crow people didn’t go much over, they probably got the hint that most of everyone there was hanging out for the Bryan Singer Hour. As soon as The Crow people stopped their panel we headed up towards the front of the room and snagged some 2nd and 3rd row seats. This would be an excellent vantage point to capture some great photos of the Usual Suspects director.
Bryan Singer walked in to the room. Everyone hit their feet and gave him a standing ovation. Mr. Singer looked sincerely impressed by the fan outpouring of support being shown. He greeted everyone and also moved the center podium so everyone could see him as it was obstructing the view of fans on the right-hand side of the room! Very nice gesture.
After a quick intro, the floor was opened to questions for Bryan. Almost every single person who stood up to ask a question first complimented Mr. Singer on his excellent job with the movie. The question of who would appear in the sequel was asked and was also accompanied by shouts for "GAMBIT!" from the crowd. Bryan said that he was looking at Beast, Gambit, and Colossus and others to appear in the sequel. In the front row, a young boy, probably only about six years old, got up
to ask the director about how Wolverines claws worked. It was a classic moment seeing that extremely young kid try to formulate the question of how exactly Weapon X’s claws worked.
Next up they showed a gag reel of stuff from X-Men. Security came on multiple times to warn us all not to take use any sort of recording device or our film would be confiscated, our badges removed, and we would be escorted from the Convention Hall! There were 3 scenes shown in the gag reel:
1.) This shot began with Wolverine driving his truck in Canada. (after the barfight and when Rogue is stowing away) As he is driving along chomping on his cigar, Bryan Singer flies up next to him through the driver-side window ala Superman. Very cool moment!
2.) The second gag scene is with Patrick Stewart speaking with Wolverine in his bed after Rogue almost sucks the life out of him. They play the scene entirely through and are very serious about it all. At the end, Patrick Stewart says "Get some rest" and proceeds with his wheelchair to exit the room. As he about to exit, his wheelchair hits the door frame with a loud THWACK. Mr. Stewart stops, reverses a little, and then proceeds out the door again. Everyone maintaining character the entire time.
3.) This scene picks up immediately after the Wolverine vs. Wolverine fight with Storm, Jean Grey, and Cyclops running into a room. From the background runs SPIDERMAN into the group!
Cyclops half-chases Spidey out of the scene. The crowd bursts into laughter and applause! I hope this one makes it onto the DVD because it’s so perfect!
Bryan Singer stated that there were plans for TWO DVDs; One for October/November, a barebones release and a Special Edition in time for the holidays. The entire cast is signed up for a sequel except for Hugh Jackman. The panel had to end because the next presenters had to come in and set up. There was another round of huge applause as Mr. Singer left the room and that was that!
Mark and I discussed our next move, we both decided it HAD to be the R.A. Salvatore panel; he is a favored author for both of us. For me this was going to be a great chance to see the author of some of my favourite non-Tolkien books! I was definitely pumped for this panel.
R.A. Salvatore was hosting a panel today to promote his latest book Mortalis. I wasn’t sure how to approach a panel like this, Salvatore is one of my favourite authors of all time. I think his Drizzt books feature one of the coolest heroes (in Drizzt), and possibly the best villain of all time, Artemis Enteri. The panel started with a quick intro from a DelRey Books publicist talking about Salvatore and his latest works. Mr. Salvatore (who preferred to be called Bob) then did a quick intro as well. He broke the news
that he had just signed on to do four more Drizzt books! (huge audience applause) He talked a bit about his book Mortalis and then he opened up for questions from the audience!
The big question of course was his thoughts on writing Vector Prime, the first Star Wars book in the New Jedi Order series. In Vector Prime, a major character is killed, which Bob colourfully referred to as "The Event", because a show of hands revealed that not many people had read the book in the audience. He said it was the toughest thing he’d ever have to do, but the order to kill said character came directly from the people at Lucas HQ. He almost gave up doing the books until Terry Brooks (famed fantasy author and author of the Star Wars Episode I novelization) told him he should stay on! Terry Brooks sent him an email saying: "You’re not thinking of walking away from Star Wars are you??" Salvatore decided to stay on and weather the storm of writing the books. He is continually surprised at how many people think that it was his personal decision to go through with "The Event", because he is a huge fan of the Star Wars Universe himself. His favourite character to write for was Han Solo, as he felt he was a very close to being a real-life version of him.
I asked him about whether there would be new villains in the upcoming Dark Elf
books, as I thought he had done a superb job with creating Artemis. He mentioned how he would like to bring some of his villains from his other worlds into the Forgotten Realms, but also stated that indeed there would be new villains to challenge the heroes in these upcoming books.
This was by far the best panel of the entire convention, Bob Salvatore was great and was genuinely interested in interacting with the fans. Later on DelRey gave away copies of Vector Prime and you had the opportunity to have Mr. Salvatore sign your book as well! If you ever have the chance to see R.A. Salvatore in your hometown or in your vicinity, I can’t recommend it enough! If you haven’t read his Dark Elf books, you MUST go out and pick up The Crystal Shard today, you won’t regret it! Must give props to a sweet author!
The last big event of the night was a large gathering of web people at Dick’s Last Resort. It was my first trip to a Last Resort and let me tell you; it’s quite an interesting place. Their business model is basically be as rude as humanly possible to people without getting them mad. The place was packed and the live music was playing extremely loud so it didn’t make for much of a place for discussion. Den Shewman (IGN) had put the thing together, but he couldn’t get away from his work so Mark and I were the first ones there. We got a large table and just held onto it as various people stopped by. Sean Jordan from Zentertainment, Nick and Dave from CHUD, Patrick, Suni, and Widgett from Coming Attractions, Brian Z. from TheForce.net, Ken from Filmforce.net, Lisa from parts unknown, Quickbeam from Greenbooks, and a couple others I didn’t quite catch the names of.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the big day I`m waiting for... The Lord of the Rings footage will be shown!! I`ll also be attending the much-awaited; at least in the webmaster community, Caught in the Web webmaster panel featuring web people from various movie sites out there.
-- Part Three --
My third and final report from the Con entails what happened with the Lord of the Rings footage. This report won`t be the tightest journalism you`ll ever see, but it`s my honest reaction to something I`m very excited to see. Hope you like it! Click here for Part One. Click here for Part Two...