lazypadawan: (Default)
What a weird Comic Con year it has been. For the first time since attending the con, I missed Friday AND Saturday. Sunday is kind of a surreal experience. There aren’t a lot of people when you first get there, but while it’s a short day—the whole thing shuts down at five—the later it got, the more crowded it got.

And because I had only two days total at the con, one a short day, it felt like the Reader’s Digest Con. It was a constant marathon of running from points A to B and taking a much faster pace than I usually do. I had no time to meet up with anyone and I didn’t even bother with saying hi to people at club tables this year. No time to linger watching the SCA guys beat the tar out of each other. Little time to do any people-watching, except watching out for people coming right toward you.

For the first time since attending Comic Con, I missed just about every Star Wars panel since they were all on Friday and Saturday. A part of me is still not very pleased with Dave Filoni and I’m kind of 50/50 on seeing anything besides the season premiere of S5 at Celebration. But given that I planned my first ever SDCC attendance around seeing the Star Wars presentation in Hall H in 2004, it was weird missing all of that.

Before I get to the festivities, I’ll talk a little bit about good celebrity behavior. Even though I wasn’t there, I’d heard about Robert Downey Jr.’s appearance to promote Iron Man 3. So many of these Hollywood dopes’ appearances at Comic Con are so perfunctory, like they’d rather be somewhere else instead of stuck in a freezing cold auditorium filled with the peasants who waited for hours just for the privilege of breathing the same air. They hop out of their limos, take a few publicity photos, go out on stage and sit there like a bored totem pole, avoiding saying very much and answering questions with gritted teeth until their hour’s up, then they speed off in the limos, leaving a puff of dust behind them. But not RDJ! Nope, he was going to make it worth everyone’s while. Downey danced down the aisles in Hall H, high fived fans while wearing his Iron Man glove, and when a girl asking a question mentioned it was her 15th birthday, he got the whole crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to her. And that is why America loves this guy.

First up on Sunday morning was the Merlin panel. Surprisingly, it was really easy to get in. I just got in line as soon as I got to the convention center and a few minutes later they started letting everybody into the room. I found a pretty decent seat. Eventually the room got close to capacity and the woman sitting in front of me said of the three years they’ve had Merlin panels, this was the biggest crowd yet. Maybe a Knights of the Old Republic panel slated right afterwards helped boost attendance but I could still tell many of the folks were there for the show. On the way in, we got envelopes with postcards, pins, and a code for beta access to a new online game based on the show. British publicists for the show were filming the crowd and getting everybody to cheer and stuff.

(If you don’t care about Merlin, skip below to the bathroom story.)

The panelists were showrunners Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, Angel Coulby (Guinevere), Katie McGrath (Morgana), and Colin Morgan (Merlin). Unfortunately Bradley James, the guy who plays Arthur, couldn’t be there since he was needed for filming. Murphy explained later on that he couldn’t have Morgan and James appear at the same time without stopping production on the show. In years past the con coincided with a production break.

Prior to the beginning of the panel, they kept switching around the name cards, with people cheering if Morgan’s name card got moved closer to their end. Eventually he ended up sitting on my end, which made my neighbors very happy.

I live Tweeted the panel (you can also get a more detailed rundown on @MerlinOfficial) and boy did I get a lot of traffic from Merlin fans! Katie McGrath even favorited one of my Tweets later on. *Blush.* Three years will have passed between the end of Season Four and the beginning of Season Five. Guinevere’s character changes now that she’s queen and Morgana had been imprisoned all of this time, so she’s out for revenge. Mordred’s coming back as is Uther Pendragon, though it’s not clear if it’s a one-off appearance or not. We got to see some clips from the upcoming season—lots o’ fighting and magic of course—and got some further hints, like the appearance of another dragon. We also saw blooper reels and a funny segment with the guy playing Leon trying to make the show about him.

Colin Morgan’s even better looking in person I have to say. The fangirls love him. I’ve mentioned before the bromance-y vibe between Merlin and Arthur on the show and there were laughs when Murphy mentioned “these two love each other,” and there was even a jokey slashy reference to the knights. (Either that or I’ve been in fandom way too long.) This was Coulby’s first Comic Con. Both of the ladies look just as lovely in person as they do on t.v.. McGrath mentioned she likes the less elaborate gowns she wears now because they’re a lot more comfortable, while Coulby likes being the show’s new fashion plate with the many costume changes.

One interesting thing I learned from the panel is that the show’s production schedule is ridiculously tight. They often finish an episode just right before it airs and they’re still writing and filming shows from the same season that’s on the air. It wouldn’t be unusual if this was a show that aired September through May, but British shows have much shorter seasons than our shows do (cable excepted).

Once the panel was over, it was about lunch time. But first a trip to the restroom. We had to wait a few minutes because Merlin’s stars had to cross the hallway from the auditorium to a nearby press room. They walked less than 10 feet away and I didn’t even think of taking a picture. Go figure!

I made my way to the restroom and had to wait for a stall to open up. Finally, one door opens and I move to take the spot. Out steps none other than Catherine Taber, Padme on Clone Wars! Now, not even showbiz people like being recognized in the john, so I didn’t say anything but I wonder if my t-shirt and Artoo pendant gave it away, heh heh. Taber was appearing at the KOTOR panel, which is I guess why she was in the neighborhood. It was truly an “only at Comic Con” moment. Thanks for keeping the throne warm!

After having some bbq pork from one of the lunch trucks, I went back to the convention center and realized time was very short and I had stuff to buy for other people, including birthday gifts. Fortunately, some vendors had even more stuff they did on Thursday and more than a few were already putting their goods on sale. I got some books 30% at one place, a book for ten bucks elsewhere, and a Tokidoki t-shirt for 50% off. But some vendors sold out of stuff already and the We Love Fine booth’s brony line didn’t budge an inch. I was told they’ll be at Celebration with two booths and a lot more Star Wars. I took a couple of pics here and there of the floor displays. The James Bond booth had a boat from “The World Is Not Enough” on Thursday and a car from “The Living Daylights” on Sunday. A different vehicle every day?

Before I knew it, the clock struck 3:30 and I was out of there. Even as I was leaving, traffic was building up around the convention center, as though everyone decided to drive by the place now that the con was almost over.
lazypadawan: (nothavingagoodday)
Via Chase Masterson's Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ChaseMasterson/status/223860587787063296/photo/1

I don't know what Obi-Wan did...maybe he drank too much at a nearby cantina. Maybe he attempted to pick a duel with Anakin or take Jango Fett into custody, and Jango wasn't about to go anywhere. Maybe Darth Maul set him up. In any case, let's hope the Jedi Council puts up bail and all Obi-Wan gets is a fine and probation.
lazypadawan: (Default)
The first agenda of the morning was picking up the exclusive Artoo charm from Her Universe. Only 150 were available for this con and I figured it would be easier to get it here than at Celebration. I know the "Star Wars Zip Code" was in Hall D, where it has been ever since I started going to Comic Con, so I tried to position myself outside of Hall D. It wasn't easy because people and media were crowded all over the place prior to the con's opening. Lucky exhibitors were already inside, pillaging the exclusives before any one of the great unwashed can get to them.

Unfortunately Hall D was blocked off to everyone but press. Bah! So I ambled over to the Hall C entrance and waited. At 9:30 I went in and made my way to Hall D. Once I got to the Star Wars section, I staggered around in utter confusion because I couldn't find the Her Universe booth. The aisles were quickly filling up with people and it was difficult to get around. After going around twice and consulting the worthless guide book, I finally asked a guy taking orders for the Indiana Jones Blu-Ray where the Her Universe booth was. It was on the other side, facing out toward the toy booths, kitty corner from the Hallmark area. Duh! Can't believe I missed it.

Over at Her Universe, I picked up the Artoo charm. It's definitely better as a potential necklace pendant than on a charm bracelet since it's heavier than the other charms and it's the only "3D" one to date. And it's 25 bucks. While there, I also saw that they have a new Her Universe logo tee. It needs to be layered over something else or go up a size, but it was cool enough so I bought one. After that, I checked out the other booths in Lucas-land. I bought one of those lightsaber poster tubes from eFX and for the rest of the day, I was stopped several times by people who wanted to know where they could get one. I saw the Indiana Jones setup with the live snakes. I saw the new line of Star Wars lawn chairs. I saw the book booths and the new costumes from Museum Replicas. You can put together your own Jedi costume for only $800! For the first time Stylin' had a small stand separate from its three other booths, where they sold only Star Wars stuff. They had a bunch of new t-shirts I hadn't seen before. What caught my eye were a new sports jersey ($50) and a t-shirt with a picture of Theed and the caption "Greetings From Naboo" like an old-fashioned postcard. My eyes bugged out. Someone did a prequel-themed tee? (Also saw a new TPM shirt, but it focused on Maul.) Had to think about that one. At the Rock Rebel booth, I considered a Star Wars print hobo bag ($50). But right around the corner from Rock Rebel was Comic Images, known mostly for its soft goods collectibles. However, debuting at the con was a new purse that looks like Chewbacca's crossbody bag. His Wookiee man purse. It's really cute. My only disappointment with it is that is faux leather. I've become kind of a snob about that sort of thing. Plastic just has that Made In China chemical smell. It's bizarre to me that faux leather has become so expensive; this bag was $75. But as the guy at the booth pointed out, a real leather bag would be $300 and well, that is true. The Rock Rebel bag didn't feel as nice as this one did, so I bought the Wookiee bag. I can at least use it at cons and stuff.

By this time it was after 10 and I wanted to start seeing booths before going over to Random House for my fan fiction recording at 11. So I headed for the far end of the exhibit hall and started looking around. I didn't get very far. I stopped at the Shrine booth, purveyors of whatever you need to wear at Ye Olde Goth Clubbe, except I don't go to clubs anymore. I never bought anything from them before but this time, they had a cute vintage style dress that caught my eye. I'd have to try it on but I decided to come back later. After all, it was about time to get ready for my shot at fame and fortune.

I walked over to the Random House booth and it was then I saw they were giving out "Laters, Baby" buttons to promote E.L. James's book signing later on that day. A-ha! As publishers of "Fifty Shades of Grey," they know there's more gold to be mined out there though you can't audition any smutty fics. (By the way, does this book seriously have the line "laters, baby?" Really? *Headdesk.*) The nice gals at the booth gave me the legal docs to sign--if I "win" I no longer own my story--and I stepped in a very small booth with one of the gals to read my fic.

Ugh, I totally flubbed it. Maybe I'm just being tough on myself, but as soon as I started recording I was kicking myself for not rehearsing it. They're not going to see text, so the performance has to sell the product and my performance sucked. I was too nervous, I didn't put enough dramatic interpretation into the reading, and at a couple of spots I stuttered. Oh well, it looks like I won't be unleashing anyone's inner goddess any time soon. The girl who went after me was in an Alice In Wonderland costume.

My dreams shattered, I went back to the Shrine booth and tried on the dress, then bought it. Shopping makes everything better. I found the We Love Fine booth and discovered the stupidest line ever at Comic Con. We Love Fine had a very small booth and while it does sell Star Wars tees--I was hoping to find this cool art nouveau Leia tee--it's the #1 purveyor of My Little Pony merchandise outside of Mattel and that brought out the Bronies. Bronies were everywhere this year and half of them were in line for their tees and hoodies. What sucked was that you couldn't just ask, "Hey, do you have this tee available?" at the booth. You had to stand in this loooong line first. Forget that! So I found my way to my favorite jewelry booth and dropped another bundle on earrings and charms.

Then it was time to eat. After a long walk to the Petco Park lot I found the food trucks. Originally I was going to get some BBQ but I was really hungry and the Swiener's line was shorter. And it was offering a better deal, with free drinks along with your Swiss-style hot dog. Swiener's sells bratwursts, franks, pork sausage, or vegetarian faux-sage stuffed in a Bread et Cie baguette--best commercial bakery in town--along with melted raclette cheese. I had mine also dusted with paprika. The cheese put it over the top. Mmm. Every table was taken, but some nice folks had a chair to spare, so I sat down there. It amazed me because people at Comic Con generally aren't all that nice.

After lunch I had my customary Pinkberry yogurt. On the way there I got a free water bottle to promote the t.v. show Revolution and a free box of Butterfingers candy. Gotta love the freebies! Then it was back in the exhibit hall.

Here it was halfway through the day and I'd covered very little territory. I had to hustle. I rushed past the indies, small publishers, and golden/silver age comic book dealers because that stuff never interested me in the past. I stopped off at the Profiles in History booth, the company that stars in SyFy's "Hollywood Treasure" show. They had some Star Wars props up for auction but "affordable" was something like a TPM podracer maquette for $3500-$5000. Liam Neeson's lightsaber was about a third of what I earn in a year and if I wanted a snowtrooper's helmet from TESB, I'd need to scrounge up $85,000 if it sold at the maximum opening bid.

Sideshow Collectibles had some impressive goodies on display, few of which were affordable, heh heh. They are making a padawan Obi-Wan 1/6 scale figure that looks great but for his glossy lips. Who's painting these things, Adam Lambert? I'd get one though. It's due out next year. I was pleased to see Gentle Giant is making a Jar Jar mini bust. Hateboys' bitter tears sweeten my tea! Another one due to drive them nuts is a maquette of a scout trooper getting his @$$ kicked by angry-looking Ewoks. At Hasbro, I got a Fighter Pod giveaway, but didn't see any posters. I did get a mini poster from the Del Rey Star Wars booth, the only poster I got all day after I spent $25 for a poster tube! At least it'll have some use at Celebration. At Kotobukiya, I checked out the Jaina Solo bishoujo figurine, due out in November. It's a nice piece, though I don't know why Koto is doing expanded universe stuff first for that line. The next bishoujo is Mara Jade.

While checking out the offerings at Koto, my cell phone rang. I thought it was a wrong number but when I answered it was my bank! WTF? As it turned out they'd frozen my debit card for questionable charges after a dealer had tried to run my card a few times (the reader wasn't picking up the strip). I cleared everything up with the bank and they lifted the stay on my card. I told the gal on the line, "Um, I'm in the exhibit hall at Comic Con right now." And she says, "Really? That's so cool!"

Earlier, I went upstairs to get my badge holder for Sunday so I don't have to stand in a hellacious line to get it. That took a few seconds. I remembered Nalini Krishnan, Barriss Offee from AOTC, was supposed to be signing and I went to the autograph section to see if she was there. She wasn't signing until 2:30, so I decided to finish the exhibit hall and come back later.

The exhibit hall got insanely crowded around all of the studio booths. At times security closed off some aisles where you could only get out, not go in. Then I got to some of the illustrators' booths. I bought some items that went missing after I changed offices, *sigh.* Next time take all of my fannish stuff with me!

I was pleasantly surprised to find Manic Panic, purveyors of punkish hair dye and cosmetics, having a booth for the first time at the con. I picked up some lipstick and vowed to return after I was told they'd have more stuff over the weekend.

Fast forward to the controversial part of the day. Once again, Artists' Alley was the least-crowded area of the hall. While walking around I saw Steve Sansweet and his posse. That's not what this controversy's about though. At Justin Chiang's booth, I started looking through some very nice sketches. I'm a Star Wars art junkie but I often wait before buying, especially since it's rare you'll find anything less than $25. Chiang wasn't at the booth; some guy obviously not Asian was running the booth for him. Some other guy was next to Chiang's booth (can't remember the name) and Cat Skaggs was next to him. The three of them were talking and Skaggs said that "he's retiring." Someone, I don't remember who, said, "probably because the fans can't stand him." When they started talking about the Special Editions, I knew then they were talking about Lucas. Let's just say I didn't like the tone of the convo and I split before they could start trashing the prequels and they'd have to call security. Really people? THIS is what cheeses me off about Star Wars Fandom, Inc.. It's full of hypocrisy and backstabbers who are happy to leech off of Lucas while having no respect for the guy. And doesn't it occur to anyone that if a potential customer is hanging around looking at Star Wars sketches she might not be one of those fans who hates on everything Lucas does?!

On that note I went back up to the autograph hall; it was almost 4 by this point. Nalini Krishnan was there, chatting with a fan. Right next to her at another booth was none other than Eric Roberts, character actor extraordinaire, Celebrity Rehab graduate, brother of Julia and father of Emma. That's one of the surreal things about this con. Random t.v. and movie stars just hanging out at booths, signing autographs and meeting fans. Anyway, Ms. Krishnan couldn't be nicer. We talked about her appearance at Celebration II. "Can you believe it's been 10 years already?" I said. "I can't!" We're both awaiting word on when we'll see AOTC in 3D.

Looky there...it's E.L. James signing her magnum opus for an adoring crowd of chicks! More than one goes up to give her a big hug. I did notice that not a single one of the fans was wearing a Twilight tee even though it was the day of the Last Twilight Panel Ever. Heh heh.

After a quick break to sit down, I went back downstairs, bought the Greetings From Naboo tee, and then decided to check on how my mom was doing since I knew she wasn't feeling well and was going to urgent care. Since I hadn't heard from her, I thought things were at least under control. My mom said the urgent care prescription wasn't working and she wanted to go to the hospital. So I left immediately and my fun day ended with a five-hour stint in the ER. The end! At least my mom's doing better now.
lazypadawan: (Default)
I have to start off with the tragic death of a Twilight fan from New York. The 53-year-old died on Tuesday morning after she tried to run across the street to the convention center, tripped, and was sideswiped by an oncoming car. The impact knocked her to the pavement and she sustained fatal head injuries as a result.

The woman was part of the lineup outside of Hall H for Thursday's Twilight panel and supposedly, she was rushing to hold her place in line after she found out Comic Con organizers were rearranging it so that those who were first would be at the end, and vice versa. Now, life is not worth being at the front of any line or getting a front row seat for a panel. In the heat of the moment, it might seem like nothing's more important than being first but fandom doesn't create a protective shield around you when you're crossing against the light. That poor woman not only lost her spot, she lost her life. Her family and friends have lost her. Had she been more cautious, she might be a few rows back but she'd been alive for that panel and the movie in November.

That said, I think con organizers bear some moral responsibility even if they likely have no legal responsibility for what happened. I've said last year that Comic Con should offer free tickets online to popular panels to discourage the insane lines and long campouts. And once there's a system in place, stick with it! Could you imagine the buffalo stampede that would have occurred had they decided to rearrange a long line while everyone's in the convention center? You have to assume fans can and will do something stupid or insane if you move the Holy Grail. I worry that with this many people, a similar situation to the Cincinnati Who concert stampede of 1982 could happen. We don't need a Comic Con with an annual body count.

Another round of condemnation goes to the cruel, insensitive douchebags who made fun of the fan's death. I don't care if you don't like Twilight; this is still a human being who had friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors who cared about her. Apparently she took care of her mother, who was afflicted with Alzheimer's and had since passed away. That is a tough, tough job and I can see this woman's desire to "live a little" by throwing herself wholesale into her fandom. What's amazing to me is how many people in Facebook are willing to post that kind of stuff with their actual names and photos. Great way to let the world know you're a gigantic a-hole.

Anyway, if you feel like helping out this fan's family defray funeral expenses, there's a fundraiser here:

http://www.giveforward.com/mad4hughmemorial

And contributions in her memory are being made to the Alzheimer's Association, 2 Jefferson Plaza, Suite 103, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603.

On to happier things.

Wednesday's festivities began with the end of the Course of the Force relay at the Balboa Theater in downtown San Diego. Supposedly the runner was supposed to cross the finish line around 11:20. Since I now work in downtown I thought I'd take my break around that time. Well, I go down to the Balboa and see a few people in Star Wars tees milling about, some big production trucks, and some security guards but no runner. I asked a guy when the race was supposed to end and he said, "Now." But since we weren't dealing with actual athletes or anything, the guy added he expected the runner to show up within the next hour. I couldn't wait that long, so I walked back to the office with plans to come back out during my lunch break. What should my little eye spy about a block away but some cops on motorcycles doing escort duty. Who could that be? Was it the President? Was it some foreign dignitary? The light changed and when the cops rolled forward, I could see the Course of the Force vehicles as well as the Jabba's barge reproduction. I stopped, took out my iPhone, and snapped away right from the side of the road. It's kind of too bad they didn't publicize this too much because I saw no media or crowds on the street. But I got great photos.

I had to hike back out at lunch time anyway and I saw incoming fans pulling their luggage along to downtown hotels or walk down to the convention center. My plan was to pick up my Thursday and Sunday passes in Fashion Valley instead of at the convention center. I figured the crowds were going to be worse downtown and I had to be out of my parking spot by six (I've since got a monthly parking spot).

I drove over to the Town and Country and I know this is inside-baseball stuff, but I cut through Old Town to avoid going east on I-8. On a good day, I-8 east is a parking lot in the afternoon/evening. Unfortunately this was a bad day, thanks to a big rig that caught on fire not too far away. Not only did it make I-8 even worse than it normally is, there was a lot overflow on the access roads, like the one I was driving on. Then I had to sit in slow, barely moving traffic around the Town and Country as people squeezed into the parking lot and big buses taking congoers downtown blocked the street. Eventually I got into the lot almost an hour after I split from the office! The really funny part was there was hardly any line, but for the fans lining up for buses. I was in and out of there in eight minutes, including a side trip to the little girls' room.

On the way out, I noticed people were swapping those free bags they give you because different t.v. and movies were on the bags. Some lucky soul out there can have my Supernatural bag when I'm done with the con!
lazypadawan: (Default)
Random House is letting the great unwashed read (up to?) five minutes of their fan fics at Comic Con for possible later use in a podcast, including Star Wars fan fiction!! *Hits a gong.*

http://www.randomhouse.com/audio/blog//2012/07/02/comic-con-recording/

Should I do this? For those of you familiar with the lazypadawan library, which story should I pick?
lazypadawan: (Default)
Congratulations! You've won the SDCC Lottery and scored a pass. Sure, it might be for one lousy day and your spouse is set to go on Thursday and Saturday while your kid got a pass for Friday, but it's better than nothing, right?

Here's some advice for those of you who have never been to the con or haven't been in a few years because Things Have Really Changed.

1. SDCC has advised there will be NO pre-sales for 2013 at the show. This is the first time they have eliminated pre-registration for the following year. The good news is you won't have to spend the entire con in line for the next con but the bad news is that frees up thousands of people to stand in line for stuff you want to see or do instead. And it will be tough to get tickets for next year since it's all going to be an online lottery.

2. The waterfront district and parts of downtown San Diego--i.e. the area near the convention center--are being torn up for renovations. Expect street closures, traffic, delays, and general chaos if you're driving.

3. Try to pick up your pass on Wednesday if you can. Re-read the confirmation e-mail to see if you are able to get yours on Wednesday afternoon/evening. SDCC now offers two locations to pick up your passes: the convention center and the Town And Country Convention Center in Fashion Valley. I've picked mine up at Town and Country the past few years. The line is long but it hasn't taken longer than a couple of hours to get through it. Then I'm ready to roll on Thursday morning while everyone else is staring at me balefully as they're stuck in a loooong line to pick up their passes at the beginning of the con.

4. Walk, take a cab, or take the trolley to the convention center. Parking downtown is at a premium during Comic Con, even without a baseball game at Petco Park and the convention center's lot fills up VERY early.

5. If you are planning to see any programming in Hall H or Ballroom 20, go get in line now. Seriously, it has become THAT bad though I think Ballroom 20 has taken The Devil's Convention Hall title from Hall H if only by that much. Hall H has a mix of (mostly) movies and (some) t.v., while Ballroom 20 tends to host t.v. panels. They don't clear the room in between presentations, so people camp out in their seats all day while lines snake around, hardly moving. I avoid panels in those rooms now at all costs.

6. Wear comfy shoes.

7. If you plan on buying convention exclusives, pre-order them! It is getting to be hellishly difficult to get these things and pre-ordering saves a lot of time and aggravation. If you can't pre-order the item, download the convention guide and find where the vendor is going to be located. Head there as early as you can and play it by ear. I've noticed Hasbro and Mattel now hold drawings for the privilege of buying exclusives and you have to be at a certain location to buy the item at a given time if your number's drawn. There's no guarantee you'll get the product until you hand them the money and they give the item to you.

8. Don't get lunch in the exhibit hall. It's crowded, the lines can be long, and there's nowhere to sit. Head to one of the upper level outdoor food vendors. There's hardly anyone around, plenty of places to sit, and there's a great view of the marina/bay. Failing that, there are plenty of restaurants in the Gaslamp (though you'll have to hoof it a distance to find fast food around Horton Plaza, or some grab 'n go fare at Ralph's supermarket). Jamba Juice usually hauls over some carts outside of the convention center and sells pre-made smoothies. The Hard Rock Hotel across from the convention center has a Pinkberry and a pricey sushi place. My favorite eats downtown? If you're on an expense account, I like Oceanaire and Donovan's Seafood. Near the federal courthouse and Horton Plaza is a place called Specialty's that features sandwiches, soups, baked goods, and salads. It's similar to Corner Bakery. And it has wifi! There's an Indian joint on the top floor of Horton Plaza with tasty chicken tandoori.

But last year there were a bunch of lunch trucks near the convention center. I wish I hadn't brought my lunch so I could have tried them out! This year, I think I'm going to check them out. You can check online to see which trucks will be at the convention center.

9. Bring cash. The nearest bank ATM is blocks away and you're stuck with the ones in the convention center or in the nearby hotels, which will charge a lot o' fees if they don't run out of money altogether.

10. Take some time to head out into the Gaslamp. You'll get freebies galore and you'll find some cool stores, restaurants, and bars. If any of you girls are into vintage/pinup style, drop by Bettie Page on 5th Avenue, a few blocks away.

11. Be prepared for crowds the likes of which you probably haven't experienced if you've never been to this con before. It's 150,000 of your closest friends practically bursting out of the convention center and nearby hotels. The only events I've been to with worse crowds are New Year's Eve in Las Vegas, Fourth of July on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and Calle Ocho in Miami.

12. Take advantage of the bag check booths if you can. Why lug heavy crap around all day if you don't have to? For a mere $2 a bag, take a load off. But beware...some booths filled up with stuff and closed early on last year.

13. Local weather can be best described as thus: possible cloud cover early in the morning, hot and sunny during the day and cool after the sun goes down. It's cold in Hall H, hot in the main exhibit hall. Dress accordingly.

14. Most of the autographs in the autograph hall are $20 or so. Most of the personalities there are renting out their own shingle and they make money off of photos, signatures, and other memorabilia. A few are sponsored by a network or company and sign for free. With some very popular guests, such as the cast of "MythBusters" or Elvira, you have to enter a drawing to get the chance to get an autograph. On the exhibit floor, guests may be signing for a company like Official Pix, they may be sponsored by a network, or they may be renting out their own booth. For example, I got Billy Dee Williams's autograph at Gentle Giant for $40. Gentle Giant let him sign there in order to draw more people, while Williams likely didn't have to pay more than a small cut to GG, cheaper than getting his own booth. The same day, I got a totally free autograph from Pauley Perrette of "NCIS," since her appearance was sponsored by CBS. Wait times for autographs can vary.

15. Don't miss Artists' Alley! It's usually the least crowded area of the exhibit floor plus you can meet illustrators, buy unique prints, and even get commissioned work done.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Let me preface by saying I still enjoy going to Comic Con and I’m grateful I was at least able to get tickets for two days. Going by Comic Con’s Facebook comments, I’m not the only one with the absurdity of bookending the show (first day and last day).

Still it smarts that this is the first time since I started attending in 2004 that I was unable to go for as long as I wanted on the days I wanted. I saw FB comments from people who had been attending for many years more than I have who are for the first time only able to go one day or not at all. As I noted on my FB, this new system of buying online was like the Powerball; you’ll think it’s great only if you got what you wanted and much of that was pure luck. It’s just one step away from becoming a pure lottery system. You enter and you get what you get if you get anything. Only the very lucky (or the very connected) will get the golden four day pass with preview night.

For the first time, Comic Con will not sell passes for the following year at this show in July. Based on an e-mail I received, it looks like they are contemplating letting those who attended in 2012 first crack at online sales, with the rest of the great unwashed trying for whatever’s left later.

Why has it come to this? To use a common phrase, Comic Con became a victim of its own success. SDCC has been a legend among genre movie and t.v. fans, comics fans, and gaming fans for a long time but it has only been within the past few years that it has become the focus of international media attention. No other convention gets that level of hype. As I’ve said before, it has become a Hollywood junket on the San Diego Bay, a cross between the Cannes Film Festival and the annual t.v. presser in Beverly Hills, but for people who are pop culture and genre junkies. Other comic cons might get some famous comics artists and maybe a few guys who had roles on cancelled shows or second tier stars of popular movies. SDCC gets Scarlett Johanssen. DragonCon, the only other mammoth con of the summer, is basically a big party. It doesn’t have breaking news, sneak peeks, world premieres of anticipated trailers, or glamorous A-listers.

The hype along with the increasing difficulty of getting tickets make people want to go even more. The harder it is to get something, the more one wants it. Even with the economy being what it is, for every guy finding himself too poor to go, there are five people who will happily eat dog food and shut off the power just for the chance of being in the center of all the excitement. If you live in Southern California, Miami, or NYC, you tend to forget vast swaths of the country just doesn’t get the chance to see a big t.v. or movie star, much less sit in the same room with him. I've been saying for years that Comic Con is full of celebrity groupies who just want to see their favorite actors and gossip bloggers.

So, what’s to be done about it? Glad you asked. Here are my suggestions.

1. Get a bigger convention center.

That goes without saying, though expanding the current convention center will take years and it's entirely possible Comic Con could go elsewhere once the current contract expires in 2015. I doubt it would ever leave the state; San Diego offers the advantage of being close enough to L.A. for guests to drop by. But Anaheim and Los Angeles have more space.

2. Make Comic Con a twice-a-year event.

I've heard this idea kicked around a bit and I think it's a pretty good one. If you don't make one show, you can always attend the other. The summer con can focus on the fall t.v. schedule and on movies slated for the fall or winter, while a winter show can focus on spring/summer material. It's worked great for the fashion industry! I've heard also about splitting Comic Con into an entertainment con and a separate con focusing just on comics.

3. Make it easier to sell and transfer unused passes.

Not only were people hosed out of getting Comic Con tickets, other folks were stuck with extra passes they now can't get rid of. I'm not saying we ought to just let scalpers sell tickets for $50,000, but allow an exchange program with the con that can work right up until the con starts.

4. Announce in advance when popular panels are going to be held.

If all I wanted to do at Comic Con was see the Supernatural panel I have no way of knowing this far in advance when it will be scheduled. Friday or Saturday's a good bet, but if I wanted to be safe instead of sorry, I'd buy at least passes for Friday and Saturday if not all four days. I'm certain this is why four day passes and Friday/Saturday passes are the most popular. I realize this will require the level of foresight and planning not known to exist among con organizers, but if those panels could be scheduled first and announced prior to ticket sales, that will take the pressure off at least scooping up the four day passes. It would also help if they mixed it up a little with those panels so not everything worth seeing is dumped on Friday or Saturday. (I've also made the suggestion to offer separate but free tickets to attendees who want to see certain panels to avoid massive lines and campouts.)

5. Start telling Hollywood, "No."

I keep repeating it like a broken record. Hollywood runs Comic Con now and it seems like there's nothing too far afield to promote at the con. Last year, there was a presentation on the "Glee" 3D concert film. Why??? I don't get why Showtime decides to promote all of its shows at the con; most of them have nothing to do with genre. It makes as much sense to promote the next Nicholas Sparks-based movie or t.v. fare like "Hoarders: Buried Alive." With 150,000 people causing the convention center to burst at the seams, you can't argue Comic Con has an outreach problem.

I also think that more passes are being allocated for entourages, press, talent agency employees, and all of their friends, passes that could go to the fans. A number of passes are also given to radio/internet contest winners. Last year, a local dealership was giving out four-day passes to those buying cars. Really?!

They are trying, but ultimately SDCC needs to ask itself a question. Is Comic Con about the fans, as they keep telling us, or is it about showrunners, starlets, paparazzi, and hype? As long as it's about the latter, it will continue to balloon out-of-control.
lazypadawan: (Default)
The good news...it looks like via starwars.com that there will be some promotion of the Star Wars Blu-Ray set. Instead of a panel or something, they are going to promote it right at the Lucasfilm Pavilion.

The bad news...still nuttin' on TPM 3D.
lazypadawan: (fail)
The full preview night-Sunday Comic Con schedules have been uncorked and there is nothing on the Blu-Rays or TPM's 3D re-release. That's right. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis. NOTHING.

All of the Star Wars panels revolve around books, comics, video games, licensing, crafts, and Clone Wars. (If you want to see Mark Hamill, he's on the Batman Arkham Asylum and "Sushi Girl" panels. Sam Witwer is on the "Being Human" panel. Ashley Eckstein is doing her second annual Her Universe panel on Thursday.) Clone Wars is of course way important. But I find it shocking, unbelievable, and outrageous Lucasfilm is just blowing off the two biggest SW events of the next several months!

I wouldn't be so nonplussed if there was a Celebration in four weeks where they could promote the hell out of those things but there isn't. If there's nothing at Comic Con, there won't be anything at Wizard World Chicago, DragonCon, or New York Comic Con either. Heck, there probably won't even be a mention at Star Wars Fan Days. I guess they just expect to sell the Blu-Rays only to the diehards and they plan to just poop out TPM 3D and hope somebody notices. Or maybe not.

Someone noted on my Facebook that most of Lucasfilm's Comic Con presentations are full of sound and fury and signify nothing anyway. It's true the last couple of Hall H presentations were kind of lackluster. But I also remember the amazing presentation they did in 2004 to promote primarily the first three flicks on DVD and ROTS. People were on their cell phones as soon as they left the room.

I'm not saying we needed another unspectacular Spectacular in Hall H. I'm actually kind of relieved I don't have to spend 3 hours in line to sit inside for another 3 hours in the vain hopes they start on time. I'm convinced that the journey to Hell for the damned begins trying to get into Hall H. But I also remember Steve Sansweet touring the nation's conventions during the summer of 1996 to promote the Star Wars Special Editions, showing us first-time ever-seen footage of the spruced-up scenes (stuff not even seen during trailers shown with "Independence Day"). That sort of thing generates buzz. It generates excitement. It makes people who were on the fence or uninterested as rarin' to go as a hardcore fan like me. It worked in 1996. It worked in 2004. It worked when Charles Lippincott dropped in at a much smaller Comic Con in 1976 to pitch ANH. Why wouldn't it work now, unless they've given up and they just don't care?
lazypadawan: (Default)
So, I've returned from a week in Hawaii where I did absolutely nothing fannish except look up the Celebration V exclusives price list and catch up a little bit on the news on TFn. Things go down a lot easier with Hawaiian music and the crash of the waves in the background ;).

The rest of my Comic Con adventures )
lazypadawan: (wishing)
For once I can say that Comic Con finally came up with a useful innovation and that is allowing people to pick up their passes in Fashion Valley on Wednesday. A lot of hotels and motels are in the Fashion Valley/Mission Valley area, so many con attendees stay there. Instead of schlepping all of the way downtown for Preview Night or worse yet, having to schlep downtown on Thursday and stand in line for three hours like I did last year, this allowed people to be ready to go on Thursday at 10 a.m.. The line at the Fashion Valley location was long but it moved really fast and I got my pass in an hour. Getting out of the busy parking lot took about an additional half hour but I didn't miss any con time at all. Awesome.

This morning, I made a bee line for Hall D, where the Star Wars Pavilion is always located. I suppose that because Celebration V is a few weeks away, there weren't as many licensees here as in the past. But all of the usual suspects were there or close by: Hasbro, Hallmark, DK Publishing, Museum Replicas, eFX, LucasArts, Official Pix, etc.. How many of you knew beforehand that Official Pix was going to host anyone SW this year? Me neither. As it turned out, Steve Sansweet, Catherine Taber from Clone Wars, and Dee Bradley Baker were on the schedule. Hey, thanks for letting us know, Official Pix! Baker is supposed to sign tomorrow, so I went up to Anne Neumann (I don't know her married name) and asked her what time Baker was signing. "When he gets here." Okay, um, how much is it going to cost? "Don't know yet." It would be nice to get his autograph since it will be one less to worry about at Celebration but can we be a little bit more specific??

Prior to hitting Official Pix, I went to the Her Universe booth. Ashley Eckstein wasn't there yet but all of the new goodies as well as the ones that have been online were there for sale. The Star Wars logo hat with the sparkly Swarovski crystals--glue-gunned on there by Ashley herself--was $60. It sounds pricey but I was honestly expecting it cost $80-$100. They were limited in availability and autographed on the inside brim. The guy at the booth told me if I buy the hat and bring it back later, Ashley can personalize it for me. Cool! So I bought that, one of the Alliance logo necklaces (the black one...there was also a blingy red crystal Alliance logo necklace), and the new Han 'n Leia t-shirt. They also had a new zip up hoodie jacket with an OT manga SW logo on the back and MTFBWYA on the bottom. It's a nice piece and I might come back for it. I was wearing my Padmé t-shirt and a girl and her mom show up to look at the stuff. The teenage girl really liked my shirt and the booth guy told her it was their top-seller online (take that, you naysayers who think nobody is interested in PT stuff). She ended up buying one. Where's my commission ;)?

I went wandering around the Star Wars Pavilion for a bit and took pictures. I ended up buying the Hallmark exclusive ornaments (Threepio and some other droid from TESB) since there was no line or anything to buy one. Apparently, Hallmark is rolling out a line of Avatar (the Smurfs, not the Airbenders) cards. In fact, I got a good laugh out of the Avatar merch I saw...for such an anti-capitalist movie, it sure has no problem with capitalism. Anyway, I saw that Hallmark will come out with other SW-themed gifts, i.e. glasses, desk accessories, picture frames, etc. next year. But I was very disappointed that all of it was Eps IV-VI stuff. I hate this business of pretending the prequels don't exist or trying to hide them behind the more kid-themed Clone Wars. Grrr. I went by a busy soft goods booth selling all kinds of SW plushy dolls and backpacks, which seemed to be really popular. They even had Stinky/Rotta from the Clone Wars flick. Another booth had belt buckles; they sell the same ones at Hot Topic. The LucasArts folks were handing out free stickers and sticking them on people. Mine fell off twice.

Around this time, the strap on the big free bag I got at registration yesterday broke. Dismayed, I went upstairs to the registration area to get another one. They told me, "No." So I was stuck with a huge bag I had to carry around in my hand. Wonderful.

Anyway, about a half hour or so later, I came back by Her Universe and Ashley Eckstein was there. I took out my hat and the booth guy looked at me like, "What do you want me to do with this?" Uh, I wanted to get it personalized? Like you told me about half hour ago? Am I that forgettable??? Once I explained it, recognition dawns and Ashley cheerfully personalized my hat. She was also wearing the Padmé shirt and laughed, "We match!" She was still her chatty, friendly self. I joked on Her Universe's Facebook page they were keeping labor costs down by having Ashley put on the crystals on the hats herself, but as it turned out, I was right! She told me it would have cost a lot more money to have paid somebody to make those hats, and since this was still a small operation, they didn't have the wherewithal yet to have everything mass-produced. Interesting. She hoped eventually that would change and they could bring prices down. She also told me that they were going to have a TESB exclusive necklace--a triangular shape--available only at Celebration V and there are going to only be 150 available! Eeek, I guess I better go by Her Universe first on 8/12!

Mission accomplished there, I headed toward the far end of the hall where Artists' Alley was located. I walked up and down the aisles, pushing through the crowds. Thursday is the least worst day though so at least the aisles were navigable! I managed to chat a little bit with some of the Star Wars artists at Artists' Alley, like Denise Velasquez and Randy Martinez. I told them that I saw video of their musical interlude at Germany's Star Wars Rocks con earlier this year. Denise does have her music available and we talked a bit about the technical problems of DIY recording.

Marching onward through aisles of videogames, steampunk merchandise, zombie stuff, Japanese stuff, weird crap whose appeal completely baffles me, and movie/t.v. promo booths, I considered the fact that the place really smells. Honestly fan people, can't you bathe every now and then and invest in deodorant? I have no idea why it gets stinky where fen gather. Perhaps that's why I saw more than one booth pimping Star Trek's line of fragrances. Men can chose from Red Shirt, Tiberius, Shirtless Kirk, and the brand new Sulu ("Oh my!"). The ladies can invest in Pon Farr ("drive him crazy"). Also, I find the practice of farting in large crowds because nobody would know who did it appalling. I know one can slip out every now and then without warning, but to cut one loose on purpose? Nast-y. That's what the bathroom's for. Or get some Beano. Yuck.

I paused at Jerry Vanderstelt's table because of a gorgeous new Padmé print on display. Wow, this one was awesome. And for the low, low price of $163 for the paper print and $350 or somesuch for the canvas. Well, the canvas was out of contention but hey, payday's tomorrow...should I splurge? I had to think about it. Vanderstelt also had on display his Celebration V art. That was a beauty as well. It's my #2 priority now, after Erik Maell's piece. I walked by Russell Walks' booth and he had a cool new poster I hadn't seen before either. Sigh.

I stopped by my friend Matt Busch's booth but we didn't get to talk for very long before two ladies came by to talk business. Matt is doing a line of classic film posters with zombie themes that seems to be successful. He said that a couple of guys who worked on the Harry Potter movies came by and bought a zombified Harry Potter poster. Apparently some properties don't like to see their characters get the undead treatment, but the Harry Potter guys thought it was hilarious. One of the women informed him that one of the gentlemen produced the films. Lucasfilm doesn't have a problem with zombies either because there were zombified posters for all of the SW and Indiana Jones movies.

On the way to heading outside to eat my lunch, Things From Another World was giving out tote bags. I snagged one and transferred all of my stuff into it. It turned out to be much sturdier than my Comic Con freebie bag.

I didn't see too many celebrities today, but I did catch "Thelma" from "Good Times" at one table. I doubt very many of the teens and 20-somethings at the con remember the show but I used to watch it on prime time! Eeek, I'm old. But "Thelma" looks great. I also saw Marina Sirtis signing at a table; she looks pretty good as well. I saw Peter Mayhew signing later on.

Eventually I got around to Gentle Giant's booth and checked out their wares. Among their collection of Star Wars Babes mini busts was a Snowbunny Padmé I'd never seen before. Her hair was loose and she had a flirtatious look on her face, and she was holding out mistletoe. If Rachel Zoe were a fangirl, she would say, "I. Die." I knew GG gives a freebie mini bust every Christmas to its premiere members, so I asked the GG guy if Padmé was going to be this year's giveaway. He said yes. This thing was so made of awesome because it was something an A/P fan fic writer would come up with...or perhaps a fanboy who dreams of snogging Padmé under some mistletoe. I'm definitely upgrading my GG membership to get that mini bust. Whatever it takes!

Hasbro had an awesome set up featuring the Battle of Hoth, starring its toys. Lots of cool stuff is on the way, just in time for Celebration. What a coincidence.

On I trundled past more aisles and more booths, pausing to look at some art nouveau items that turned out to be really expensive antiques. I saw what was supposed to be a huge set piece from the upcoming "Thor" movie. I saw some great stuff at Sideshow Collectibles, even though I can't afford a lot of them! Geez, guys, didn't you know there's a recession on? At the Kotobukiya booth, they had the Darth Maul and Mace Windu lightsaber chopsticks available, so I had to buy those.

I also saw a young woman in a very skimpy leotard pose for pictures with various attendees. How skimpy was it? Her butt cheeks were hanging out and she didn't wear any hose. Yikes. Worse yet, somebody even had her pose with A BABY. WTF???

That glittery hat I bought at Her Universe got a lot of compliments as I walked around, including from a booth full of burlesque dancers, heh heh. Where's my commission, again ;)?

At the Chronicles Books booth they had copies of "The Sounds of Star Wars" for sale, which won't hit bookstores for another month or two. Better yet, they were on sale for $20 off cover price. Sold, but boy was it heavy. I tried to check in my bags only to find out the coat check place was full. Darn it.

By about 4 or so, I was exhausted. I sat for a bit and rested, then went back to Vanderstelt's booth and shelled out for the Padmé print. I have no idea where I'll put it. Oh well, once I get my Barbie Dreamhouse, I'll have room.

So that was day one. Tomorrow is Star Wars Day and the highlight will be the Clone Wars panel in the p.m.. Hope I'll see something good!
lazypadawan: (seven nation army)
I picked up my pass after work today since they decided for the first time to distribute passes at a location where there are a lot of hotels, away from downtown. It's on the way home for me so it was quite convenient. Despite the seemingly long line, I was all set in an hour and waited another 20 minutes or so to get out of the busy parking lot.

First up will be a visit to the Her Universe booth to pick up one of these:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4504302&id=271742460138

Naturally, I posted on the Her Universe FB they need to make an Anakin/Padmé one ;). They're also selling SW baseball caps with glittery rhinestones on them but I'll have to see them in person and check out the price before deciding whether or not to buy one.

I'm so over con exclusives. I'm not planning on picking up anything other than freebies unless there's plenty of an exclusive to be had and it's no trouble to buy one. I'll be on the search for widevision trading card sleeves, a complete set of the TESB 30th anniversary trading card set, and some photo sleeves that I'll use at Celebration.

Speaking of Celebration, I've looked though all of the exclusive art available and I think we have a winner:

lazypadawan: (Default)
It's going to be crazy town around the lp lair as I'm on and offline the next few weeks.

Comic Con is going to have an abbrievated Star Wars presence this year. No Star Wars Spectacular in Hall H, no Official Pix bringing stars to autograph stuff, and no annual fan club breakfast. I assume it's due to Celebration V being right around the corner. However, Gentle Giant is bringing Billy Dee Williams to sign autographs and a few other booths might bring in guys as well. Drew Struzan is going to be there to promote a new documentary about his life and artwork and Mark Hamill is going to appear to promote a new Batman MMO. I guess he's playing the Joker again! Ashley Eckstein is going to be at the Her Universe booth and will host a panel on Saturday. I probably won't go because it's late, like at 6:30 p.m. and I'm jumping town early-ish the next day.

It kind of sucks I'll be 35,000 feet over the Pacific on Sunday because that's when the cast of "Merlin" is appearing :/. So much for my big chance to meet the hot guy who plays Arthur. However, the guys from Ghost Adventures will be signing autographs, so I'm definitely going to meet Zak and company. I'm also psyched to see there's a panel on techie crime solving with both Pauly Perrette from "NCIS" and Kirsten Vangness from "Criminal Minds." Abby Scuito and Penelope Garcia in the same room...it's like crossover fic come true!

I'm very "meh" on the whole exclusives thing. I so no longer care. I'm not killing myself to get the exclusive Hallmark ornaments or the Hasbro action figure or whatever. Blah. I'll probably spend a bundle at Her Universe if they have new stuff out and pick up any books available.

Celebration's official website has a skeletal schedule up full of TBAs. So far, I want to see the fashion shows and maybe check out the make-your-own frame thing. There's supposed to be a prequel appreciation panel on Friday, but the location hasn't been announced yet. I definitely want to see Mark Hamill. Still undecided if I want to sit through "The Daily Show Live" and risk blowing a gasket. I hope the Celebration Store is run as well as it was run at Celebration IV instead of the day-long lines at Celebrations II and III.
lazypadawan: (Default)
A year ago at Comic Con, I participated in the Star Wars Stories project, which will be back at Celebration V. I don't remember much of what I said, only that it was insanely HOT inside a little box-like chamber with very bright lights. It was like trying to tell your life story while in that sweatbox from "Cool Hand Luke."

Anyway, starwars.com is promoting Star Wars Stories and in the picture used on the site, I noticed that I'm in the montage. Look way over at the far right end for the dazed-looking girl with the bobbed hair and gray t-shirt; that was me 44 pounds ago ;).


lazypadawan: (Default)
With the stress of making it to this and that in time behind me, Saturday was more or less Casual Day. I said hi to [livejournal.com profile] jawajames, who was working at the Star Wars pavilion. I finished wandering around the exhibition floor and chatted with Matt Busch and Paul Michael Kane, who both worked on my zines in the past. Saturday has a reputation for being The Worst Day at Comic Con and I think that reputation kept a lot of people away this year. While it was crowded enough in some spots, it wasn't nearly as crowded as it was the past few years. Why, I was even able to walk up to Summit's booth and pick up some Twilight stuff and I'm not even a Twilight fan. Anybody want a New Moon mini poster and some trading cards? There was a crowd around the Stargate booth and around the video game displays but otherwise, it was the most sane Saturday I'd seen.

Around 11, I headed back to Official Pix and got Matt Lanter to sign my CW Anakin 'n Padmé photo. Again, it was no problem walking up and getting the autograph. I guess Matthew Wood couldn't make it, because Jaime King was sitting there instead. Anyway, Lanter is really cute in person but a little young for lazypadawan. I think he's even younger than Hayden. He was genuinely appreciative when I said l loved the show.

By high noon, I ate my PB & J and chips I brought from home, then went off to Pinkberry for some pomegranate yogurt with chocolate shavings. Yum. This is when I noticed how many people were doing giveaways on the street instead of inside the convention center and how a lot of companies are doing off-campus stuff this time around. It was really easy getting the big Mythbusters bag from the Discovery folks. No mobs or bum-rushing (hear that, Dark Horse?). SyFy (God I HATE that spelling!! HATE IT!!) set up a cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel instead of putting a big booth inside the the convention hall. NBC set up a mini carnival across from the convention center to promote Heroes and the annual panel was at a hotel instead of in Hall H. The carnival was actually worth checking out. Free popcorn, free snowcones, free cotton candy, free bungee jumping, and free games where you get tickets, and then someone draws tickets to win prizes like t-shirts and signed scripts. EA set up shop at a hotel with some guy shouting on a bullhorn to come in and try games. Strange. Then I went over to World Market because I ran out of tea at home and it was like stepping into another world. No other con attendees hanging around. It just seemed to me the normally jammed restaurants and stuff weren't as busy and this was lunch time!

I went back inside the convention hall and got into line for the Mark Hamill signing set to begin at 2 p.m.. It's easy to pass the time with a bunch of SW fans. People kept asking us what the line was for. We wanted to put up a sign that said:

1. This line is for Mark Hamill

2. You need a ticket

We saw many costumed folks go by, including some zombie Stormtroopers to promote "Deathtroopers." I also saw a guy do a quick oil painting of the Clone Wars figurines by the Hasbro booth.

I'd heard that Hamill got in an hour late on Friday, so to make up for it, he showed up almost 45 minutes early on Saturday. Woo hoo!

Sadly, the special Official Pix photo made for the occasion got really dinged in my bag. I really wish I'd waited to just buy it there but with my luck, it would have sold out or something. Groan. The line whipped along really fast even when Mark cheerfully let passerby take photos in between signing stuff. I'm sure Official Pix was thrilled, heh heh. Mark was there with his daughter, a very pretty girl. As for Mark, he looks better in person than he has in a lot of photos. Clearly he's aged but still not too bad for a guy who's almost 58. I took out the special Official Pix photo and the assistant next to him looked at it and went, "Oh no." I said that once I got it framed, it's all good. Like I'll sell my autographs anyway. Mark signed my photo (always get 'em personalized if possible) and even drew a little heart on it. I never think of anything to say, really. I just thanked him and shook his hand and he said, "You're welcome, sweetheart." Interesting tidbit; the guy in front of me was from Austin, TX and Mark told him his family is originally from there and still visits from time to time.

So, with that done, I went upstairs to collect on a ticket I got from Hall H on Friday. I never used those tickets until now. Would I get something cool, like a t-shirt or something? Nah, all I got was a button for some show or other. Prior to that, I pre-registered for next year. You know how much it will cost for '10? A hundred freakin' bucks for four days. A one day pass is fifty bucks. Moreover, they are capping preview night at 13,500, so when you buy your four day pass, you have to check the box that will include preview night at no extra cost. Otherwise, it's the Comic Con 5K on Thursday morning.

I went back downstairs to the floor and made one final purchase at the Chronicle Books booth, a collection of postcards featuring different SW comic book covers over the years. Then I was done.

Some observations...the rotten economy clearly affected both exhibitors and attendees. Everybody was counting pennies. At the Official Pix booth, Hamill got big lines but you could've had a chess game with the other signees. Why? People decided they'd get more value out of an autograph from THE star of Eps IV-VI who hasn't signed at Comic Con in five years than say, the CW cast. If Hamill wasn't there and there weren't any other top tier stars from the movies, I'm sure everyone else would have been busier. Since I wasn't buying any exclusives this year, I stuck with getting autographs instead. Who knows if they'll have the whole CW crew next year? My only splurge was the deluxe edition of The Art of Clone Wars. There were still a healthy number of freebies and guys handing out stuff on the street, but I noticed the "theater" they put on with either street teams or actors at the booths was not all that common this year.

There were more costumes this year overall, with mostly anime/manga-themed costumes. You'd think you were really at a Harajuku girls convention if you spent most of your time on the upper floors. And WTF is up with those stupid Free Hugs signs? One guy had an Expensive Hugs sign. I'm going to make a sign for next year that says, "Free Kicks In The Rear." Lots of superhero and steampunk outfits too.

On the SW front, still some stormies, X-Wing pilots, Impie officers, and Fett costume variations around. Saw a really good Darth Vader. Saw one chick in Padmé's nightgown from ROTS. Saw an Aayla Secura. But lots and lots of SW t-shirts! Are we getting lazy again or are we saving the cosplay for Celebration V? Have noticed an uptick in Trek costumes, mostly classic style Starfleet wear.

While putting stuff away, I reflected on how these things are in many ways more of a vacation than actually going on a plane somewhere. It is for thousands of people their happy place. And now, Darth Real Life is back upon us. Just 361 days before it stars up again!
lazypadawan: (Default)
First up was the annual Official Star Wars Fan Club breakfast at the Marriott right next door to the convention center. I got there at the unholy time of 6:50 a.m. and found a seat on the far left side of the room at one of the tables. Most of the folks there were from far-flung locales; one lady from New York told me that the lines at Comic Con were out of control and it wasn't any fun for her anymore. Two guys planned to get in line for Hall H right after the breakfast. We had a late arriving pair from Sacramento, one of which was a guy dressed up like Quinlan Vos.

This year we got scrambled eggs, two good-sized sausages, home fries, and a tomato along with the usual plate of pastries. I have to say we get pretty decent meals at these things. No mimosas or Bloody Marys though. That would make things even more interesting, heh heh. The speaking guests were a guy from Hasbro, who I think is there every year, and everyone's pal, Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni. Filoni showed up with his trademark hat, but like a good Italian lad, he removed it while eating. So yeah, it was the first time I'd ever seen Filoni without a hat. He later took off the hat during the Star Wars Spectacular. While he spoke, he was very excited about Clone Wars Season Two. In fact, everybody I spoke to or listened to who was connected to the show couldn't hide their enthusiasm for the next season. We were told expect more darker stories, darker Anakin, and more bounty hunters. CW voice actor James Arnold Taylor was signing autographs the whole time.

Interspersed with all of this was the annual raffle. Every now and then Mary Franklin would get up and pull more numbers for exciting prizes. At the previous breakfasts, I'd won nothing. But at last my number came up...for one of the biggest, bulkiest prizes available: a stone sculpture of Jabba's house band from Gentle Giant. One guy actually won an even larger prize, and that was a huge speeder bike thing with a 12" scout figure from Sideshow, but unlike me, he got a certificate to pick it up right from the booth. In my case, I had to take the two boxes right there. When I went up to collect the prize, I had to say into a microphone my name and where I lived. When I said, "I live right here in San Diego," Mary Franklin said, "Good, you don't have to ship it anywhere!" Everybody at my table oohed and ahhed over the figurine set. Have to say, it was one of the cooler prizes that day, aside from the Sideshow speeder bike, Bonnie Burton's handmade stuffed bantha, and maybe the new toy that lets you levitate a ping pong ball in a tube.

Meanwhile, I ran into two people from D.C. and a couple of local fans at the breakfast. That was cool. My gift bag--from Hallmark--included the free t-shirt, the free exclusive Smiling Luke figure, and a couple of other assorted knicknacks.

After the breakfast, I had to lug the box to the convention center and wait a half hour until doors opened. Then I checked the box at coat check and made a beeline for the Del Rey booth at the Star Wars pavilion. That's because if you were one of the first 50 people in line for the authors of "The Star Wars Atlas," you got a free copy! Well, fortunately, I was one of the first 50. Yay! While in line, a guy from work walked by, so we talked for a few minutes. When I got up to the table, I said hi to Dan Wallace, who used to write for my fanzine way back in the day. He gave me a hug and then told the guy next to him, "Do you know who this is? This is one of the people who published Blue Harvest." As it turns out, we'd run something by him once too!

Once I got my book, I saw the huge line for the Hallmark ornament and decided to abandon all hope of getting one. I walked around for a little bit, then went upstairs for the two Clone Wars panels in room 7AB. Of course, there was a big line. At first, I was pessimistic that very many people would leave after the Hasbro panel. But I guess enough did leave because the line started to move. It moved slowly though. Then I got super annoyed when Comic Con staff pulled a woman a few people ahead of me out of line and had her go right in to the room. She was a busty blonde in a Slave Leia costume. What is this? A South Beach nightclub? I'm still steamed about that! Eventually I got into the room after the presentation, on the design aspects of the show, had started, stepping all over people to cram myself into a chair in the middle of a row. I noticed though that one of the unfortunate souls I'd stepped over was supercollector Gus Lopez.

The panel was very interesting and I'm not an animation geek at all. We got to see some of the footage that ended up in the Season Two Trailer 2.0, hours before everyone else did. Woo hoo! They'd discussed that Ahsoka was originally supposed to have a skirt that twirled around when she fought. The concept drawings made it look like she was wearing a tutu. But the effect was too expensive to animate. They talked about all of the improvements made to the animation over Season One. During the Q&A, someone asked Filoni if they would ever do another CW movie. In a nutshell, no more theatrical releases. He feels CW is best suited for t.v.. Someone else asked if Boba Fett was ever going to appear on the show. Filoni cryptically declined to answer, but the nexu fell out of the bag during the Spectacular with a concept drawing for a Young Fett. The best question though was a woman (of course) who asked why Ahsoka wears a tube top. Filoni replied that George Lucas wanted Ahsoka to appear quick and nimble and I guess the skimpy outfit not only allows greater movement, it makes that movement easier to see. But hey, this is from the same guy who thought Indy having a fling with an eleven-year-old Marion was an awesome idea ;). Speaking of wardrobes, Filoni addressed Anakin and Obi-Wan's armor. He said that the armor was left on in part to pay homage to the Clone Wars microseries. Apparently, Lucas didn't mind the armor on Anakin too much because he said it looked Vaderesque, but he didn't care at all for the armor on Obi-Wan. Lucas said that Obi-Wan was too good; he didn't need the armor. What you see on the show now is a compromise but Filoni is aware that the boys don't wear armor in ROTS and he says that eventually, the armor will go away.

After that was an amusing panel moderated by Steve Sansweet featuring several of the voice actors from the show. Get a bunch of voice actors in a room and you're in for some great entertainment.

Once the panel was over, I ate a hot dog and the stuff I brought from home, got a Mrs. Fields cookie, visited the little girl's room, and got in line for Hall H. I was out there in the hot sun for almost two hours. If I could make a suggestion to Comic Con, it would be this: give out Hall H tickets in advance. Or at least set up a tent outside so people don't pass out from heat stroke. I'm a Florida native and I had a drink with me, so I was fine on that front but I didn't have any sunblock aside from my hat. So I put on a jacket to keep the sun off my arms. Which of course made me sweat like a hog. Finally I got inside the nice cold air.

Prior to the Spectacular, I had to sit through a panel for a movie called "Legion," some apocalyptic stuff that has "B-movie" written all over it. It has Paul Bettany but it also has Dennis Quaid and Forrest Whittaker. Quaid wasn't present and neither was Whittaker, so nobody could ask him how he went from winning an Oscar to appearing in a movie that looks straight-to-DVD/iTunes. After that was a panel for the movie "District 9." Peter Jackson was on hand, since he produced the movie. Jackson talked a little bit first about "The Hobbit." In case you are interested, the first draft is about done, Guillermo Del Toro is still directing, nobody's been hired, it's going to be two movies, and don't expect it out any time soon. Jackson also talked about the "Halo" debacle, in case you are interested. The end of that project led to this one, directed by a guy from South Africa. Having seen several minutes of the film it's a rather obvious analogy for apartheid, which ended what, 20 years ago? The aliens live in the shantytowns now and are treated like crap, only the aliens are a lot more violent in return.

Which gets to my next point. Once again, Hall H is home to red band trailers/uncut previews shown without warning to a general audience. While there wasn't any sex or nudity in anything shown, there were a lot of f-bombs, violence, and gore. After the "District 9" panel and before the Spectacular, I overheard a guy talk about Megan Fox's appearance at a prior panel and she was swearing quite a bit. Since Comic Con is Hollywood's lap dog and Hollywood's mission is to inure your children to sex, violence, and language that would embarrass a Marine drill instructor, I would simply say this: don't take little kids to anything in Hall H. Period. The convention organizers won't do anything about it, the studios don't care, and your average Comic Con actor/actress worries more about being "cool" to a bunch of fanboys and potheads than decent manners.

Can you tell I'm getting cranky? The Spectacular started over a half hour late, which in my honest opinion is bad form. Granted, I don't know what happened or why, but still, it made me very unhappy. The Spectacular kicked off with an apeparance by Anthony Daniels to promote the upcoming Star Wars In Concert series, kicking off in Anaheim on October 1. Looks cool. But I already knew about it. They were handing out postcards advertising it.

From there it goes downhill. "Attack of the Show"'s Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn weren't any more amusing in person than they were on t.v.. I figured it was because I was really tired and by this time, I was really dragging. So the presentation seemed to be really dragging. No real news on Celebration V, a video game announcement about a new level of The Force Unleashed, etc. at a snail's pace. Then right before the table reading started with the whole CW cast, my phone rings. My mom decided to come pick me up and she was outside, like right now. At that point, I felt like I'd had enough, so I got up and left, picking up my big prize on the way out.

When I went online that night, I saw that a lot of people found the Spectacular disappointing. Frankly, until the live action show gets off the ground, the Saga is back out on 3D, or something, it's going to be like this for a while. Which makes me wonder if it's worth holding the Spectacular in Hall H anymore. A "state of the fandom" presentation is fine but maybe until things really get rolling again with something B-I-G, holding it one of the large ballrooms upstairs might be a better idea. At least you might be able to bring your kids along.

December 2012

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