The biggest day for ComicCon. Of the 250,000 people expected to show up (the last tickets were sold out a month in advance) the majority of them descended upon ComicCon today. The massive convention hall of San Diego, which has been rebuilt and extended many times over through the years just to accommodate THIS con, spilled over: panels and attendees crowding into adjacent hotels like the Marriot or Hilton to attend events.
The main floor of the ComicCon was packed. If you love crowds, you'd love this place. For comic book companies, movie companies, publishers, artists, writers, this IS the place where you find your audience, create your audience, or lose your audience.
A few times through the years I've seen artists or writers who want people to buy their work, but otherwise move on and leave them the hell alone. What they say or act like can be boiled down to -
"Don't engage me in conversation. I don't want to talk to you or look at you. If you want what I create just give me your money and move on. I'll autograph what you buy of mine if that's what it takes to take your money and make you leave, but I'll make it clear that I don't like doing it and you are a salty pain in my ass for making me exert this additional effort to get your money."
THE GREEN HORNET'S CAR: THE BLACK BEAUTY.
GREEN HORNET DUE IN SUMMER 2010.
This is not the place to cop such a craven attitude. I know a few famous comic book writers by name who do just this (oddly enough, I don't know of any comic book artists who behave this way, just some writers). They write a good story, I might even buy their comics at a comic book store, but I wouldn't spend a dime on them at a convention. I prefer to be happy in the knowledge that they lose money at every convention they attend. In a sense, we're working together. They act like they don't want to be there and I don't want them to be there. It's mutual!
I've also known non-comic people who look down on comic book fans as nerdy chumps. They imagine that they'll slap together a comic and use the sales of that to actually promote their print shop or printing software. They'll rent small tables or spend a fortune on large booths and strippers to stand by their booth to attract attention. I've seen them leave making excuses or despising those stupid comic book geeks even more.
If you came here only to con a fast buck off of "the geeks" with your half-assed hack or uninspired rush job, you'll also leave crying. The fans know when they are being hustled. You can get our attention with flashy props and pretty gals (and hunky guys as well. Geek gals come out big time for the San Diego ComicCon and some booths are happy to accommodate them too). You can get us to look, but can you get us to buy? It's easy to spot an outsider who looks down on us.
By 8:00am, the line to get into a building that is the length of over 3 football fields laid end to end (and over 100 yards wide!) was already stretching past the convention center and in front of the adjacent Marriot hotel. Strangers talk to each other, giving each other advice on this year's hot new discovery. ComicCon loves finding its undiscovered talent. This is where creative struggling nobodies become H.O.T. in one amazing whirlwind weekend.
People who've never been to the San Diego Comic Con can't believe it: It's all hyperbole, right? It must be, right? First timers are overwhelmed and even intimidated by the size and scope of it all. Corporate convention organizers can only stare, shaking their heads when they consider that, with all of it's unashamed, unapologetically geeky grandeur, the entire vast infrastructure of this non-profit event is created each and every single year (one year they got so big they were forced to have TWO of them) by over 1000 of the nerdiest volunteers on the planet.
CLOCK IT FROM ME, FEO AMANTE, SEAN FERNALD (RED VELVET), BOB BURDON (FLAMING CARROT), AND OF COURSE, LOVABLE OLD UNCLE FORREY. SO LONG OLD PAL.
Photo by Joe Moe.
I've heard some convention attendees say they wish it was run better, more efficient, but the truth is, SDCC is at the top of its or anyone else's game. Those corporate convention people come to the San Diego Comic Convention to learn how it's done.
The San Diego Comic Con marked its 40th show this year. And a great peice of the convention was missing with the passing in 2008 of the most Famous Monster of all, Forrest J Ackerman. It was a huge show, the biggest of its kind. But no matter where you went or how much you hoped, Uncle Forrey was not to be found, and he won't ever be back again. The man who coined the term Scifi is gone forever. In a sad touch of irony, 2009 is also the year that the Scifi channel changed it's name to Syfy. Make of that what you will.
ComicCon 2009 is over. With something as massive, and prone to inducing sensory overload, as the San Diego Comic Convention, it will take a few days for an online shakeout to occur and for various message boards and newssites to reach a conclusion as to who or what was the hottest topic of the con.
Various major events, many backed by Hollywood, had lines of people waiting as long as 8 hours to get in. Naturally when that happens you have thousands of people who just missed 8 hours of the convention to see just one panel. Different people are affected different ways. Some folks expect the hours and, wanting to know that they didn't just waste their time, enthusiastically cheer all but the most mundane event. Others who waited in the long, time-consuming lines, counted the minutes of boredom and fretted over what they were missing. Their tolerance for anything less than the best is as short as their fuse.
No one can see everything. Loyalty to one event means missing another.
So away to your Net's O' fandom, to consult, argue, debate, and flame away the various merits until an accord is reached.
Of the various genres presented, one clear winner for science fiction this year was the IRON MAN 2 panel. The audience demanded an encore of the trailer!
Another big winner was the packed to standing room only crowd for the Syfy Channel's EUReKA. Actor Colin Ferguson (character Sheriff Jack Carter) was not present, being in Bulgaria shooting LAKE PLACID 3 (as the moderator said, "Because Lake Placid one and two left so many unanswered questions!") They got Colin on the phone to wish him Happy Birthday and in turn for him to say Hi to the crowd. While he was on, he publically asked Syfy Channel VP, Mark Stern if EUReKA would be renewed for a fourth season. On the spot and witness to the huge and appreciative turn out, Mark announced that they were renewing for a fourth season and picking up twenty-two episodes. And, Stern hoped, he could get two musical episodes, a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer, out of the cast. The cast got a standing ovation during the panel.
Other panels I attended include the fantasy, SANCTUARY. It too was packed to standing room only and it's renewal was never in any doubt. SANCTUARY, having started out as a web series, brings a hugely loyal fanbase, built from a groundswell of the Internet. They released a tantalizing hint about the new season: there is more than ONE Sanctuary!
I also attended the new WAREHOUSE 13 panel. Having show only 3 of its episodes so far, Syfy reserved a much smaller room with a smaller but approving audience. So far so good for WAREHOUSE 13, it's off to a great start and all will go well as long as nobody screws things up.
Lead actor Eddie McClintock (character, Pete Lattimer), having seen the EUReKA panel just the day before, created a semi-uncomfortable moment when he decided to also put Mark Stern on the spot and ask if WAREHOUSE 13 would be renewed for a second season. Stern refused to answer that, only saying to the audience, "It's up to you!" It's one thing to do that on the EUReKA panel when you are finishing your third successful season and have a verifiably huge and growing fanbase, it's another when you have a brand new show and your growth is still being tracked. Eddie! Try not to talk yourself out of a job! Think of your two little chicks!
Probably the most iffy, and this is purely by matter comparison, was the much anticipated AVATAR event. James Cameron (TERMINATOR, ALIENS) got a standing O from the fans (we LOVE Cameron!), but throughout the rest of the convention, AVATAR got very little buzz, and by that I mean very little of the right buzz. Everyone was yakking it up over IRON MAN 2 and EUReKA. I've no doubt that there were thousands of girls swooning over the TWILIGHT panel too. I can't say as I don't hang out with that bunch. TWILIGHT and Johnny Depp definitely had a vast audience.
During the convention I met up with the very chatty writer, producer, and director Shian Storm. His trailer for the 2008 ComicCon, SINGULARITY, got lots of attention and talk at his booth last year. For 2009, he was hanging out as a professional, and told me that he was turning his short film, starring Robert Joy (LAND OF THE DEAD, THE HILLS HAVE EYES , ALIENS VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM), into a feature length film. Shooting is expected in 2010 with a tentative release in 2011.
SHIAN STORM (SINGULARITY) and FEO AMANTE
I spoke with Peter Gutierrez, who is putting the finishing post on the upcoming animated movie, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD REANIMATED, which features the work of several different artists retelling the George Romero mega-classic. There is no other movie in cinematic history that has spawned more non-associated sequels, prequels, remakes, and spin-offs as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD REANIMATED will only add to that legacy.
For those of you still uninitiated, check out the Horror website (my competition? Screw the concept of competition! May the best win!) Fewdio. 5 minute horror movies made by a group of Hollywood insiders doing their own thing and bucking the norm! They've already collected enough of these together to release their own DVD, NIGHTMARE HOUSE later this month (ComicCon attendees got to buy an early autographed copy!).
I also got a chance to meet up with old friends and acquaintences like Bob Burdon (FLAMING CARROT), Monster artist, Mike Sosnowski (SATAN's 3-RING CIRCUS OF HELL), Sara Finder (AFTER DARK HORRORFEST), and Reggie Bannister (PHANTASM [all], BUBBA HO-TEP).
Every ComicCon has its one dark horse, some indie, just below the radar, that makes a splash. Usually it is a comic title, but this year I'm putting my money on a new webseries called URBAN WOLF. A Science Fiction Mystery Thriller written, directed, and produced by Laurent Touil Tartour (SAN-ANTONIO), URBAN WOLF was shot entirely in Paris, France. It will be presented in 15 webisodes so bookmark URBANWOLF. I saw it and was wowed. Everyone I showed it to was also wowed. This could be a hit.
I also have some surprise videos to release over the next few months so stay tuned. This is going to be fun!