Sunday, July 31, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 2011, Pt 3

The Amazing Spider-Man. I wonder if he got tired hanging around for four days.
Movies are frequently a part of the Comic-Con experience now, for better or worse. Part of me wanted to get into the Hall H Friday to see the movie panels, it would have been a very long line to wait in and I would have been in there all day. Not that it would be so bad, but these movie sneak peaks are always posted to the Internet shortly after they are shown at Comic-Con so I didn't personally see the value in sitting there all day.

The movies they were teasing were:

Captain America was also being marketed with a large banner being pulled by a plane overhead. The first time I noticed it I was standing outside waiting in line. I had to laugh and said to my line neighbors, "Given the demographic here at Comic-Con isn't that a bit like preaching to the choir? It's not like I saw that banner and thought, 'OMG! I had no idea there was a Captain America movie coming out this week!'"

The Cowboys and Aliens marketing was a bit cooler.  Jon Favreau tweeted earlier in the week about some 'gold bars' that would be given out at different locations around Comic-Con that might get you into the Premier, which they chose to do in San Diego as part of Comic-Con.  That was pretty cool. I didnt manage to get a 'brick', which was a small card board box. I saw some that did. None that won, but they got t-shirts. Decent marketing. A few hundred got tickets to the movie premier.

There were other movie's trying to make their presence known as well. The next Twilight movie as well as what will likely be a craptacular movie, Shark Night 3D. Though the Shark Night people did have a cool mechanical shark you could ride, as you would a mechanical bull.

While there WAS a large Avengers booth on the show floor, there was no sneak peaks at the Avengers movie, though I heard Chris Evans was around. There wasn't a panel or anything official shown.

Lucas Films was heavily promoting both the Clone Wars season 4 and the upcoming release of the Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray. Lucas even partnered up with Volkswagen to create an Imperial Jetta. I still don't like the new Jetta design but adding Star Wars helps a bit. 
Yes I am sun burned.

I'm sure I'm missing some smaller movies, but well they didnt hit my radar. Below are some pictures:

Total Recall robot (?) and car.

Another robot (maybe it's a suit), a bit more close-up.

Almost thought they gave up on Ghost Rider until we saw this.

San Diego Comic Con 2011, Pt 2

Comic-Con offers more than just celebrity sighting and standing in lines. The show floor is huge and full of interesting things to see:

  • Artist's Alley - where you can see artists drawing and selling artwork.
  • Independent Publishers - Not all comics are created by the big boys. There were a lot of smaller publishers or independents that were hocking their wares.
  • T-Shirts - The selection wasn't quite as grand as I'd hoped but there were a lot of geeky t-shirts and sweat-shirts to be found, reasonably priced. I think there were only a couple vendors, if that though. It would have been nice to see more variety.
  • High quality collectibles - These aren't cheaply made novelties, these are often movie quality replicas. There were masks, busts, jackets, from famous movies/TV like Star Wars and Star Trek. Many high quality sculptures as well. These aren't toys but premium collectibles for the super-fan.
  • Toys - The toy companies came out in force. LEGO and Hasbro were definitely in the fore-front.  If you were interested in comic book based action figures, this was the place to be.
  • Comics - Well of course there are going to be comics for sale at a comic book convention (though it could be argued that it's really not a comic book convention any more). The comic book vendors were all at one end of the show floor. It really seemed like a lesser part of the conference though. Not sure if that is due to the evolution of Comic-Con to more of a Pop Culture-Con or if it's indicative of the changes in comics in general. Most of the comics available for sale were pre-90's or the graphic novel/collections. I have to wonder if the digital comic is dooming the printed comic.
  • Misc. Vendors - There were vendors of all types scattered here and there selling a little bit of everything. Some were very specific, others not so much.  Deals can be made, but don't expect a steal.
Sunday is a good day to buy comics.  Most of the comic-book sellers would prefer not to haul all their comics back home.  I also suspect that many of these vendors bring down their excess inventory to dump it. There were quite a few vendors offering to sell multiple comics from specific boxes for a small dollar amount. I ended up picking up 20 comics for $5. Not a bad deal. Most were probably only worth the 25 cents I paid but I was looking for things I had not read before or holes in my collection. At this point in my comic collecting life I'm more interested in filling voids in my collection, rather than trying to collect 'valuable' comics.

I did pay a bit more to buy some older Uncanny X-Men though. That is one title I'd like to one day have complete, at least up to the mid-nineties when I stopped buying them. But with X-Men #1 running around $1500 that might be awhile. I'll just have to settle with my reprints for now.

We also picked up a few t-shirts. Melody had more luck here than me. She found some great Doctor Who shirts. We also picked up the 'exclusive' t-shirt for 2011 Comic-Con. It's actually pretty cool with Godzilla and Mothera destroying the convention center.

We also picked up:
  • A Star Wars cook book - it's made for kids, but still pretty awesome
  • The Doctor Who Christmas Adventure set - includes a Matt Smith (11th) Doctor and Amy Pond action figure as well as a light-up Tardis with opening doors.
  • An exclusive LEGO item (for a friend)
  • And various swag, including
    • Yoda face fans/masks
    • Hellboy mask
    • American Dad/Family Guy pins

We really didn't buy a lot of stuff. For me it was mostly because, with the exception of the exclusives and swag, you could buy pretty much all of this stuff online. Why carry and ship a bunch of stuff around that you could buy any time?  That's probably why the lines for the exclusives are so long.

Some booths were also showing off proto-types or not yet released items, so this was your first opportunity to see them and await their arrival at stores.

More images:
Marvel Action Figures
Lara Croft collectible

Captain Jack Sparrow - life size made of LEGO

Saturday, July 30, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 2011, Pt 1

Ah Comic-Con, the time of the year when geeks and nerds loose their minds and stand in lines for hours for the chance to see their favorite TV/movie/comic stars or stand in line for less than hours but still a long time for the chance to buy some limited edition collectible or toy.

This was my first year. I've been hearing for years how cool it was and I thought I needed to do it at least once in my life.  So that bucket list item is now complete.

My first paragraph may sound a bit snarky, but that's because it is. I wouldn't say I hated Comic-Con but it's not the Nerdvana that I thought it would be.  I read the blogs and 'how to survive Comic-Con' guides, but they simply cannot prepare you.

That said, here are my tips for anyone thinking about going in the future:

This wasn't even the half way point. There were about 2500 people ahead of us at this point.
  1. Be prepared to stand in line. Lots of guides will tell you that but you stand in line for everything! You stand in line to get your badges. If you don't stay right next to the conference center, you will stand in line to get on the shuttle to get to the conference (and to get back on to go to your hotel later). You'll stand in line, often for hours, to see ANY panel. During the panels you may get 'swag' tickets; you have to stand in line to redeem those tickets. You'll stand in line to buy most of the items on the show floor. You'll stand in line for food. You'll stand in line for the bathroom. These are not exaggerations. If you hate standing in line, you will hate Comic-Con.

    If I ever go again I will bring a folding stool. Even then you will still be on your feet a lot. The lines move, but slowly, so you need to be able to move quickly. You will not be able to sit on the floor. In many cases you may not be allowed, be it by security or simply because the line keeps inching forward.
  2. Have a good bag. You will get large swag bags when you pick up your badge but they are large and unwieldy. You'll notice that veteran attendees will have nice multi-use back packs.  That said, there are posters, art, comics, toys, clothes and other items that you'll want to be able to carry around safely. Back packs are good for some but not all of these things. Most vendors will only have plastic bags (the grocery type). These not only get tiresome to carry after awhile, but pointy cornered boxes and comics will start to work their way through the bags.  If you buy posters or art you'll want a protective tube. Some vendors will sell these but the artists probably wont have anything like that so be prepared.

    You'll also want to carry provisions; water & snacks. Water is expensive at events like these. Why spend $4-6 for a bottle of water when you can find a store and buy a whole case of water bottles for half that. Same goes for snacks. Standing in line for hours you may need a pick me up. Sure you can buy pretzels and nachos or cookies, but unless you have a line buddy you may be stuck.
There are many other smaller tips I could give but those two are pretty big and worth sharing.

The first day was overwhelming. The show floor was PACKED. I pretty much just rode the wave of people trying to absorb as much as I could. I came away from day one wonder what the hell I had got myself into.

Day two was much better. We had a plan of attack and it went smoother.  The realization that you had to get in line for a room early and pretty much stay there until you had seen the panel you were interested in was an important one.  You can't just show up 10-15 minutes before a scheduled event and expect to get in. Even the obscure ones might be full because people are filling the rooms early for the next panel or two.

That was something that I still am not sure I like. The rooms are not cleared between panels, so you could sit in the same chair all day if you so desired.  So again, you have to plan ahead. If you think your panel is going to be popular, you have to get into your room early or risk not being able to get in.  We were lucky in that every panel we got in line for we were able to attend, but others were not so lucky. The very popular rooms had lines that were up to 6000 long (again, no exaggeration). The rooms aren't that big so some people simply didnt get in. And since the rooms are not cleared between panels, it's possible only a few hundred or so may be able to get in after each panel, depending on the subjects.

You will get to see celebrities, but don't expect to get to talk to them. You can go to signings, but they are scheduled also and just as difficult to get. We didn't even try these. In the panels, depending on the size of the room you may be a few feet to so far they have to project the panel members onto projection screens. On the show floor or even milling about outside you may see more. Here is who I saw:
  • Hulk Hogan
  • Lou Ferrigno
  • Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
  • Adam Sessler (G4 TV host)
  • Seth Green
  • Allison Scagliotti (Claudia, Warehouse 13, Syfy Channel)
  • The cast of Fringe
  • The cast of American Dad
  • The cast of Family Guy
  • Doc Hammer, Jackson Publick, and James Urbaniak from the Venture Brothers
  • LL Cool J
  • The hosts of the Totally Rad Show (Alex, Jeff, & Dan)
Alex Albrecht and Dan Trachtenberg of the Totally Rad Show

There were probably lots of others that I didnt recognize. There were a lot more celebs there mingling with the crowds too. Celebrity spotting is definitely a fun part of Comic-Con.
Hulk Hogan

More to come... In the meantime, here are some more celeb, pictures.

From The Venture Brothers,  left to right: Jackson Publick, Doc Hammer, and James Urbaniak
From Family Guy,  left to right: Mike Henry, Patrick Warburton, and Alex Borstein
From Fringe, Joshua Jackson and John Noble