Sunday, July 22, 2012

San Diego Comic Con 2012 Part 2 - Friday, Saturday, & Sunday

Friday Morning the alarm was supposed to sound at 4:00 AM.  And maybe it did, and maybe it didn't.  Whatever the case, I did not crawl off of that hotel bed until 6 AM.  But that was ok.  This was not a Hall H day for me, and my only goal for the show was to hit the exhibit hall, spend some money, and snap some photographs.  Bryan was the Dork heading into H for Resident Evil, Looper, and Elysium.  He saw some awesome stuff, told me that Elysium is going to be the flick to beat next year.  We'll see.

If I had only one goal for Friday it was to make it through the Guillermo Del Toro signing over at the Gentle Giant booth.  I thought the chances of me coming face to face with the man who directed my all time favorite ghost story (The Devil's Backbone) was slim to none.  But I was curious, and I had a little hope.  To get a signature you had to purchase either the Blade 2 Reaper Bust Box Set or the limited edition Pale Man statue from Pan's Labyrinth.  Neither were cheap, but I didn't fly across the country to save money.  Double downed on both.

So when I eventually made it into the Exhibit Hall, I sprinted over to the Gentle Giant booth to check on the line.  To my surprise there wasn't one.  They were not even queuing for the event yet.  Doug Jones was going to be there at 11, and the very pleasant Gentle Gianters suggested I come back 15-30 minutes before his signing.  I did just that.  There were three people in front of me.  Jones got their promptly, told me to call him "Dougie," autographed my Pale Man base, gave me a signed card promoting his new autobiography Mime Very Own Book, and I was on my way.  Del Toro was not scheduled to be back till 1, so off I went to explore the rest of the floor.  I guess since you had to lay down at least a hundred bucks to participate in the signing and the fact that it wasn't plastered all over the Program guide, there just was not a lot of interest.  Win for me.

Man.  Look at how huge I look next to Doug Jones.

Anyway...I puttered about the floor photographing a wide array of Cosplayers and toys, toys, toys.  I tried on several occasions to make it over to the Mondo booth, but every time they announced a Game of Thrones, Adventure Time, or Lord of the Rings release the line to get to the front was enormous.  That's definitely one difference between last year and this year.  Last year I could walk up to Mondo and at least snag one of their lesser cherished prints (got that great Daniel Danger Star Trek The Motion Picture in '11), but now I had no hope of scoring Francesco Francavilla's Creature From The Black Lagoon or Jay Shaw's Mimic.  After all, Mondo is making Entertainment Weekly headlines these days, the cat is out of the bag (hopefully it's not in the river).

But ya know what?  Mondo's booth might have been swamped, but you could easily walk up to Mondo alum Jason Edmiston's table and acquire his Planet of the Apes print, or his Night of the Creeps/Monster Squad mashup.  And that's exactly what I did.  At the time he had no one bothering him but me, and we chatted for a good while about the upcoming Crazy 4 Cult show in New York and his success with the Mondo prints.  Basically, it was just me fawning over his work and him blushing a bit.

By now it was 12:30 and I quickly skirted back to Gentle Giant.  Again, there were only five people ahead of me in line.  However, the weird thing was that they were conducting a Slave Leia Photo shoot right in front of us.  So that meant, unless I wanted to Photo Bomb everyone's Comic Con album, I had to duck down behind a half dozen Slave Leia asses.  And when the Leias would part to allow some geek to join their photo op than my head could be seen between their legs.  This lasted a good fifteen minutes and it was a wonderfully awkward Comic Con moment for myself.  If you were lucky enough to be following my twitter feed at the time, I uploaded a couple of super creepy POV shots.  Gross, Brad.

We were all incredibly giddy to be meeting Del Toro.  It's such an odd feeling coming confronting an idol.  Ever since 2001, when I saw The Devil's Backbone at the West End Cinema, I've been obsessing over Guillermo Del Toro.  And then came Blade 2, a sequel to a Marvel film (& comic) that I  really Did Not Like.  But Del Toro brought monsters back to the Vampire Genre (something he would perfect in The Strain novels co-written by Chuck Hogan) and he crafted an excellent action film with a wicked tier of villainy (The Blood Pack's Ron Perlman, Thomas Kretschmann's Damaskinos, and Luke Goss' Nomak).  Honestly, Blade 2 is the film that turned me into the Del Toro uber-fan that I am today.

From that point on I read every interview, scoured every piece of production art, and anticipated every single Del Toro release.  Similar to Quentin Tarantino, the man is a walking genre encyclopedia and his geekery has helped build my own fandom.  Thanks to him I've delved into William Hope Hodgson and Arthur Machen.  I've gorged on every Mario Bava film I can get my hands on.  And I finally saw Brian De Palma's The Phantom of the Paradise, a film that both The Wife & I now deeply cherish.

Sure, already being a Hellboy comic nut, I have very complicated emotions regarding the films.  They're fun, but they're not Mignola. And I loved Pan's Labryinth but I still don't think it's as good as Backbone.  I was a little sad to see him leave The Hobbit but it's probably for the best.  I was deeply disappointed by the deterioration of At The Mountains of Madness, but I'm extremely excited for the Giant Robots vs. Giant Monsters insanity that's going to be Pacific Rim.

Blah, blah, blah.  I love Guillermo Del Toro.  So, here we are, waiting for the Geek God to arrive.  The man means so much to us lowly fans, but when you finally get face-to-face, you're just another anonymous nerd.  All I could think to say was "I'm a really big fan" and he looked up at me and said "You certainly are."  And that was it.  And it was awesome.  Ten seconds with Del Toro, and it's the highlight of my Comic Con experience.  

After that, I wandered around the exhibit hall some more.  Scorring free swag where I could (my favorite piece being the Lionsgate Dredd badge).  And I took more photos of toys and statues.  Loved the GI Joe stuff over at Hasbro.  Still really bummed the new movie's not hitting till next yeat--I seriously need that Rza action figure!

And you could easily get lost in the Sideshow Collectibles booth.  It's one thing to look at their statues online, but to get your nose right up against the glass-to see their massive sizes, their perfect paint jobs-just beautiful stuff.

And over at Diamond Select Toys, I saw a couple of essential Star Trek busts.  Of course, I'm still waiting for the Kirk & Picard busts that were unveiled last year so who knows when Khan & Spock will be mine.

And then there's that "I Must Break You" diaroma over at NECA.  The Prometheus stuff is great and I love that Dutch Predator toy I posted in the last SDCC entry, but Rocky taking one in the face from Drago...doesn't get more awesome than that.  This will have to be recreated here in the apartment.

And then I turn the corner and there's David Hasseloff sitting atop the K.I.T.T. car, being interviewed by some generic G4 girl.  You gotta love these random encounters.  You never know when you're gonna bump into some TV, Comic, or Movie personality.  Too bad my camera was acting up, but these wonderfully blurry shots of mister Baywatch seem appropriate considering his constant jittery excitement.  

Towards the end of the day, once again The Wife & I met up over at the Extras stage.  She had lots of cool Nerd HQ panel stories of the Rza, Stan Lee, Damon Lindeloff, and Guillermo Del Toro.  And while we were chatting and scarfing down con snacks, Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez stepped out on stage for a quick Resident Evil interview.  Later we saw a Children's Hospital reading and then the cast of The Big Bang Theory popped up.  Earlier, thousands of folks crammed into Hall H for their respective panels but here we were practically sitting in their lap.  The Extra interviews were vapid at best, but I managed to get a few cool photos.

Friday night we returned to the Balboa Theater for a Nerdist podcast recording.  Torchwood's John Barrowman was the guest and he provided for some seriously strange conversation.  As audience members brought dozens of vodka tonics to the stage, Barrowman got crazier and crazier.  At one point he dropped trou to reveal his Batman undies, he groped the breasts of not one, but two willing nerdettes, and he forced his french tongue on another male participant.  I've never been a real fan of the Nerdist (that's my Wife); I've mildly enjoyed the occasional interview, but damn I was happy to be there to witness this insanity.

Saturday was the big Hall H day.  And it looks like I was not the only one anticipating big crowds.  I got into the line by 3:30 AM and it was already reaching well beyond the Hilton hotel; it would eventually stretch and wrap around the marina.  The lines were bad last year, but back then we never went beyond the first set of white tents.  But you gotta accept this stuff, you gotta enjoy the line by talking to your neighbor--get social.  Discover the fandom of those around you.  Talk Del Toro.  Talk Hobbit.  Talk Marvel.  Talk Drive Angry-yep, that happened.

And follow Twitter.  Around 9:30, I saw Ryan Gallagher of the Criterion Cast tweet out an S.O.S. for line placement.  I tweeted back that I had a spot just a couple thousand seats away from the Hall H entrance and he was welcome to it in exchange for some Starbucks.  He obliged.  Eventually we also met up with Brendon Connelly of Bleeding Cool and the three of us spent the entire day in Hall H.

The festivities began with Django Unchained.  If you remember my 2011 Dorkies, you'll recall that Django made my #1 Most Anticipated Film of 2012 and it sill remains this year's Must See Film.  The panel consisted of Quentin Tarantino, Jaime Foxx, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, and Kerry Washington.  The footage shown was just an extended trailer (apparently the same stuff seen at Showest) and it really didn't offer any new insights apart from the already familiar Django trailers.  It got giddy listening to QT jammer on, but it also did not rock me in the way I was hoping.

No real shock here, but Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim was the hit of the day for me.  When I first heard the idea of giant Kaiju beasties vs. giant mech suits I thought that there really was no way Del Toro could pull of this crazy movie-movie idea.  But when Warner Brothers stretched Hall H into three massive screens and the first gargantuan robot boots cracked along the ice, I was hooting and hollering with the rest of the six thousand fanboys.   Pacific Rim promises to "cancel the apocalypse" and Del Toro drummed up further excitement with the promise of Rocket Punches!  This is some seriously silly Robot Jox entertainment, but I'm hoping Del Toro can elevate this to High Genre Art.

As the cast of Pacific Rim shuffled off the stage and as I tried to calm myself in preparation for the Man of Steel presentation, Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis surprised Hall H with some rather banal Campaign comedy.  I don't know, I like Ferrell enough.  I still really love The Other Guys and Anchorman is heaps of fun, but I couldn't muster up any kind of enthusiasm for The Campaign.  And it seemed to me that Galifianakis really did not want to be up there on stage.  There was a trailer, but it jumped into Q & A almost immediately.  Both Ferrell & Galifianakis busted some serious fanboy balls and I was glad to see them leave the stage.

Before Comic Con, Man Of Steel was not a movie I was particularly excited about.  Unlike Batman, Superman is a character I've never really cared for and the idea of Zach Snyder taking his painted slow-mo punches to Kal-El seemed like an odd combo.  But the footage won me over.  Was I still riding high off of Pacific Rim?  Probably.  But Man of Steel does not look like a movie beholden to the Christopher Reeve films and Superman might just need Zach Snyder's action sensibilities.  Plus, I did not see one slow-mo punch painting!  And ya know what?  I don't really hate Zach Snyder.  I just hate Sucker Punch.  I've enjoyed every single one of his other films and I'm guessing I'll enjoy this.  Plus, Henry Cavill's Clark Kent beard is awesome and Russell Crow's Jor-El voice is PERFECT.

The teaser trailer released for The Dark Knight Rises is just a bit of the footage we saw in Hall H.  We also got a bit of Michael Shannon's Zod (? Snyder still not confirming that), a whole lot of Krypton, and Henry Cavill crawling out of a pile of skulls in one shot and covered in flames for another.  Very cool, comic booky stuff.  But there's also this Clark Kent coming-of-super-hero-age imagery that I really responded towards.  Color me excited.

Okay.  I'm just gonna say this.  I'm not really excited for The Hobbit.  I know, I know.  How can I call myself a proper Dork when I'm not panting for Tolkien.  I loved the Lord of the Rings films as much as the next guy, but I just kinda want Peter Jackson to move on.  The Hobbit looks great.  Love seeing Ian McKellen as Gandalf again.  Martin Freeman is perfect for Bilbo.  And I'm sure it's gonna be good.  But I think I'm just ready to get beyond Middle Earth.  I don't know, maybe I'll be singing a different tune come December.  Still, it was great to see all these actors up on stage.  McKellen, I adore you.

After Hobbit, Hall H shrunk back down to one puny screen and all 6,000 nerds wondered, How Was Marvel Going To Top Warner Brothers?  Kevin Feige took the stage to announce Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Awesome.  Brubaker's Bucky on the big screen is a fantastic thought.  Then Rocket Raccoon was projected on screen, Guardians of the Galaxy was announced for 2014 and my Dork brain exploded.  ROCKET RACCOON!  We live in a magical age!

Edgar Wright then joined Fiege on stage to present his Ant-Man test footage.  Seriously.  Ant-Man.  That's happening.  Wha????  How is this going to work?  Shaun of the Dead.  Hott Fuzz.  Scott Pilgrim vs The World.  Man, you should have faith in Edgar Wright by this point.  And his Ant-Man test footage was great.  The suit looked beautiful.  A mixture of classic Pym and the Robert Kirkman mini series, and Wright explained that his film would combine the Silver Age Ant-Man with the Modern Era!  That suggests a serious possibility for the Kirkman story.  And I think that could be tremendous amounts of fun.  "Ant-Man, kicking your ass one inch at a time."

So, what next?  Que Luther Vandross...

Robert Downey Jr seemed to be living the Tony Stark attitude.  He was doing character work at Comic Con; this is not reality, his dialog seemed like something out of WWE.  He was trying to one-handedly snack on a Hershey's Kiss while chuntering on about needing some shawarma.  Arogant and adorable, just like Stark.  The footage we saw looked fun.  Looked like an Iron Man movie.  The new suit looks to be right out of Warren Ellis' Extremis storyline but all that gold will take some getting used to.  A squadron of helicopters destroy his Malibu mansion.  And we get our first look at Ben Kingsley's The Mandarin.  Not Chinese.  He has a scraggy coat covering some sorta band t-shirt.  He's got the Ten Rings.  He's got the throne.  He's got the long hair.  We'll see.

Of course, I love Shane Black's action scripts from the 80s and I loved, loved, loved his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang-so I'm down for Iron Man 3.  And I was glad to hear Black say "To stay on top you gotta touch bottom...we need a little simplicity, a return to the myths that drive us."  You can't get bigger than Avengers, so why bother?  Good call.

But the suit?  As the old saying goes, If Ain't Broke Don't Fix It.  I guess you need a Mark VIII for the third film, but personally I want to see more creative suits.  More underwater armor.  Some Hulkbuster stuff.  We've bought into The Avengers, it's time for Marvel to get nuts and not just offer up a new color scheme.  That being said, we are getting Rocket Raccoon.  That's nuts enough, I guess.  But this Dork is never happy.

And that pretty much did it for Saturday.  Kevin Smith followed Iron Man 3, but I had been trapped in Hall H for twelve hours and the bathroom was shut down somewhere into hour two soooooooo I had to peeeeeeeeeee and left with the rest of the herd.  I don't know what Kevin Smith had to talk about but it looks like most of Hall H followed me outside.  And after a serious whiz, the day was done.

Ah, but if you thought I was done with Hall H you were sorely mistaken.  That's where Sunday started.  With Fringe and Supernatural panels.  In both cases I'm not caught up with the show.  I only just finished the third season of Fringe and I've only seen a handful of Supernatural's season 7 episodes.  So I had a lot spoiled for me on Sunday.  That being said, I'm really looking forward to catching up and diving into the new seasons.

This year being Fringe's final season and final Comic Con appearance, the cast was surprisingly emotional.  When describing their favorite scenes from the show Jasika Nicole, Lance Reddick, and Anna Torv all broke down into tears.  And Joshua Jackson and John Noble had a good time ribbing their weepies.  Torv and Nicole also joked around about all the "scandalous" fan fiction they've been reading and also contemplating performing it--the crowd ate it up.

The Supernatural gang on the other hand were just a bunch of jokesters.  Hall H was all squeals when Jared & Jensen talked about the joys of being tied up for the show.  And both leads seemed to take special delight in rallying the fans with conversations venturing into slash fiction.  It's all just heaps of cheese, but I do love Supernatural cheese.

Next, I left the wife to her Doctor Who panel as I raced up to the second floor for Darwyn Cooke's Parker discussion.  This was one of my favorite panels of the con and the irony did not pass me by that thousands of people were fighting for seats down in Hall H when there were only a handful of enthusiasts in attendance for a good & proper comic book panel.  Sigh.  That's just the way of these things are now.  Get over it.

Cooke talked briefly about the new book, The Score.  He announced that the next book would be an adaptation of Richard Stark's The Handle and that it would possibly lead into Butcher's Moon - the book he wants to conclude his Parker series on.  The plan is for IDW to publish The Handle in late 2013 and then to take a two year break before the next Parker adaptation.  He's loving the books, but he doesn't want us to get bored-or at least, complacent with the Parker series.

From there it moved on to Q & A and I was anticipating a lot of questions about his Before Watchmen books or The New Frontier stuff, but every question was directed to the Parker stories.  Gotta love comic book fans, they stay on point.  Ha ha.  Cooke did not have a lot of time before the next panel, but he gave each fan his full attention and he seemed to relish the 1960s conversations.  When asked if he ever had an interest in adapting other crime novels, like those of Raymond Chandler he responded quickly, "I'm working with the best crime writer who ever lived-Don Westlake...Chandler is second best."  But then he did say he might want to take a crack at "a nice great big greasy Mike Hammer book." Kiss Me Deadly by Darwyn Cooke. Oh man. Yes, please.

After Darwyn Cooke, it was time to finish out Comic Con. I met back up with The Wife & Bryan and we raced through the Exhibit Hall spending as much money on geeky crap as we could. The back half of Sunday is always a little depressing. You can feel the doors closing in around you. Geek Paradise is almost over. Run, Run, Run to get it all in. Take as many photos as you can! Buy as many half-off comics as you can! But then they sound the alarm. 5 PM. It's over. They dim the lights. Get out. Bummer.

But I'm going to leave you with a collection of my favorite Cosplayers (well, The Wife's Monkee Man is numero uno, but you've seen that already). A GI Joe BAT! An adorable Thanos! A Husband & Wife Batman & Melificent! Jabba & Rotta! They don't get any cooler than the freaks at Comic Con.  I love it so damn much.

See Ya Next Year, San Diego!


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