Sunday, July 17, 2005

So, if you deduced that I was full of crap when I said I wouldn't go to Comic-Con this year, you were correct. I couldn't just stand idly by while such an event went down in my own backyard without being a small part of it, so I went ahead and got a one-day pass, and took in the excitement Thursday. There wasn't too much specific going on that day, as most of the exciting panels and whatnot are on the weekend, but I still had a good time.

The nice thing about Thursday is, the place isn't too crowded, and since you don't have to worry too much about navigating the crowds, you can really cover the floor. I probably saw everything in about 90 minutes. I ended up walking the length of the convention center and back at least five times, always remembering something I wanted to see on the other end. Yet I still felt rushed, just because I only had one day, so I didn't tend to dilly-dally at booths for unfamiliar properties. But I managed to hit everything I wanted to see, and spend all my hard-earned money. The Peanuts booth had two Comic-Con exclusive T-shirts, which I will post pictures of when I get a chance. Old school images from the new Fantagraphics anthologies, with Charlie Brown on one shirt, and a cast of characters on the other a la The Brady Bunch. I don't generally wear brown T-shirts, but they are pretty keen, with some glittery writing and all. They had other shirts available, including a Peanuts/Mutts crossover shirt for the museum's new exhibit, which was pretty cool, but since I hope to make it up to the museum sometime relatively soon, I passed on them. I bought the new collection at the Unshelved booth; I was wearing their "Mad About Reading" shirt, so that got me some street cred there. I also bought the new K Chronicles collection. I learned later that his "I'd Rather be Masterbating" bumper stickers were not going to be reordered, so I missed my chance to pick up one a few of those collector's items. I also bought a Comic-Con exclusive Princess Leah action figure for my sister, and some Krazy and Ignatz collections, including some out-of-print books for which I think I got a good price. All in all, I spent just over $100 on stuff, which isn't bad considering the number of options one has to blow money at Comic-Con.

I attended a total of three panels, only one of which I was really excited by. First, I decided to attend the panel for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 2005, just to see what they hell they were thinking. Apparently, they decided the problem with the film is the lack of dialogue, so they digitally removed the original actors and placed new, talking actors into the original sets. It sounds like a terrible idea, but watching clips, it just seems unnecessary. Visually, it looks fine, and in the small, unfinished clips, the dialogue seemed to add nothing. I was offended by the repeated claim by the director that silent films, by their very nature, lack character development, because you can't have fully-rounded characters without dialogue. That's news to me. I am fairly certain I will pass on seeing the finished product, but it hardly seems worth getting too worked up about.

Later, I attended the Bruce Campbell session. I'm not a huge Campbell fan; I liked Bubba Ho-Tep, and vaguely recall watching Army of Darkness. But Campbell is a charismatic guy, and I anticipated he might be fun to hear. And I was right; his session was the highlight of Comic-Con for me this year. He shared some clips from upcoming projects; Disney's Sky High (which I will probably pass on, but which actually looks pretty good), an Evil Dead videogame, and the audio verison of his new book. But most of the time he reserved for Q&A. I have remarked in the past that the questioning at Comic-Con can be quite painful to listen to (my sole comfort in missing the rest of the Con is that I didn't have to listen to the Q&A at the Adult Swim panel...though I am curious if someone asked, "Why did you get rid of Captain Murphy, he was great!" without being aware that the actor died, for the third year in a row), but fortunately Campbell was up to the challenge of keeping things moving. CineSchlock-O-Rama already has a recording of the entire presentation on-line, so I won't go into too much detail. But he was more than willing to state the obvious, and respond to one question with a succinct, "You, sir, are a moron." He was constantly being asked when this or that property would be on DVD, and though he stock answer was, "I am an actor they don't tell me shit," he sometimes would expand a bit; for instance, when asked when Alien Insurrection would be on DVD, he asked, "Why, because it was so good? Are you being a smartass?" He tore into one questioner who asked about the paperback version of his new book, asking how such a cheap bastard could pay to get into Comic-Con. And near the conclusion of the panel, he was asked about his worst experience with Hollywood. Rather than discuss his experiences on a set, he discusses this summer's movie output. The A-pictures of today are yesterday's B-movies, he claimed. "If aliens invade earth in War of the Worlds, that's a B-movie." That may sound like an odd insult, almost a compliment, coming from a man so successful in the world of B-movies, but the B-movie formula doesn't mesh well with Hollywood egos and pomposity. And along with Hollywood, he also went after the exhibitors, and urged the audience to support their independent theatres and revival houses. Which was nice to hear (though our local indie theatre was so on-the-ball in promoting Campbell's new movie, that Campbell himself didn't know Thursday where it was playing...I had to go on the web that evening to find it was a midnight movie at the Hillcrest). Of course, Campbell concluded his call to arms to not support the Hollywood dreck by adding, "But see Sky High." It was a very fun hour of hilarity, and I highly recommend hearing the man speak if he ever is out your way.

The third panel I attended was Keith Knight's, obstensibly celebrating his tenth anniversary (he's been at it much longer than that, but he figured he could only get a panel if he said it was his big 1-0). He, too, was a funny guy, and gave an engaging presentation, more low-key than Bruce Campbell's, but still appealing in its own way. He showed a bunch of slides, talked about the odd controversies that have plagued the strip; a strip about crack whores was censored because a paper's white liberal readership would object to the supposed implication that all black people like crack (yet a Viagra-inspired series of penis jokes ran without comment). He also discussed his long history with Comic-Con, crashing Artist's Alley for several years, then running afoul of Con organizers with his afore-mentioned "I'd rather be masterbating" apparel (he told a funny story about a little girl noticing the bumper stickers, and pointing it out with glee to her mother, who decided it was just perfect for her 12-year-old son). He showcased a wide variety of his work, from the more bizarre and silly to the overtly political. He also disucssed some non-comic work, such as a flier he put up in San Francisco, offering the service of renting out black people for corporate events (he is at work expanding this idea into a larger project, he said). This panel is the reason I decided, if I could only go to Comic-Con one day, to go on Thursday, and it lived up to my expectations.

After the Keith Knight panel, I was ready to go home. I spent a lot of time on the floor, and when it's not too crowded, you can see everything pretty quickly.  I was actually getting a bit bored. I think you're lucky, sort of, if you have to wait in line. Last year, I spent about 90 minutes in line to get autographs from the cast of Freaks and Geeks. That sort of thing sort of splits up your time, so you don't overdo your time on the floor. I also think it hurt that I didn't really have a plan, because I didn't think I was going to make it to Comic-Con this year. So once I bought the few things I knew I wanted, I didn't really have a mission. And basically Thursday isn't the most exciting day at Comic-Con. So the convention did drag at times. And looking over the entire schedule of events, there wasn't a whole lot that interested me this year. There were some things I would have liked to see, but nothing that pained me too much to miss. Still, I had a pretty good time, and am definately glad I went. Next year, I'll do Comic-Con right.

No comments: