Comic-Con remains an essential event for fanboys

by David Dixon

Wednesday Night:

My walk to the San Diego Convention Center on Comic-Con International Preview Night was full of anticipation. I looked forward to seeing many visually astonishing booths inside the Exhibit Hall. Unfortunately, it took a lot of time before I experienced anything memorable. I had to wait in a long before receiving my press badge. While it was definitely worth it, I kept on wondering if there was any way I could get a “fast pass.”

It even took a lengthy amount of time just to enter the Exhibit Hall. Once the doors opened and I got inside there were plenty of sights to see, from a Mattel replica of the “Back to the Future Part II” hover board to a giant model of a Batman-themed Transformer.

Amid the long lines and chaos, one thing was for sure: Preview Night was an appetizer for the wild main course on display Thursday through Saturday.

Thursday:

I arrived at Comic-Con about an hour early and the day quickly picked up momentum. My day began with a press tour at the Nintendo Gaming Lounge in the Marriott Marquis & Marina. Getting to watch demos of Nintendo Wii U games, such as “The Wonderful 101” and “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” was a blast and both games look like old-fashioned fun.

Afterward, I roamed around the Exhibit Hall at the Convention Center for a little bit so I could attend panels. In the hall, I saw drawings of “The Big Bang Theory” characters and some freaky zombies promoting “The Walking Dead.”

My next destination was the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, where I attended a round table with actors from the “Comedy Legends of TV Land” panel. I’ve only attended a few press events in the past, and I always feel like a kid who’s going to meet Santa Claus whenever I get an opportunity like this. I can now say that I have shared a table with William Shatner, Roseanne Barr and Wayne “Newman” Knight. My only complaint is that I did not get to ask about the possible love connection between Shatner and Betty White. She recently participated in his Comedy Central roast and they’ve acted together in “Hot in Cleveland” and “Boston Legal.”

Crowds of pop culture fanatics crowd the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con International. Photo by Caitlin Johnson, Staff Photographer.
Crowds of pop culture fanatics crowd the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con International. Photo by Caitlin Johnson, Staff Photographer.

Friday:

I would say Friday was the day of the underdog. This was clear from the very beginning when “under the radar” guests dominated the “Stan Lee’s Web of Heroes” press conference and panel. The iconic legend did have many one-liners up his sleeve, but much of the time was dedicated to showcasing talent associated with his YouTube channel, from the piano skills of “Cosplay Piano” Sonya Belousova to the clever animation of “Bad Days” co-creator Junaid Chundrigar.

Later that day, I spent many hours in Room 8. I got there early so I would not get closed out of “Your Opinion Sucks! Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs. Fans.” However, I ended up being equally impressed with the panels preceding it. Though I had zero expectations for them, I was floored while watching creative people discuss acclaimed comic book series.

The one that emotionally impacted me the most was “ElfQuest: 35 Years of Pointed Ears.” Creators Wendy and Richard Pini gave a lively presentation that made me want to go out and read what I was missing. Toward the end, Richard mentioned how he and his wife did not have kids so that they could focus on “ElfQuest.” He followed this confession by saying avid readers of the comics are their children and his and Wendy’s legacy will continue through their fans. His comments reinforced why I love Comic-Con so much. When attendees witness humanity displayed by respected artists, the result can be a profound and moving experience.

Saturday:

Saturday was extremely busy, and for many convention goers it was the most overwhelming day of Comic-Con because of the large crowds and long lines. However, those didn’t bother me, and if Friday was the day of the underdog, today provided the opportunity to watch all kinds of stars cutting loose. Many actors and actresses spoke and promoted upcoming projects with energetic yet down-to-earth charisma.

In Ballroom 20, I watched panels for “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” What shocked me was how the “Family Guy” panel was significantly better. This was because voice actors such as Alex Borstein, Seth Green and Patrick Warburton consistently offered very funny and thoughtful responses to audience questions. While I always liked the “Family Guy” panels, the performers seemed in an especially good mood while discussing Seth MacFarlane’s animated sitcom.

One of my favorite experiences at Comic-Con was a round table for Seth Meyers’ new Internet cartoon comedy “The Awesomes.” The two cast members who stood out the most were “Saturday Night Live” members Taran Killam and Meyers. Neither were afraid to talk about their love of comic books and Comic-Con itself. By the end, their nerdiness was on full display as Killam and Meyers sang the theme song to Disney’s “Adventures of the Gummi Bears” from different parts of the room. It was obvious these gifted buddies were having the time of their lives. Their giddy enthusiasm was contagious.

If I had more space and time, I’d write about the Marvel Studios press panel, meeting various Internet stars, and seeing several major and minor celebrities in the Exhibit Hall. For more coverage, check out my tweets @DavidDixon2011, and be sure to read Caitlin Johnson’s blog posts on thedailyaztec.com.

Information about Comic-Con can be found at Comic-Con.org.

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