Comic-con 2012
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Time once again for Comic-con! this year it was a little earlier, and for once I went alone...well, that is, nobody from the Bay Area came with me. As you will see, I was rarely alone!

As usual, I got two rooms at the Motel 6 in Chula Vista a year ahead. As it became obvious that nobody up here was going with me, I offered my second room to several people...nobody needed it. So I emailed my friend Mark, who always goes to Comic-con.

What would you think about sharing one room to save money? I said. If your sons come, they could sleep on the floor...

That was fine with Mark...but he has other friends who come. Can we fit Patrick and Emon in too?

Well, I said, here's what we'll do: I get a bed, the floor between it and the wall, and half the nightstand. Anyone else in the room can have the rest of the space. Whoever sleeps in the other bed pays me half the two-person room rate, and the people sleeping on the floor will pay the 'extra body' charge (which turned out to be three bucks apiece, about right for floor space.) That sounded good to both Mark and Patrick, so we all shared a room. Then Patrick's girlfriend and her daughter came along...so the room was VERY full. There were six of us (me, Mark, Patrick, Kelsie (the girlfriend), Avalee (the gf's daughter) and Emon, who is the same to Patrick's family as Kasia is to me- an unofficially adopted son. That was Wednesday and Thursday nights; Friday and Saturday nights, Mark's son Eli and his friend Oliver stayed with us, Patrick et cie. being gone.

So here are the pictures and stories, enjoy!


Click on any picture to see it full-size.

Many of the trolleys were decorated for Comic-con. And here's the blue line to San Ysidro! I went to my motel, checked in, changed rooms to a better one, made a trip to the AM/PM next door to get bottles of water, and got my stuff together for preview night. Here's the view from the trolley stop where you can either switch to orange line for one stop, or walk to the convention center in ten minutes; not only have they built a footbridge over Harbor Ave (very busy) but they have made the walkway from the trolley station to the convention center much better and easier to follow. And here's the convention center!
Comic-con officially opens Thursday morning, but a lot of people get badges that let them in on Wednesday night from 6-9 pm for 'preview night', which has minimal programming...but the whole exhibit floor (= shopping) is open for business. I got there at 4, picked up my badge for the convention, and hung out til 6 pm when the exhibits opened.
Even though the exhibits aren't open, Sails Pavilion (where they hand out badges) is. And people are already wearing costumes! This is the line of people waiting to get into the exhibits in an hour and a half... and here's me with a friend. Danger, Will Robinson!
More cool costumes More and more of these kids showed up; they just wanted to be part of comic-con even though they didn't get badges. The gaslamp district! shopping, food, and fun.
Yay! It's Comic-con! These signs were everywhere, and everyone pretty much ignored them. Evidently the fire marshal was stalking around the whole time making the rent-a-security chase people from stairwells and walls...at least, his name was invoked on me more than once... Time to go into the exhibits! Nice hat!
Two characters are being escorted in... and the hall is open! here's another beautiful costume. Nice statue!
So originally, Mark and his crew were going to leave LA at noon, which should have gotten them to San Diego between 2 and 3 pm. But they didn't actually get out the door til 2 or so, so there I am in the exhibits...it's after 6...I'm hungry...Mark keeps texting me: We're in San Juan Capistrano...Carlsbad...Encinitas...we're in San Diego...we're parking...we're HERE!

I went out to meet them, and after texting a bit we found each other. What to do for dinner? The Old Spaghetti Factory in the gaslamp was perfect for budget and food preferences. So here we all are having dinner- from the left, me, Mark, Emon, Avalee, Patrick, Kelsie. We all look slightly crazed.

We passed Abe Lincoln talking to a friend over dinner, and when I pulled my camera out, he did this...I think he's the Vampire Hunter. This kind of stuff is all over this area during C-C. We're all in the motel room. Mark, Emon and Avalee got the floor, with Patrick and Kelsie in the other bed. I slept like a ROCK. And did NOT feel guilty for having a whole bed to myself, nosireebob! Mark is playing something amusing for us.
But first...a word about Comic-con. For those who haven't heard me babbling about it for years, it's the biggest pop-culture convention in the world...140,000 people attend and more come just to be there. And that's not counting all the exhibitors, the people who throw parties and events, and all the other ancillary stuff happening in town. It's expanded to three or four hotels outside the convention center, and it's pretty overwhelming.

I usually take a lot of money, and eat out, and buy a lot of stuff, but this time I was broke, so I tried not to spend more than the money people gave me for their half of the motel room. I brought a lot of snacks and delicious treats (thank you Kasia!) and bought a flat of water bottles when I got there. I've been enough to know what to expect, so I packed comfortable clothes and shoes, all my geekiest t-shirts, and had my ipad and a collection of reprinted magazine articles to amuse me in line.

Because there are a LOT of lines at Comic-con. Everything you want to do- food, drink, exhibits, bathrooms, panels, programming...you almost always have to stand in line, and the more popular it is, the longer the line is.

Now, one of my rules at Comic-con, which I so far had never broken, is that I don't stand in line for much more than an hour for anything. Lines can suck up all your time, and a place like Hall H (the largest venue, seating 6500 people) can easily take half a day to get into...once people get in there, they don't leave for the rest of the day. But that way you miss all the other fun stuff that's happening!

But...this year was the 10th anniversary of Firefly. A panel was scheduled for Friday at 12:30 p.m. with most of the original cast, and Joss Whedon. And, having been in the Joss Whedon Line from Hell before, I knew what I would have to do if I wanted to see it.

Because I did. Really. Really. Want to see it.

The other thing you need to know is that my camera is kind of old, and has really been through the mill. And the rooms at Comic-con have fluorescent lights, in varying combinations and degrees of brightness, and mostly pictures there suck. So be patient with my camera which no longer wants to focus sharply and can't handle the lighting, and enjoy the show.

Thursday
So one of the major things to do at Comic-con (aside from the exhibits (which are basically shopping for anything pop-culture related that you can imagine), watching movies or anime, and playing games) is going to panels, which are one or more people talking about whatever they are there to talk about. There are several hundred panels (no joke) during the four full days of Comic-con, and the only hard part is deciding what not to do, since there is no way to do everything you want. This is why you don't want to stand in line any more than you have to- you miss a lot of stuff.

So once they posted their programs, I sat down, made notes of everything I might want to see, made a list on their grid showing rooms, times and programs...and I was ready! I'll give the official program description along with my opinions and stories from each panel.

And here we go with more costumes! I love catching costumed people doing things out of character. These guys were obviously exhausted. Note that one of them had a Jayne hat on...a LOT of Jayne hats were seen, because of the Firefly anniversary on Friday. This is the line for the first panel I wanted to see...I actually got in line earlyish, around 8:30 for a 10:15 panel, but only because the trolley was very efficient that morning and I got there earlier than i expected. The panel was on the upcoming Hobbit movie and I wasn't sure how bad the line would be. In this pic you can see that the line I'm in (on the left, breaking for doors) stretches down the hall. I'm just at the point where they wrapped it and it started to go back down the hall. A couple of cool women stopped for me to take a pic. I think those are power-ups on their heads.
Nice. Usually when you point a camera at a costumed person, they fall into a pose that suits whatever their character is. Still in line. The line is on the right, and wraps...you can see the tape marks on the floor. The left side is just people milling in the hall. Looks chaotic but actually works pretty well, until one security guard makes you close the line up tight and then another yells at you for blocking the door that had been clear til the FIRST guy made everyone move. Oh, my GOLLY she was GORGEOUS. So nice to see a big girl looking so pretty. Made me laugh. And now the first panel is starting! I'll give the official description of each (in blue) and my views (in brown.)
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

10:15am
TheOneRing.net: The Truth About The Hobbit
The Hobbit movie is imminent just at the book turns 75. With on-set visits, intrepid reporting, and the pulse of fans worldwide, the TORn staff shred rumors, answer questions, share New Zealand images-but not as part of the official publicity machine. Also featuring a special visual presentation from Weta Workshop and an account of Fandalf traveling the world and (all that is the tip of the iceberg!). Featuring Cliff Broadway (Ringers: Lord of the Fans) and Larry D. Curtis (Hobbit embedded reporter) and additional staff and guests.

theonering.net is a fan site, run by volunteers, and is pretty awesome. This is their first time at Comic-con, amazingly enough. They hosted this panel to talk as much as they could about the new Hobbit movie. They had people who had worked on the movie, shots of New Zealand, the guy who owns the farm that Hobbiton is built on, and stuff like that. They also had someone who had actually been to the shooting, and there were studio people in the audience to make sure he didn't say anything or show any pictures he wasn't allowed to- the huge unveiling of the first scenes from the movie in Hall H was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. But it was fun, and everyone there had a good time. Three important pieces of info: 1) They showed a tshirt that I lusted after and chased all weekend, finally tracking it down Saturday afternoon; 2) the biggest New Zealand tourist agency is giving away a free trip for two to attend the opening of The Hobbit in Christchurch. I made sure to enter! and 3) there's a Lord of the Rings board game (an old one) that's awesome. Oh, and Fandalf is a two-foot statue of Gandalf with his arm pointing that people in the group take all over the world to take pictures of in various places, we saw a short but funny slide show of these.

An amusing fact I learned about Tolkien's dwarves: he and Disney used the same norse epics to pillage for names, because four of the thirteen of them from The Hobbit have names that translate to Bashful, Grumpy, Dopey and Sleepy!!!

Here's the panel. Richard Taylor, the costume designer, with a shot of Hobbiton behind him. Ooooh! the dwarves! the guy who had been on the shoot said he couldn't believe Warner Brothers let him show this, LOL. More costumes. Steampunk is getting bigger and bigger.
So I went over to give blood, and as I said, it should have taken about 40 minutes. Except that they had a RECORD CROWD of donors...400 people in one day. So we waited, and started getting processed (you have to answer a lot of questions and talk to a nurse and they have to check your blood pressure and temp and hemoglobin) and it was getting close to 12:30...and I saw that there was NO WAY I was going to make the 1 pm panel. So I talked to one of the volunteers, and they took my paperwork so I could come back later.
I had ended up in the Hobbit line with two women, and we all started talking. Turned out that one of them, Doris, had also signed up to give blood at noon- they do a blood drive every year. I had a panel I wanted to see at 1, but it wasn't going to have a line (voice of experience) so I figured, forty minutes tops and I'll go back to the panel. It's something I've meant to do but never gotten around to...and the swag is great. The blood drive is in an ancillary hotel, and these are two costumes I saw on the way.
On my way back to the Conv. Center. *sigh* these people were out picketing Comic-con all weekend. At least they showed more stick-to-it-iveness than Westboro a couple of years ago, who only stayed for forty-five minutes. So after the Twilight fan got killed crossing the street (don't get me started on that one) San Diego put crossing guards on all the major ped crossings, and they were NASTY. Yelled at us a lot. But I made it back to the convention center in time for:
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

1:00pm
100th Anniversary of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars
He wrestled lions, poachers and ran through fire barefoot without a stunt-double or CGI. Actor Ron Ely will discuss filming Tarzan in the jungles of Latin America with writer Mark Evanier and Burroughs illustrator Tom Yeates. Also featuring David Lemmo, co-author of the new book, Tarzan: His First 100 Years. How Ancient Literature Became Modern Mythology and Created an Ape-Man Mecca in Southern California, coming from Angel City Press in 2013. Plus a 100-years of Tarzan and John Carter slide show included.

And why did I want to go to this panel? Oh, maybe because I have read EVERY SINGLE DOGGONE BOOK that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote (70 of them) multiple times. No joking, huge fan. They got me through the worst parts of high school. So I was happy to see this kind of recognition at Comic-con.

And how was it? It was kind of random but fun...the guy doing the slide show was not as articulate as you'd expect, but Ron Ely was funny and charming. And it was nice to be in a room with probably the only people on the planet who really appreciated the John Carter movie... sigh.

The last guy on the panel was Joe Jusko, who is licensed by Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc to create four Tarzan paintings for the centenary...he had just gotten this one back from framing two hours before leaving for Comic-con and brought it here to unwrap it, which was pretty cool!

Great costume for riding a bus! made me laugh.
These guys were with chained zombies, very cool.
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

4:00pm
Abstract Studio: Terry Moore
Don't miss fan favorite Terry Moore as he discusses his new hit horror series Rachel Rising, his acclaimed sci-fi series Echo, and exciting plans for the 20th anniversary celebration of his epic series Strangers in Paradise! Terry will fill you in on all the latest news and then open the floor for the ever-popular

I'm a big fan of Terry Moore, especially Strangers in Paradise, but got to this panel late, and he had already finished talking about his new series, Rachel Rising, which was what I was there for. So I stayed a while and then went back to the exhibits for a while, then off to the Hilton in search of the Rifftrax panel.

Which...I couldn't get into. Rifftrax is a spinoff of MST3K with some of the original guys, and is very funny. And well known. So I hung out at the ComiXology party, got some free food, entered to win an ipad and didn't, and found my way back to the convention center for...
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

6:30pm
Lost in Translation
As some manga companies such as TokyoPop, CMX, and Bandai Entertainment leave the picture, other manga venues such as JManga are coming onto the manga scene. With so much change, this is a turbulent time for manga freelancers. Find out how the industry is faring in a question-and-answer session with William Flanagan (Madoka Magica Manga), Jonathan Tarbox (Fist of the Northstar), Shaenon Garrity (Hunter X Hunter), Stephen Paul (One Piece), Nathan Collins (Metal Gear Solid: Guns of Patriots) and maybe even some surprise panelists.

This was fun. These guys are all manga enthusiasts and translators and were very funny and charming.

Then I got back to the motel; all the grownups were out and I spent the rest of the evening with Emon and Avalee. And I made everyone turn the lights out at 11 pm, because I was getting up at 5 am the next morning...

Friday
So remember the part where I said I don't stand in line for more than an hour for anything? Most rules have an exception, and this was it...the Firefly 10th Anniversary. With a lot of the original cast and Joss Whedon. All there to celebrate the best (cancelled after 11 shows) series on TV ever.

Unfortunately, Firefly is a BIG DEAL at Comic-con. You see people wearing stuff that relates to the show EVERYWHERE even in a normal year, and this year? the Firefly panel was all anyone was talking about. I flew down on the plane between two people who both wanted to go. Everyone I talked to was saying that they wanted to see it. The online app where those going to comic-con can indicate which panels they are interested in attending had TWELVE THOUSAND people saying they wanted to go...and the room holds about 4000. it was going to be a nightmare.

So the night before, I packed my trusty bag with water, snacks, my ipad, and things to read. I wore my hiking pants that have the legs that zip off and turn into shorts. I wore comfy shoes and a nerdy t-shirt. I set my alarm for (God help me) 5 am. I was ready.

The trolley station at 5:20 am. Looks like the zombie apocalypse, does it not? The worst part was, when I looked in at the McDonalds to see about getting hot water for tea, there was a line, and I knew I'd miss the next trolley if I went in...so I set off for the Convention Center with NO CAFFEINE. I had a tea bag, which I put in a bottle of water...didn't work out so well. People who camped out all night. Evidently both Joss Whedon and Adam Baldwin stopped by to say hello, bonus for them! Wearing (and knitting) a Jayne hat. So I waited in line an hour, next to a Brony, who was in line to get into the exhibits, as was the other guy near me...evidently the days of being able to get exclusives and cool stuff all day are gone...now the first X number of people to get to a seller's booth get tickets and can use them to pick up the cool stuff anytime during the day, but that's it. We realized that there had been an annoying mixup about lines (the rent-a-security put a LOT of us in the wrong line, and we almost tore the place down when we saw people getting ahead of us) and then we were let into and through the convention center to line up behind it, where the usual Ballroom 20 line forms...they don't open the doors til 7. Here's the line behind the CC. Not as bad as I thought, I said to myself...
Then, when we stopped, I looked over the edge of the wall...THAT'S THE LINE FOR BALLROOM 20. It goes all the way to the left, to the end of the pier, then back, then to the back of those big trees. Oh my god.

The amazing thing is, a friend of mine accidentally slept in, didn't get in line til after 8, was all the way back in the trees, and was the LAST PERSON TO GET IN. He was so happy.

And on the right, the line is moving- we snake in and out of six or seven little tents, go inside the building, and WE'RE IN.

There were two panels before Firefly. The first was The Community, which I have never seen. I got some swag for my friend in line (we kept texting each other all morning). OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

10:00am
Community: School is Back in Session
Joel McHale (The Soup), Gillian Jacobs (The Box), Danny Pudi (Chuck), Yvette Nicole Brown (Family Guy), and Alison Brie (Mad Men) from the hit Sony TV comedy have graduated to the Convention Center in advance of their fourth season. Join your favorite Greendale study group for a panel and Q&A to find out firsthand what surprises are in store for the show's return to NBC this fall.

The next panel was a Nick panel on The Legend of Korra, which is an Avatar: the Last Airbender anime series. They had voice actors reading scripts from the upcoming season. I got a bathroom pass (good only during one panel and you better get back on time) and saw this guy. OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

11:15am
Join the Revolution! Nickelodeon's Legend of Korra
The cast and crew of Legend of Korra offer an in-depth discussion of Nickelodeon's hottest new series. Executive producer and creator team Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino (Avatar: The Last Airbender) are joined by co-executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos (Avatar: The Last Airbender) as they discuss the creative process that brought the first book in the Korra series to life. You'll also get to hear from your favorite characters as talented voice actors Janet Varney (Korra), David Faustino (Mako), P. J. Byrne (Bolin) and Seychelle Gabriel (Asami) will be featured on the panel and renowned voice director Andrea Romano (Avatar: The Last Airbender) will direct the actors in a live performance from the series. And if you're extra nice, Mike and Bryan may even drop a hint or two about Book 2. So don't miss out! Moderated by Rich Magallanes, senior VP of current series for Nickelodeon.

The cool thing about the Nick panel (which I got back to in plenty of time, yes indeedy) was that at the end, Andrea Romano said, you know, the voice recording booth at Nickolodeon only holds five people, and we need a lot of recordings of crowds (it's a sport-type series). So all 4000 of us laughed, oohed, aahed, yelled, and made noise for her to record and use in the next season!
And here is the room full (4000) of people, and we are all ready for one thing ... FIREFLY!
Oh my god. Okay, let's do the description first:

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

12:30pm
Firefly 10-Year Anniversary Reunion
Calling all Browncoats to unite! It has been 10 years since the crew of the Serenity took flight in the now infamous show Firefly. Science Channel will reunite, for the first time ever, Captain Mal Reynolds and the crew from the ship. Join Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, and many more for a trip down memory lane, some special surprises, and exclusive Science Channel giveaways. SHINY.

And shiny it was. First pic is when they're all coming in. Various kinds of banter followed. For those who don't know (and why would you be reading all this about Firefly if you didn't?) the six who showed up are Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, Joss Whedon, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, and Adam Baldwin. There was a writer there, and also one of the executive producers. Four of the cast didn't make it, but this was still incredible. They were funny and charming. They gave one of the fans the Jayne hat that Baldwin pulled out from under the table (and he said, it's not THE Jayne hat, that was sold for charity, this is just A Jayne hat.) After he pulled that out, Fillion took the (presumably fake and/or unloaded) pistol out from under the table and was waving it around...I wish I had gotten a better picture of Tudyk reacting to it.

And what was it actually like? immensely moving. They made jokes about how Fillion would be in tears, but seriously, Joss Whedon started talking about all of us fans and how much we meant to him...and he was so emotional he couldn't talk. After that, all of us had tears shooting out of our eyes. It was an amazing moment to be part of, and I"m so glad to have been there.

Wish you had been there? Here you go! Shiny!

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

1:45pm
Bones
Creator and executive producer Hart Hanson, executive producer Stephen Nathan and stars David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel are on hand to discuss the shocking finale of season 7 as well as what's in store for Booth and Brennan in an exciting season 8. The panel will be followed by a fan Q&A.

I am not a Bones fan, but James and Kasia are, so when I saw that this was the next panel, I said I'd stay, take pics and see if there was any swag (there wasn't.) I also noticed that although this was one of the panels that, in previous years, would fill this room with a line out the wazoo...this time it was 2/3 empty.

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

2:30pm
Spotlight on Chew: John Layman and Rob Guillory
Writer/letterer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory discuss the past, present, and future of their New York Times bestselling and multi-Eisner Award-winning cannibal cop crime comedy Chew from Image Comics. Marvel over Layman's preternatural handsomeness, while Guillory engages the audience with his sardonic wit.

I LOVE CHEW. It's crazy and gross and funny and brilliant, I love the story and the artwork and the fact that no matter how wierd it gets it's obvious that Layman knows right where he's going with it and Guillory is right there along with him. They were (like their comic) funny and charming and very enjoyable.

Seriously, if you have a strong stomach for gross stuff, it's one of the best series out there. Pick it up (or borrow it from me) and read it. Now.

Whew. What a morning/afternoon. I checked the schedule and nothing there was that exciting. I texted Mark to see what was going on...he was at the motel, working (he's a writer) and I said, perfect! I'll come back and change, and we'll go get some dinner, and then I'll go back to the con. So that's what we did. There was pretty good Chinese near the motel, we had dinner and nice talk, and I saw a really disgusting bug on the walkway railing. A good dinner break.
Back to the Con!

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

7:00pm
Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Celebration
In 1982, Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott's classic adaptation of SF master Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was released to theaters and forever changed the face of cinematic science fiction. Filmmaker, BR expert, and acclaimed author Paul M. Sammon (Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner) hosts a 30th anniversary celebration of this influential masterpiece. Sammon (who was present throughout BR's filming and met Philip K. Dick) will interview numerous BR cast and crewmembers, including BR art director David Snyder and BR: The Final Cut producer Charles de Lauzirika. Be there to meet these and other very special BR guests.

This was another case of being in the room to see something later. I wanted to see the animation stuff from 9 to midnight, and didn't know how long a line there'd be, so I just went back and went into the room. I did email and kinda listened, it was interesting. All three of these guys agreed that THE BEST version of Bladerunner is the Final Cut version. Just in case you're wondering.

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

8:00pm
The Vacationeers are a Disaster
It's a Disaster is a new end-of-the world comedy from the twisted minds of The Vacationeers comedy group. The film-which also stars Julia Stiles, David Cross, America Ferrera, and Erinn Hayes-is about four couples gathering for Sunday brunch unaware that the apocalypse is happening outside their door. It recently world premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival to rave reviews (The Hollywood Reporter calling it "the funniest film of recent vintage"). Writer/director Todd Berger along with actors Jeff Grace, Kevin M. Brennan, Blaise Miller, Rachel Boston (In Plain Sight, American Dreams) and Erinn Hayes (Children's Hospital) will be on hand to look back at some of the comedy group's favorite sketches and give an exclusive sneak preview of the film. Moderated by Kate Erbland of Film School Rejects.

I was all, whatevs! about this, just here to wait for the cartoons. But then they showed the Vacationeers movie that went viral and I remembered someone sending it to me and loving it. So I was glad to be reminded of it, and you can now see it too. Evidently Google loved it too, it came out when Google Earth was new, and by going viral it spread the word about Google Earth better than even Google could...the guys who started in it got invited to the Google campus, got tours and lunch in the awesome cafeteria, and all kinds of good stuff. The Vacationeers are amusing, check some of their other movies.

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

9:00pm
Worst Cartoons Ever!
Presented by ASIFA-Hollywood, animation historian Jerry Beck (Cartoon Brew) returns with an all-new program of some of the worst cartoons ever made, including the Phys Ed superhero Mighty Mr. Titan, space cadet Johnny Cypher, and some of those 1960s Marvel Super Heroes cartoons. Have a ball with the best/bad animation ever!

This was amusing, and Beck was really funny. Great!

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

10:00pm
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Gauntlet of Animation
You, the lunatic fringe, vote for the films you love and hate. Which films will survive? Only you can say. See our 2012 collection of great animated sick and twisted shorts, with enough craziness and hilarity to make your stomach churn with delight! Adult material, 18 and over. Creators of Dr. Tran will be there to answer questions, along with Bill Plympton. Featured are award-winning shorts from the Annecy Animation Festival in France: Tram and Pythagasaurus from Aardman Animation. Meet Spike in person and Gary Sohmers "King of Pop Culture" and Antiques Roadshow celebrity. Free DVDs to attendees while supplies last.

I have seen Spike and Mike Sick and Twisted cartoons before, so was not appalled. The best part was that if it was horrible, everyone would vote by booing and Spike would actually stop the cartoon and go on to the next one. The best was when the audience was divided, hearing it play out.

I feel kind of connected to Spike, since I remember him from 30 years ago in Riverside as he was just making a name for himself. Mostly, what I remember is that my friend Craig, who is not the most ordinary of people, actually rented a room in Spike's house on 14th street...and the place was so out of control that he moved out. Too wierd. For CRAIG.

Blows my mind.

I had checked the trolley schedule before I went back to the Convention Center...the last trolley left the station at 12:08am, and although I could probably walk it in ten minutes, my comfort level, especially as tired as I was, meant that I had to leave the convention center at 11:30 and miss the end of the animation. And, truthfully, I looked at my watch at 11:10, thought, I have twenty more minutes, then thought, no, I'm DONE. I'm going back. And so I did.
A pic of Harbor Blvd at about 11:30 pm. I made it to the station just fine, and ran into Mark's son Eli and his friend Oliver, and we talked about all kinds of stuff all the way back; they had been in the game rooms and had had a load of fun. Unfortunately, these are the only pics I got of them- on the left, Eli (who had forgotten his toothbrush and was using Mark's) had just dropped Mark's toothbrush down behind the cabinet, which did not move, especially with that big-ass ol' tv on top of it. He's using his phone to try and see where it is. In the second picture, they have gone next door to the 24 hour am/pm and gotten Mark a new toothbrush, which Oliver is ceremonially handing to him. I laughed...and went to sleep. Around 1. Which made this a 20 hour day, OMG.
Saturday
And I slept like a LOG after the long day on Friday...Mark and I got up at 8 and went to Denny's for breakfast (my pick, noms) and then went off to the CC around 9:30.
This was parked outside the motel, behind McDonalds. We rode the trolley with these ladies! Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Ivy said she got up at 6 to get her costume on... Steampunk. Fun. Those tents are the Hall H line. Saturday morning Quentin Tarantino was previewing his new movie, Django Unchained, with a lot of the cast there. I would have liked to see it but I was so not up for another get-up-early-stand-in-line-all-day kind of thing. I thought I might catch the replay that night at 8...but things didn't work out that way.
Eli and Oliver told me about this, down at the Hilton near Hall H...five of the Batmobiles with info about each, VERY cool.
Dude, don't pose by the trash cans. Not cool.

The Penguin!

Supergirl!

I ran into my friend Michael in the exhibits, here he is with a friend...

And we both have to mug...

and oooh, skintight is not a good look for you...

Big damn hero.

This kid totally did NOT get the concept of posing for pictures.

LOL, backpack. Loved it.

The family that cosplays together stays together... Srsly, this guy was outside the pro lounge checking badges, made me ROFL. He was glad to pose for a picture. And not shoot me, since I had a pro badge. Whew. Even the superheroes have to stand in line to see stuff around here...
So here was another time I was early for what I wanted to see, and just went into the room with whatever panel was there to get a chair and do email and texting. But since I was there:

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

SATURDAY 11:00am
Shifty Look
Namco Bandai Games has excavated the darkest corners of its vaults, and now the decrepit husks of games you've always loved (or never knew you did) have been brought back to life! Find out what's next for ShiftyLook from Rob Pereyda (editor-in-chief), then join a spotlight on hit webcomic Bravoman from writer Matt Moylan (Lilformers) and artist Dax "D-Gee" Gordine (Mega Man Tribute). Next, webcomic superstars and Dig Dug 30th Anniversary contributors Scott Kurtz (PvP Online) and Kris Straub (chainsawsuit) make a big announcement fans with any sense of anything won't want to miss! Finally, legendary voice actor Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs) makes a special appearance with an amazing ShiftyLook announcement that will blow everyone away. This will be the most fun you've ever had with ‘80s video games!

So I'm sitting there, kinda ignoring them but kinda listening. Then this guy Rob Paulsen started talking (and he's thirty years older than all the twentysomethings that made up the rest of the panel) and he was great, actually caught my interest. They ran through his credentials (TMNT, Animaniacs, the second Jonny Quest and a ton of other stuff. He's evidently legendary.) and he was very funny and charming. And then everyone started chanting, The song! Sing the SONG! and he launched into the Animaniacs "Nations of the World" song... at FULL SPEED, perfectly, a capella, with all of us in the room cheering and clapping along. It was AWESOME.

And how do I, who have never seen Animaniacs, know about this song? Because Kasia loves it and played it for me while she was living with us...and so as soon as the song was over I fired off an OMG email to her about Ron Paulsen...THREE SECONDS LATER I get a reply: Yakko? You saw Yakko? I LOVE Yakko Warner!!

Ah, the miracle of modern technology. What fun!

And this is the next panel, the one that I was actually in the room to see:

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

12:00pm
The Naked Truth About Tarzan and Jane: The First 100 Years of Spectacular Tarzan Imagery, and One of Literature's Best-Loved Couples as They Enter Their Second Century
Bestselling novelist Robin Maxwell (Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan) and author Scott Tracy Griffin (Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration) gather with illustrator Joe Jusko (The Art of Joe Jusko) to discuss these iconic literary characters. Join them for a presentation and Q&A session hosted by Jim Sullos, president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Incorporated, the official licensing entity for Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.

Yes, it's the Tarzan centenary. The Burroughs Corporation (Edgar Rice Burroughs not only cleverly incorporated himself in 1954, but he TRADEMARKED his characters...even though the books are going out of copyright, trademarks can be renewed forever, so nobody can dick around with those characters without Burroughs Inc. getting involved. Very smart!) is now being run by the third generation of Burroughs kids, and they are doing more stuff- not only the John Carter movie (and how sad that it did so poorly...I, and everyone who had actually READ THE BOOK it was based on, loved it.)

Many interesting things came to light in this panel: firstly, that Burroughs was the highest paid author in Hollywood in 1944. Bet you didn't know that!

They did a slide show of Tarzan images and movies, which was good but they ran out of time...

Also, the Burroughs Corp has given permission for a retrospective book, 100 years of Tarzan, that includes movies and books, which I will be interested to read.

And they have also given permission for a writer named Robin Maxwell to write a novel recapping the first Tarzan book from Jane's point of view. It is titled, unsurprisingly, Jane, and it sounds really good. There was a great discussion when she was talking about the book and what Burroughs Inc would and would not let her put into it...the middle guy in the panel is the Burroughs Inc representative.

There are also some new rebooted modern-day Tarzan books being written...I'm not so excited by those, truthfully.

Oh, and the last interesting fact? Jane Goodall read Tarzan as a kid and THAT'S what got her into anthropology and primate studies. Way to go!

LOL, the Darth Vader from Spaceballs and the real thing, going head to head and exchanging amusing banter. Nice! Gandalf and Frodo are made of Legos. Yes, I'm wearing a crown, it was a freebie. I saw Elmo and Cookie Monster and they posed for a picture. As I often do, I said, 'Pretend you like each other' rather than 'say cheese'...and they turned and started french kissing! everyone behind me gasped and grabbed their camera. I was laughing so hard...
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

2:00pm
Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski
Joe has been coming to SDCC for decades (despite popular requests) with news and announcements. If all goes as it should between press-time and this panel, he will be making the most important announcement of his career (no, not his retirement-despite popular requests). If all does not go as it should, he will be giving a talk about migratory bird patterns. So come roll the dice with J. Michael Straczynski!

So then I got in line to see J. Michael Straczynski at 2. Not a long line, I was sure to get in. I was looking around, and saw these guys on the other side of the corridor, milling around and talking. Hey, Zombies! I yelled, and they turned and mugged. Fun! Then this guy walked by. Good costume, sucky movie. And here's Straczynski himself, and he had asked to do a panel to make a big announcement...
The big announcment? that he's setting up his own production company, Studio JMS, and will be doing comics, web movies, television, movies and whatever else he damn well pleases, which is the whole point of it. And he has the money, talent and clout to pull it off.
One of the projects he's working on is Living Dead: The Musical...which he showed a clip of, with zombies riverdancing, which was hilarious...and then the zombies I had seen in the corridor outside CAME IN AND RIVERDANCED. OMG it was HILARIOUS. And then of course they attacked the front rows of the audience and ate their brains.
He was actually very good, and is one of my favorite writers- brilliant comics, and he's done some amazing movies...he wrote the script for Changeling, and if you haven't seen that you should. It's really really good. His next movie, Flickering Light, is about Hitler's filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, and should be AMAZING. Comes out in 2013, in theory.

He spent the rest of the time out in the audience, walking around, handing people the microphone and answering questions. Very funny and snarky and great to listen to.

So that was excellent. Then there was one of those panels I wasn't interested in, before we got to Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics panel, which he does every year and which is very funny. So I stayed in the room, again, to do email and so as not to lose my seat. The next panel was Gene Roddenberry's son, cashing in on his father's rep, and they had this woman taking raffle tickets for an iPad drawing...dangerous costume choice, and I didn't win.
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

3:00pm
Roddenberry Presents
Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry (CEO, Roddenberry Productions), Trevor Roth (head of development, Days Missing), and Tory Mell (producer/writer: White Room: 02B3) are taking the name that created Star Trek and bringing it to levels not seen since the original days of the genre-changing television show. Join them for new exciting Roddenberry news and a sneak peek at the sci-fi short White Room: 02B3, followed by a Q&A with director Greg Aronowitz. Moderated by Frank Meyer (producer, Fresh Ink on G4. Also, giveaway of a new iPad!

So yeah. Roddenberry has made a movie about his dad's contribution to civilization, and then I left for a bathroom break, and when I came back they were talking about comics...<yawn>

And then, as happens at comic-con, something happened that absolutely blew me away.

So they're talking about this movie they made, White Room 02B3. It's a movie that is 15 minutes long, and all takes place in one room- six people wake up there with no memory of why they're there or what is going on. The reason it was written like that is because the movie is filmed with a 360 degree camera, all directions at once...okay, nice gimmick. Then they start to play the trailer, stream it onto an ipad, and as they move the ipad around THEY ARE MOVING AROUND INSIDE THE MOVIE. The viewer can walk around, look at any character, and basically be inside the movie doing and watching anything he wishes. It was AMAZING.

And having said that, the trailer is not on the web, and they were going on and on about dome theaters, and I'm thinking, no, if you release this on the web and people can do this with handheld devices, it'll revolutionize movies...but of course the tech is brand new. The trailer they showed us isn't even available on the web, just a site about the movie. And here's the youtube promo. It was WAY cool.

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

4:00pm
Oddball Comics Live: Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll!
Award-winning cartoonist Scott Shaw! (Annoying Orange, Simpsons Comics, Sonic The Hedgehog, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!) returns to Comic-Con with an extra-lurid, extra-funny, new edition of his popular show featuring "the craziest comic books ever published"-including those notorious "crotch-centric" covers from issues of Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane! Even if you've seen some of these comic book covers many times before, when you see them blown up to the size of the side of a barn, you'll be amazed and delighted at the unbelievably hilarious hidden-in-plain-sight imagery that's revealed! See why Stan Lee says, "Wow, True Believers, I thought I'd seen it all, but Scott Shaw!'s hysterically hilarious Oddball Comics Live is the wildest, wackiest exposé of some of the craziest comic books I've ever seen! Or, to put it mildly, Scott's outrageous opuses are a blast!"

I had seen Shaw's Oddball Comics show before, two years ago, and it was hilarious. Very enjoyable again, although many of the same comics covers. He's very deadpan and funny.

A couple more costumes. Wonder Woman taking a no-shoes cell-phone break. Can't she just charge it with her bracelets?
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

6:00pm
Best and Worst Manga of 2012
Go to any book or comics shop and you'll find a ton of comics from Japan in English. But what's worth reading and what's not? An all-star cast of comics critics, retailers, experts, and editors assemble to rant and rave about the year's best manga. Find out what Brigid Alverson (Mangablog, MTV Geek, Publishers Weekly), Christopher Butcher (blogger at Comics212.net, comics and manga retailer, The Beguiling), Carlo Santos (Anime News Network manga reviewer, Right Turn Only), Shaenon Garrity (Narbonic, freelance manga editor), and Deb Aoki (manga editor, About.com) have to say about the best new and continuing titles for kids, teens, and grown-ups. See panelists get super-excited about the best upcoming releases, and see them groan about the year's most despicable wastes of their reading time.

An awesome panel, except that I'm exhausted, and wearing a sundress in the coldest room I've been in all day. I got through the best, which is what I was there for, and about 6:10 I thought, that's it, I'm DONE.

So I made my way back to the motel. Counter-picketers, very nice, and the lady at the trolley station saw me take a pic of her with her costume bits off and put it back on for me...and it was so awesome I included both.
And on the way, I checked my phone. Text from Mark: Dick's at 9:30? OH HELLS YES!

Mark's son loves a restaurant called Dick's Last Resort, which is a low dive that has loud live music and is the kind of place where people throw stuff and the waiters berate you, usually wittily. It's loud and annoying but the food and alcohol is damn good. And it's usually packed. Especially on the Saturday night of Comic-con. But I was hungry for real food, having been living on trail mix and pretzel dogs, so I rejoiced.

Got back to the motel. Found the toilet running- not over, just running. A lot. I opened the tank, tried holding the stopper down, tried lifting the float arm. Each worked, but only as long as I held them. So I called the desk. The maintenance guy was off that night. So after the desk lady (who was very nice) came up and did exactly what I had done, we agreed that she'd move our room but (because we had had to turn the water off in the toilet to get it to stop running) since she couldn't move anyone else into the room, we got to keep the keys to the old room, which means I didn't have to move Mark, Eli and Oliver's stuff. I called Mark and told him what was happening in case Eli came back while I was on my way downtown, he said he was ready to meet me at Dick's, and off I went. Got to the street just as a trolley pulled into the station, crossed the big busy street slowly and carefully, and as soon as I got to the other side RAN LIKE HELL for the station; got to the trolley just as the doors closed, waving at the driver...and he actually waited for me. Incredible.

On Fifth Street. A cool helmet, lovely ladies (and I think the guy on the left is not actually with them) and the guy in the pic on the right was ahead of me, literally stopping pedestrian traffic so badly that a cop was yelling at everyone to stop taking pictures and keep moving and that he'd be giving out tickets for blocking traffic if people didn't start moving... Got to Dick's. I LOVED these ladies' light-up outfits. The lights changed color. Wow!
Then we had a drink, talked and waited for the boys...who finally texted that they were not going to show up. Which is how Mark and I ended up having an excellent dinner out on Dick's patio at 10 pm (I had a steak as big as my head and LOVED IT.) and got back to the motel about 11:30; the boys got in a little later. And then they had to move. And then we had to share our stories, including Mark's about how he was trying to get to the Hunger Games press party (he's press and was invited) and ended up inadvertantly crashing the Entertainment Weekly party...he said he THOUGHT he was in the right place...but as he was having snacks and drinks, he saw the cast of True Blood go by with handlers and fluffers. Then he saw all the Breaking Bad people. Then he saw Ian McKellan followed by 14 guys, the middle of whome was PETER JACKSON and the guys were the DWARVES FROM THE HOBBIT...and he thought, this can't be right! turns out the NEXT unmarked door was the Hunger Games party. But he got an hour of hobnobbing with other celebrities, so that was extremely cool! The other great thing was, when he was in the Hunger Games party (the one he was SUPPOSED to be in) he was talking to the actress who played Prue, and he asked her if seeing her own death scene had affected her. "I think you'd have to be really self-involved to cry watching your own death scene.", she said. What a good answer! Sounds like fame has not gone to her head.

OMG! what a day!

Finally, at 1:30, I just turned out my light and pulled the covers up...the guys finally turned out their lights at 2 am.

Sunday
Ah, yes. Sunday. So when I made plans for this comic-con, one of the things I really wanted to do was to stay for Sunday afternoon. Not only are there a lot of things I keep wanting to see (like the Buffy musical episode that closes the convention) but a lot of stuff in the exhibits goes on sale. So (since it closes around 4, officially), I bought a ticket on the 6 pm Surfliner to LA, planning to stay with Diana and fly home the next day around noon.

The only problem here was what to do with my luggage; I was hoping Mark and co. would be able to take it and drop it off at my sister's house, but that wasn't going to work...then I checked the Comic-con guide, and lo and behold they have luggage checking from 7 am to 5:30 pm on Sunday, for two bucks a bag. Perfect! although Mark said that one time when he used it, they had to try three different places to check their luggage because all of them were full...and I wanted to go to a breakfast for librarians who are subscribed to the Graphic Novels 4 Librarians Yahoo group, which is at Hennessey's tavern at 8 am the Sunday of comic-con...I had been before, and it was fun.

Which meant that I had to get up at 6 am (remember the part where I got to sleep at 2 am? do the math...) and get to the convention center to be sure of checking my luggage at 7 when the station opened, then walk to breakfast...it all went fine, and I was actually at Hennessey's by about 7:30.

The only other person at the trolley that early. One lonely hungover bear left after the madness of saturday night on 5th street. Me, Hilary from Hawaii and Jill from Arizona. We were the only ones who came this year, and we had a great time. A patio in front of a restaurant. Just pretty.
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

10:00am
Stunted Fools, Scary-Ass Clowns, Enlightened Orangutans, and Other Devilish Charmers: Humor in Science Fiction and Fantasy
"The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp." And these authors' pens are...very sharp. But, as The Hitchhiker's Guide so sagely advises, DON'T PANIC. Humor is everywhere you look in science fiction and fantasy. So wrap your towel around your head to ward off noxious fumes, and join in for an irreverent hour celebrating sly wit and unholy humor with some of the most devilish quipsters, wisecrackers, and satirists writing today. Warning: you will snicker. And you may just laugh out loud. John Scalzi (Redshirts) plays ringmaster to panelists Richard Kadrey (Devil Said Bang), Doyce Testerman (Hidden Things), Rob Reid (Year Zero), Ned Vizzini (The Other Normals), Gini Koch (Alien Diplomacy), Nathan Long (Jane Carver of Waar), and Nick Hurwitch (co-author of So You Created a Wormhole).

A great panel full of amusing people. Scalzi is the one standing.

Just stuff seen around. Comic-con is winding down on Sunday, although there is also a contingent of people who could ONLY get a badge for Sunday and are determined to do it all...you can tell who they are, they aren't exhausted yet.
This guy was kinda cool (his helmet/headgear was made of Legos) and kinda scary, since I think he was just carrying that sign so as A) not to have to talk to people and B) make sure everyone knew every little detail...
OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

12:00pm
California Browncoats Meet-Up
Stop by to hear a few announcements, play a few games, and share a few stories about how everyone found their inner Browncoat. There's no better way to share the 10th anniversary of Firefly, and it's a lot more practical than starting a fight in an Alliance-friendly bar on U-day.

So okay, I'm a browncoat in my heart, although I have never been to any gathering...but since I was in the Firefly panel, I thought, yes, I'll go and join my fellow fans for the meeting and mingle and schmooze.

And I walked into the room, which was a room with a lot of people sitting in chairs just like any other penel, with three or four people up front, and a woman there was reading what was obviously fanfic. Meh. So I left. Instead, I went to another panel I was mildly interested in but had not planned to attend...

OFFICIAL COMIC-CON DESCRIPTION:

12:30pm
Darwyn Cooke and The Man Called Parker
Darywn Cooke discusses all things Parker in a lively hour of opinions, insights, and downright good conversation! The Score is being released this week, and Cooke, along with editor Scott Dunbier, will answer questions and talk about Richard Stark's classic heist-man -- and unveil Cooke and IDW's plans for the future of the graphic novel series -- including revealing what the next Parker book will be!

Hm. I read Cooke's first Parker book, and it was good, and I knew he had done others...but they're crime dramas, and that's not my favorite genre. But he was so interesting, and had such great things to say about the books, how much he loved them, how he worked on the art, and what he did and why, that now I want to track down the others he's done and read them. Very nice!

So then I thought I would go to the Max Brooks Zombie panel- we had seen him last year and he was very good. He was in a 500 seat room, and this is just the part of the line that was OUTSIDE the building...plus the room was already almost full of people who didn't leave. 2 pm came, the line didn't move, and I said, that's it, I'm out of here. I gave chocolate chip cookies to the staff at the bag check, got my suitcases, took the trolley to the train station, and checked my luggage to Santa Ana for the 4 pm train instead of the 6 pm train...and good thing I got there early, because THIS was the line for the 4 pm train. They put on three extra cars, and people were still sitting in the aisles. This is Matt Bradford, my seatmate, and a very nice guy. He says he's the guy who made the tv features on the making of the three Lord of the Rings movies- not, he hastened to add, the ones in the Directors Cut versions, but the ones in the original DVD releases. He stopped that and got a day job to allow him to write, and he gave me one of his graphic novels, which is next on my list to read.. It was a beautiful day, and I had never taken the Surfliner from San Diego to LA.
Surfboards... a funky lifeguard stand... and the San Clemente Pier, which the train pulls up RIGHT beside; you can see the beach and the ocean on the left side of the picture, just feet from the train. I had a lovely visit with my sister, and as she waves goodbye from her porch, my comic-con trip comes to an end...exhausting but wonderful.

Want to come next year? let me know...I have my motel rooms already.