The entrance to the Mattel booth was Castle Greyskull. That was pretty cool. My wife went to a panel with Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly for the new "The Day the Earth Stood Still" remake and, as a surprise to everyone, Hugh Jackman shows up at the end, thanks the fans and shows a new Wolverine trailer. Really cool. Oh, and she got me a free tee shirt they were giving out that says "Klaatu barada nikto" across the front. Nice. At the Mattel panel Friday we were shown so many new JLU figures I wept. Mark Shultz gave me the poster he was selling for free, I demoed the new Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, I ran into Seth Green cruising through the Hasbro Star Wars area, and I got an inflatable He-Man power sword. Yet for me none of these were this year’s highlight . . .
Before I get to 2008′s big thrill allow me to mention a few more things that made this year’s San Diego Comic Con special. First of all, I was accompanied by my 10 year old "little brother," Johnny. Comic Con takes on a different perspective when Pokemon is more important than Giganta. Instead of first hitting the Mattel booth we went to the Upper Deck booth. Instead of going to the Hasbro: GI Joe panel we went to the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s World Premiere. My pace may have been slower and I may not have scoured the exhibit hall as thoroughly as in the past but seeing Con through the eyes of a 10 year old was worth any sacrifice.
Johnny hit Con running with Preview Night. Maybe "running" is not the right word. More like waiting. As soon as we got through the doors I plunked John in the Hasbro line while I ran to another. After a fruitless hour and a half (half of Preview Night) we aborted plan A. Johnny knew Wednesday evening was all about business, but introducing a kid to Comic Con by stranding him in the Hasbro line was a mistake. From that point on we had a new philosophy: screw long lines. And really, this can be done without missing too much. Eventually the lines shorten. I did miss out on Blue Cobra Commander but all that time we didn’t waste in the Hasbro line allowed us to see and do a lot that more than made up for that particular exclusive.
By Friday morning Johnny was an old pro. Our conversation waiting to get in went like this: "OK, I’ll run to the Mattel line to get King Greyskull. You run to the Upper Deck line to get the exclusive Draenei Paladin World of Warcraft Miniature. We meet under the giant Pikachu. Got it?" "Yeah!"
Saturday we were both pretty wiped but fortunately had panels lined up for most of the day. We started with "Ben 10: Alien Force." Always a pleasure to see Dwayne McDuffie. Johnny thought it was cool listening to the voice actors for all the main characters in his favorite toon.
I really give props to my little bro. Con is fun and fascinating but also exhausting. He kept up without a complaint.
A fun part of Comic Con for us older fans is seeing old friends and making new ones. We often post and blog about action figure sculptors The Four Horsemen. So running into a couple of them (Jim Preziosi and Eric Treadway) in the Mattel booth and getting a quick photo is a trip. Its always a pleasure to run into the AFI crew. It goes without saying but these dudes work hard on our behalf.
At the Mattel panel Daniel could be seen typing furiously on his laptop, Jason was functioning on about 3 hours sleep, and, as always, Mike was armed with his camera and good questions.
As Spy Magician described so well, Comic Con is about standing in lines. This can be a blessing or a curse. Most often if you take the initiative you end up meeting really cool folks. (Come to think of it, that’s how Spy Magician and I met a few years ago!) This year I met a great guy from Germany named Michael who owns a couple comic shops.
We stood together in line once to buy a book and then again a couple days later to have it autographed. What book could be so awesome that it commanded so much waiting? That, my friends, brings us to the highlight of this year’s Con for me.
A week or so before Con as I was preparing my programming schedule I came across an entry for Saturday that began: 11:30-12:30 Image Comics/Tori Amos. Huh? Being a pretty big Tori Amos fan I was immediately interested. As it turns out, Tori Amos, Neil Gaiman and Rantz Hoseley have been good friends for many years. Rantz thought it would make for an incredible project to gather a bunch of comic writers and artists to write and illustrate short stories inspired by Amos’s songs. Low and behold it happened. Over 80 creators came together to produce an exquisite 500+ page, 12" x 12" coffee table style book called Comic Book Tattoo. Tori came to Con to join in a panel to discuss the project and then sign some autographs. Each day of Con leading up to her panel a certain number of books were sold that allowed you access to the autograph line. The limit was 200. (I got number 15.) Anyway, Tori was her usual expressive and unabashed self at the panel and was extremely friendly and kind during the autographing session. It was a huge thrill to shake her hand and have her sign my book.
Don’t get me wrong, snagging a few new toys was pretty fun, too!