Friday, July 27, 2007
Comic-Con '07 - Day 1
After my first few hours at the San Diego Comic-Con, I found myself reaching out to my editor at CNN.com for guidance.

Apparently, the word I had chosen to describe the first official day of the convention fit neither the CNN style-guide nor the AP style. I was given alternate suggestions such as "chaotic nightmare," "aggravating people-mess," and "cacophonous mind-melting crowd scene." Sold! (Editor's note: The word Matt had in mind wouldn't be, uh, suitable for a family-friendly blog. Though it's probably the most appropriate.)

From the moment the convention center opened at 10:30 a.m. PT, it was sheer madness. From hard-core nerds, to average geeks, to the mildly amused people numbering in the tens of thousands had descended upon the San Diego Convention Center to ... stand in line and fight the crowds to get a look at the same thing the rest of the world was getting to see online on the Internet. (Check out our gallery)

My photographer, Rick Taber, and I stood in line to get into various panels throughout the day -- gleaning such nuggets of pop-cultural insight as "Heroes" star Zachary Quinto would be joining the cast of the new "Star Trek" film as Spock -- might have been exciting ... if we didn't already know this before we ever left Los Angeles. Of course, the appearance of the REAL Spock, Leonard Nimoy, at the convention was pretty cool, but learning that he's going to appear in the same film left us wondering.

But hey -- it's Comic-Con. "Suspend your disbelief and play along" is the order of the day.

Of course, it helps when filmmakers such as Jon Favreau get in on the act, appearing in a video greeting the crowd and making reference to the number of "Comic-Con exclusives" that managed to end up on YouTube the previous year, and by showing what he referred to as "early, not final" samples of his upcoming "Iron Man" film which ended up being nothing more than clips from Marvel's early 1960s animated series of cartoons of the "armored Avenger." Of course, when he debuted a sampling of shots and sequences from the actual film, the crowd went nuts.

(For the record, I did, too. From the look of things, "Iron Man" is going to rock your world when it comes out in 2008! As a fan, I approve ...)

I mean, if you're going to take the time to attend a panel discussion about ABC's hit series "Lost," it might be nice to hear something other than what you read the day before in The Hollywood Reporter about Harold Perrineau returning to the series for its upcoming fourth season. No offense to Mr. Perrineau, but really -- give me something else to look forward to besides such as, I don't know -- some ANSWERS to what the heck is happening on the island? I guess I'll just have to watch with the rest of the world when the show returns in February 2008.

So why fight the crowds? Despite being a virtual fun fair of eye candy, from the costumed to the fully consumed, the whole exercise really felt like a burden at times.

We are literally talking about tens of thousands of the deeply devoted, descending upon a single location, to see -- up close and personal -- stuff that's already been rumored or reported on the Internet. Everything from action figures to sketch-style variant comic book covers that had once existed only as photographs online, are made real -- only to be photographed again, which will probably end up online again.

So why go?

Is it a sense of community or camaraderie? I don't think so.

Though I've been reading comic books for as long as I can remember, I've rarely felt comfortable with the folks that make this particular corner of pop culture their own private Idaho ... or, in this case, Metropolis.

My personal favorite part of the Comic-Con lies on the far end of the convention center floor, where sellers hawk their wares in white, cardboard long-boxes -- a place I've come to refer to as the "quiet part" of the show.

Everything else is just Hollywood marketing, or madness, depending on how deep down the rabbit hole you want to go. Of couse, if you decide to make that journey, there are at least 94 guys dressed as "Neo" from "The Matrix" roaming around here and they're more than happy to to take you there.

Later today, we'll see just how deep that rabbit hole goes ...
If you want to take a break from the crowds on Friday afternoon, you should check out the Zombie Walk, taking place on a winding route through the downtown area surrounding the Convention Center. It starts at Marina Park (next to Seaport Village) and continues up to Horton Plaza and then back down through the Gaslamp District to the Convention Center. This is the year of the zombie, as evidenced by projects involving George Romero, Max Brooks, and J. Michael Straczynski!
Mr. West seems significantly LESS than thrilled to be at Comic-Con. In a place filled with everything from the bizarre to the mundane, the best Mr. West could do was complain about being there. So, why was HE the reporter sent?
The descriptions of chaos and the commercialization of Comic-Con are the two primary reasons why I haven't attended this convention in years.

I've read graphic novels for years, before they were called "graphic novels" and before the artform (and its fans) started moving into the mainstream.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not an elitist who wants to see the hobby pushed back to the fringe, where I can lord my knowledge of Spider-Man over those who don't read graphic novels. I think the "mainstreaming" of my beloved hobby has overall been a positive development, leading more and better writers and artists into the industry to produce some astounding work. I've also enjoyed some quality films that originated with comic book characters now that Hollywood has seen that yes, there is an audience for this material, and yes, they can turn a profit from them.

But I will always remember Comic-Con as the place where I could stroll up and speak for a few minutes with Paul Chadwick, Garth Ennis and Frank Miller without a flashbulb going off in my face. It's the one-on-one between me and those who wrote and drew my favorite graphic novels that I sorely miss.

And that's what I think would be absent from the Comic-Con events I see happening today.
I think you come for the craziness. Yeah, it's packed, yeah it's crazy, but me, and everyone I talk to and run into are having great time.
We now know what happens when the nerds inherit the earth.

For a great interview with the PR director of Comic Con go to www.latinnewswire.net.

May the force of Stan Lee and Yoda be with you. With E3 dead and buried, Comic Con Booth Babes are much appreciated.
Unfortunately, I'm missing the Con this year. So I appreciate the opening day play-by-play.
Attending Comic Con or any other large convention is just like riding a roller coaster. You'll be screaming and wondering why you ever got on it, but once it's over, you'll say "Damn, that was fun. Let's do it again!!"
Quinto is a great choice to play Spock -- I called it when I first saw him on Heroes. But I question the logic (sorry) of casting Nimoy. Nothing against seeing him again, but imagine if they made a Bond movie with Daniel Craig -- but framed by a flashback sequence featuring Sean Connery as the elderly Bond. The younger actor, already being compared to the elder, would face an even tougher challenge. Plus, this doesn't sound like the "let's appeal to brand new fans" approach we'd heard for months. If it's a flashback, that'll make Trek XI a Next Generation movie. Abrams would have been better off making a clean break and doing a full reboot or reimagining. Trek fandom, as evidenced by their insane (unfair generalization, perhaps, but accurate) attacks on the Enterprise TV series and the last Trek film, is gonna tear this film to pieces.
I was at ComicCon this year (for the third year in a row), and really enjoyed the first day DVD Producers / Bladerunner panel put on by theDigitalBits.com - great sneak peek of the upcoming special edition DVD. I've been waiting for that for a LONG time. The Hereos panel was my favorite of the weekend. I've never seen it that crowded before though, it kind of took away some of the enjoyment with the red shirts running crown control so strictly. Just my take....
Mr. West essentially hated the experience but let's face it the San diego Comiccon is the Super Bowl meets E3 for comic book releases.

Of course hordes of fans of Heroes, Iron Man, Lost, etc are going to be there. It IS the age of nerds. The phenomenon has become mainstream.

Maybe next year, he'll park his critics brain at the door and enjoy it as an extended Halloween party in sunny San Diego.
The fact is, it was a disorganized mess this year. This was my 2nd year, and it is clear that Comicon has outgrown San Diego. They need to move this to Vegas because I can see this becoming the next E3 where it's split into different locations, and that would be awful.

This year there were 2 days in which their was a delay of nearly 30 minutes before they let people into the exhibit hall at the doors I was standing at. This caused a near riot both times as other people were obviously running around inside that had already been let in. The security people were clueless.

Then there was the limit of what freebies (which, let's face it, is 25 percent of the reason you go) being given out a day. Preview night was insane and they ran out of everything within the first hour or less.

The amount of people was crazy. Saturday had between 80 to 100 thousand people. They crammed a ton of people for the Heroes panel into Ballroom 20 when they should have allowed it to be done in Hall H, the 6500 seat hall. But it seems like the Movie Studios have their claws in that big venue.

Speaking of the studios, they have taken over the exhibit hall as well. The Sci-Fi channel giant blob has a huge chunk of floor space for no reason other than to have their big blob there. The amount to rent space is becoming very expensive and it's causing the little guys and vendors to disappear. The studios giant displays are running rampant.

The rumor is next year its going to be 75 dollars for a 4 days pass and who knows how much for floor space. The truth is, if it gets any bigger, which it no doubt will, San Diego will not be able to handle it.

I myself could hardly handle it this year. The crowds and the disorganized feeling of the whole thing made me feel it was much more of a chore than a good time.

They need to move it or they need to limit the amount of tickets available. But that won't happen because it's become far more about the money than the fun. Something needs to be done, because sooner or later someone will get hurt in the mass that is the Comicon Crowd.

Comicon is special and it's an amazing time. But it's getting out of hand very, very fast.
You're getting paid to go to SAN DIEGO. I'm sure you can find something redeeming about your trip.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
Comic Con does not need to move away from San Diego.It was born here and should stay here.
I know how most feel about the crowds though and a solution would be to hold it for a few days longer.
Moving it Las Vegas would only be as bad.The San Diego Convention Center is huge and I cant think of any place larger in Vegas to substitute.

Bottom line is add 2 more days to the event.
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