Once more unto the breach, dear friends.
King Henry, Henry V – Act III, Scene I
After attending last year’s event, I was concerned about the growing success of Comic Con. They had sold out Saturday, and while I don’t know what that means in terms of numbers, I do know the lines to get into panels were very long and there were so many people milling about the showroom floor it resembled a day at Mardi Gras, unfortunately minus the good food, public intoxication, and nudity. This year, four-day passes and individual passes for Saturday sold out before the event started. Friday did as well. I prepared for the worst as fellow geeks from around the country and globe descended upon San Diego, California.
I, like a number of people north of the city, headed down on the Amtrak train Thursday morning. It was easy to pick out the attendees from the regular commuters by their clothing and reading materials. Conversations could be overheard discussing favorite childhood cartoon shows and the problems with Quentin Tarantino’s latest film. By 10:15am, the streets of Downtown San Diego were a mess as the city began its yearly transformation into the Island of Misfit Toys. The streets that approached the Convention Center were near gridlock, filled with trolleys, buses, cars, bicycle rickshaws, and pedestrians.
The attendees of Comic Con are a wide and varied lot, coming from all walks of life. Not solely the stereotypical nerds still living in their parents' home with poor social skills and hygiene, though there are plenty of those to go around. They are artists, entrepreneurs, and most notably, lovers of imagination and creativity. Outsiders would consider their discussions inconsequential on the surface, but they have deep, philosophical meaning. It matters that Han shot first, that Steve Ditko get credit as co-creator of Spider-Man, that Deckard is a replicant.
They show their love and devotion in a number of ways. The vast majority of the horde shows their allegiance much like sports fans with t-shirts and ball caps. Most are obvious, so even people with a limited knowledge of pop culture can recognize the wearer’s interest. There are also obscure images and cryptic messages, understandable by those in the know.
Yet, these minimal pieces of cloth are not enough to convey the full breadth of the commitment some have. No matter where your gaze strays at the Con revelers appear in full costume, impressing onlookers who request photographs. They are disguised as icons, cult figures, and brand new creations. This all culminates in The Masquerade Ball on Saturday night, a well-attended traditional event that has the video fed into other rooms to meet the demand.
I first attended the DVD Sneak Peak 2007 led by Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits.com. They were joined by DVD producers who were going to discuss upcoming releases; however, for some reason the panel began with Michael Davis talking about his film Shoot ‘Em Up, coming to theaters on Sept. 7. He showed amusing clips of himself playing around with special effects on his computer. Finally Charles de Lauzirika discussed his upcoming releases, which are sure to be two of the biggest cult DVDs for the fall: Blade Runner: The Final Cut and Twin Peaks: The Complete Series. Bonus footage from each was shown and the small crowd went wild over both even with the technical difficulties of the DVD set-up. One woman in the crowd offered up her Mac to remedy the A/V problems.
I passed by a capacity-filled room listening to Richard Hatch hold court over a Battlestar Galactica forum. Fans still waited in the hopes that seats would open up if people filtered out, but the true believers were already inside. Only a dire emergency would keep them from lasting the hour. Hatch has long been a convention favorite here and elsewhere from his roles in both versions of BSG and his novels that continue the adventures of his former character Capt. Apollo.
The dealer room already had many, many people roaming throughout it before noon. Long lines extended wherever there was space for those looking to buy, get an autograph, a free giveaway, what have you. It was Christmas in July for some. Their unbridled enthusiasm couldn’t be contained as they tore open their boxes and packages, desperate to get the prize in their hands, holding it up to let the light gleam off it like a religious artifact. Of course, the serious collectors rolled their eyes and scoffed because of the effect an open package has on the resale value.
A presentation and discussion was held about Star Trek: The Original Series being released on HD DVD. Make no mistake about the interest Trek still holds among many. Even though the show has been around over 40 years, a good portion of people probably bought the recent DVD collections, and the information came as no surprise as the remastered episodes already appear in syndication, this room, one of the larger halls of the event, was filled. They have redone a number of effects shots; one panelist seemed most excited by the idea of a Gorn blinking for the first time. There will be interesting extras for the most die-hard fans as Billy Blackburn, a multi-purpose extra on the set shot old Super-8 films behind the scenes.