Written by Musgo Del Jefe
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21
I can’t explain the way one’s body feels when you’ve been acclimated to the 100-degree temperatures in Texas for the past 24 days – with lows in the mid-80s – and then you step off the plane to 75 degrees. The whole weekend is tinged with a pleasure surrounding everything because it was so mild. Usually, Comic Con week seems to hover in the mid-80s (usually a nice break from 100 too) but this was chocolate frosting and sprinkles.
Checked into our hotel – we pass on dinner in order to enjoy the free Manager’s Happy Hour. With a nice little buzz, we’re off to the Preview night of the Con – a great time to hit the floor for some shopping for a couple hours. It’s a nice way to get into the Con spirit, and I was able to get almost 75% of my shopping done. Lots of nice t-shirts this year. We meet back at the hotel – mind you it’s after 9pm in San Diego and after 11pm back in Texas – we’re all starving and head to Lucha Libre Taco Shop. It was difficult to find and there was a line but I felt like it was my most memorable meal of the trip. This would certainly be a favorite location for most members of Strikeforce. Throw in a great burrito – mine was the Surfin’ California with shrimp, steak, french fries (!), pico, cheese and chipotle sauce. There was an agreement that more burritos need to come with french fries in them.
Our night was topped during the dinner by the incognito arrival of hot-dog-eating champion of the world – Joey Chestnut. I knew he was going to be in town for a Friday event outside the Con to set the record for eating Mars bars (more on that later). But little would you think you’d run into the man at a taco joint at around midnight the night before. Talking to him briefly, he was there on his own to break their hot-dog-eating record. Just for the pride of it, “Jaws” Chestnut was going to eat 30 bacon-wrapped hot dogs at midnight. While the man was extremely kind to deal with some of the other douches in the place, I would love to have stuck around to watch his feat but we were on the wrong end of a long day, drunk and then sober, hungry and then full, and there was three full days of Comic Con ahead. So, we retired back to the room.
THURSDAY, JULY 22
The great thing about our change of location to the Embassy Suites is the free drinks at night and mostly the free breakfast in the morning. I didn’t opt for a huge breakfast but it was nice to have some hot food before heading out the door. Things I miss about the Holiday Inn – the workout room and my long walk along the waterfront to the Con. That long walk was exactly the thing I didn’t miss at the end of each day.
JEFF SMITH. This was the first panel of the whole convention and one that I really looked forward to. It’s been a while since I have read any new Bone stories – so I was really excited to see the release of Bone – Tall Tales. These are a collection of new material and some rare reprinted Bone stories that is available now – debuting at the Con. I felt about seven years old as Jeff read us a tale involving Scoutmaster Smiley and his young Bone Cubs – Ringo, Bingo and Todd. I’ll just leaving you with the name, Cobbler Gobbler . . . Jeff went through some RASL news – there is a new issue coming out and the oversize collections are being rereleased in more of a pocket-sized format to fit on your bookshelves. Tom Sniegoski, writer of “Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails” is working on a three book prose series based in the Bone Universe – set after the series – called Bone – Quest For The Spark. No date set for the release of the books. I was hoping for news on the movie – all we know is that it has been optioned by Warner Bros. and he said to expect much more on it by next Comic Con.
Missed: Danny Elfman, The OneRing.net Talks The Hobbit movies
SPOTLIGHT ON STAN AND HUNTER FREBERG. Another example of eschewing the popular of “popular” culture and going for something that I would never see anywhere else. I have been a fan of Stan Freberg’s even if I didn’t know it for years. He’s the old-time type of comedian that made his career doing a variety of things – records, voice overs, and Beany & Cecil. He’s credited with inventing the funny commercial (see examples below) and he’s opened for Frank Sinatra. He’s also been the unique voices of some of my favorite side characters in the Warner Bros. universe – The Goofy Gophers, Junyer Bear, Sam (the orange cat with Sylvester) and the greatness of Pete Puma. Stan is in his mid-80s and exactly the type of person I want to sit with for an hour and hear him just ramble on with his stories. Only guys like him still use terms like “give a fig” and call others “morons”. No really news except for a new CD he and his wife are releasing. But when he’s gone – I can say I saw him and he made me laugh.
What do you mean – no pits . . .
How many lumps do you want?
Missed: Tron: Legacy
My schedule opened up after Freberg – so I spent some important time looking at costumed characters and looking at cool artifacts. The GI Joe costumes of previous years were mainly replaced by repeats from previous years and the new front runner – Mad Hatter. The resurgeance of the Pirate was noticable as was the lack of packs of Stormtroopers. It being such a beautiful day – I headed outside to snack and enjoy some sunshine. It was here that I ran into the Red Faction Mars Bar Eating contest. My man, Joey, was ripped off from the record by some left over carmel on his pallet. The five-minute competition was hard to watch – but Pat Bertolleti (the guy dressed in the Evel jumpsuit) did munch down over 37 Mars Bars to my disgust. Impossible. Had a chance to shake Joey’s hand after the contest and found out that he was successful with the hot dog challenge the night before. Impressive. Had to leave the outdoor party to head back in for . . .
SHOWTIME PRESS. While having to initially step aside for the “big boys” from E! and such to take their video, my table of three other reporters was able to talk with the Executive Producers of Nurse Jackie and Dexter about their programs. Both were excited about the turnout and interest at Comic Con for their shows. But the highlight, maybe of the Con, was having first Michael C. Hall sit down at our table. He certainly gave out some of the same answers that I heard in other interviews but just his presence was a thrill. He was just as nice to us as any other outlet there and looked into my eyes when answering a throwaway question I asked about him working on a show that didn’t involve dead bodies.
He was followed by Mary-Louise Parker. She’s an actress that walked in just like she just left my TV set. She seemed very genuine and I was initially a little starstruck. But she relaxed us all and I was able to find a common point when she mentioned her four- and six-year-old children. She’s a big fan of the Pixar films and she would love to be in one. Pixar, are you listening??? I saw David Duchovny walking the room but we ran out of time before he could come to our table. It’s probably for the best – I certainly would have begged him to attend the Forceys in our room on Saturday night.
The length of the Press session caused me to actually miss the Showtime panel and the Dexter panel was too full to get into at that point. Also missed: Abrams and Whedon.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. But that loss left me time to get over to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World with one of the largest cast turnouts that I’ve ever seen for a film (13 cast members). The crowd was knowledgeable and really into the clips and actors. Edgar Wright was hilarious as usual. But Michael Cera as Captain America was just too much for me to keep the laughs down. I’ve included the first part of the panel. I’m expecting quite a bit from the film – I think it’s a rare combination of perfect director meets great comic piece with little expectations. I compare this favorably to last year’s Kick Ass.
PENN & TELLER: 35 YEARS OF MAGIC & BS. Not time for dinner just yet – we headed over to catch Penn & Teller. Much like their TV show, Penn went off on quite a few rants and told some interesting stories. The coolest thing was probably that we heard Teller talk too. Pretty much what I expected but once again, it’s great to hear stories from people who have been around the business so long and been in contact with so many people. They finished the panel – the only way the crowd would have it – with some “magic” and lots of laughs.
Missed: The Sushi Typhoon: The Best In Japanese Genre Movies.
FRIDAY, JULY 23
Always excited for Friday’s at Comic Con – it’s usually got more going on than Thursday but it isn’t as wall-to-wall of bodies crazy as Saturday. Breakfast and off . . .
BATMAN: THE BRAVE & THE BOLD. It’s almost become a tradition to sit in on the Batman: Brave & The Bold panel. Sadly, they announced that this will be the final season coming up – only 13 more episodes. There will be a new Batman series that’s in the works but Dietrich will not voice Batman – he’s got a series on NBC coming up. Last season’s “Musicmeister” episode is up for an Emmy (well deserved). We were treated to the first episode of the upcoming season – without giving too much away – it’s a laugh riot with musical numbers ala Scooby Doo, Pee Wee Herman as Bat Mite and even a little more adult reference humor than we have had in previous seasons. We got a sneak peek at character designs for the new Young Justice show that will premiere in November. The character designs look cool – I’m still waiting to see what the stories will be . . .
Missed: Bob’s Burgers, AMC’s The Walking Dead
REMEMBERING FRANK FRAZETTA AND AL WILLIAMSON. Not much actual “news” out of this one. But it’s another thing you just don’t run into in your everyday life. You’ve got William Stout and other comic old timer’s remembering Frank and Al and telling stories. For the most part – conversations revolved around the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ covers and Creepy/Eerie stories. Looks like the Frazetta museum won’t open again but expect a traveling exhibit to start touring soon.
Missed: Bloom County’s Berkeley Breathed: The Secret Sex Tapes
PEANUTS TURNS 60. This turned out to be about my most pleasant surprise of the Con. I mainly expected to hear Jeannie Schulz talk about her husband and any Anniversary releases going on. Along with that, we got Andy Bell who’s directing the new Peanuts special Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. Bell, with credits like Iron Giant and The Incredibles, seemed like good hands to put the project in. He was adamant – “No CG!!” And we get the return of Shermy, Violet and Patti for the first time since the A Boy Named Charlie Brown film. Imagine my excitement when finding out that also Stephen Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) wrote the special and Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) is doing the score in that melancholy, sad mood that is the Peanuts world. I wish there was a clip of the basic animations that we saw – it almost made me tear up – it’s like finding a 30-year-old clip I had never seen. There will continue to be a travelling exhibit / museum to honor the 60th year of Charles’ creation – I can’t believe he’s been gone 10 years now. I left this panel with the hugest smile.
Missed: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (damn!), Joss Whedon Experience.
Couldn’t get into True Blood by this point. But the next best thing happened. While figuring out that I wouldn’t get into True Blood – I was sitting by the bathrooms down a hallway getting a drink and checking my schedule to see where to go. When out of the bathroom came Sookie (Anna Paquin) dressed beautifully in a gold dress. I realized that the hallway had been blocked off but somehow they had ignored me sitting there. As I got up to leave – happy that Anna had walked right past me – walking back towards the bathroom was Jessica, the red-headed vampire. She looked good, but more importantly she smelled awesome. So, while not seeing the cast – I did get a closer personal run-in with the more important players.
DREW STRUZAN. I figured I wouldn’t see this panel because of True Blood. But I was able to somehow sneak in the door – although there was a line around the corner waiting for the next panel after him. I love his movie posters. They showed what will be a future feature-length documentary on his career. People love him and his movie posters are epic. I didn’t realize until the Con that he had also done a majority of the Muppet Movie posters including the one for the first film that I love with Kermit and Miss Piggy kissing under the rainbow and over top of the car loaded with the characters headed to Hollywood. The man was so refreshing – no bull crap about his “art” and such. He flat-out stated – making movie posters was his job – he did because he got paid and paid well for it. I’ve never really heard that at a Con before. And he was so humble – I truly felt that he was confused why the room was packed to hear him speak.
Missed: Famous Monsters Of Filmland, The Green Hornet, The Other Guys
ARCHER. The show was one of my favorite new shows of last year. It’s so wrong. So funny. The show will be back in January on F/X for 13 new episodes. We saw the first new episode of the season, “Swiss Miss” and they haven’t scaled back on any of the offensive humor yet. The creator nailed what makes this such a funny show – it’s not played as a spy show. It’s a spy show that’s played out as an office comedy which I think is why it reminds me at times of Get Smart in the way that Maxwell and the other characters seemed to view the spy business as their “job”. Aisha Tyler used the same “ball slappiest” story she used on the Ticket here in Dallas a few weeks before – it’s a great story, I don’t blame her.
WORST CARTOONS EVER. Like the Mongolian BBQ and Batman and scoping out big girls in Superman costumes, a Con wouldn’t be a Con without Worst Cartoons Ever. No Spunky & Tadpole but Mr. Beck found another interesting collection of crap including some very old theatrical animation – some of it a little controversially racist. How long before we run out of Mighty Mr. Titan? No Bucky & Pepito. But the worst has to be the crudely drawn Paddy The Pelican. Not even colored in and voiced by actors that couldn’t have any idea what was happening on screen. Fun time.
Missed: RiffTrax Live.
After the show, we retired back to the hotel for more drinks and a special screening of Batman: Under The Red Hood. It’s right in line with the other WB DC Animated series – I like revisiting stories that are informed by having read the comics – in this case “A Death In The Family”. I’ll need to watch it again while slightly less tipsy to really get the full effect. After the show, more discussions of the days past and the day to come. And bedtime.
SATURDAY, JULY 24
Last year, I missed every early morning panel because of the crowds. This year, I solved that by not even trying. I skipped Green Lantern, Harry Potter and Chuck to take a last look over the convention floor. It’s much more relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning.
FAMILY GUY. Scenes from the last of the Star Wars parodies looked great (as expected). They won’t be doing parodies of the prequels, it just takes too much time and money. This season we can look forward to Stewie trying to kill Santa in an hourlong Christmas episode, Lois having done a porno in her past, and an episode based on the game “Clue” and Agatha Christie novels. There will be more songs this season . . . including one based on “Mr. Booze” from the Rat Pack film Robin And The Seven Hoods. Great chemistry among the cast – it was fun to see Patrick Warburton and the chants for more The Tick episodes. And Seth Green was his usual troublemaking self.
THE CLEVELAND SHOW. Following up with another piece of the Seth McFarlane dynasty. The Cleveland Show will be back on September 26th. We got a really funny table reading of most of the episode that will be the Season Finale – set a Comic Con co-starring Robert Rodriguez.
Missed: Peter Bagge. I caught the beginning of Futurama but had to leave for the more important panel . . .
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH SID & MARTY KROFFT, JOE RUBY AND KEN SPEARS. So many of my heroes all in one room – especially Sid and Marty. I don’t know why they aren’t invited every year just to tell stories. I wanted this panel to last all afternoon. Sid and Marty talked about selling Pufnstuf while still working on The Banana Splits while with Hanna-Barbera. They never did a pilot for the show (or any other for that matter) – they sold it directly from their artbook drawings of the concept. Joe and Ken talked about the creation of Scooby-Doo while working for Hanna-Barbera. It was partially based on radio mystery programs with a dog added to the show. It was equal parts Dobie Gillis and the Archies. Originally Scooby was named Too Much until the exec, Fred Silverman, heard Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night” and told them it would be Scooby Doo. Sid apologized for the Land Of The Lost movie – “I know we screwed up.” It had no heart according to them – there will be another version done the right way in four years.
Interestingly, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl was created by Ruby/Spears and produced by Sid & Marty for television. Ruby/Spears had their first hit with Fangface that went up against the upbeatable Popeye and beat it. Later, their biggest hit Thundarr was merely a way to capitalize on the upcoming Conan film of the day.
They were all there to debut a new partnership. They have a tremendous amount of unpublished works of Jack Kirby – around 690 story boards representing 1100 characters developed for them by Kirby in the 1980s. We saw some of the drawings and they are fantastic (as you’d expect). I still am not clear what will happen with these properties but I’m sure we’ll see some come to our TVs and movie screens in the near future. There will be a H.R. Pufnstuf film and a Lidsville film from Universal in our future. Expect them to take quite a different tact from the Land Of The Lost film – you just get the feeling that really scared them for the value of their franchises. And in even better news – more DVD releases to come including Kaptain Kool & The Kongs and possibly some Bay City Rollers.
Missed: The Simpsons, V
Spent the next hour outside down by the waterfront thinking I would get into Community but the line was just never moving. I enjoyed the fresh air enough that I wasn’t too disappointed. I took some time to walk around outside – the Con has gotten so large that it encompasses large portions of downtown San Diego in addition to the big Convention Center. There are thousands of people hanging around downtown that will never even want to go into the Con.
Missed; Ray Bradbury, Fringe, Fables
So, I headed back in to watch some TV-related panels to finish out my Con experience for 2010.
NIKITA. This rehash of the two previous films and the TV show looks impressive on the surface. We saw the complete first episode and I was mildly entertained. But I give it half a season. The CW show borrows too much from Alias, The Bionic Woman (the remake), and Dollhouse. It’s trying hard to appear to be an Abrams or Josh Whedon show. Fans will not have patience to follow any complex storylines on this network. It will be gone by January.
HUMAN TARGET. Another show I expect to be gone by then . . . I know lots of people who said this show was fantastic. But I don’t get the idea that even Fox is behind the show. The cast seemed as confused as the rest of us as to where the series can go other than repeating premises from the first season. And the move to Friday worked so well for Sarah Conner.
Missed: Thor and Captain America
MYTHBUSTERS. After the previous two busts, this was a perfect way to end my in-Con adventures. The full cast of the show was there. We didn’t get tons of “hey, watch this next season” type of things. The place was packed and this cast was probably treated more like rock stars than any other folk I ran into at this convention. It’s funny – you don’t get the idea that Adam and Jamie are friends – more that they just get along enough to work together on the show. They reminded me of the sciency version of Penn & Teller. At their heart – both groups are skeptics. They raise questions and see if they can find the answers. Lots of talk centered around redoing a few experiments – including “The Exploding Toilet”. Such a fun group – glad it was my last impression of Comic Con 2010.