Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Comic Con 2008

Comic Con 2009 wrapped up this past weekend and the panels seem to be great.
Here are my recollections of Comic Con 2008, which I attended last July.

July 24th 2008
I attended the Great American PitchFest in June 2008 and everyone was talking about it being a comic super-hero year for film alla the success of The Dark Knight and Iron Man, just to name a few. So many of the aspiring writers at PitchFest were planning to attend the Comic Con in San Diego to see what the next industry trends were. Comic Con, as the name implies, is a convention for all things comics including comic books, anime, graphic novels, video games and action figures so normally geeks or rabid fanboys were the majority in attendance. However, this has changed and Hollywood has taken over, thanks to the mass appeal of comic book inspired movies.

Since San Diego is close by, I decided to attend this years convention, with my geek repellent handy of course. I had never been to San Diego either and felt that this was as good a time as any to explore more of California... to see the coast... to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time... all before my first year in L.A. was up.

Wednesday: I decided to go by train and knowing how comic fans are I got to the train station early. Good thing too, as there were already tons of people in line, (mostly guys aged 19-29 but girls were well represented too) and from their t-shirts and conversations they were mostly headed to Comic Con. It was a festive gathering as comic fans munched on snacks and talked about the buzz around the event, as we soaked up our environment. L.A's Union Station train station is a beautiful station done in an art deco mixed with a Spanish style with tiles and lots of Gothic brown wooden furniture. It is a must see if you take a trip out here but as it has practically no A/C make your tour quick.

I got in line and started praying for the line to move quickly... it didn't. After, an hour people were sitting on the floor. After nearly an hour and a half in line and no movement, people started to protest (who knew geeks and nerds had it in 'em?) and an Amtrak official finally came to speak to us. It seems that my adventure started badly as some unfortunate person had thrown themselves under on of the earlier trains. This was the cause of the hours of delay and the ridiculous lines which we had complained about. Why Amtrak didn't tell us the cause of the delay sooner is a mystery to me but we all felt guilty for grousing at someones death delaying us. Still, you can imagine the mad rush, when they finally allowed us to board... like the last loaf of bread during a famine. I wisely stayed out of their way but still got one of the last seats.

Thankfully, the rest of the trip went well. From my window seat, I saw all the towns between the two cities, the baseball park in Anahiem and finally... the mighty Pacific Ocean! The Pacific looked very rough compared to the Atlantic Ocean but quite a few teens and kids were surfing happily. We reached San Diego's train station and debarked. I followed the crowd to the station depot which was across the train platform and over some train tracks. Suddenly and without warning, a train was barrelling towards me. I jumped back and a porter pulled me and showed me the red warning lights, which were not clearly visible. Mindful of the tragedy earlier, I told him that they need better warnings of on-coming trains like big flashing lights and a blearing horn or at least a gated arm that lowers as the train approaches (this suggestion would come back and bite me).

I did a quick visual tour of San Diego's sea line (tall buildings, palm trees and boat tour kiosks)and it's train station (wonderful art deco in bright blue and teal tiles and murals) then I caught a cab. I arrived at the Balboa Inn, a quaint little "bed and breakfast" with painted flower motifs, a lobby full of small figurines and the largest jacuzzi tub ever. I ate some take-out for dinner, soaked in the tub then slept like a baby in the canopied four poster bed. What a lovely place!

Thursday AM: I got up bright and early... no time to site see today. I caught a cab to the Convention center Harbour Drive b/c the Fox panel started at 8:00 am. Again, the lines were ridiculous because of some book for tweens and teen girls which was being made into a movie called Twilight (I later learned to respect the mass of these fans ). I had to pick up my registration badge, which was a pain in the butt. They had us walking blocks to the registration area and even though they had a disability quick check it amounted to no difference in time spent standing or walking.

I finally made it to Hall H only to find out that my registration badge was wrong (typical) so they wanted to send me back to a long line that wrapped around the mile long center full of those 'tween and teen girls in vampire-goth drag who had been there for more than a day. So I had a small well deserved fit and made the supervisors come to mediate. They amended and let me in with the wrong badge but with just a disability stamp added. Lucky too, because Hall H was filling rapidly because it was where all the big star-driven panel events were happening.

Comic Con organizers should be commended though as, once inside, there were lots of accommodations for all kinds of disabilities including sign-language translators for the hearing impaired, visual assistance and front row seating for the visually impaired, as well as accessibility for wheel chair and guide dogs. Unfortunately, many none disabled people were taking the seats and the event security staff had to buckle down. I myself was carded many times after I took a seat in the middle sections but I didn't mind at all.

Over a thousand people are sitting in the room, anxious to see the various panels of Hollywood stars, writers, director and producers. As we wait, the buzz increases to a crescendo and the Twilight girls (and Twilight women) are everywhere! Scheduled to appear on the Hall H panels today are Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Keanu Reeves, Mark Wahlberg aka Marky Mark, Edris Elba, Korean pop sensation Rain and all I am thinking is "beef-cake, beef-cake, beef-cake"(lol). There was even more buzzing energy and loud chatter which was very contagous and I admit that I got pulled into it.

The first panel is for the sci-fi re-make The Day The Earth Stood Still and they hand out black t-shirts with the slogan, "Klaatu barada nikto." in grey across the front as we enter. As I liked the original, I was eager to hear this panel. When better seats opened up closer to the front, I moved up... next to rabid fans with posters of various stars and various people saying things like "If I see him I will just die...". It wasn't just girls, it was adult women. It just wasn't females, it was guys too ("bro-mance"). It wasn't just Americans, it was Canadians, Brits, Scandinavian, Korean and Japanese fans.

We waited a while more and we trade holding seats for each other as we go to and fro' the ladies room. I put on the Klaatu t-shirt as it is absolutely freezing cold in Hall H. I was was second in line to ask a question for the panel about Christianity in movies when suddenly the large 25 feet high black curtains, which surrounded the large hall begin to fall! One by one like falling dominoes, the metal supports collapsed in a circle around the hall. The staff tried to stop it from collapsing but only stopped it mid-way so some people got hit in the head or trapped under the heavy draping. Some of the Twilighters screamed in hysteria and a little panic rippled across the hall. The hysteria subsided a bit but there was a delay of 30 minuets to right everything back up (they used a small crane) and then the panel started.

Suddenly, the entire hall goes black and some people gasp especially so soon after the curtain collapse. There is nothing to fear though... A loud screech of TV static blears through the hall's surround sound speakers and then the large viewing screens light up... we see some scenes...
-Scientists dressed in decon suits aboard a military helicopter... they talk in hushed worried tones... they are taken to a secret military base in New York...
-A man in blue scrubs (Keanu Reeves) is hooked up to a lie-detector monitor and he is being interrogated by military police... the man overpowers them all with mind control and walks out with an eerie calmness...

Our attention moves to the hall's stage, where tables, chairs and placards are set up. The curtains moves aside and Keanu Reeves walks out. The crowd goes crazy as a wave of electricity moves through the audience... A guy yells, "I love you, man... you rock! Wow, Comic Con has officially started!

The highlights: Keanu Reeves knows how to open a show. Mila Kunis is "pinch her checks" cute, Mark Wahlberg has grit. Hugh Jackman nearly started a riot when he jumped into the audience during the Wolverine panel. A few women started grabbing on him but he was pumped to introduce us to the original writer or the X-men comics sitting in the crowd. From the Rock-a-Rolla panel: Gerard Butler is a shameless flirt (he threw chocolate kisses into the crowd, talked dirty= an "F" word a minute). Eddris Elba's British accent and his gentle manliness is contagious. Ludacris has a big fan base ("go Luda!") and I think Guy Richie made a joking reference to his impending split from Madonna. Joel Silver is a hoot. He did two panels and introduced his new company Dark Castle. From the Return To Witch Mountain panel: The Rock is more than just muscles and he showed his ability to handle awkward questions from devoted (read desperate or crazed) female fans.

We saw trailers from the new Tron movie with Jeff Bridges re-digitalized with CGI which was awesome then we watched an animated Hulk movie. There were 3 or 4 more panels left but I had had my fill. I walked through the convention floor and played video games and sang karaoke. Then I spotted Geoff Darrow of The Matrix fame (he drew the story boards for the movie) and I got him to sign a few of his comics that I bought. I walked through the convention center passed people in costumes and role-playing with painted faces. I exited the convention center with a group of hundreds of people looking for something to eat. As we walked across another set of train tracks, a gate starts to lower and bells ring. The people in front of us move back at the last minute as a train approaches and I narrowly escape being hit on the had by the gate arm.

The rickshaw like taxis charge too much, so I walk up to a nice area with shops and restaurants. I sight-see a bit then it is nearly 5 PM. I decide to have dinner there and then head back by cab to my hotel for another soak and a good night's sleep.

Friday: I check out of the inn and catch a cab to the harbour. I buy a ticket for a sight-seeing tour by boat and I get to see all the sites from the ocean. San Diego's skyline is beautiful and I even got to see some happy dolphins and seals. I think I like San Diego! I get back to the train station a few blocks away and cross the train tracks very carefully. I board the train and head back to L.A. What an experience!

God is great!!!!!!!

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