SDCC Day 3

Saturday is famed for being the climax of Comic Con. The Masquerade, the incredible Hall H panels and footage, all the best costumes … it is all reputed to be on this day of days.

Sadly most of it required lining up. In the case of Hall H, the line had begun the night before. I’m too old and practical to be that fanatic about anything …. well, unless you’re handing out functioning Iron Man suits.

Maxwell Alexander Drake led the morning class on a two hour exploration in how to craft fight scenes. I’m not huge on action, but the story I’m writing has its fair share so I found the class extremely useful (just like all his others). Jelmer was in his own panel that morning and we met up on the floor afterwards. The crowd… it was epic.

Saturday was Jelmer’s Best Day Ever for various reasons, and in the end he did get a DougHug! I’m so thrilled he got to meet him too. Jelmer and I have huge crushes on this wonderful, wonderful man. Mr. Jones just makes you want to be a better person yourself.

For lunch we feasted on… yucky stuff. But it was surprisingly delicious yucky stuff. I need a certain amount of junk in my system, and I’m sure Comic Con has filled my allotment for the year. People were lining the walls trying to find an empty spot where they could feast on their garbage and not be stepped on. I proceeded to update twitter with our plans to see Kevin Smith that evening, then chowed down.

The artist’s alleys were located along the perimeters of the hall and we once again took to exploring them. I stumbled across some really cool art by Brett Bean, who was very gracious and drew something for me when I purchased his book. Here are a few snapshots, you can always check out more at his blog:

Later that evening we went to the House of Blues to watch Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman do their Babble On show. Now, this is the first time I’ve ever seen Kevin Smith live, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew they often called people out in the audience, so I made sure my phone was on vibrate and stuffed it in my purse.

Wouldn’t you know it, the mutinous thing buzzed immediately! Cursing mentally, I shrugged it off as the venue was noisy enough to disguise it, and within moments Smith and Garman took the stage.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone perform that much oral sex on a microphone. Hats off to Kevin on that one. Garman was asked to help an audience member convince his wife to be more adventurous in bed, so he did a hilarious imitation of Arnold singing “Edelweiss”. Only it was “Analvice”. Follow Kevin on twitter to see links to the recording of the show, and if you see me on the audience camera, I really don’t want to know.

1am rolled around and we were on our way home. I was yawning constantly and after three days of SDCC, I was pretty much done.

I pulled out my iPhone, wondering who had messaged me at midnight just before the show started. The following message glared out at me:  “KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) favorited one of your Tweets!”

… That fanatic stuff I said I was too old for? I take it back.

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SDCC day 2

Friday was destined to be the best of my Comic Con days. It started off normally enough, with me squatting at the front of the line for my 10am class, two hours before it commenced. Every day my linemates were as different as they could possibly be from each other, and today was no different. The only thing we had in common was a strange sense of camaraderie, and a feeling of wonder that everyone at the con was so NICE. Surprisingly enough, most of the people I met were at SDCC for the very first or second time. We had all heard the criticisms about how the convention had grown beyond anything enjoyable, but as people experiencing it all for the first time we strongly disagreed. Yes it was crowded, but there was so much to see you ended up looking past the mass of people and slugged through anyway. Everyone was in a good mood and everyone had been waiting months to be here.

Drake’s class went swiftly, as all entertaining things do, and before long I found myself heading to the exhibition hall where I tended to spend most of my afternoons. I knew Doug Jones would be at the Gentle Giant booth and since we had spoken a few times online, I thought I might finally say hello in the flesh to The Nicest Man on the Planet.

He seriously is exactly that.

As I didn’t want to interrupt any of his fan conversations I made sure to toddle off and meet up with the other half in the artist’s alley. This area of the convention was far easier to navigate, with only a few lines to meet certain artists and creators. One of the larger lines was for J. Scott Campbell, an artist who rose to fame with the Image title Gen13. Among the wave of Image artists that enjoyed massive popularity in the 90’s, his was the art I most admired, and primarily because it resembled my absolute favourite comic artist’s work from the 80’s.

And guess who was in the booth directly behind him?

That very artist, Arthur Adams.

I just about flipped. This was the man who brought Longshot to fame in the mid 80’s with the iconic miniseries. This was the man who drew the X-Men with grace and stunning detail. When my eleven year old self tried to draw superheroes, it was this guy’s books in front of me. We chatted for a few minutes before I purchased a copy of his book and mentally squeed halfway across the hall.

And that was when I found Bobby Chiu, coincidentally selling my favourite piece of his. The original.

What kind of amazing Comic Con deity blessed this day??

I think we attended an ILM art panel at some point after that (which I recall was very awesome), but by then I was definitely floating in a different realm. I am fairly certain that everyone who spoke to me that day thinks I’m a blithering idiot.

Hall H? Whatever.

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SDCC Day 1 (part 2)

Still Thursday, and still so much to do. We had a presentation with Neville Page to get to at 4pm, which meant that we had better get there early. Unfortunately there was already a panel going on in the room, and it sounded very… sprightly.

It was Viz media, and we were informed that if we wanted a seat in the next class, we should go in now. I weakly protested that we might be disrupting, but the volunteers insisted it was the best course of action. So in I went, to watch trailers about animals that transformed into attractive prepubescent boys and made their chosen nondescript female owner the subject of much envy.

There was also something about a species that was half dog, half edamame bean.

Er… what?

Thank god Neville took the next hour with tales of designing enormous man-eating alien creatures.

We had to get ourselves to the Balboa Theatre rather quickly considering W00tstock was on soon, so after chatting to a fellow creature design enthusiast we set off. On the way we saw more street festivities, like these stilt dancers.


Now, W00tstock was an unknown element to both of us. I knew there had been some hilarious musical numbers in previous performances, but this was to be five hours. How were they going to fill all that and still entertain their audience?

I still don’t know how they did it, but they succeeded. Adam Savage, Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm, Marian Call, The Doubleclicks, Bonnie Burton and more hit the stage with tales of googley eyes on dogturds, seamen and musical cats.

Seriously, you have to see the musical cat.

Here is Paul and Storm’s musical message to George Lucas, please excuse my shakiness while I try desperately not to laugh.

Bonnie Burton and Anne Wheaton took to the stage showing us all how the world could be made a better place. By the judicious application of googley eyes to anything and everything … including Bonnie’s chest. The Doubleclicks then entertained us all with songs about romance and Dungeons & Dragons. They proceeded to sing happy birthday to Bonnie, who had lost one of her enormous booblyeyes and went cyclops for the occasion.

Finally the extraordinarily talented Marian Call hit the stage and demonstrated why some of us will never be rock stars. This isn’t the performance, but it is the song in question.

Five hours of wine, comedy and music with our fellow nerds had sealed the deal. W00tstock, we will definitely be back.

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SDCC Day 1 (part 1)

Day one of Comic Con began early. Not as early as it had for some, who had been lining up for the Twilight panel in Hall H for several days. No, for me, early meant being up at 6am,  then being at the convention centre for 8 o’clock in order to line up for a class that started at 10. Thank goodness my fellow linemates were friendly.

Comic Con impressed me with the diversity of its programming. It literally had something for everyone, provided it was entertainment you were interested in. To that effect I had chosen to attend most of the classes being run by Maxwell Alexander Drake, an accomplished author who is also now branching out into comics. And you really, really should check out his comic. Not only is it being written by him, but also being illustrated by a Magic the Gathering artist.

The class was so popular, they turned away a few hundred people. That more or less sealed my fate as far as early starts. It seemed that for the rest of the con, I would be doomed to continue arriving early at room 2. Not that I am complaining. That would be Jelmer, who unfortunately has a fiancee who cannot get ready quietly to save her life.

Noon came around and the number of attendees had increased significantly from the night before, but once Jelmer joined me we did end up gravitating to the Weta booth. Along with everyone else who liked life size trolls. Volunteers were forced to start directing traffic and yelled at people to move along while they tried to get a shot of being stomped by an enormous foot.

At one point during the day I was shoved aside by a dozen large men in black suits, only to have Tim Burton giggle his way past me to the Frankenweenie booth. Comic Con… it is surreal.

Speaking of surreal, tons of cosplay photos at the facebook album. Its public, unlike most of my facebook, so have at it :

I should note that I’ve made it a bit of a goal to share as much as I can about artists whose work I’ve discovered while at the convention, and in this particular case I have to thank a good friend for asking me to hunt down Pascal Campion’s booth and snag some prints from him. Campion’s art is like taking a holiday with your eyes – its happy, hopeful, and full of colour. I didn’t get these particular prints, but I think they are excellent examples of his work. Check out

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SDCC Preview Night

Jelmer and I made our way to Comic Con for the first time this year. I had read many blogs about how to survive the whole experience and make the best of it, so we were somewhat well prepared. The adventure was still full of surprises (most of them pleasant) and just to make certain my half-senile mind wouldn’t forget it all, I’m recording a few of the highlights.

San Diego is a city transformed during Comic Con. Our first glimpse of Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie banners was proof enough, until we sighted this monolith.

There were pedicabs decorated with motifs of everything from Once Upon a Time to Family Guy, and their drivers were similarly garbed. I felt particularly sorry for the man trying to cycle in a near complete suit of armour. Every restaurant we sighted had either taken on a comic or movie related theme or was so full of badged attendees that it might as well have been. That corner of the city was a haven for our species and it was glorious. If you thought the hotels would retain their sense of dignity, you would have been mistaken. The bellboy at ours had a yoda strapped to his back.
On the streets, early arrivals were already toting their massive WB loot bags, which at first glance looked more like enormous posters. At first I thought they were so ungainly I’d never use one. By the afternoon of day one, vanity had been thrown out the window and I was a true convert. It helped that the volunteer in charge gave me the Hobbit version. I saw an unfortunate soul with a Twilight bag. Poor diddums.

Preview night at San Diego Comic Con is rather similar to Siggraph… at its most packed, and on its most popular day. The difference is, preview night is supposed to be relatively uncrowded and easy to navigate since only a limited number of passes are sold for it. I thought this meant I would have some sort of chance at obtaining limited exclusives.

All you SDCC veterans are probably laughing at me right now.

My advice is, unless you desperately want an exclusive to the point where you would line up before the exhibition floor opens, forget about it. I did, and found much to see when I would otherwise have been waiting in line twiddling my thumbs and staring at my fellow nerds’ growing sweat stains. To be truthful I only queued up to get into my morning classes, and otherwise wandered the exhibition floor, which was so massive I still did not see everything despite having a four day pass.

Our first stops on the floor were to visit friends at Satellite Soda and the extremely talented Allen Williams ( Shortly after both parties lightened my wallet, we continued our exploration and realised there was simply too much awesome in one place to be sensible about anything (as if the word ‘sensible’ belongs anywhere in a discussion about Comic Con). We had arrived late and the floor was closing, so other than our complimentary WB bags and several art prints, we were relatively lootless.

Allen’s booth:Image

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A pro? sorta.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been browsing some of the frankly wonderful ideas on kickstarter, the fundraising platform that many artists, musicians and filmmakers have been using. I only did so because one of my favourite celebrities (Doug Jones) plugged an indie film he was starring in. Doug is an absolute sweetheart, and for people who aren’t familiar with his name, he usually appears under heavy prosthetics (Abe Sapien in Hellboy, the Fawn and Pale Man in Pan’s labyrinth, numerous others). Seeing this I browsed other ideas and found a musician whose work I wanted to back, a short film about quitting smoking, and a frankly genius project called “The Quiet Girl’s Guide to Violence”. I backed them all, as I could definitely relate to the subjects and best of all, they all seemed to have great quality and talent. Furthermore, it seems I’m going to be credited as an associate producer on two and executive producer in another, and listed on IMDB for it. That’s pretty rad! You know what’s even better? Producers qualify for professional guest registration at conventions. Huzzah!

In other news, I wrote four pages on friday, then took four days off. Balance. I needs it.

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sorry babies ..

Our pets are early risers. This was adorable at first, especially since I don’t mind waking up to a crooning Sevvy or to Raffy’s headbutts. But these antics have changed. Now I wake up to Sevvy tackling my feet, or Raffy meowing loudly for breakfast (with occasional headbutt). They also discovered its rather easy to wake me by scratching the back of the bed. We tolerated this… until last night at 5 a.m., when Blaze decided he needed to walk. Everywhere. All around the bedroom, down the hall, down the stairs, up the stairs, around the bedroom again. I got up, shut him in his kennel and went back to sleep.

I have a feeling we are going to institute a ban on animals in the bedroom at night. We love our babies, but sleep is the mistress of this house.

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