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San Diego Comic-Con 2007 by Drew Bittner
Review by Drew Bittner
Comic-Con International  
Date: 30 July 2007 /

A field report from a visitor to the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con.

Editor's Note: Also see our report of San Diego Comic-Con 2007 by Charles Mohapel.

Having been a comic book professional (briefly) in the 1990s, I had been to "the show" three times and considered myself reasonably well-versed in what to expect. My wife Kat had never been but figured she'd been to a con or two; San Diego would just be a little bigger, is all.

Okay, we were naive.

The San Diego Comic-Con is one of the biggest trade shows in the world, with attendance topping 120,000 on Saturday alone. This year, for the first time, the show was completely sold out Friday through Sunday. I think a lot of that was due to Hollywood becoming such a huge presence in the convention.

This year, there were massive unveilings, such as Iron Man (where they showed the actual armor built by Stan Winston, in a presentation featuring director Jon Favreau and actor Robert Downey Jr.), a Heroes panel with the creator and cast (which had lines of THOUSANDS hoping to get in -- Kat and I among them), and guests including Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Lucy Lawless, the cast of Battlestar Galactica... oh, and there were a lot of actual comics-related folk there too.

Stan Lee, Jim Lee and a reunion of the Image founders, panels by DC Comics and Marvel on their major families of titles and imprints, showcases of toys and replicas by Mattel, WETA, Sideshow, Master Replicas and many more, a booth by LucasArts showing promo art for LEGO STAR WARS SAGA (yup, the whole saga on ONE game!) and LEGO INDIANA JONES--honestly, it boggles the mind.

So what did Kat and I do? Well...

Mostly it was about catching up with old friends. I had some business to discuss but found time to meet with WildStorm alumni like John Nee, Jeff Mariotte, Chris Milos, Mat Broome and Sarah Becker, and I had the pleasure of introducing my wife to Jim Lee (who really is a nice guy, despite being one of the busiest guys in the industry).

Some of the favorite things we did included seeing the sneak preview of Pushing Daisies, a new show coming on ABC by Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls, Heroes, Dead Like Me). The preview was followed by the cast and creators on a panel, where Kristin Chenoweth got the lion's share of attention. Fuller explained the genesis of the show as a story arc for Dead Like Me that never got made. The lead character is Ned, who can reanimate the dead--except that if they're animate longer than a minute, they STAY living... and somebody nearby dies. He makes money by asking murder victims who killed them... but saying more would give away too much. It's a funny, sweet show, one of a kind, and we heartily hope it's the giant hit it deserves to become.

Neil Gaiman... well, Neil is Neil. Kat and I caught his spotlight panel, which consisted of answering a LOT of questions and generally discussing life, writing and stray thoughts that were crossing his mind that afternoon.

We also caught the American Dad panel, where Seth MacFarlane and cast did a table reading of an upcoming episode. They brought down the house with sheer hilarity. (And I for one had never connected Scott Grimes of ER with Scott Grimes who does the voice of Steve, the youngest Smith. He's hysterically funny, honest.)

And on Saturday we saw Rosario Dawson coming out of a restaurant--rather than bother her by gushing, we said how we loved her work and wished her well with her comic, Occult Crimes Taskforce (OCT) from Image Comics.

Sunday we saw Milo Ventimiglia's panel for Pathology, a horror movie by the guys who made Crank. It wasn't the same as seeing his other show's panel but... you take what you can get. And we got pictures signed by Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) and veteran character actor James Hong. And I said "Hi" to Holly Black while Kat held a place at the cartoon voices panel, featuring Tom Kenny, Michael Bell, Jess Harnell, Greg Berger, April Stewart and Maurice LeMarche. It was absolutely one of the best panels I've ever seen... and I had the pleasure of thanking Harnell and LeMarche for their tremendous work and the joy it's given me as an animation fan.

At the end of the day, we hung out with Mike Carey, writer of X-Men, and wandered about San Diego. Mike is one of the nicest guys working in the biz; we got to be friends through a blog to which Kat and I contribute (buglesplanet.blogspot.com), where we'd interviewed him as the "X-Men's war correspondent." Check out Mike's blog.

The good? There is literally WAY too much to see, do, experience and take home in swag bags. You'd need an army of clones to do it right. Vast numbers of celebrities from all over, creators and geniuses and freaks and weirdoes and all the people you'd ever want to meet crowded under one roof, it's all there.

The bad? You expect squatters in the biggest ballrooms to block you sometimes from catching the high-demand panels. What isn't cool is that thousands were frozen out of the Bionic Woman, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica and TV Guide panels with no overflow rooms, no podcast available afterward, and no accommodation for those who must have bought memberships for Saturday only JUST to see those panels. The organizers need to do some thinking about how these events should be managed or they're looking at massive disappointment and loads of bad word-of-mouth. Let it get around that you'll NEVER see the panels you want and people will stop showing up, trust me. If you're reading this... think about it, guys.

Should you go? Well... if you can, yeah. It's an unbelievable experience and one you shouldn't miss. Just don't be surprised or disappointed if you can't see and do everything. It's the nature of the beast.

For more info, visit the Comic-Con website.

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