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Category: Comic-Con 2007

August 2, 2007

Sketchbook: James Jean

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One of things I wanted the most from Comic-Con was to get something from James Jean. He's the cover artist for Fables and picked up even more Eisner awards to add to his collection last Friday. I love his work and decided: I must have.

Process Recess (1 & 2) continues to be too hard to come by, so I went for a piece of original art -- a mockup for a New York Times science piece that he did. Actual finished pieces were at least $1000, but thankfully this little rough was much cheaper and I like it enough that I hope to find some artistic use for it.

But as James Jean art was at the top of my list, I was hardly going to be satisfied with just one piece, so I asked him for a Snow White sketch and he kindly obliged. I left to pick up more sketches... and came back almost immediately to ask for another sketch, a tiger. He did the sketch using a blue pencil, so I decided that inverting the scan to make it orange-on-black (blue original). That sketch cost me $20, which seemed a bargain considering that a sketch from Scott Kurtz of PVP now runs you $10. Thankfully for my wallet, I was more than satisfied to leave with three sketches in hand.

July 30, 2007

Photos: Women of Battlestar Galactica (Plus Eick and Moore)

Tricia Helfer Katee Sackhoff/Starbuck Mary McDonnell/Laura Roslin Lucy Lawless David Eick 2007-07 Comic-Con 282

Photos from the "Women of Battlestar Galactica" panel are up (Movieweb has some low-quality audio). The panel was kicked off by a clip that started "Well-behaved women rarely make history", followed by a long montage of "fraks" and shots of BSG women beating up men, etc... Perhaps it was appropriate that Lucy Lawless made her surprise entrance flipping the bird to the moderator, but it was after he accidentally called her a man.

The talk was full of other moments of crudeness, pretty much all from the same person. Lucy Lawless sat in a wet chair and wondered if Katee Sackhoff had got it wet again (it was actually Sackhoff's chair, which she had switched out before Lawless came on stage):

Lucy Lawless finds her chair wet Katee Sackhoff denies she wet the chair

And there was Lucy Lawless twice using hand gestures to discuss Baltar (the first describing why both her character and Six were interested in him, the second discussing her surprise at entering a scene to Callis' full-frontal nudity):

Lucy Lawless describes Baltar Lucy Lawless recounts Callis' full frontal scene

Mary McDonnell played the more dignified role, Sackhoff the embarrassed role, and Helfer the shy role, but all got their laughs in. Ronald Moore and David Eick were there to answer plot questions and Michael Shepard (Romo Lampkin) posed for photos in the audience to help the Browncoats raise money for charity.

Katee Sackhoff and Mary McDonnell 2007-07 Comic-Con 312

There weren't many spoilers and I won't give any away here, per se. The cast is only give a five-or-so scripts ahead worth of knowledge, so they themselves can't spoil much. Ronald Moore described this last season as being like "Senior year" as the show wraps itself up. The Razor two-hour movie will introduce the final plot lines for the season by criss-crossing through Battlestar past, from the first Cylon war to Pegasus' escape from Caprica.

This is my third BSG panel; I only missed the very first in 2004. My favorite was the 2006 panel that had both Olmos and Lawless to entertain. Here are photos from the others:

Photos: Heroes Panel

Heroes: Ali Larter Heroes

I didn't get too many photos of the Heroes panel as I was still worried that I was going to get kicked out for not having a seat. Battlestar Galactica was next and I was camping for a good seat.

Masi Oka showed his nerd roots -- the sound system was giving feedback through most of the panel, so he climbed under the table to mess with the cords. He provided temporary relief, but the hum came back once more.

Heroes Comic-Con Photos

Heroes Heroes: Masi Oka

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Sunday

Sunday's stage is short largely ceremonial. Panels are sparse, most of the good schwag has run out, and everyone is generally exhausted.

Team Uni did several celebratory laps around the convention floor, picking up some last-minute sketch points and some goodies for the Credit Ruining Accoutremonts Classification (CRAC). bleusky, m, and ota hung together to hit up the Flight booth for additional sketches while parakkum and kwc struck out on their own. kwc focused most of his attention on James Jean sketches, purchasing a NYTimes science sketch and a Snow White and tiger sketch for his sketchbook.

ota and kwc made early exits to head to the airport, while parakkum, m, and bleusky celebrated at the team dinner along with parakkum's parents, who provided amazing support to our team throughout the Tour: lodging, transportation, food, and good company.

July 29, 2007

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Saturday

Saturday's stage blew away Team Uni's expectations in many ways. A gameplan to ride the queen stage with a warmup climb of the Quick Draw Panel (Cat 4) and then over the Ballroom 20 climbs of Heroes (Cat 1), Battlestar Galactica (Cat 1), Futurama (Cat 3), and Joss Whedon (Cat 1) turned more adventurous than planned, at least for team member kwc. The team made sure to shed all extra gear for this event to ride as light and slipstreamed as possible.

The team went into Saturday's stage with a plan to avoid the convention floor, fearing that it would be even more swamped than in previous days. Instead, the team observed it was perhaps the least crowded that it has been all week. Points for the Credit Ruining Accoutrements Classification (CRAC) were easy pickings and kwc was able to pick up limited editions of a Transformers Rodimus and Hot Wheel Batmobile, neither for himself, and the former being an item that m has sought after the entire convention. Instead of having to do the usual wait in line to get a ticket to get a time to wait in line again, kwc was able to walk directly to the cash register. Perhaps it was like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: kwc was able to retrieve these items because he had no desire for it.

Why was the convention floor so empty? Perhaps it was because other convention go-ers were doing was most of Team Uni was doing: waiting in line to get into panels. The length of the Ballroom 20 climb was five times longer (if not more) than in previous years for nearly identical panels (e.g. Battlestar Galactica). There were enough people to circle the entire east wing of the convention center.

kwc bridged up to bleusky and m, who were far up in the line but still found themselves unable to join the Heroes panel. This is when things got a bit interesting for kwc. He made a brief stop at the bathroom, which he found was temporarily closed for VIPs. The bathrooms were reopened and he soon found himself passing by the kid who plays Micah on Heroes washing his hands at the sink. kwc noted VIPs meant there must be another path from the bathroom to Ballroom and formulated a plan of attack.

kwc told bleusky and m about the run-in and possible secret path, and then decided to go scout the route. He poked his head through the unguarded double doors to check the security and... walked right into Ali Larter and the rest of the cast of Heroes walking down a back corridor. The breakaway was forming and kwc knew that this was the one to go with. He jumped into their draft -- not that there is much of a draft walking behind Ali Larter -- and pulled out his iPhone to block his badge and blend in with the assistants. A bodyguard made fertive glances at this new rider in the break.

The composition of the break at this point: the entire Heroes cast—Jack Coleman (H.R.G.), Noah Gray-Cabey (Micah Sanders), Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman), Ali Larter (Niki Sanders), James Kyson Lee (Ando), Masi Oka (Hiro Nakamura), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), Zachary Quinto (Sylar), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh), Dania Ramirez (Maya), and Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli) as well as Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, and Tim Kring. There were also the guests and family of the cast, including Rob Liefeld. It would have been a fun scene to take a photo of, but kwc could only think, "don't give away that you don't belong."

The group swelled up at the back entrance to Ballroom 20, then split as the cast,crew and people with black wristbands were led in. Quite a lot of the guests did not have these wristbands and as Jeph Loeb zoomed past he promised that he would send someone back to bridge them back in.

With the big names now gone from our midst, the security drones descended upon us, setting a mighty crosswind that threatened to expel the wristband-less chase gruop. An assistant bravely stood at the front and absorbed the blunt of the wind shouting, "I cannot move from this spot. If I do, I will lose my job." kwc cowered in his draft.

kwc briefly jumped on Rob Liefeld's wheel as he led a group over to one of the sidedoors, where a security guard was offering to let them in. The Liefeld group quickly dissolved as they noticed the others getting backstage, so they quickly sped back to that group, through the door, and backstage. kwc was in and quickly found that backstage was crowded, and all you saw was the cast's back -- he left backstage to find a better view.

The Heroes panel itself was actually boring -- the sort of panel where the moderator asks each panelist the same trite question, except that the entire cast was there, so this was quite tiresome. There was the occassional playful moment between members of the cast, usually led by Greg Grunberg, and there was the brief appearance of Kevin Smith, who was the first on the session to wonder if the Japanese characters on the show were gay. As excited as the audience was by his presence, he warned that might spell doom for the show as it did Veronica Mars. There was a clip at the end of the show that revealed little in the way of plot and more in the way of who was in the clip (I won't give it away here). kwc got a "Comic-Con Exclusive" first printing of the Season 1 DVD box, which is just a ridiculous piece of schwag. Maybe he can take advantage of the same people who buy PS3 boxes on eBay.

kwc was able to grab a fourth-row seat for m, who remained patient in line and got in for the Battlestar Galactica panel, which turned out to be a "Women of" sort of affair as Lucy Lawless, Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, and Mary McDonnell were the cast members present. It was a more entertaining event than Heroes and Ronald Moore talked about the upcoming Razor episode, which will be a sort of bridging episode that goes all the way back to the first Cylon war as well as back to the original attack on the Pegasus.

bleusky returned from sketch-hunting to watch the Futurama panel. Team Uni originally thought of the panel as being the Joss Whedon camping event, but it ended up being kwc's favorite panel on the day. The writers wrote a thank you comic to the fans and Comic-Con came on and performed it. It's one thing to see brief clips of voice actors on DVD extras, it's another to see the actors working together and someone like Billy West single-handedly do dialog between Fry, the Professor, and Zoidberg. John DiMaggio's larger-than-life presence was not all that different from Bender, and he, West, and Maurice LaMarche were all able to entertain the audience with displays of their voice talent -- the best being when they showed how they blended different voices to come up with their Futurama character's distinct signature.

The final climb of the Ballroom 20 course was the Joss Whedon event. In prior years, Whedon was able to deflect bad questions with great ease; this year he seemed more eager to answer the "what makes you more creative than me?" sorts of questions that dominate these events. He talked about his new effort Sugar Shock (available online) as well as Buffy Season 8, feminism, etc... He also resisted chants from the audience to dance like a monkey.

parakkum took part in the separate Magic competition held on Saturday (parakkum's diary entry). He caught another opponent accidentally cheating and took that match, but bad draws and otherwise made for a tough event.

Ota rode the first Quick Draw panel with other team members and then rode a separate course through the Jim Henson/Tokyo Pop panel and the Hall-H-Category (HHC) Disney/Pixar event.

The full team grouped together to ride at the front of the line heading into the Sails Pavilion, getting a table up front and indulging themselves in the free nachos, cupcakes, and candy that the organizers generously offered. The first half of the event had some fun skits and costumes, but the team was passing out on the final stretch.

July 28, 2007

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Friday

Schwag

Team Uni was riding at full strength for the first time yesterday as ota did a full course and there were temporary reinforcements from Temecula, as bleusky's friend jw drove in. The full team showed immediate dividends in the schwag competition: bleusky and jw were able to collect the popular Harry Potter bags, while ota did a blazing timecheck through the Wizards of the Coast booth to collect a Magic starter set.

The team's fast start was helped by a switch to The Cheese Shop for morning grub. There was no Guinness/coffee combo to be had, but massive carbs were delivered promptly.

Sketch Classification

Team Uni sent honeyfields, bleusky, and kwc to collect points in the sketch competition. bleusky collected several sketches, including a Stardust sketch from Charles Vess and a color painting from Scott Morse that earned her first in the sketch ranking on the day. kwc focused on collecting points at the Flight checkpoint, getting an excellent vampire from Rodolphe Guenoden, a beautiful fairy from Sarah Mensinga, and generally filling up the front of his Flight book with signatures. honeyfields added two more Sakai sketches to Team Uni's totals, with both a sketchbook sketch as well as a detailed sketch in the Art of Usagi Yojimbo hardcover.

kwc collected on the long-promised "Usagi Yojimo Charges into Battle on Bike," which was assisted by the Tour de France being on TV in Stan Sakai's hotel for visual reference.

Usagi commision from Stan Sakai Flight 4 Guenoden sketch

Panels

Team Uni made a wise decision to avoid the early day Hall-H-Category (HHC) sessions. The Whiteout session was reminscent of Paris-Roubaix as Kate Beckinsale was caught behind a the train tracks across from the Convention Center and her fellow panelists were unable to convince security of their status.

The team instead sent a big contigent to the Neil Gaiman talk, which did not disappoint. Despite have no prepared remarks or plan, Gaiman 'burbled' his way to many laughs with his Alan Moore ("he's very big and very hairy. And as he gets interested in something, he loooooms") and Guillermo del Toro (Neil's "Magic Dumbo") anecdotes. There were also some anecdotes of the early days of Comic-Con:

Gaiman: You'd sign for 10 or 15 people and then no one else would come
Audience: awwwwww
Gaiman: It was great!

Someone asked him why, if there was a God, why is there the Endless? "Isn't that like saying, if there was a God, why do you need to buy hamburgers?"

On Volume 2 and 3 of Absolute Sandman: "And of course you could kill someone if you dropped it on them. Useful. For the right person."

parakkum's diary covers the talk as well, including the Spectacular Spiderman panel beforehand. I like "Cheeks"' character design for the cartoon, but the backgrounds were crap.

m held fast in the Stargate doubleheader, taking many photos and reporting that the folksy girl from Firefly is moving to Stargate: Atlantis.

The strenuous course eventually helped Team Uni commit some missteps in panel selection later in the day. The very attendable HHC Star Wars at 30 punished ota, parakkum, and honeyfields with non-Star-Wars marketing, and the Jim Henson talk similarly punished bleusky. A Scott McCloud family slideshow had kwc gritting his teeth and pulling an early exit.

The team's spirits were lifted as parakkum's parents treated the team to a dinner at Nati's in Ocean Beach. The team stuffed its stomach with quesadilla crisps, jalapeno-soaked carrots, and Mexican-flavored carbs.

The ever-busy Saturday promises much in the way of panels. Just in Ballroom 20 is a string of Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Futurama, and Joss Whedon. The hopes to avoid crashes on the convention floor and ride a good race, though it will have to do so without honeyfields, who has made a planned early exit for this year's Tour.

July 27, 2007

Tour de Comic-Con: Thursday

Nutrition is important to Comic-Con: eat enough calories at breakfast, you can hopefully hold off hunger until the floor closes for dinnertime. Fail, and you must choose between crappy convention floor food or losing a couple of hours to venture out into the Gaslamp district.

Just as important is where you get your food. Team Uni has traditionally eaten at Hennesey's on the weekday mornings and The Field on the weekends -- the The Field offers true Irish breakfast but is not open on weekdays; Hennesey's approximates Irish breakfast. The compromise has worked until yesterday, when poor service cost Team Uni an hour right out of the gate and set the team back in the CRAC (Credit Ruining Accoutremonts Classification). Harry Potter bags were already gone; tickets for exclusive Transformers were gone. Shaun Tan advance reading copies were offered as consolation from Scholastic.

Such missteps do not keep Team Uni down: the team recovered by heading over to the Wizards of the Coast area and making quick work of the giant d20. parakkum, honeyfields, and bleusky combined to win Axis & Allies: D-Day, an Axis and Allies Naval Starter Set, and a Magic core starter set with online CD. kwc picked up a Star Wars Bounty Hunters booster pack but wasted too much time collecting stamp bonus. Team Uni hopes to repeat its Thursday morning gameplan on Friday with better results; Hennesey's will be avoided and kwc has already pre-collected stamp bonuses to move through the Wizards area quickly.

bleusky showed she has good legs despite being a rookie, easily collecting all five cards scattered acround the Convention Floor for the Avatar competition, earning a sixth bonus card for her efforts. She and honeyfields also teamed up to do a privacy-for-schwag manuever, earning Eduardo and Samurai Jack cellphone accessories from the MMOG booth.

Sketch competition

Scott Morse "sketch"kwc had a very good day in the sketch classification. Scott Morse did a "sketch" that was, in fact, the first color painting that he's done for kwc in five Comic-Cons and two APEs, and an awesome one at that. kwc also got a Mike Mignola, and Stan Sakai sketch, as well as a Wolverine sketch from David Finch of Ultimate X-Men fee. The latter was a split category prize: 1/2 sketch and 1/2 CRAC as it was a paid sketch. A Stan Sakai Usagi commission should earn Team Uni full dual sketch/CRAC points but will not be ready until Friday's stage.

honeyfields scouted the Flight booth and racked up huge sketch points: Sarah Mensinga, Johane Matte, Kazu, Clio Chiang, Reagan Lodge, and Ryan Estrada all did drawings for her sketchbook. They are all fantastic, but the Mensigna sketch deserves special mention. The rest of Team Uni will be making passes by the Flight booth based on honeyfields scouting report.

m's big prize on the day was a Magic art print from the artist that shows off all the detail that is lost in the smaller card form factor. m got his first-edition Stardust hardcover signed by Charles Vess alongside a previous Neil Gaiman inscription. He also dropped back to help kwc get his Stardust signed after kwc's legs cracked on the first attempt.

m, honeyfield, kwc, and bleusky did a team ride through the David Petersen/Mouse Guard booth, picking up three copies of the hardcover volume one and many sketches -- Petersen humored us and shared stories of eating dinner with Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, and Stan Sakai. The moral:

Never follow a Sergio shortcut through the snow,
what lies beneath you do not know,
for saved time you try to beg,
you must sacrifice Mark Evanier's leg.

King of the Mountain (KOM) competition

Thursday's stage had an unprecented addition that is a sign of Comic-Con's growing popularity: a Hall-H-Category (HHC) KOM with twenty-or-so unlabelled switchbacks that cut across half the length of the convention center and around the sculpture garden outside the Hall. The Hall-H-Category climbs were added in 2005 (related: Team Uni's first Hall H experience), but the major-movie-studio events that are held there have typically only occurred on the more popular Friday and Saturday stages. The Thursday event was a bit of an unknown: a Thursday major motion picture event, with Neil Gaiman and JJ Abrams.

m and kwc attempted to conquer this HHC climb, figuring that it would be easier than typical HHC climbs due to it being a Thursday. Instead, the course was harder than any previous HHC climbs, including events with Natalie Portman and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Only the fabled Spiderman 3 event ranks more challenging. m and kwc were forced to abandon after being told by referees that they were outside the time limit. With this surprising early defeat, m has already decided to forgo the KOM competition; kwc has yet to determine if he will have the legs to make a solo attempt on Friday or Saturday.

Panels

Team Uni regrouped at the Groo 25th Anniversary panel, which featured everyone who has worked on Groo, i.e. all five of them. parakkum's stage diary highlights some of the entertaining bits. I also enjoyed the banter between Sakai and one of the colorists (Colorist: "You could read the completed issue" Sakai: "But then the color would ruin it").

You can also read parakkum's diary to find out more about the Bill Plympton event.

Doping report

Overheard: Charles Vess remarking to his teammate, "I just had gummy bears, I can do anything!"

kwc has been suspiciously consuming packages labeled "doubleshot."

July 26, 2007

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Prologue

Team Uni limped (literally) into the Prologue Preview Night: honeyfields is sporting a fashionable cane and kwc visited the team doctor this week to get his patella taped due to a problematic kneecap. The team scouted the very crowded Comic-Con Convention floor and scouted the offerings in the schwag competition: starter sets and booster packs from Wizards of the Coast appear to have the best $$$:item ratio and Harry Potter Deathly Hallows bags from Scholastic are of good quality.

m came through with passes to the Stardust screening Thursday night; kwc was five minutes too late, even though he showed up five minutes early. m was less lucky in obtaining a CC-exclusive Transformers Ford GT Rodimus for the CRAC (Credit Ruining Accoutremounts Classification), but he plans on going in an early morning break to attempt it once more.

Team rookie bleusky gave Team Uni its first points in the sketch classification, picking up drawings from Stan Sakai, the Flight folks, and Owly. The Stan Sakai sketches are rumored to be more difficult this year as Sakai and Aragones are unhappy with the eBay aftermarket, so it could turn out to be important as the standings shake out.

parakkum rode in the wind and carried hardcovers to protect honeyfields and they focused on heavy CRAC so they wouldn't have to carry it on the longer stages ahead. kwc had a similar strategy and picked up a limited-edition Scott Morse Scrap Mettle, RD8 Mimobot, Isadore Vimobot, Usagi Yojimbo Vol 21, Penny-Arcade Birds Are Weird and Armadeaddon poster, and CC-exclusive pink R2-D2 (R2-KT) (to add to his collection of R2s). kwc has never waited in line at for a CC exclusive before and was exposed to the troubling underbelly of Comic-Con: parents forcing their kids to go around the convention floor with them to pick up exclusives (to game the item/person limit) and schwag.

The early-morning Thursday gameplan for kwc and honeyfields is to pick up Harry Potter bags from Scholastic and possibly head over to Mimobot. kwc will head from there to pick up his Stan-Sakai-commissioned "Usagi Yojimbo on Bike" and to the Wizards booth to start collecting schwag points.

ota rejoins Team Uni today, straight out of a five-day stage race in Vancouver.

July 25, 2007

Off to Comic-Con

With all that's going on, Comic-Con has snuck up on me -- but I leave for my flight in 5 minutes so I better get in that frame of mind. Off to San Diego!