Results tagged “San Diego” from kwc blog

Tour de Comic-Con: Friday's Stage

|

comicconsplash_ccilogo.gifkwc arrived in San Diego just in time to walk over with the rest of Team Uni (bleusky, ota, parakkum, and littlestar -- m had already gone on a solo breakaway) to the Convention Center.

The big panel on the day was Joss Whedon, plus the writers and actors of Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. The line for Ballroom 20 was once again a nightmare, but kwc was able to guide littlestar and bleusky through the special door he found last year, past the cast of Stargate: Atlantis, through the security guard check, and into the ballroom. A harrowing course, but easier with experience.

The first goal on the day was to obtain the Lego pieces for the Joker figure, which like all good schwag, is upgraded to even better schwag when completed: you get a display box that also contains a Lego Batman figure. It was time consuming, though easy to complete, and Team Uni now has six Lego Jokers, seven Lego Batmans, and an extra Lego Joker head.

Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris dueled on stage in real life as on screen and Whedon answered the many questions with the normal entertaining, sarcastic responses. There didn't seem to be much difference between Captain Hammer and Nathan Fillion, and much of Dr. Horrible's character was formed out of Neil Patrick Harris' amusements for boredom. Felicia Day was forced to keep her hands on the table after the audience misunderstood what it meant to be "twittering".

The sketches today were few but quality: a couple Attaboy sketches, a Pirate Scratch by Kurtz, the yearly Stan Sakai sketch, and some monsters by Rodolphe Guenoden. parakkum collected some signed Queen and Country definitive editions from Greg Rucka, who entreated parakkum to "Please, don't blow me up." Yes, Rucka can peer into men's souls. There was also a bit of 3D to this year's sketch haul: a Gary Baseman-drawn Vimobot.

Team Uni regrouped at the end of the day for the Avatar finale. The audience was tested with long lines into Room 6CDEF and the verbal challenge: "If you get out of line to go to the bathroom, the line is closed, we will not let you back in. If you have to go to the bathroom, you will have to chose." The crowds where huge, the silhouette of a Fire Lord logo was visible -- MST3K style -- at the bottom of the video screens, the fan art and costumes were entertaining, and the finale was epic.

The Tour de Comic-Con is a go

|

comicconsplash_ccilogo.gifSchedule conflicts and sold out tickets had me thinking that I would have to miss Comic-Con this year after five straight years of attendance. I was forced to think what my life might be without the crushing crowds and schwag schwindling. But Team Uni has proven that the Tour de Comic-Con truly is a team event. littlestar, parakkum, and m on site braved the volatile Wednesday parcours to secure a last minute entry for me. Southwest frequent flier vouchers took care of the rest.

I'm a bit out of form and I'll have to ride into form for the event. It took the help of d to help find my sketchbook (sitting on the bookshelf, where you'd naturally expect it). There's only ten pages left so I'll have to be selective tomorrow. I'm also forced to travel without many accessories as Comic-Con does not allow rolling luggage on site and I'll be flying directly to the event. Five years and I'm still a rookie.

Nevertheless, I'll put everything I can into the event because there is so much to be seen, so much to do, so much Comic-Con.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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!

Tour de Comic-Con: Sunday's Stage

|

Sunday is a day to explore the floor, break out the wallet, and fill up the bag. Yes, today is the day that Team Uni goes out in search of a high ranking in the Credit Ruining Accountrements Classification (CRAC).

Before getting started in the CRAC, there was some loose ends with schwag and sketch points to get out of the way. Team Uni started off with a quick stop by the Wizards of the Coast booth to see if they had restocked any Attack on Endor sets. They hadn't, but there were new prizes and Team Uni managed to pick up some Magic starter and booster packs. Then it was off to Scott Morse's booth, where I got a Triplets of Belleville-style sketch of Tom Danielson drawn with sharpie and honeyfield's water brush. The sketch combines a bit of the alien-ness of time-trial cycling gear with impossible Spiderman-like body positioning and the elongated Triplets form. It'll be posted soon with the other sketches I got. I didn't commission a painting this time around as I got one at APE and I wanted to wait until I've had a chance to hang up the ones I have in my new place before I decided what I want next. Morse should have a new book out with Lou Romano and others at APE, which I'm looking forward to.

The wandering gets a bit more difficult-to-remember from there. We won some hats from Viz Media, I got a sketch from Adrian Tomine and Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Push Man), and we got some sketches at the Flight book from the always super-nice and talented Johane Matte as well as Dreamworks storyboardist Phil Craven.

The big purchasing came when honeyfields picked up nearly every book in First Second Books catalog -- and I do mean nearly every (five out of the six spring catalog books and two out of the six fall catalog books, the latter were only available as gifts for buying the spring books). I also picked up a bunch of New X-Men issues for daveextreme, which was fairly easy to do for cheap once the Sunday fire sale began in earnest. It's always fun to see what you can buy on Sunday because some dealer doesn't want to ship stuff back.

Sunday ended earlier than normal as I wanted to get back home at a more reasonable time given the dearth of public transit options on a Sunday from San Jose Airport. m and I took off at 3, tired and happy.

Tour de Comic-Con: Back Gearage

|

In parakkum's photo above you can see a shot of honeyfields and I walking the convention floor, which is deceptively clear of traffic. You can see honeyfields with Timbuk2 bag and me with backpack, poster tube, and camera strap. Next year I may switch to a setup more similar to honeyfields. The camera strap will stay but the poster tube and backpack will probably go. A backpack is hard to get access to, especially with poster tube and camera strap wrapped around your neck. You end up having to memorize an intricate order of strap removal in order to avoid strangling tangling. I've previously carried a Chrome messenger bag, which is a better than a backpack for breaking out the sketchbook, though mine is too big to easily swing around from my back to my front. I've wanted to get a medium-sized messenger bag for cycling, so now I will shop with Comic-Con also in mind.

Tour de Comic-Con: Saturday's Stage

|

I spent most of the morning killing time until Quick Draw, which is really the highlight of every Saturday for me. More will come on the Quick Draw panel later, but for now I'll say that it was as fun as expected. A bit more repetitive than usual with the types of prompts, but this panel always delivers year after year.

Next up was the Brisco County panel. Due to poorly managed long lines I got into this panel late, but I got to see a lot of the Q&A with Bruce Campbell, Carlton Cuse, John McNamara, and Julius Carrey. There weren't as many entertaining verbal ripostes as the Bruce Campbell one-man Q&A show, but it was full of plenty of fun moments in the semi-reunion. I may actually try to get the DVDs, though $65 ($100 list) is a bit steep to try it out.

After failing to get into the Spiderman 3 session, the day ended with watching the Masquerade on the projection screen in the Sails Pavilion. I don't know who won, but I think our favorite was the Nintendon'ts, which featured humorous interactions between various Nintendo characters, punctuated by the decapitation of Pikachu in a Highlander showdown.

Inbetween this was the usual schwag and sketches, as well as my first big points in the Credit Ruining Accoutremonts Classification (CRAC). I got a doodle from Dave McKean and sketches from Chris Mitten and Ben Templesmith -- the Oni booth is always fun to stop by and dangerous on the pocketbook, as I picked up three more comics: Julius (Antony Johnston), Past Lies (Weir and DeFilippis), and Wasteland (Johnston and Mitten).

Team Uni picked up some of the last available Attack on Endor sets. After winning two in the morning, we went back to the booth in the afternoon to discover that the prize heap had been reduced to worthless figurines. We considered it a job well done, walking away with seven sets by my account, for a total retail value of $140.

The big CRAC points came from buying an Usagi Yojimbo original drawing that has Usagi jumping up into the air. Next year I might commission a drawing from Sakai as it's the same cost, though it's not very important as I'm really happy with what I have. I'll scan and post it in a later entry.

Tour de Comic-Con: Friday's stage

|

I haven't really posted about yesterday's stage, but today's stage was so awesome that let's just leave it at my "Tired" entry for now and move onto this morning and afternoon.

Entertainment along the route picked up throughout the stage. After Snoop Dogg and Lando failed to show up for their session, things picked up dramatically with a rollicking Battlestar Galactica session. They probably gave away too many Season 3 spoilers, but Edward James Olmos and Lucy Lawless added a lot more entertainment to this year's panel. The day ended with the New Line Cinema event. Kenan Thompson was a hilarious host and things got great once the Final Destination 3 promo was done. They showed a clip from the upcoming Tenacious D movie (hilarious rock opera clip with a Meat Loaf and Dio) and then, what we were waiting for, Snakes on a Plane, featuring Samuel L. Jackson, live snakes (anaconda!), a 10-minute clip, and a hilarious mashup of some of the fan parodies. Samuel L. Jackson played his bad-ass part well, kinda like a Bruce Campbell session but with a lot more muthafuckas thrown in.

The schwag points in this year's Tour have been much more difficult to come by: the movie studios aren't giving away schwag at their presentations, there's a lot less t-shirts, a lot less posters, a lot less of everything, which doesn't make much sense as this is the biggest Tour de Comic-Con ever. Or perhaps it's so big that companies don't want to give out that much anymore. m and I are probably going to save some crucial weight tomorrow and leave our poster tubes behind as they are fairly empty.

Nevertheless, this year's Tour has some of the best schwag booths ever -- so good that I hestitate to call it schwag. After trying yesterday and only coming up with a Magic Booster pack, Team Uni got five Star Wars Attack on Endor sets that retail for $20 each. Team Uni also picked up three Boba Fett limited edition Bust-Ups, which non-limited versions retail for $4-5.

The sketches also went very well for kwc, who has been working since Thursday to get a Mignola sketch but has failed repeatedly. Today, success, as I now have a Hellboy sketch to add to my collection as well as a Stephen Silver sketch. honeyfields and my sketch books are much less full this year, but the focus has been much more on getting sketches from specific people and it has paid off. kwc has gotten sketches from Mignola, Kazu, Silver, Sakai, Guenoden, Kurtz, Aragones, and Gabe, which is a happy haul.

For both the schwag and sketch point competitions, this year's strategy has been much more in the style of Michael Rasmussen and Richard Virenque: ignore the piddling Cat 4 and Cat 3 climbs, go hard on one of the stages and take all the big climbs. Today's stage was that stage for us. With over $100 in retail with about an hour's effort each, Team Uni can coast to the finish, though we may pick up an extra Endor set or two just in case.

Tired

|

I'm a bit too tired to do a full Tour de Comic-Con update today. I woke up at 4:30am today to watch the greatest ride I have ever seen. It was worth it, but it also drained me a bit for the huge crowds today. Every year is the most crowded year yet, but this is the first year where Thursday really lost the "laid-back" distinctness. Nevertheless, I summoned all the energy I could, walked the floors, and had fun. More later after I sleep, as two Tours await me tomorrow morning, one at 5:30am, the other at 10:00am.

Tour de Comic-Con: Prologue

|

Team Uni bonked like Floyd Landis on the opening day of Comic-Con. m and I got off our Southwest flight and went straight to the convention center with parakkum and honeyfields. I thought of picking up a pizza in the airport feed zone, but I figured that we were taking an early dinner after and I could power through a light and easy preview night. Preview night is only open to pre-registered attendees, and as there is no actual programming and it only lasts three hours, the convention floor is fairly open and an easy course to manuever. We weren't prepared.

Every year attendance Comic-Con gets larger and larger, but for the past couple years the size of the venue has not. The number of people on the convention floor at this year's preview night was as bad as a Friday or possibly even Saturday of last year. Instead of a nice easy prologue stage to get the legs warmed up, it was hectic right out the gate, or rather, right through the double doors that thousands of people were squeezing through. I was dodging strollers, stormtroopers, and camera crews as I tried to swim like a salmon upstream to the Kinokuniya booth to buy a large sketchbook and then over to Mike Mignola's booth to grab a small Hellboy print and book of sketches. Mignola politely refused my request for a sketch, so my new sketchbook remains blank front to back.

We kept our run of the floor to a short one hour, but by the end I was exhausted, wishing I had carbo-loaded like I would on a regular stage. parakkum's parents treated us to Mexican dinner afterwards, which I gobbled like I had just ridden a stage through the Alps.

Take note Tour de Comic-Con riders: preview night is now just like any other day in the Tour. It may be shorter, but that just sends people flying around the floor faster. Watch your nutrition, stretch, and remember to draft to save energy. Luckily, this was just a prologue stage. My sketchbook may still be empty and I may have no schwag points, but I'm hoping for a nice easy start to Thursday's stage as a lot of people will be at work or in sessions instead of on the convention floor.

FYI: Samuel Jackson, Robert Rodriguez, Sam Raimi, Quentin Tarantino, Snoop Dogg, RZA, Edward James Olmos, Deepak Chopra, Bruce Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Nicholas Cage, and many others are guests this year. It's going to be crazy. Even Marvel put its name on a booth this year (shared with Activision), which is an odd move for them. It's a different event this year, but I'm looking forward to it.

Comic-Con Game Plan Redux

|

In addition to tech, you need a plan. I looked over my plan from 2004, and it's still mostly true, so I'll just update with these little revisions here:

Daily Plan #1: Arrive at convention center early, park underneath ($8). Parking at the Convention Center means you can dump the quickly accumulating (and heavy) stack of books and schwag. An alternative is to reserve a hotel adjacent to the convention center about 4 months in advance. Update: it's getting harder and harder to park at the Convention Center. We're actually planning on taking a taxi in. Not as convenient, but saves us from having to implements Plan B if we discover there's no parking. Last year we actually had a hotel nearby, which worked out great as well.

Hotels, taxis: A $20 taxi can get you pretty far in San Diego. You may want to consider this when looking at a $300 hotel versus a $200 hotel.

Comic-Con 2004 Game Plan 2004

Tour de Comic-Con tech

|

With the shocking news that Team Uni rider h.o.b. now has a cellphone, now seems a good time to do a brief review of some technology that can help you along with the Comic-Con. In the past, I've recommended animal ID transponders for keeping track of the artists and your friends, but in case you have moral qualms:

  • Sketch book: the perfect sketch book depends on you. I prefer small, with pages you can rip out easily for framing, but the best sketches are usually in the biggest sketch books. It's more difficult to find a hardcover sketch book with ripout pages, so you may have to choose between durability and rip-ability. A hardcover version can also be used to protect flat items or as a weapon (see poster tubes).
  • Poster tubes: it'll cost you some $$$ to get one at the Con, but they're darn useful for many things you might pick at Comic-Con, i.e. drawings and posters you don't want crinkled. They're also quite useful for plowing a course through the convention floor.
  • Backpacks, rolly thingies: a backpack is essential, but they get heavy. You may want to consider something with wheels if you're planning a haul, though not as recommended for Saturday, when the convention floor looks like the mosh pit at Lollapalooza/Bonnaroo.
  • Twttr: a relatively new service, very much like Dodgeball, but seems more oriented towards broadcasting text messages to a group of friends -- Dodgeball is more about broadcasting location. Twttr can be a fast way of telling the rest of your team, "OMG Joss Whedon 6A."
  • Camera: Find yourself in a stall next to Jim Lee? Make sure the whole world knows! Okay, maybe not. I usually carry two: an SLR and a point-and-shoot. A 70-200mm f/4 zoom lens for my SLR allowed me to take these Bruce Campbell and BSG photos without being the least bit close to the stage. I also carry the point-and-shoot because it's easier to hand to someone else to take a photo and a 70-200mm lens can be too much sometimes when you're not trying to document nose hair.
  • Depends: when the lines are really long... nevermind.

Not as useful at the Con, but comic-related:

  • Bubble Snaps: what's a sequential art conference without the ability to create your own quickly? Answer: probably the same. But, just in case you want to quickly mockup some photos with thought and speech balloons, snaps might be your tool.

Comic-Con 2005 Recommendations

Comic-Con Live

|

Experience the long lines LIVE on Comic-Con Live! I just saw a promo for Comic-Con Live on G4 -- I don't even know if I get that channel. But, if you do, you can watch the rest of us geeks over in San Diego. For some of the more Hollywood events, the TV coverage will probably be better than being there in person, but you won't get our schwag :).

Comic-Con requests

|

(crossposting to kwc.org Vox, LJ)

If you have any requests for Comic-Con, whether it be merchandise, sketches, or whatnot, let me know. As long as I don't have to spend 4 hours in line for a limited edition Clonetrooper bust I'm pretty willing. PVP, Penny Arcade, DC, Oni, and Snakes on a Plane will be there. Even Mimoco will be there with their latest series of USB drives. You can check out the full list of contributors.

Photos: 3 Takes on a Fountain

|

Couldn't figure out which of these color-corrections I liked the best (though the first could use a bit more gloom), so here are all three:

Sticks-3 Sticks-2 Sticks-1

Best Comic-Con Costumes

|

parakkum and I saw this costume walk by, we exchanged a laughing glance, and then chased down the three to ask to take a photo. As there was no other costume that caused me to run with my camera to snap a photo, I have to give this one top awards:

Best Comic-Con Costumes: Humor

Technical costume: General Grievous

This costume was amazing to behold. The creator actually entered two elaborate costumes in the Masquerade, with this my favorite of the two. He designed the costume so that he is standing inside the cape, with the Grievous appendages in front of him for that skeletal look. You can kind of tell from the people in back that the costume is also very tall.

Best Comic-Con Costumes: Technical

Like last year, Elvis Stormtrooper and Samurai Stormtrooper were present. I love those costumes, but as they're reruns I didn't snap any photos this time around.

Comic-Con: Drafting

|

It was honeyfields who first pioneered the Comic-Con drafting technique, modelling it after the drafting technique used in road cycling. Both techniques attempt to conserve energy while maximizing your pace, but unlike road cycling, where drafting shields riders from the wind, indoors Comic-Con drafting shields riders from other people. The convention floor, especially on Saturday, is so crowded that your efforts to move to your next destination can quickly be brought to a halt by cross-traffic or people stopping to take photos of scantily clad women. A solo effort from aisle 400 to aisle 5000 can leave a rider unable to continue further and wastes valuable time.

Proper Comic-Con drafting technique requires getting in a line, with the person in front moving as quickly through the crowd as possible. If available, a strong poster tube can be held sideways by the lead rider to encourage other people to move aside; the poster tube can also be used as a blunt weapon. The other riders follow in the lead rider's wake -- it's important to stay very close and not let cross-traffic break your line. When the lead rider begins to slow from fatigue, the next rider in line moves to the front and continues the forward charge.

drafting sketch

Comic-Con: Quick Draw

|

Comic-Con 2005 Quick Draw Panel
Host: Mark Evanier
Artists: Sergio Aragones, Scott Shaw, Kyle Baker, Jeff Smith

The Comic-Con Quick Draw panel is most consistently entertaining event at Comic-Con. It is dominated by Sergio Aragones, whose blazingly fast drawings, humor, and occassional inability to understand English are highlighted throughout, but Shaw/Baker/Smith are fun as well. I'm inclined to remember the 2004 Quick Draw Competition as being more fun, but that may be a trick of memory.

The Quick Draw Panel is, well, quick, so this year's blog-based summary is a two-person effort. Notes were taken by parakkum and the photos were taken by yours truly.

WARNING: this entry is very, very long, with many, many photos.

I'm back

|

I'm back. It's 2am. I arrived home about 4 hours ago. Since then I've watched three of the four Tour de France stages I've missed. One more stage and I'll finally be able to take the media blinders down.

Our Internet connection in San Diego ran out Saturday evening soon after we got back to our hotel room. You may have to wait a day or two for the dramatic conclusion to Tour de Comic-Con.

Tour de Comic-Con: Team Roster

|

Team Uni's roster for Tour de Comic-Con:

  • parakkum: Tour veteran. He's been doing this his whole life. If there were a comparable cyclist, it would be Viatcheslav Ekimov, who has finished all 13 of the Tour de Frances he has entered. There isn't a curve or a bend in the convention floor he doesn't know, and his knowledge of Tour history will keep the Team Uni in the right position for the right opportunities. He'll be looking to ride well for himself in the writer's competition, but he'll also using his veteran skills to help his teammates ride high in their classifications.
  • kwc: This is his third year riding with Team Uni and he'll again be looking to collect the schwag points jersey. The need to avoid all knowledge of the Other Tour will put a burden on his fellow teammates to keep him protected. Last year's effort was ruined by an inopportune radio snippet, "..Armstrong in yellow..." This year's strategy will be to place a teammate between kwc and all newstands, TVs, and anyone wearing yellow. It's a 946 mile course, but hopefully he'll be able to finish this year's Tour without any mishaps.
  • honeyfields: honeyfields possesses multiple skills that will be crucial in keeping the pace high in this year's Tour. Her uncanny knack of befriending fellow artists, even the geeky antisocial ones, should make it easy to get good sketches and her ability to find parking spaces quickly should shave off minutes from their overall time. She's a proven ally of kwc in the schwag points classification, so look for good performances there as well.
  • jamesq: Tour rookie and designated penciler, he is Team Uni's Popovych. parakkum will be trying to help jn to ride into a good place overall in the artist portfolio review competition. His inking style is bold, the form is clean, he should do well in his debut.
  • ln m: Tour gearhead and new member of Team Uni. His nose for sushi and complete collection of Apple-emblazoned gadgets should keep Team Uni in good spirits. His impressive collection of Asian cinema will also be important at the Kung-Fu Extravaganza.
  • h.o.b.: He's a last-minute entry, a Tour veteran that's been away from the sport for several years. He and parakkum used to ride together and hopefully he can quickly come into form. With him and parakkum riding together again Team Uni should be unstoppable. He's a hometown boy, so he'll be looking to impress.
  • dlf: Recently back from several years in Japan, he's another hometown boy who should return from foreign competition with an edge in the Tokyo Pop and other anime-related courses. As a veteran of the San Diego Comic-Con, he should be able to pull off an impressive run.
  • nevertheres and tooches: They'll only be competing in a couple stages, which should make their efforts even more frenzied and impressive. The tooches will be arriving with the Tour bus which will hopefully provide Team Uni with some much needed rest.

Comic-Con '04 Backposting

|

In order to keep my panel notes in semi-chronological order, I'm backposting them. I will keep track of the new posts here, in case you are interested.

Newest: * Stan Sakai

New: * Quick Draw Panel * Kung-fu extravaganza

Slightly older: * Mirrormask (Gaiman and McKean) * The Incredibles (Brad Bird) * Composition in Storytelling * Ray Bradbury * PvP/Penny Arcade (Added photo) * 24 Hour Comic Panel * Quotations * TnA report

Older: * Costumes * Buffy! * Schwag report * Summary and Advice * Queen and Country Sketches * Pixar/Incredibles/Brad Bird

The Quick Draw Panel page is likely to be updated when I exchange notes with honeyfields.

Comic-Con Quotations

|

Ted Naifeh (approximate quotation):

I thought life would take me many places, but I never thought I'd draw a three-breasted woman

honeyfields seemed to like this one, which I gave in reference to the numerous, inexplicably long lines for collectible, expensive, merchandise:

A fool and his money should be parted swiftly, not slowly and painfully

Sarah Michelle Gellar, most popular excuse she gave for why she had never been to Comic-Con before:

There's not enough merchandise with my damn face on it

Sketches: Small Press

|

We wondered around a bit in the small press section (small press as in, DIY, as opposed to Indy Press like Oni and Slave Labor). I got sketches from Art Baltazar (Wolf Boy) and James Burks (Martin's Misdirection). honeyfields fared even better and got those as well as a really awesome sketch from the author/artist of Horus.

James Burks was really nice to talk to. He had worked as an animator on the doomed Iron Giant project; he talked about how Brad Bird had described the final months of that project as being in an airplane and being able to see the runway, but you're out of gas so you have to start jettisoning items to try and glide the airplane in.

For his comic he combined his fondness for magic with his desire to draw comics; he also felt that was a rabbit was a perfect match for a comic about magic and was surprised to see that it wasn't being done.

Art Baltazar was cranking out sketches with the markers and the cartoons, in a sort of grown-up-imitating-a-child-drawing-superheroes style. He had a Havoc that strangely amused me. honeyfields got a nice sketch of the Grimm Reaper that I hope to add to this entry, in addition to her nice Horus sketch.

James Burks

burks sketch

Comic-Con: Buffy!

|

I got to see Buffy, I mean Sarah Michelle Gellar. She seemed a little nervous and overwhelmed, perhaps because it started off poorly. The first question, as expected, was why hadn't she been to Comic-Con before. Expecting this, she pulled out a chronological list of reasons as to why she hadn't been there. It was a list only a comic geek could love, and it was delivered by someone who clearly wasn't a comic geek, to a crowd that contained many people who weren't comic geeks. I didn't even get them all (someone want to fill me in on the Phantom Zone reference?). According to my sparse notes, the reasons were (I may be missing one):

  1. Holding out for all the image guys to return to Marvel
  2. Two words: Phantom Zone
  3. Didn't have a ride back to LA
  4. Still trying to make sense of the Spiderman clone story
  5. Dark Knight Strikes Again -> done with comics
  6. Gonna wait for the next Tick issue. Still waiting.
  7. Waiting for Peter David/Todd McFarlane debate to be over
  8. Already married to world's biggest comic geek
  9. Not enough merchandise with my damn face on it

The rest of the talk was fairly bland: some nice things said about the Japanese people, Gellar's failed attempts to learn Japanese in time for the Japan premiere of The Grudge, compliments to the other guy for Roswell. The main highlight I remember was an exchange where a girl asked her if she ever used any of her characters to help her through real-life situations. Gellar replied, "You know they're not real, right?" which was followed by her saying that Cruel Intentions did teach her how to kiss a girl, "thank you Paris Hilton."

Eliza Dushku was also there again this year desperately trying to revive her dying show. As you can tell in the gallery, it was a whole lot easier to get close enough to take decent photos. In at least one of the Sarah Michelle Gellar photos you can see the shrimpy security guy moving me away.

Buffy/Faith Photo Gallery (23 Photos)

Comic-Con: Ray Bradbury

|

Ray Bradbury's session was mostly full of soundbites and anecdotes (which he was prompted for). I'm afraid that these notes are very accurate, but I am transcribing them for my memory anyway. For each of these stories there's a lot more to tell, and I'm fairly certain that they've been told before (as most of the stories were prompted), so I would Google for the whole story if you're actually interested.

Read on for my notes and a photo.

Panel: Quick Draw Improv

|

This is one of my favorite Comic-Con panels. This year's panel featured Sergio Aragones (Groo), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Scott Shaw (Hanna Barbara master). For those of you not familiar with Quick Draw and/or Sergio, you should know Sergio draws obscenely fast, which will perhaps make some of the prompts and drawings make more sense.

Warning: really large download if you read on.

Comic-Con: Kung-fu Extravaganza

|

parakkum says that this has gone downhill over the years. This year there were a couple of interesting clips for me, but overall the selection was poor.

Musa: never actually showed the clip he wanted to, and rather than recognize that the wrong clip was being played, he would wait until the end of the scene and then say, "that was the wrong clip." It didn't matter too much: myself, honeyfields, and parakkum all hated the freakin' movie.

All Men Are Brothers: This is cheesy fantasy kung-fu, but absolutely hilarious. By far the best clip of the night.

Butterfly Sword: A Michelle Yeoh/Tony Leung movie with a cool arrow maneuver.

Running on Karma: not particularly memorable for me. Not sure why he chose this one. About this guy (Andy Lau) who had the ability to see through cause and consequence and reenact previous scenes of violence. He also shadow boxes a piece of tissue.

Men Suddenly in Black: this movie is about a bunch of guys who are intent on cheating on their wives. The clip contains a hilarious a non-violent John Woo homage with cameras and other implements.

Master Q: don't even remember this one. I think this was the one where these guys take on a taoist demon with a mirror, but I don't know.

Red Trousers: a behind the scenes movie about stuntmen that we saw the trailer for

Legend of the Condor Heroes: boring anime that was being plugged

Update: satellite view of fires

|

Monday:
10-27-03.satellite fire update.jpg

Weekend:
satellite photo

Update: my old neighborhood is on fire

|

10-27-03.scripps ranch fire map.marked.jpg

The red circle shows approximately where I used to live. It was an elevated cul-de-sac that overlooked the Miramar Naval Air Station.

My old neighborhood is on fire

|

I had been watching the news about Rancho Cucamonga being on fire in SoCal. What I didn't realize is that there are now multiple fires down there, including all around where I used to live. I found this photograph, which was taken less than two miles from my old house:
fire photo

Apparently, the particular fire that is burning my old neighborhood (Cedar Fire) was started by a moronic lost hiker who lit a signal fire. The San Diego firefighters are screwed because they sent their planes to LA to fight the fires that were raging there. I guess it's a good thing that my parents sold there house down there.

Also, honeyfields posted that she was stuck in LA. I was wondering why, but this photo gives a better clue:
satellite photo

- SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Metro -- Fire crews battle to limit damage from raging wildfires

Comic-Con: Joss Whedon

|

Joss Whedon was a spaz; entertaining, but nevertheless a spaz. I don't care enough to transcribe everything he said, which was mostly bitterness at Firefly (with optimism for the future), closure over Buffy, and dodging of questions about future story arcs. Luckily, Rebecca Salek did good job of transcribing the Q&A session, which you can find in this Newsarama thread.

Comic-Con: Tara

|

Tara/Amber Benson from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was at the Comic-Con signing autographs. I didn't bother, but here's a photo:
07-18-03.tara-1.jpg

Comic-Con: Erik Larsen

|

I got to meet Erik Larsen at the Comic-Con. I really liked his Spiderman so I asked him to draw me a sketch. He was a bit hesitant at first, as he was slightly annoyed that I didn't ask for Savage Dragon. He was more understanding when I explained that I hadn't been collecting comics for almost ten years (I had stopped just when Savage Dragon was lifting off). If Larsen weren't so darn consistent in putting out Savage Dragon, maybe it wouldn't be so expensive and time consuming to catch up on the 100+ issues he's done in the meantime :).

Comic-Con: Bendis, Oeming, Mack

|

The Image booth was one of the first booth's I visited. Bendis, Oeming and Mack were all there. Bendis did a really funny drawing for pqbon, and honeyfields managed to talk to Oeming for so long (~30min+) that he broke out the brush and did a really cool Batman for her (I believe her request was for something "bad ass").

I didn't get a chance to talk to Mack until much later in the convention. We briefly chatted about his Alias covers (which I really like), and he ended up handing me a generous stack of his Kabuki works for free. I'm looking forward to reading the Kabuki works, because with the Alias covers at least, I've found his artwork to be a good transition from real world into the story itself. Also, unlike most comic books that feel like they take place in complete fantasy, his mixed media style makes you feel like you're in a slightly altered universe, only different enough to allow a fantastical story to take place.