Tales from the Con: Day 1
July 31, 2009
The first day at Comic Con after not having attended for over 10 years was a bit eye opening. After arriving at the convention center promptly at 8:50am I realized that the line to get badges began at the road which was right next to the trolley stop and snaked all the way past the marina before heading down the length of the building and upstairs to the registration area. So I basically stepped right off the trolley and into the badge line. I really didn’t know at that point where the line went, but I suspected it wasn’t going to be pretty. Luckily I had my handy dandy iPod and promptly put in the ear buds which provided me with hours of entertainment, which I needed. I think it was exactly two hours later when I arrived at the computer that spit out my sparkling Silver Pass…. aahhhh… it was a thing of beauty. My faithful friend Travis had been waiting in line since 6:30 that morning, first for his badge and then for a place in line for the Disney panel. Unfortunately for Travis, that was the same line that the Twilight fans were waiting in so it was very looooooong.
With badge in hand, I hustled over to the Hall H line, which wound around a large grassy area next to the building and I found a line of people as far as the eye could see. As I walked up to the well guarded line a security guard looked at me and sheepishly said, “I can’t say yes”. I was a little confused by what she was saying as I was very new to what was taking place before me. It slowly began to dawn on me, Travis had been in line for 2 hours and the Twilight fans had been camping out for 2 days… this might be a line that needs very tight security in order to avoid an all out riot by those who had been waiting so long. As the cloud was being lifted from my mind the security guard continued, “but, I’m not going to run after you or anything”. Sweet! It might work out ok afterall! Travis was calling me to give me his GPS coordinates (actually he just said meet me near the intersection with the stoplight). As he came into view he waved a friendly hello and like a runner in a relay race waiting for the baton to be passed I took my stance that said, “I’m going for it”. As Travis rounded the bend the security guard looked the other way and I ducked under the rope in time to walk swiftly in step with fast moving current of the line. I yelled, “thanks for saving my place in line while I went to the bathroom!” and Travis just shook his head and rolled his eyes. No one rioted or made a stir so I was home free and on my way to a pretty cushy seat for the momentous Disney 3-D panel which was about to begin in about 15 minutes.
We walked into the massive Hall H area we were handed a pair of 3D glasses and a video game token with the Tron logo stamped on it. We sat near the front of the middle section right under a huge screen. The first guest out for this awesome panel was Robert Zemeckis who directed many films including the Back to the Future trilogy, Forrest Gump and one of my all time favorite movies, Contact. His newest film that will be released this Christmas is the 3D film A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey. The clip they showed was insane. They showed the scene where Scrooge is first visited by Jacob Marley’s ghost and it is eerie. The sound design is sensational and the animation is sick. This movie is definitely taking animation to a whole, ‘nother, level (thank you Eugene Struthers). The high def projectors and speaker systems in the convention halls were unbelievable, which, of course helped to enhance the experience of every clip. Next up was the amazingly awesome and wonderful Tim Burton (woo hoo!). Tim came out to promote his new movie, Alice in Wonderland, starring none other than Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Tim was noticeably bothered by the fact that he didn’t have a clip to play, but our moderator, Patton Oswald, made up for it by showing the movie trailer 3 times in a row! Pure magical movie making as Burton has taken a classic tale and “one upped” the other guys by taking a seemingly harmless fairy tale story and bringing out the darker side as Burton famously does so well. I read Alice in Wonderland last year because it’s on the Lost book list and I was pleasantly surprised at Lewis Carrol’s writing style. I absolutely love the humor in this story because it’s strange and nonsensical at times, just like me. I know that Tim Burton will bring that out in this film as he has a knack for bringing a strange sense of humor to his stories. Burton + Alice in Wonderland = A Perfect Fit. Maybe I should wait until I actually see the movie to so faithfully jump on the bandwagon since I wasn’t super crazy about his take on one of my all-time childhood favorites, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (how can you outdo Gene Wilder?). To round out this most excellent panel was the uber cool new Tron movie Tron Legacy. I was a fan of the first Tron movie, although I don’t remember the movie as much as the video game. They showed artwork renderings for the new Tron light cycle vehicles and they were spectacular! I took a lot of photos of the artwork on the projector screen for brother Brian. I believe he will find them quite tasty.
After filing out of Hall H with the other cattle I headed over to a slightly smaller room for the Wonder Women in Entertainment panel sponsored by Entertainment Weekly magazine. This was a panel to highlight women in television and film roles who rock. The panel featured Sigourney Weaver of the Alien movies, Elizabeth Mitchell of Lost and the new V series, Zoe Saldana of Star Trek and Eliza Dushku from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse. This was a great panel of kick-butt women and I have to say that the main reason I attended was because of Elizabeth Mitchell and Sigourney Weaver, but I was pretty psyched about the other two panelists as well. The women talked about what is what like to be human female action figures (for lack of a better term) in Hollywood. Sigourney Weaver spoke about how she chooses roles based on how well they are written and not based on the gender of the character. I appreciated this point of view and wish that it was more prevalent in Hollywood. Maybe then there would be more women fighting for well-written male roles and less women settling for poorly written female roles. Zoe Saldana talked about the challenges of being a sexy woman in action type roles and discussed her struggle to get male directors and producers to understand that you really can’t jump from building to building in a short skirt and spiky heels. She said that it’s hard to know when to speak up about these matters, but that she’s had some positive experiences getting male directors to come to her side on issues like these. Elizabeth Mitchell spoke a little bit about her role on Lost and about her excitement for her new role on the new V series. Elizabeth plays Juliet on Lost and her fate still hangs in the balance on that show. On the season 5 finale of Lost we saw Juliet fall down a mining shaft. When that didn’t kill her she began striking a nuclear bomb with a rock in order to detonate it (you had to be there). The finale ended with a flash of light, which could mean a couple of different things on Lost. On that show a nuclear explosion is just one cause of a bright white flash of light. The character of Juliet is so multi-layered, which is what the writers of Lost do very well. Although Juliet started out as a gentle and soft character that we felt sympathy for as Ben’s prisoner on the island, we soon realized that Juliet was much more than a naive bystander in this whole mess.
Since most of your day at an event like Comic Con is spent standing in line it doesn’t allow for time for too many different panels. I spent a bit of the afternoon of the first day working my way through the overcrowded exhibit hall waiting for the next panel, which was about popular comic book podcasts. I mainly wanted to attend this panel in order to glean some insight into the world of grass roots podcasting from those who have done it well. These guys have thousands of listeners for their podcasts (just like Film Method will have one day) and as independent podcasters with no major backing they definitely started at square one. The cool thing is that they are doing podcasting the way I believe they should be done: they started a podcast with their friends talking about a subject that they love and are passionate about. What a wonderful concept…
More about Comic Con tomorrow!