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The Big Comic-Con Recap Post

July 29, 2009
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Brace yourselves, this is going to be a doozy.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter @hollywoodjane, or are reading this on Facebook, already know that I had a fantastic time. Really, I can’t think of anything that would have made it better, unless I had the power of astral projection and could have been in two places at once.

THURSDAY

I drove down to San Diego  after uploading a rough cut of Quest for Comic-Con Part I to YouTube, and listened to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as I battled traffic on the 5. The parking structure for my hotel was claustrophobic to say the least: a tight spiral ramp leads you up seven floors with no hope for escape, and then you have to squeeze through the awkwardly funneled parked cars up to the 11th floor, and then somehow manage to force your way into the cramped, narrow spaces. Fun.

Since the hotel wouldn’t let me check in until 3, I left my bags in the car and hopped the shuttle bus to the convention center, which was flowing with people. It was human beings as far as the eye could see. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head…

Comic-Con Tip #1: Don’t pick up your badge on preview night, or in the mornings.

All of my friends carrying 4-day passes said that preview night (Wednesday) was crazier than they’ve ever seen it, that the line waits were insane. Part of this apparently had to do with the wait to get into the largest room, Hall H, where they were screening sneak peeks of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, James Cameron’s Avatar, and Twilight sequel New Moon, which resulted in the hall being overrun by pre-teen fangirls. One of my friends camped out overnight to get in – but not, he assured me, to see Twilight.

I went to pick up my badge at 1:30 on Thursday, and breezed right in after joking with the people at check-in about my driver’s license in which I look both naked and stoned. (It’s true.)  I fought my way through the crowd to the exhibition hall, where I met up with my friends Z. and R., the latter whom I hadn’t seen in months. I told Z., and repeated it many times over the weekend, that it was a good thing he was so tall. After being directed to look for them in front of the giant Pikachu, I found them waiting in line at the Vertigo booth so R. could have his Fables graphic novel signed by the writer. After telling Bill Willingham that R. had turned me onto the series, but that I hadn’t gotten further than the first book due to funds, he suggested that I should offer R. sex in exchange for comics, or at least promise to post his bail should he find himself imprisoned any time in the future. Since the former wouldn’t interest either of us, I pledged to always take R.’s jailhouse call.

I trailed the boys around the exhibition hall for awhile, making a stop at the Boom! Comics booth where they were selling the new Farscape graphic novel, and Dark Horse where they were giving out raffle tickets for a chance to be at the signing for Dr. Horrible.  Three hours later and my inadequate plastic bag was over-flowing.

Comic-Con Tip #2: Those nylon bags that fold up into a case which you can carry around with you are a total life-saver, and they’re environmentally friendly.

Around 4 I decided to head back to the hotel and check in. Though I’d considered attending the Burn Notice and Psych panels, and am sorry I missed the cool swag, hanging out with my friends was more important. (Still coveting that Psych t-shirt, though.) I’d be returning to the convention center for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog in the evening.

Originally V. from Staying In was supposed to come with me. She’d booked the hotel room and said I could room with her when I made my last minute decision to go. Sadly, she got sick just after returning from a trip to Vancouver and Seattle, and couldn’t make it. Another friend whom I’d met through V. ended up staying with me, which was great, as it gave me a chance to get to know her better, and G.’s company was much appreciated.

Comic-Con Tip #3: Particularly where the Green line is concerned, avoid the shuttle early in the morning and in the late afternoon. Buses don’t run as often in the wee hours, and by 6 you’re facing tons of traffic. If your hotel is close, better to take a taxi. The drivers know when the Con is in town, and seem reasonable.

The shuttle bus back to the convention center got stuck in traffic, and I worried I might not make it in time. Thankfully G., her friend R., and others allowed me to jump into line with them. Having all seen Dr. Horrible multiple times, we didn’t worry about getting a good seat, and just enjoyed the festivities. Felicia Day, who plays Penny, gave a little introduction, with thanks to the California Browncoats who were putting on the show. It was a lively crowd, and we sang our hearts out, then were treated to the DVD commentary – Commentary! The Musical, which I hadn’t heard before, but absolutely loved.

FRIDAY

Friday was the only day I was worried about, scheduling-wise, so I got up at the crack of dawn and joined Z. and R. in line outside Ballroom 6 for the 10th Anniversary Celebration panel for Farscape. I was sad to have to miss panels for The Guild and Stargate Universe, but Farscape trumps all, and it was totally worth it. Ben Browder showed up in a suit, perfectly coiffed, a far cry from his appearance at Comic-Con in 2007 when I’d swear he turned up to the Stargate: SG1 panel either hungover or still drunk, and jumped onto the table. Claudia Black was just a delight to listen to, and I couldn’t help smiling when Ben would whisper something to her and she’d laugh. They said they knew right from the beginning that Farscape was a love story.

Evidently former directors of the show love to put scenes of the actors interacting with the puppets on their reels because as Ben pointed out, “It showed that they were able to create really tender moments– with rubber. With rubber, leather and latex.” He showed off his encyclopedic knowledge of the show, Claudia admitted ‘frell’ was her favorite thing to say, and creator Rockne O’Bannon and Brian Henson of the Jim Henson Creature Shop who made Rygel, Pilot, and the others, assured fans that they were still devoted to the Farscape universe and there were many projects they still wanted to develop, including the now-infamous webisodes.

From there we booked it to the line for Ballroom 20, where the panel for Battlestar Galactica and Caprica was starting.

Comic-Con Tip #4: Where Ballroom 20 is concerned, earlier is always better, and if you’re interested in a panel scheduled for the afternoon, better plan on sitting through some panels you might not care about.

Fortunately, those weren’t shows were cared about, and after standing for a long time, we were shuffled into the gigantic room just as the tribute montage for The Big Bang Theory was starting. Though our seats were way in the back, we had an excellent view of one of the screens. Jim Parsons has many of Sheldon’s mannerisms, but better people skills. Johnny Galecki was sporting a beard, and Kaley Cuoco was really into the spirit of things. One guy in the audience asked Jim to use his napkin so that his sister could grow her own Sheldon, a la Leonard Nimoy in “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis.” Jim was also congratulated on his Emmy nomination, and told the rest of the cast that if he won, he’d want to display it somewhere where everyone could touch it. “You can play with my Emmy,” he said, sending the rest of them (and us) into laughter.

The next panel was 24, which I haven’t watched since they nuked Valencia, so I got a bathroom pass which allowed me to leave the ballroom and return without having to go through the line again, providing I returned before the 3:00 Bones panel ended. R. and I booked it down to the exhibition hall, where I ran into Hayden Black of Goodnight Burbank. I met Hayden at the Streamy Awards in February, and he was at the Con with Nichelle Nichols promoting his newest sci-fi musical webseries, The Cabonauts. When I spotted him, he was having an impromptu business meeting with John Barrowman, who was signing autographs. They were near the Boom!Comics booth, so I stopped there to get Farscape creator Rockne O’Bannon to sign my graphic novel, and told him that I’d named my dog after one of the characters on his show. Real nice guy, very approachable.

After bobbing, and ducking, and weaving through the exhibition hall like a maniac, I returned to the ballroom just as the Bones montage finished. David Boreanaz was awaiting the birth of his daughter, so he filmed a long, rambling message which was played for us, and afterward creator Hart Hanson and star Emily Deschanel decided to poke fun at him for most of the panel.

Hanson defended his season finale choices which saw Brennan and Booth in bed together, but only in an alternate reality situation. He said his only regret was ever telling fans that the two would end up sleeping together. If he hadn’t said that, the finale probably would have been more enjoyable, it just so happened that fans felt deceived. I Tweeted that “Hart Hanson is very Canadian” and feel that I ought to clarify for my Candian friends: he was saying “soh-ry” a lot.

The two announced that thanks to Brennan’s karaoke bar rendition of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper herself will be on the show in the role of Angela’s psychic. Sadly, no mention was made of the Angela/Hodgins relationship, but both Hanson and Emily said they very much wanted Eric Milligan (Zach Addy) back on the show. His return is entirely dependent on his availability with regards to their schedule.

Bones made way for Dollhouse and a screening of the mysterious “lost” 13th episode, “Epitaph One.” It blew me away. Creepy and suspenseful and heart-rending. Adair Tischler (Molly on Heroes) was very impressive in her role, and the entire episode gave us yet another bleak outlook on the future. No one ever writes happy futures. Amy Acker, in particular, killed me.

The panel ran kind of long, so I didn’t have time to run out and get dinner like I planned before hoofing it over to the Rifftrax Live panel, featuring Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett of MST3K. I barely made it inside, and understand that a thousand people had to be turned away. I was starving at this point, all by my lonesome, and starting to feel cranky, but fortunately the Rifftrax crew cheered me up considerably with their live riff on the safety short “Shaking Hands With Danger.” They took suggestions for the next film to riff, with Dragon Wars narrowly beating Footloose. Super Mario Bros. was also a fan favorite, though personally I want a Rifftrax for High School Musical.

I finished my wild and crazy Friday night by hopping on the shuttle bus and taking it back to the hotel where I ordered a pizza to my room and sat down with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, one of the funniest books I’ve read in a while.

SATURDAY

Saturday started before dawn cracked. G. had already left when I got up and showered, and there was already a line waiting to get into the convention center when I turned up at 6:30 a.m. I jumped in line with G. and her group, and we walked for our lives when the doors were opened, only to wait in another line for Ballroom 20’s 10:00 Chuck panel.

It was worth it though, when the panel opened with a video featuring exec. producers Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak, and Chuck himself, Zachary Levi.  In the clearly staged film, while eating their Subway sandwiches, the producers informed Zach that Chuck was as good as canceled, only to get the call for the pick up. After a jubilant Zach left the room, the writer/producers panicked. Having assumed they were done, they had no ideas!  It was time for plan B.

So Jeffster took the stage with a rockin’ performance of “Fat-bottomed Girls,” and the rest of the cast (minus Julia Ling) joined in. It was, as the captain would say, awesome.

Comic-Con Tip #5: It’s all about the Con Karma. Do nice things for other fans, and it’ll come back for you.

The nice girl I was sitting next to ran and got me a card good for a free Chuck t-shirt when I was passed over. This is why I love Comic-Con.

Zachary Levi had grown his usual post-season beard, but it was Joshua Gomez’s ‘grizzled prospector-island castaway’ beard that dominated the conversation. Adam Baldwin gave a shout-out to all the Joss/Firefly fans, and there was some debate over whether or not a little Ellie/Casey romance could be in the offing one night when Ellie and Awesome are on the rocks. The cast was extremely grateful for the fan campaigns which saved the show, and singled out a fan named Wendy who originated the ‘Five-Dollar-Footlong for Chuck’ idea. It’s a cast that clearly loves working together, which really translates on screen.

After Chuck I managed to get a hot dog, met Jane Espenson as she was signing Buffy comics at the Dark Horse booth, then joined Z. and R. in line at the BBCAmerica booth as they waited for the Being Human signing to begin. While we were there, I noticed two girls pass by clutching unused Doctor Who/Being Human bags which I had been coveting all weekend. I darted out of line, grabbed one, then hurried back to the boys with a shout of, “Go, go, go, go, go!” They ran for the bags as well, and we all managed to go into the crush at least once more to grab bags for those who couldn’t make it. Z. was the hero of the line when he used his height to simply stretch out his hand, and then passed the bags to those who didn’t want to lose their place for the signing. Karma.

I left the boys to their autograph hunting and went to get in line for a panel on Writing and Producing for Television, only to realize that everyone in line was there for the panel before mine, so I slipped next door into the panel on the Farscape graphic novels. The writing-producing panel wasn’t really anything I haven’t heard already, but it was nice to put some faces to names. Two rows in front of me was a woman with her name badge flung over her shoulder. It had professional status, and said her name was “Amy Berg,” which I swore was a name I recognized, so I googled her on my iPhone. Sure enough, she’s a writer-producer for Leverage, so after the panel, I introduced myself.

I called up the boys to see if any of us had managed to win the raffle to get in line for the Joss Whedon signing at Dark Horse. Surprise, surprise, we didn’t. We were disappointed, but not particularly surprised.  Someday, Joss. Someday. Then I had a quiet dinner with G. at a restaurant near our hotel, and conked out early yet again.

SUNDAY

Since I had managed to do everything I wanted so far, I was determined not to ruin my streak, and got up early again to wait in line for the Doctor Who panel. Once more Z.’s height worked to my advantage as he was already in line outside the convention center when I arrived (after a brief pitstop at Coffee Bean.) Though it seemed like there were tons of people in line in front of us, we got excellent seats for the panel. Of all the lines I waited in, that one had the best outfits. There were at least four men dressed like the Tenth Doctor, down to the pinstripe suit, long brown coat, converse sneakers and black frame glasses, and one in particular was such a dead ringer for David Tennant, that people were lining up to take pictures with him. A few girls had designed Dalek dresses and one came dressed as the TARDIS.

Former showrunner Russell T. Davies, BBC exec and Doctor Who champion Julie Gardiner, director Euros Lyn, and David Tennant were on the panel, and David was wearing a storm trooper shirt. He was a very open, generous person, and I loved listening to his Scottish accent.  The panel was a great reminder that these people had grown up with the Doctor, and were huge fans themselves. Several people said it, and it’s true: Ten is my Doctor, but given how I felt when Tennant took over from Christopher Eccleston, I’m going to try and keep an open mind about Matt Smith. Still, I miss Ten already.

My favorite quote via Julie Gardiner, when asked if any of them had ever stolen something from set like John Barrowman claimed to have done: “John Barrowman only stole things from set so he could be strip-searched on the way out.” That got a lot of appreciative laughter and applause. Oh John, you exhibitionist, you. Can’t wait to hear him sing and see him dance on The Cabonauts.

I spent the rest of the Con back in the exhibition hall with R. hunting down half-price graphic novels, which, let me tell you, is exhausting work. We went through boxes and boxes, and I came away from it with a ridiculous stack. I found Fables 3 & 4, but had a devil of a time finding 2, and refused to leave the Con on a sour note. Eventually, victory was achieved, though by that point I wanted to cut my feet off.

I took all my swag, stuffed it in the car, and took on home, fighting some unfortunate traffic on the 5. Thank goodness for Harry Potter audio tapes.

For photos I’m going to direct you to G.’s flickr album as she has many beautiful pictures from a lot of great panels. Once R. has the chance to upload his pictures and share them, I’ll share them here, too.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 29, 2009 11:43 am

    It was great to spend the weekend with you.

    If only I could get over my case of concrud now.

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