Unlike Superman, SLUG's Sean Hennefer is no blockheadâ€"2012 marked his fourth time attending Comic-Con. Photo: Ally Jarvis
San Diego Comic Con is a strange and overwhelming beast. You can try to imagine what a mass of humanity 125,000 deep is like, but it won’t do justice to viewing the actual spectacle with your own eyes. This being my fourth time attending I still find it incredible. Sadly this once humble gathering for comic book loving fans that has swelled the media goliath that we all know now hasn’t grown without consequences. Though overall the convention has been without violence, last year debuted the first physical assault, as one stabbed another in the eye with a pencil over a seat in a panel. And this year was the first death, with a woman waiting in line for a Twilight panel falling into the street and being hit and killed by a car. Hopefully this does not set the tone for the weekend, true believers.
The Con has more things than one man can ever hope to do and see, but basically it is broken up into two areas: The convention floor—where all the booths from the various companies are set up to sell collectables and where the artists, writers, and celebrities can sign these said collectables—and the upper conference rooms, where one can attend panels held for movies, TV shows, and, of course, comic news. I learned years ago to choose my nerd battles and to try and decide what I wanted to see the most, because the first couple years attending the con I was running around like an idiot stressing myself out because I couldn’t choose between meeting Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno and showing my Teen Wolf tattoo to the screenplay writer Jeph Loeb BOTH SCHEDULED AT THE SAME TIME! Oh the HUMANITY!
Being a much older and wiser fanboy, I decided to split up the con, spending Day One on the floor wandering around and checking out the booths and washed up celebrities and all the awesome art and worrying about checking out the panels the following day (Game of Thrones! Firefly!). The lone panel that I did want to attend was Rifftrax Live.
All the regulars were there with booths, though some better than others. Marvel looked like it recycled last year’s set with a bunch of Iron Man suits promoting Iron Man 3. Also strangely missing were all of Marvel’s big guns—Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Jonathon Hickman, basically all the top talent writers were absent from the event. Whether this is a commentary of how little comic books have become part of the convention with TV and Movies and Video Games pushing in more and more every year, or something else entirely, is hard to say. But it doesn’t thrill a lifelong comic book fan like me to have old sets and none of your big writers in attendance. DC, on the other hand, has revamped their booth a bit this year to look more like an Apple store and are presenting “classes” on a big screen overhead projector with their famous artists giving demos on how to draw and they started these DC University classes with their biggest name Jim Lee showing how to draw Batman. It’s hard to criticize that.
Lots of promotion for The Hobbit peppered the con floor with posters, costumes, toys and even replicas of Gandalf, Trolls, and good ol’ Gollum. I also met up with Nate Powell, who is a writer/artist that puts out great graphic novels through Top Shelf Productions (Go pick up “Swallow Me Whole” by Nate Powell, it’s my favorite of his comics and he’s a hell of a guy and an old punk rocker. Support him!). I know Nate Powell from interviewing him on the weekly podcast I do, “Fight For Comics” (fightforcomics.com). We chatted about G.I.Joe for a bit and how I learned from my fellow podcaster Bryton that Larry Hama (the creator of G.I.Joe) has NEVER seen the cartoon! Seriously. This blew my mind.
After a day of getting sketches from my favorite artists and meeting writers and celebrities I admire, I headed to my first panel for Rifftrax. For those that don’t know, Rifftrax is the people that used to do Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of my all time favorite shows, and they were going to make fun of a short movie live! It was great to see the guys make jokes live and made me excited for the Fathom Events “Manos Hands of Fate” that they are going to mock next month.
One last thing that I should mention is that if you are going to ever attend the San Diego Comic Con, be prepared to wait in line, because that is a major part of what you will end up doing. Although tragic, it is sadly fitting that the first death at SDCC happened to someone waiting in line.