Kevin Andrew Murphy July 26th, 2010
I’m just back from the San Diego Comicon 2010.
I had considered doing a daily blog post and update, but that way lay madness or at least sleep deprivation and less con, so I’ll just do it now.
First off, a broad generalization: This appears to be a banner year for zombies and a notable year for family togetherness, and yes, we’re talking at the same time too.
Now on to specifics, in order of occurrence, not importance. I flew down Wednesday and was picked up by my friend Albert who was my guest for the con and in turn whose house guest I was. He’d already picked up our badges and since the airport was so close to the convention center, we hopped back and I got to see the last hour of preview night, whereupon I saw simultaneously the most impressive thing I saw at the con and the least impressive thing which were one and the same. The most impressive thing was the throne of Odin from the upcoming Thor movie. It’s this grand extravaganza that looks somewhat like a giant gold sword hilt (riffing, I think, on Odin supposedly having a sword suspended over his throne a la Damocles) with amazing Norse knotwork and steps and the impression that there were supposed to be valkyries perched all over portions of it like the Rockettes. However, on the throne itself was this cheap gold lame cushion that looked like it came from a ’70s porno. My guess is that Odin is going to wear some amazing fur cape and the set designer said not to bother because no one would ever see it, but it’s also going to be seen in thousands of photos as people lined up to take their pictures in it.
Regardless, I stopped by a few booths, notably Kingdom of Loathing and Girl Genius, picking up a few item cards at the first for my in-game clanmates and saying “hi” to the Foglios at the other. The hall then closed and Albert and I went over to the bar at the Sheraton Suites to meet up with my friend Allison Lonsdale as well as her friends J. and Mel who do the Two Lumps webcomic. Allison gave me the CD of “Live at Lestat’s” which I’d pre-ordered many years ago–and which she was glad to finally have out–and we had a good time (apart from my garlic intolerance and the unadvertised surprise garlic in the risotto, but they brought me mammoth coconut shrimp instead, so it all worked out).
Thursday we went to the con and I went off to The Power of Myth panel, which was an author track panel moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy. The room was packed to the point of them turning people away and there were a number of interesting panelists, including my friend Seanan McGuire, and my friend and editor Esther Friesner who had been flown out for the con. It was a very fun panel and moreover informative, with Seanan mentioning the Romany legend that a certain type of fey creature was known to steal your baking stone if you displeased it which had been modernized in her grandmother’s retelling to stealing your microwave. Michael Scott also made mention of the fascinating and tragic detail that there were entire villages in Ireland that had lost their native folklore due to the inhabitants dying during the Potato Famine or emigrating to America. However, when they emigrated, they brought the folklore with them.
After the panel I caught up with Esther and set up to meet with her for dinner. I then looked at the program guide and decided that there was nothing else in particular I wanted to see that day so I decided to pace the floor of the dealers room to see everything, something I hadn’t done in years since it’s the size of two and a half football fields. But I did it.
Walking the floor made me conclude that this is the year of the zombie. There were enormous displays for The Walking Dead, both the original comic series and the new AMC adaptation. I was able to gather that it follows some small-time sheriff’s officer who’s injured in a shoot-out then wakes up in a hospital after the zombie plague is already in full swing, a la 28 Days, but it also has the heartwarming family angle where he’s out to track down his wife and son and rescue them from the zombies. There were also zombies visible in the large booth for a video game called Dead Speed which appears to involve some bad-ass in motorcycle leathers, zombie card and dice games for sale from Steve Jackson Games, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies stuff at dozens of booths.
There was also more heartwarming family stuff in the form of No Ordinary Family which postulates that somewhat dumpy looking bald guy, played by Michael Chiklis, is married to super-hot MILF Julie Benz, and they have a boy and a girl, and then they’re in a plane which is caught in some super-uber-phlebotinum storm while they’re flying, which is pretty much the same origin story as The Fantastic Four. Michael Chiklis even played The Thing in The Fantastic Four, so it’s really not a surprise that he gets the super-strength power. Julie Benz’s Milf gets the Flash’s superspeed power, which is also reminiscent of The Incredibles. To be different (for certain values of different) the daughter gets telepathy and the slacker son gets super-genius calculator powers. I’m certain it’s hearwarming but it sure looks derivative.
I then got together with Esther for dinner and we went to the Gaslamp Strip Club which is so named because you grill your own steaks, which was good and fun. After that I linked up with Albert and we hit Extraordinary Desserts, which were beautiful but too sweet for my taste, and went to the “From Dusk Till Shaun” party being hosted at El Camino on India Street. It was the place that had previously been The Airport Lounge and it was kind of sad to see the 60-70s “golden age of air travel” be replaced by an admittedly cool Mexican bar. I saw my friend Storm who I hadn’t seen in a year and it was then time to call it a night.
Friday The day began with the panel I was on, again hosted by Maryelizabeth, With Great Power Come Great Stories. I was there representing for Wild Cards, as were Carolyn Spector and surprise extra guest Paul Cornell. The room was about two-thirds full, but would have had more people if the interminable line for ballroom 20 weren’t routinely barring access to the rest of the hall. One of the panelists was even late because of it. Regardless, the panel went well, and I got the closing remark, “But sometimes you need to use the insanity widget,” which Maryelizabeth then echoed as a good final line and adjourned us to the signing area.
After the signing, Carolyn and I went to The Field and had lunch, talked Wild Cards and writing in general, and had a good time, then went back to the convention center and went around the dealer’s room until my feet got too sore and I went off to see a panel and sit down.
While I would have liked to see the True Blood panel, the line for it was insane and the main point was to get off my feet. They’d also cross-programmed it with another vampires-and-werewolves show I also like called Being Human, but as that’s from Britain and didn’t have banners over half the convention center advertising it, I assumed it would be less impacted and I could sit down immediately. I was right.
I got in for the tail end of Teen Wolf. No, not the Teen Wolf with Back to the Future made them release it anyway, and not the cartoon version either. Well, yeah, sort of, but it looked like with this remake, they planned to play it straight and it looked reasonably cool.
This was then followed by the panel for Falling Skies, or as I called it afterward “In Which Stephen Spielberg Phones It In.” How do I explain it? Let’s see…. Take War of the Worlds and file the serial numbers off (it’s in public domain, but the last version bombed, so you don’t want to be associated with that) and cross-pollinate it with some patriotism lifted from Independence Day by making your protagonist an American history professor who specializes in the Revolutionary War and is thus is filled with idealistic hope that a small band of insurgents can continually frustrate and annoy an invading army until their intergalactic homeworld eventually suffers an economic collapse and the funding for the invasion of earth is yanked. Or something like that. This role is being played by Noah Wylie, an actor I usually enjoy and who was very earnestly trying to sell his new series, but the story about his character’s wife being dead, two of his sons being around, and the third son being kidnapped by the aliens for “mysterious purposes”? (Hint: These “mysterious purposes” are invariably hybridizing humans with aliens, which he would know if he were a professor of pop culture and were thus genre savvy.)
Like The Walking Dead, the story picks up several months after the invasion, but instead of having the collapse of society glossed over by means of a convenient coma, we have this grave-voiced little girl telling us that the aliens “did not want to be friends” as a voice-over to crayon drawings of bug-eyed green men with gnashing razor-sharp teeth. I’m about to wonder if the sheriff and the history professor shouldn’t team up and go deal with the zombies and the aliens together when the Q&A begins and this breathless woman asks the producer where they came up with the brilliant idea of explaining the invasion via the little girl’s drawings, and I’m thinking, um, it’s on tv tropes.org and it’s called a “nightmare fuel coloring book.” I could almost forgive the woman for the ditzy question when the producer opened his mouth and started blowing colored smoke about it being something Stephen Spielberg invented from his amazing creative genius, as opposed to it being a standard film convention of the genre, and you always give the dire exposition to little girls instead of little boys if you can help it because little girls are perceived as inherently more innocent and the contrast is automatically viewed as creepier. Duh.
Then the panel was over and there was a short wait for Being Human to start. Unlike most there, I had not yet illegally downloaded the whole second season to watch it, but I still enjoyed the panel and the actors. There was also an interesting mention that while the BBC show is continuing, there will be an American version started up on the SyFy channel and the producer hoped we’d watch both so he’d get more residuals.
I then went and caught dinner with Albert and his friend Andrew, who’s also a housemate. We hit the Dublin Square and had dinner and drinks with a blogger who was covering the con, after which we called it an early night in preparation for Saturday.
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