Posted on: July 13th, 2011 Truths About the Comic-Con Experience

san-diego-comic-conOne week until SDCC. One. Week. It’s so exciting. Plans are being formulated, meetups coordinated, schedules combed over. And the Internet is loaded with tips on surviving the biggest convention of the year. And for the record, they’re all fine tips. It’s just sometimes the bar seems to be set a bit high regarding the whole experience.

A lot of you have been to Comic-Con before. A lot of you haven’t. I have. And here’s an honest list of realities I’ve found when it comes to The Mother of All Conventions:

1. You can attend the entire 5 day event and not meet a single soul. Just like if you were to go to a giant house party-if you’re not putting any effort into social interaction, people aren’t going to talk to you. You are not guaranteed new friends. You may not connect with a single person. It’s going to take some serious personal skills to make it happen. You can do it (I believe in you), just know that it doesn’t come easy. Everybody’s got their own agenda there. Say “hi” to Ryan and me. We’ll be your friends. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: SDCC | 1 Comment »

Posted on: May 16th, 2011 TR!CKSTER Brings Creators, Wine, Back To Comic-Con

216398_170893302964048_100933909959988_362576_637124_nWe’re  two months away from SDCC. No official schedule has been released for the event yet, and already I’ve found my weekend – granted, all after-hours – nearly booked. Well scratch all that, because Tr!ckster has arrived to dominate your Comic-Con. If you’re into all that creative stuff anyways.

From July 19-24, directly across the street from the San Diego convention center, the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center will transform into part gallery, part store and part lounge, with an impressive list of who’s who in comics. The event is also free to the general public. The idea is that you can walk on in, grab some wine (I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot), rub elbows with the likes of Steve Niles and Mike Mignola, buy some small-run creator owned books or merchandise, and even catch a few panels (the panels look really excellent, perfect for those just starting out, or wanting to start in the industry – also, the panels will cost a fee – http://trickstertrickster.com/events/symposia/). Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: News, SDCC, comics | 2 Comments »

Posted on: July 31st, 2010 Con Artist: Comic-Con International San Diego 2010

Well now, the granddaddy of them all has come and gone. You no doubt were barraged with nonstop updates and tweets from all things SDCC. Perhaps a couple of news reports. Let’s see how the convention itself faired this year, shall we?

Few things you might want to know going into this: Ratings are on a scale of 5 fanboys.  I don’t rent a car, so most things are done within walking distance. I don’t particularly care to eat AT the convention; I typically eat at surrounding restaurants. I’m usually with my brother, so most of what I do is good for two people. We’re panel people, I don’t really understand autographs and I like to buy toys and statues. Keep that in mind when you read these write-ups; since there’s a bunch of ways to do a con.

Comic-Con International-San Diego (SDCC)

July 21-25, 2010

San Diego Convention Center

111 West Harbor Drive

San Diego, CA

comic-con.org

SDCC

Single-Day Pass*: Varies on day purchased

4-Day Pass with Preview Night*: $100.00

*Passes only available online. No badges issued at doors.

Notable Guests:

Enough to make you soil yourself

Overview:

This is the event that should be on every geek’s bucket list. It is the Mecca of all things awesome. It doesn’t matter if your passion is films or toys, comic books or video games-this weekend has something for everybody. And I mean that. Everybody. It’s one thing to just sit back on the couch and watch G4’s condescending coverage of SDCC, it’s another thing entirely to be there. Since this is such a monstrous event, ironically the con’s weakness is it’s size. There’s just too much. You’ve got to know your priorities and you have to recognize the fact that you will not see everything you hope to. It can’t be done. In order to see that film footage in Hall H, chances are you’ll have to squat through at least one panel to insure you get a seat. It’s a bummer; so much so that there have been talks of moving the con out of San Diego. The lease of the convention center ends in 2012. There’s been no decision in the matter as of yet.

Panels: 5 Fanboys fanboy rating5

Somebody told Hollywood that people like comic book material and they just went to town. Between Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the entire convention was packed with footage, trailers, screenings and just photo opportunities with celebrities. Television, although not as huge as film, also got some big plugs-we’re talking Walking Dead, The Cape, No Ordinary Family, and some other not-so-new shows. It is, however, safe to say that comic books themselves took a back seat this year. We’re basically out of event season and consequently, there aren’t as many reveals and surprises in the world of comics. At any rate, the amount of big-name writers, artists, actors and directors made for some serious fan-favorite panels.

Vendors: 4 Fanboys fanboy rating4

I’ll give the vendors one thing, they sure do bring a lot. Of course, this year most sellers seemed to go home with a lot as well. There didn’t seem to be much traffic in the way of the smaller vendors. Most bags I saw were full of the big toy brands’ Comic-Con exclusives. I’m chalking up the inactivity of the market to the high prices. Sunday didn’t even bring the sales. What you used to see for 50% off on the last day now have signs for 25% off or “Taking Reasonable Offers”. Probably not the best way to move your products.

If you’re going for the big merchandisers exclusives, be prepared to wait in line.  Don’t plan on doing much else.  You’ll have to stand in line to get a voucher that allows you to stand in another line to buy something.  Mattel had the decency to offer a pre-sale voucher system this year in which you could go to the neighboring Marriot hotel, show them your printed email, your SDCC badge, your I.D. and your credit card used to make the purchase and they would smile and hand you your toys.  There were still lines but at least you were guaranteed that you would get the toys.  That doesn’t always happen at the con.

If you’re looking for reading materials, it’s a great place to find some bargains.  If you’re looking for one book in particular-good luck.  It’s probably not going to happen.  Outside of Mile High Comics, most stands have no organization.  They try, it just doesn’t last after a group of readers pick over the boxes of trades like vultures on a dead animal’s carcass.  Gross analogy but totally appropriate.  If you’re diving in just to see what books you need, you can get a lot of trades 50% off on Sunday.  Certain vendors offer discounts throughout the weekend if you’re buying more than 5 books.

Food: 5 Fanboys fanboy rating5

Inside the convention center you have your basic food jockeys. Crazy-ass expensive nachos, pretzels, cookies and limited Starbucks stands. Outside the convention center you’ve got a ridiculously huge variety to choose from. Walk 10 minutes any which way from the convention center and you’ll find plenty to choose from. Anything from your standard fast food joints to made-from-scratch menus. Personally, I’m crazy about sea food and buddy, San Diego’s got their fair share of sea food. I probably do just as much research about the food around SDCC as I do checking over the events, panels and guests. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts about the con.

Convention Center: 4 Fanboys fanboy rating4

I can see that a lot of people get overwhelmed at the size of the center. They’re the ones looking at the map in the Events Guide. Once you get the hang of how the rooms are laid out and where the escalators are, it’s fairly easy to navigate. You can try asking a volunteer for help but most of the time, they have no idea what you’re talking about. They’re glorified babysitters-you’re better off asking the guy in the leisure suit and Boba Fett helmet. He’s there every year. He’ll know.

I get that it is in the interest of crowd control. I understand that it would be very difficult to monitor who was first when lining up for panels. But damnit, I hate the fact that I can only enter a large room through one door. I just left one room that’s right next to the room I need to go in next, but I have to walk all the way around to the other side to enter through the right door. That makes me sound lazy. I am. But it’s more the weaving in and out of people that makes it a challenge because inevitably I’ll have to stop in the middle of the hallway because some dude wants to take a picture of a scantily clad cosplay chick or another Stormtrooper. That’s fine. Take your picture and do whatever it is you do with them. Just take the photo away from the flow of traffic.

I would like to say thank you to the fine convention organizers that thought it was a good idea to put up tents outside of Hall H. Every year we end up waiting in the sun for a couple hours.  It probably took hundreds of cases of heatstroke, but this year you guys got your act together. Don’t think it went unnoticed.

Extracurriculars: 5 Fanboys fanboy rating5

If you have a free night at SDCC, you’re doing something wrong. Between the bars, parties, concerts, comedy, and even the organized movie screenings, you should have plenty to do. I get concert emails about San Diego from Livenation.com (which does me no good 11 months out of the year) and they help me out a lot in planning the trip. This year I was able to see MC Frontalot and MC Lars in concert and see Patton Oswalt’s stand-up show. Could you take the gamble and buy the tickets once you’re there? Sure but don’t think you’ll be guaranteed to get in. If you haven’t caught on that a lot of people come to this thing, you haven’t been paying attention. Worst case scenario: you could always look at the movies showing in the neighboring hotel ballrooms and go there. You’ll meet up with a bunch of people that have the same taste in movies as you. Isn’t that nice?

Total Score: 5 Fanboys fanboy rating5

You can’t go wrong with SDCC. It’s a blast. There’s so much to do that you will have fun even if you try to be a stick in the mud. You need to go to this convention at least once in your life. And say hi to me. I will most likely be there.

Next up is looking like PAX in September.  Have a great con story or dissuasive warning for another con? Let me know!

A lot of love goes out to Ben Rankel for my wicked Con Artist art.  He’s a friend to GKS and a friend to humanity.  For more of Ben’s artwork pop on over to the now-retired webcomic Three Panel Opera. Everything the man touches turns to talent.

Con Artist Full

Filed under: Review, SDCC | 1 Comment »

Posted on: July 25th, 2010 AVENGERS Assemble At Comic-Con!

Geek history was made last night, as the entire cast of The Avengers stood together on stage. The hours-long wait that fans endured to get into the infamous Hall H, specifically the Marvel movies panel, paid off as one by one the actors converged before a screaming audience. The culmination of four Marvel films, two of which we haven’t seen yet, into one epic picture. Fans were also treated to the confirmation and reveal that actors Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo would be joining the team, as Hawkeye and Bruce Banner, respectively.

Check out Marvel.com’s photo of the now legendary moment:

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Avengers roll call, from left to right:

Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man)
Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson)
Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America)
Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)
Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye)
Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk)
Joss Whedon (Director)
Kevin Feige (President, Marvel Studios)

How fucking amazing is that? I imagine the feeling in the room to be quite electric. Just think, two summers from now you’ll be sitting in a packed theatre waiting for an Avengers movie to start. That in itself is mind-blowing. And then the lights will dim and the film will start, and one by one this amazing list of names will appear on the screen. This could be one of the biggest films of all time.

Kudos to those of you that got to see it in person.

Filed under: Movies, News, SDCC, comics | 1 Comment »

Posted on: July 24th, 2010 Six Sexy SUCKER PUNCH Posters

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Zack Snyder is one busy  cat post-Watchmen. He’s got Legend of the Guardians coming out next month and he’s just announced he will be handling the big-screen adaptation to Frank Millers 300 sequel, titled Xerxes. Before returning to Spartans and six-pack abs once more though, he will unleash Sucker Punch upon us, an original story from Snyder himself.

So what is Sucker Punch? Well it sounds like a whole lot of babes and bullets mixed in with some Snyder action.

Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of Baby Doll (Browning), who is trying to hide from the pain caused by her evil stepfather and lobotomy. She ends up in mental institution and while there she starts to imagine alternative reality. She plans to escape from that imaginary world but to do that she needs to steal five objects before she is caught by a vile man. She has 5 days to escape before being lobotomized. In order to cope with the situation, she enters the hyper-real world of her imagination, and the lines between reality and dream begin to blur. She is joined with friends who are inmates from the institution. Lessons learned in the said fantasy world could help the girls escape their real-world fate.

In anticipation of SDCC and the film, Warner Bros. has released six new character posters featuring the girls of Sucker Punch – Emily Browning, Jessica Hudgens, Jena Malone, Abbey Cornish, Jamie Chung and Carla Cugino. Take a look for yourself (and click to view in super sucker full punch size):

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suckerpunch-CCcharposters-trips2Q

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The film opens next March 25, 2011.

Filed under: Movies, News, SDCC | 1 Comment »

Posted on: August 4th, 2009 Mattel Pushes Collector’s Buttons

mattel_logoWhen it comes to collecting superhero licensed toys, there’s no doubt that Mattel is ruling the roost with their DC Universe Classics line. Every wave of these 6″ figures are wonderfully crafted by legendary toy sculptures The Four Horseman, feature awesome sculpts and likenesses, great articulation and just overall a super-high cool factor. This line is so successful that it is also damn near impossible to find at standard retail level or for a reasonable price.

Normally you would say that’s a good problem to have, an established toy manufacturer with an established comic license is selling out all over North America. Sadly though, the problems with Mattel’s DCUC line stems far beyond selling out and being scooped up immediately by the most rabid of toy collectors.

Now, before I start the engine on the blame train headed for Mattel here, let me reiterate that the DCUC line really is amazing. Right now it is the only line that I’m really into, that I’ll actually drive around hunting for if I suspect I could find some. I currently have 6 of the 8 waves available, and they are the star of my nerdery. I think this is why we toy collectors are so upset with Mattel right now; if this line were mediocre I don’t think we’d care as much.

dc_universe_batmanThe first problems with the DC Universe Classics line really stared to creep up with a noticeable lack of quality control. All over collecting message boards, consumers were reporting bad paint applications, missing or broken limbs on characters and wrong parts on their figures. This issue lasted a few waves before Mattel addressed the issue on their official Matty Collector Facebook page, and stepped up their quality control. I’ve been fortunate enough that I haven’t had any major issues with quality control aside from the odd little speck of renegade paint. For a time there, this was a huge issue for many invested in the line.

Next up came an issue that Mattel still hasn’t resolved, and in fact is becoming worse: availability.

It is getting really ridiculous to find and afford these figures. While you may find the occasional Mr. Miracle warming the peg at your local Toys ‘R’ Us, Wal-Mart or Target, the chances of you actually finding a new DCUC figure is incredibly slim. It really started with wave 2 which included Aquaman and Harley Quinn; there’s a fair amount of collectors who to this day have never seen a figure from this wave in person. Waves 3 and 4 were a little better for retail, but you almost had to be at the store on the day they were put out to find them. Specialty shops like comic book stores or collector stores would occasionally carry the line but would mark up the figures to an unfair price; from the standard $14.99 to $24.99+ per figure.

Then came the death stomp for many DCUC collectors. Wave 5 became a Wal-Mart exclusive wave. This meant that the only place you could find all the figures, including Riddler, Eradicator, Black Lightning, Amazo, The Atom and a Collect-And-Connect Metallo,was at Wal-Mart. No online retailers, no Toys ‘R’ Us. No Target. Not Only were these ridiculously difficult to find, but there was a serious lack of distribution meaning that they were now almost impossible to find. At one point an entire wave 5 was selling on ebay for over $600.

The fans were outraged, and Mattel has yet to re-release the wave to all retailers and increase distribution and shipping amounts. They did however just increase the price by two dollars to $16.99 per figure.

Mattel have truly managed to whip us collectors into a controlled frenzy. We know if we find the figures we’re going to buy them and as much as we bitch and complain we aren’t going to give up the hunt. Fans flocked to the San Diego Comic Con to see the future waves of DCUC. Their DCUC panel filled up as collectors cheered and clapped when images of new and future figures were shown. It wasn’t until immediately after the con that fans realized they had been duped that very weekend.

sdcc_02__scaled_600Months ago we started getting announcements from major toy companies of what their con exclusive would be. You see, every year at SDCC there are a ton of figures and statues and collectibles and variants that you can only get at that company’s booth during the convention. You can find them online afterwards, marked up on ebay, but for all intents and purposes they are exclusive in every sense of the word. Last year Mattel sold a DCUC Lobo figure exclusive to SDCC and that was a huge hit and very successful. This year they really wanted to blow it out of the park, but ended up blowing it out of their ass. They announced that the DCUC con exclusive would be a Wonder Twins box-set featuring Zan, Jayna and Gleek the monkey from the DC Super Friends animated series. That’s all fine and cool and fans were excited. Then Mattel dropped a bomb that would divide the fans and piss them off to the high heavens. They announced that immediately after the con the Wonder Twins set would be available for purchase online at the official Mattel store, mattycollector.com. The only difference is that this set available to the general public would be a two-pack with the Zan and Jayna characters and no Gleek. Gleek the monkey would now be only available in separate packaging for those in line at SDCC. Basically you would have to wait in line to get a Zan and Jayna set (these lines are notorious for taking hours) then get into another line, show your receipt and package and then claim your Gleek figure.

sdcc_06__scaled_200Collectors went bananas online because they would be given the chance to buy the two-pack but not the Gleek figure. Personally, I understand the term “exclusive” and have no problem with it. There has been exclusives and variants and things of that nature available only to certain audiences since toys started being collected. But still, fans demanded blood and wanted their damned monkey, and still Mattel stood strong keeping the Gleek figure at the con. But they royally fucked that up.

Many fans and collectors that braved the long lines to get their Wonder Twins were set up for disappointment, as many of them were turned down once they got to the booth to pick up their Gleek figure. Mattel, in typical fashion, didn’t have an equal amount of Gleek/Wonder Twins sets. So now what is meant to be a convention exclusive is now a convention exclusive exclusive.

Great job Mattel. way to please your fans. Oh, but it gets worse!

Mattel announced on their Facebook page that a “lost” box of Gleek figures was found at the convention space, after the convention had ended. So all those folks that didn’t get the Gleek toy they thought they were intitled to, didn’t get one because someone lost a fucking box. Now, you would think that Mattel would try to rectify the situation and get these Gleeks in the hands of their dedicated collectors. You would think that they would produce more Gleeks and put them up on their offical store for everyone to enjoy and to show good faith with the people who spend thousands of dollars on your products yearly.

But no, Mattel didn’t do anything like that. In another dumb, bonehead move, Mattel gave these found Gleeks to a small online forum for toy-collectors, Fwoosh.com, to give away to their registered members. Now like I said, I’m not against selling exclusives, but if you’re going to do that make sure that you follow through with those who make the effort to buy them, and if you fuck it up like Mattel, you better rectify it for everyone, and fast.

So Mattel has us wrapped around their fingers. I’ll probably keep buying the DCUC line because I really love the product once it’s in my hand, and I’m sure most collectors will stick with it too.

But c’mon Mattel, use your head for once before Marvel and Hasbro put you to shame.

Filed under: SDCC, comics, toys | 1 Comment »

Posted on: July 26th, 2009 Tales from the Convention Floor: Day 2 & 3

All right, all right-I’m not the best person to put in charge of news updates.  I’m selfish, what can I say?  If given the choice between typing up breaking news OR watching a comedy show; I’m going to choose the show.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Sorry, interweb.  The show was great, if you’re curious.

Things that I learned both yesterday and today:

-Jock (Cover artist to Scalped/interior artist for The Losers) will be filling in as artist for J.H. Williams III on Detective Comics.

-Marvel has just wrapped up buying the rights to Marvel Man/Miracle Man, so look forward to some reprints coming out.

-Psylocke and Magneto will be slightly more prominent in the Marvel Universe in the up-coming months.  Not as a set, don’t get excited.

-Geoff Johns is going to be writing the Flash monthly publication with Scott Kolins as the artist

-There will JSA, Flash and Wonder Woman titles in the Blackest Night miniseries

-Tower Comics’ T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents have been brought on to the DCU.  No word on the writer.  Things are still in the works.

-Scott Ian (Yes, Anthrax’s Scott Ian) will be trying his hand at writing Lobo for DC.

-Kevin Smith has plans for making a hockey movie after wrapping up his directorial project on A Couple of Dicks with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan.  We’re not entirely certain where that falls into his plans on his horror film Red State.

-Scott Mosier is finishing a script for an action movie.

Well, that’s all for now.  I’d love to give you further details, but you’re working with my short-term memory.  One more day and then it’s all said and done for this year.  Thanks for another great convention, San Diego.

comiccon40

Posted on: July 23rd, 2009 SDCC: Tales from the Convention Floor: Day 1

“And he WON! And he’s a DOUCHE!”

“I lived by a canyon. That’s how my cats died. Eaten by owls.”

“That Kick-Ass movie kicks ass.”

“Dude, Subway’s crazy.”

“To the woman in the Black Cat costume: I’m staying at the Marriot.”

“Sit down, this ain’t rock and roll…”

“I based my opinion of that book entirely on the cover.”

“I suck.”

Those were just some of the statements I heard that resonated with me during today’s voyage. No doubt, my experience was similar to others’. Stand in a line that DOES NOT lead to Wonder Twin action figures. Be told by the “Volunteer of The Day” that despite your place in line for the Lego Star Wars panel, the room is actually full and will not be taking on any more viewers. Sit through a panel you don’t actually want to see, contemplating the origin of the back-sweat design on the guy in front of you. Quietly critiquing the costumes of those around you knowing full well that you wish you were in a crappy costume too.wondertwinwanted

At any rate, here are the news tidbits from the first day o’ SDCC:

-Bryan Lee O’Malley has yet to draw the sixth Scott Pilgrim installment. It’ll be a while before it hits the racks. There will be no awesome sword-splicing of a trolly car by an angry father in the movie. Bummer.

-Longbox Digital Comics will be launching their beta project soon. Dark Horse and BOOM! are among the publishers to participate in this service. More on that to come. I promise.

-Geoff Johns has said that there will be a fight between Dex-Starr and Krypto in Blackest Night. Kid Flash will probably get his own book soon (I say “probably” because, like any creative industry, any future plans are super-secret complete with giggles and strange looks at your editor). Also, his most stressful moment in his career involved mango salsa. Riveting.

-Gail Simone, my favorite writer (haha-you thought it was Geoff Johns and you were wrong!) is still being awesome. A Welcome to Tranquility mini “Cradle to Grave” will be coming out in the near future where one of the old folks’ grandson is the most dangerous man in the world. Pink Bunny also changes her fried chicken recipe. I ask you, where ELSE can you get hard-hitting news like this? You’re welcome.

-The movie adaptation of Kick-Ass will be epic. I’m calling my shot now even though Nicholas Cage is practically the kiss of death for your movie nowadays. Matthew Vaughn’s footage came complete with the opening scene of a man’s fatal jump off a building, conversation with the friends over coffee and comics, and Hit Girl doing what Hit Girl does…killing people. Chloe Moretz, in all her twelve-year-old glory, will be the main reason this flick will steal hearts. Boy, she can sure take a bullet to the chest.

I’ll post more items of my interest tomorrow. Right now, I’m late for this year’s installment of the Kung Fu Extravaganza.