Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Comic Con Report - introductory Remarks and Wed (preview night)

I’ve never written a formal San Diego Comic Con report before. I’ve gone for 7 straight years (coinciding with the “explosive growth” phase of the con… attendance was 51 K the first year I went and is just north of 125 K now) and figured, hey, why don’t I get off my butt and get some of this stuff down. This is the first year we left some of the kids home (the baby and the 5 year old), which added some mobility, but felt kind of weird. We drove up Wednesday during the day, and got badges easily (much easier than any other year) in time to hit preview night.

The free wi-fi on the floor was a bit of a surprise (I think it's the first year for that), so much of the following was originally typed in Hall H and other rooms while waiting for the Watchmen and other panels. The con keeps getting busier in some areas, but seems to have topped out in others. Later in the con, we were shut out of the True Blood panel (30 from the door - rats), which may be the first time I haven't gotten in a 6CDEF room panel. The lines for the 6-ballroom subsections were busier in general.

Preview (Wednesday) night had scheduled events in the rooms for the first time. My preview night consisted of going to the Fringe pilot screening, and dropping thousands of dollars on two comics: Amazing Fantasy 15 (1st app of Spider-Man), and Avengers 4 (1st silver age Captain America). Got a decent deal. I still feel dizzy about the purchase, and smile everytime I think of it.

The Fringe screening may have been a mistake on the part of Fox… con screenings usually whip people into a frenzy first (by having cast members present, handing stuff out, etc) which helps the audience get all screamy and irrationally into it. The Heroes pilot was not “in shape” at the con a few years ago, but the stars (especially that Milo guy, having hailed from audience beloved Gilmore Girls) sold the thing, and the room was very positive about it. The cold (no one from the production staff was there) Fringe screening with bad audio led to a chilly audience reception. There was a ton of negative body language in the room.

So, Fringe itself. This is a further edit/tightening than the leaked, bit-torrented version, and is better. Even so, the pilot was too much a “modern” pilot – it wanted to be a full story and a cohesive origin at the same time, but wasn’t honed as well as a movie. So, it dragged like crazy in the middle, tried too hard all over the place, and had an opening sequence too like the openings of the Lost and Invasion pilots. However, the lead actress was good (like Joan Allen, but more conventionally sexy), the father/son stuff was good (the comedic stuff between Pacey - everyone kept calling him that - and Theron from Lord of the Rings - no one called him that - and the two action sequences were the high points of audience involvement for the entire event), and I left thinking that it was a good premise for a show. I’ll try it, so, mission accomplished, I guess, but my standards aren’t terribly high. I think much of the audience might not be as responsive, and the screening may lead to some mezo-mezo buzz.

We ordered pizza the first night, had some wine, and went to bed, with the comic books safely snuggled in the room's safe.


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