And just like that, another Comic-Con is in the rearview mirror.
After taking a break from the 2011 madness in San Diego, I found myself thrown once more unto the breach this year as a consultant for Spike TV’s live “All Access” show broadcasting from the heart of Comic-Con. (Okay, so maybe Petco Park isn’t the heart of Comic-Con, but it’s pretty darn close, and my knowledge of human anatomy is too sketchy to come up with a more appropriate comparison.)
As I mentioned in an earlier post that offered up all the details about the gig, I was basically a writer, producer, and all-around consultant for the show, helping out with the script, prepping the hosts, suggesting interview questions, and generally helping to make sure “Spider-Man” gets hyphenated, “Batman” doesn’t, and nobody confuses DC and Marvel superheroes.
I know, you’re probably saying, “What a terrible gig, Rick! You endure so many hardships!” and maybe you’re thinking, “That guy Rick is like the Mother Teresa of nerds.” I get that a lot.
But I have a confession: It was actually a pretty great experience.
Not only did I enjoy my time working with the Spike team during this year’s Comic-Con, but it was also an eye-opening experience in a lot of ways — chief among them, that Comic-Con can be (*gasp*) fun. Yes, after several long days of script edits, rehearsals, and the opportunity to see what the streets of Comic-Con look like at 5am (*shudder*), the show aired on Friday and it seemed to go over well (though my frame of reference is a bit limited).
On that note, you can watch the whole show online if you get the urge. I’m particularly proud of the Spider-Man retrospective that appears late in the show, which I helped edit down to a 2.5-minute segment from over four hours of interviews. (This is the part where I give a loud shout-out to video editor Dan McCarthy and producers Joel Solomon and Jaimee Kosanke, among others, for all their help on that one. Like Wolverine, they’re some of the best there is at what they do.)
While I didn’t get to attend any of the usual Comic-Con parties (a.k.a. “dimly lit events in which exhausted journalists get overly sauced and try to become BFFs with celebrities”), I did manage to hit the show floor for a few hours after Spike’s show wrapped Friday afternoon. It was a whirlwind tour at best, but I managed to see a lot of my favorite people at one point or another during my wander through the convention center, as well as a few unexpected floor-walkers.
While talking to the Quantum Mechanix crew about their new 1:6 scale TARDIS model (of course), I’m 99.9% sure that Robert Downey Jr. quietly strolled by sipping a cup of coffee. He was wearing a pair of dark sunglasses and — this is actually sort of great — a black Iron Man shirt. No one besides myself and the guy at the booth seemed to notice him, as everyone was intently staring at their phones or at the booth offerings on either side of the aisle. He moseyed down the center of the aisle (it was on the far end of the show floor, so it was less crowded than the rest of the room) and then exited the room via a side door.
The thought of him calmly wandering the show floor becomes even more amazing once you watch him make the convention’s most extravagant (and let’s face it, awesome) entrance just a day later at the big Marvel movie panel.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:
Near the tail-end of my adventure on the show floor, I also bumped into “True Blood” actor and comic-book writer Michael McMillian (who authored Archaia’s Lucid miniseries and is the regular writer on IDW Publishing’s ongoing True Blood series) while sifting through some boxes of discount comics. I’ve been a fan of his work since I saw him in a small independent film that was shot around Albany, NY, and I’m psyched to see him finding so much success on the screen and in comics. We chatted for a bit, and then resumed sifting through the back-issue bins.
Once again, it was fascinating to see a guy like McMillian flipping through a row of long boxes in the middle of the Comic-Con crowd just a day before he walked onstage at HBO’s “True Blood” panel and caused the crowd to go absolutely bonkers. That’s the magic of Comic-Con, I guess.
Along with those two celebrity encounters, my brief walkabouts outside Petco Park managed to include sightings of some lesser-known but still A-list personalities (in my book, at least), including the sinister trio of Joe Moscone, Justin Aclin, and Mike Avila. I also dropped by the Dumbrella and TopatoCo booths to see some of my favorite webcomic creators and check out Andrew Bell‘s latest Android collectibles (I own four of them already). On the print comics side, a trip to the Top Shelf booth was rewarded with an in-person meeting with Ed Piskor, the creator of one of my favorite graphic novels of the year, Wizzywig. (I have a long interview with Piskor going up on IFC.com soon, so keep an eye out for it.)
While packing up to return home Saturday morning, I realized that my haul from this year’s Comic-Con was noticeably lighter than past shows. It also had a recurring theme.
Check it out:
From left to right, that’s a “Doctor Who” TARDIS beach towel (I couldn’t resist), Jeffrey Brown’s Save The Date minicomic, Jazwares’ “Adventure Time” Finn in PJs (a request from my brother), a TARDIS lunch box (I told you there was a theme), a cool promo card for Jeff Lemire’s Underwater Welder graphic novel, some “Doctor Who” stickers from Quantum Mechanix (theme!), and finally Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Century: 2009 graphic novel (which I’ve been looking forward to for a while now).
It was a modest haul, but I’m satisfied with it (especially given the box of Comic-Con nerdery that awaited me at home, but I’ll get to that in a second).
Also to be filed under “The Magic of Comic-Con,” I had a celebrity sighting on my return flight from San Diego that was equal parts cool and a little bit eerie. As I boarded a 7am flight to JFK Airport, I noticed that one of the passengers sitting in First Class was Terry O’Quinn, who played John Locke in “Lost.” As you can probably imagine, this discovery left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m all, “Whoa, it’s John Locke, one of my favorite television show characters! Awesome!” On the other hand, I’m all, “Hey, it’s John Locke, the character who only travels on flights that end in a fiery mess of metal and burning fuel!”
The plane landed in New York City without incident, though, and gave me the opportunity to tell people that I once flew across the country with John Locke.
Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, this was what was waiting on my doorstep when I arrived home that afternoon:
Yes, what I thought was a modest haul from San Diego became so much more when I got back to Queens, thanks to my pals at Hunter PR and Hasbro. I wrote up a detailed article about the contents of the package over at IFC.com, but here’s a group shot of everything it contained:
Not seen in the above photo is the SDCC-Exclusive “Jar Jar Binks in Carbonite” figure that was the highlight of the shipment.
And that wraps up this year’s Comic-Con report, folks. All things considered, 2012 was a unique year for my SDCC archives, but it will go down as one of my favorite years at the show so far. Despite not seeing much of the show floor or attending any of the parties, the experience I had with the Spike TV team was something I wouldn’t trade for all the “Doctor Who” and Hasbro merch at the show — and fortunately, I didn’t have to!
One final note: you can check some of my Comic-Con 2012 photos over at Flickr.com if you get the urge. There’s not much there, but hey, it was a crazy show.
‘Til next year, Comic-Con!