Monday, 16 July 2012


This past weekend a seething swarm of fanatics descended upon San Diego, the seaside SoCal city discovered by German explorers in 1904 and named for the most intimate part of a female whale’s anatomy.  Geeks from every race, religion, creed and species have been attending Comic-Con International since 1970.  Some make the pilgrimage hoping to meet their favourite comic book artist, others to buy limited edition collectibles.  Many arrive costume-clad, eager to share their unbridled enthusiasm for highly insular corners of pop-culture.  This year though, the vast majority were there so Hollywood hucksters could shotgun the latest blockbusters directly into their nerdy cerebral cortices. 

I’ve been to conventions both large and small, and it can be an overwhelming experience.  The pulsing mass of humanity.  The blatant consumerism.  And, of course, the lines that stretch into infinity.  But San Diego, the great white megalodon of comic conventions, is Geek Mecca.  A place where fandom is magnified to epic proportions.  Thankfully, between the countless entertainment blogs, my fully customizable Twitter feed and G4’s TV coverage, I was able to enjoy this year’s Con from the relative safety and absolute comfort of my own Fortress of Solitude here in Toronto, Canada.

The tortuous Hall H line-up.

Of all the bloggers, AICN’s Eris Vespe (aka Quint) delivered the most exhaustive and enthusiastic coverage.  On Saturday he spent eight full hours live-tweeting, mostly from Hall H, the cavernous headquarters through which parade an endless army of icons.  He also pumped out six thorough panel reports, and managed to find time to intro a screening of John Hillcoat’s latest film, Lawless.

Devin Faraci of Badass Digest wasn’t quite as prolific as Vespe, but his reports were informative and concise.  Early in the Con he popped up on YouTube, demonstrating a finely honed self-deprecating sense of humour.  Later, while tweeting from Saturday’s surprise Ant Man test-footage presentation, he coined the term “Size-Fu”, when describing Ant Man’s mass-shifting fighting style.  Director Edgar Wright subsequently embraced the phrase, saying that he plans to use it in every production meeting henceforth.

Entertainment Weekly had the market cornered on live-streaming interviews. Their corporate overlords (Time/Warner), enabled them to score Matt Damon and Jodie Foster from Elysium, Neill Blonkamp’s first film since directing District 9.  Core cast members from TV shows as wide-ranging as Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad also swung by.  While many of the interviews consisted of shameless glad-handing, EW did managed to snag a great scoop from director Guillermo Del Toro and actor Ron Perlman, who were in the house promoting their upcoming Giant Monsters vs. Mechs movie, Pacific Rim.  It appears that they’ve finally come to a consensus regarding another Hellboy sequel, and are intent on making a grand climax.

Other convention highlights included...

• 10th anniversary cast reunion of Firefly, Joss Whedon's southern-fried space-opera.

Friday in Hall H
• The Total Recall remake presentation failed to impress, while Ryan Johnson's Looper and Neill Blomkamp's Elysium thrilled fans of original science fiction.

 Saturday in Hall H...
• Quentin Tarantino and his cast showed the Cannes sizzle-reel for Django Unchained.  Tarantino also announced there will be a DC Comics tie-in.

• Peter Jackson, flanked by Sir Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood, presented about 15 minutes of footage from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

• Guillermo Del Toro knocked the audience flat on their collective ass with Pacific Rim footage.  Be prepared for the Japanese word “Kaiju” (strange beast) to enter the mainstream lexicon.  It's no coincidence that on Twitter, the hashtag #HolyShit was trending.  

• Zack Snyder (300Sucker Punch) debuted a teaser for The Man Of Steel, next year's Christopher Nolan-produced Superman reboot.

• Marvel Studios outlined Phase 2 of their Cinematic Universe, which will culminate with the release of The Avengers 2 in the summer of 2015.
- Iron Man 3 - 05/03/2013
- Thor: The Dark World - 11/08/2013
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 04/04/2014
- The Guardians of the Galaxy - 08/01/2014
- Ant Man test-footage, directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz).

Comic Book News 
• Neil Gaiman is returning to Sandman with Promethea artist J.H. Williams III.

• Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders) is penning an ongoing Star Wars series for Dark Horse Comics, set during the beloved Original Trilogy era.

Eisener Awards announced.  Best Continuing Series
: Daredevil, by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)

Strangely absent from the Con was The Dark Knight Rises, which screened earlier in the week for select members of the press.  Not to worry, when the film finally opens this weekend, Batman is sure to dominate the pop-culture conversation for the remainder of the summer.

Some nattering naysayers lament that with each passing year comic-book collectors have fewer reasons to attend the San Diego Comic-Con.  The sad truth of the matter is that people would much rather watch a superhero movie than read a superhero comic.  Ever since Hollywood figured out this paradigm, they’ve learned how to play the crowd, mount a full-scale invasion and hijack the zeitgeist.  It’s a strange turn of events, really, that has tens of thousands of pop-culture enthusiasts spending hundreds of dollars to cue up for fleeting glimpses of films that will be in wide-release in less than a year.  Yes, the result is that comics have been relegated to a sideshow attraction, but it also means that real fans of sequential storytelling have more room to play.  With everyone else clamouring to squeeze into Hall H, this leaves the rest of the Con up for grabs.  Comic-Con has reached a point where it caters to wide spectrum of interests.  It’s all-inclusive.  There’s something for everyone.  And that’s a mighty beautiful thing.

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