One of the things I wished they would do at the end of the San Diego Comic-Con is hand out a complementary t-shirt or button or some sort of memento that says simply this: "I Survived the San Diego Comic-Con." There's no need to put the supplemental saying, "... and all I got was this lousy (insert whatever)," because there is PLENTY one gets from Comic-Con, in many forms: swag, exclusive new information and/or footage on film and television and, for press folks like me, tons of interviews, scoops, gossip and amazing parties chocked full of celebrities and free booze. While I'm pretty sure no one has actually died at Comic-Con, after this, my second year covering the Con, actually leaving San Diego in one piece - both in mind and body - is a harrowing task in and of itself.
We already have loads of coverage from the Con on the site already, with much MUCH more to come in the following days, but I thought I'd take some time to list some of the highlights, lowlights and random observations that I took in at this year's festivities. I'll try to keep these in somewhat chronological order, but due to our blistering schedule (literally... my feet are killing me) some of these items will just be listed how I remember them. So, without further ado, take a look at my bullet-pointed list of all the crap that went down at this year's Con.
- Might as well start at the beginning. I got into town around 2 PM on Wednesday and I saw something that really shouldn't have shocked me, but it did anyway. The Hall H line had already started forming a full 24 hours or so before the The Twilight Saga's New Moon panel the following afternoon. There wasn't a huge contingency there so far in advance, but probably a hundred people or so just chilling outside of Hall H to secure their seat at the 6,500-seat venue. It's rather humorous to me that last year, Twilight was lumped in with two other Summit Entertainment films (Push and Knowing) and this year it had its very own panel along with press conferences and roundtable interviews as well. Throughout the day and night, the line grew and grew and when I woke up the next morning, the line was probably the longest line I had ever seen in my entire life. What a difference a year can make...
- Speaking of that press conference, The Twilight Saga's New Moon press conference was the first thing I covered at this year's Con and it was packed with press. Of course, this wasn't on the official Comic-Con schedule, so I wondered to myself what would've happened if I would've yelled out to the crowd waiting in line for the The Twilight Saga's New Moon panel right across the street, that Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner were all right here at the Hilton Bayfront hotel. The press conference was rather dull, with most of the questions dealing with the phenomena of the series rather than the movie itself, and it ended in horrible fashion with the first sighting of that Comic-Con idiot known as Bob Stencil. I won't spell his last name starting with a dollar sign, or even mention what site he writes for, because this utterly retarded character is barely worth mentioning here... but I do because the question he asked about whether or not there is real-life romance between Pattinson and Stewart (after the PR rep told the press corps from refraining from those questions), did not go over well at all with anyone, including Stewart. I heard he even got banned from the press lines this year and Megan Fox even called him out at the Jonah Hex panel, asking if he was trying to do an impression of Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I doubt it will be happen, but I hope this is the last year we see this buffoon at the Con, because I know I'm not the only one who hates this moron's schtick.
- One of my beefs with last year's Con was the overall attitude the security staff had against the press. Highly unpleasant, to say the least, so you can imagine my utter disbelief when this went down. For those who haven't been inside the San Diego Convention Center, they have a lot of these outdoor areas that are used for press lines, lines for panels and, chiefly for me, for smoke breaks. A lot of times last year, if you went outside on one of these areas, they simply wouldn't let you back in, so I asked one security guard if it was cool if I just went out here to smoke for a few minutes, he looked down at my press badge and said, "Oh, you're press. You can do whatever you want." I was flabber-f&^%ing-gasted, to say the least. I almost wanted to take a picture of him. Maybe put him on my Christmas Card list. Amazing.
- Last year I approximated, just in walking around the Convention Center every day, that probably 80% of Con attendees were dressed up in costume. For whatever reason, that guesstimated number declined sharply, probably under 50%. There were seemingly hundreds of people dress up as The Joker last year. This year, there was just one (I think it was just one) guy dressed as Rorschach. I'm not sure if this means the Con is getting more mainstream or if people are getting too hot in their costumes to wear them in the middle of July... but for whatever the reason, costume wearage saw a significant decrease.
- Also last year, there were a number of giddy Con-goers who would just stand around holding a sign for "Free Hugs." There were eons of them. I didn't get it. I thought it was annoying. When I saw the first "Free Hugs" sign pop up this year, I considered making a sign that said "$5 Hugs," or something of that nature. Sure enough, I saw a version of that sign the very next day, with a sliding price scale and everything. Hilarity. It'd be even funnier if people did actually pay.
- What started out as just my camera guy and I going to drop off some tapes with our other camera crew, turned into an exclusive, but VERY brief interview with director James Cameron. The rep was very adament that each person only ask one question to James, because of the time. I asked two. Such a rebel...
- I did interview plenty of actors, filmmakers and such at the Con, and many a Con-goer can sometimes spot celebs on the convention floor or at local restaurants, but the best place to see them is at the numerous parties that happen all over San Diego after the Convention Center closes its doors for the night. I happened to attend two very very cool parties during my stay in SD, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention them here, as they were key components of my survival at the Con (i.e. release from a hectic day). Friday night brought the annual Wrath of Con party, put on by those crazy cats at IESB.net. I was at the party last year, and as crazy and awesome as that was, they pulled out all the stops and made this one of the best f&%$ing parties I've ever been to. Daughtry performed (yeah, I don't love them either, but they sounded pretty good live) and they even had a live TNA Wrestling exhibition, which was rather entertaining. Zack Snyder, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were awarded for their dedication to their genre filmmaking and, of course, there was free booze and tons of random celebs and filmmakers roaming about and to top it all off, a sweet gift bag full of goodies. Props go out to IESB's Robert Sanchez and his wife Stephanie for putting on this amazing event, as well as their sponsors from Poynt, TNA Wrestling, Sideshow Collectibles and anyone else who contributed to the massive gift bag that I'm still wading through. I don't know how you guys are going to top yourselves next year... but I'm looking forward to finding out!
On Saturday night, I wasn't really expecting to head to a party, since I wasn't invited to one, but it just goes to show you how much connections mean in this biz. I called up a friend of mine, director Steven Miller, who made Automaton Transfusion and has a bunch of other films in the works like the Motel Hell remake, and I asked him what he was doing that night. He was at the Hard Rock for this party and managed to get me in for another night of free booze, random celeb sightings and even a performance from Kiss. Yes, that's right, KISS! Sadly, they weren't wearing makeup, but still, it was quite a show. Miller, you rock!
- I'm not really the type to get star-struck, but every now and then I get to do some interviews that I get uber-excited about, and some of those interviews happened. I'm a totally huge fan of Boondock Saints, so I was quite jazzed when I learned I would interview Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly, director Troy Duffy along with newcomers Julie Benz and Clifton Collins Jr. for Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. Everyone was incredibly and genuinely excited about the movie and it was rather cool just to talk to everyone and meet them. I also got a chance to talk to Clifton Collins Jr. a bit between his other interviews - which confirmed how cool of a guy he really is in person, which I figured he was during a recent phone interview - and I even found out that we live in the same neighborhood. Amazing. While, sadly, I didn't get a chance to check out the panel and the new trailer, I heard it was one of the most rabid and craziest panels of the entire Con, and I hope that means we'll get to see this in theaters very soon. (Side note: Julie Benz might just be the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in person...)
Jesus. What else is there? Yes, there surely was much MUCH more than I experienced during my five days at Comic-Con, but this is such an exhausting experience. For five days straight all you do is either walk or stand in line all day and drink booze all night. The ravaging toll it takes on your mind and body (even if you don't drink booze all night) is unlike anything else. I call it the Comic-Con Delirium, a special blend of madness that you just can't get anywhere else.
Perhaps I wrote this too soon, before my brain is fully allowed to recover from the Con, so I'll bid you adieu. It was quite an experience yet again, chocked full of the good (James Cameron!) the bad (Bob Stencil) and the ugly (too much to be specific on...) so I'm going to try and get some more recovery time in by taking a nap... for a month. As Ron Burgundy said, 'Stay classy, San Diego"... at least until this time next year. Peace in. Gallagher out!