Monday, July 25, 2016

Report from Comic-Con 2016

Long time no blog!

I didn't take my laptop with me to SDCC last week, so you'll be getting this year's report from Comic-Con in one big installment. Enjoy!

Day 0: Return to Bloom County

Took the Gold Line (which was packed - barely room to breathe) down to Union Station and then took the Amtrak down to San Diego. My buddy Erik and I arrived without incident and then hitched the trolley over to the Town and Country hotel. Check-in line was remarkably short. The T&C is undergoing a refurb; our room wasn't one of the refurbed ones but it was still nice and suited our purposes very well.

We made out way to the convention center to pick up our guidebooks and lanyards. Once that was done, it was down to the exhibitor floor so I could drop a couple copies of my Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema book at William Wu Books, booth 5627. On the way, we happened to see a signing by Berkeley Breathed, creator of Bloom County - he was signing copies of the latest book, and there was virtually no line. We jumped in and got the book signed, and I was able to thank him for all the years of entertainment the Bloom County strip gave me.

After that, we stopped by Shout Factory to find out about the MST3K signing scheduled for Saturday. While there, I picked up the latest MST3K boxed set, which has one of my favorite episodes, The Incredible Melting Man. I also got a set of Scream Factory buttons, some free postcards, and some bonus MST3K DVDs. Nice!

By this time, we were famished, so it was over to La Fiesta. My favorite shrimp dish is no longer on their menu, but I got shrimp fajitas instead and was happy (the big margarita also made me happy).

We headed back to the hotel and got in our swimsuits for the pool, and no sooner had we jumped in when we found out it was closing time for the pool. Well, at least we got to cool off a bit and sluice off the heat of the day.

Day 1: A Visit to Pepperland

We got up early and headed over to the convention center - we really wanted tickets for the Yellow Submarine screening, as neither of us had seen that movie in a long time. The "everything but Hall H" line was huge and not especially well managed. The Sails Pavilion was supposed to open at 9 for drawings but we didn't see any action until 9:45. The actual drawing for the movie tickets was a bit odd - they seemed to have lumped it in with another drawing, and after a while we were told that they'd just give us the tickets (more on this in a bit).

We chose to not look a gift horse in the mouth and split up for the day. I went to a panel about the psychology of The Joker, which was good except for this pretentious wanker who kept talking about Nietzsche. Then I did a bit of shopping and got a vintage Horror of Party Beach tie-in comic and The Killing Joke graphic novel (we already have it but our copy is a first edition that my husband keeps under lock and key). Got some good swag, including various buttons and a free paperback of Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes.

Erik and I met up at a panel about movies from 1986 - it was neat to remember how many good movies came out in that year. Because one of the movies was Blue Velvet, I got some laughs by declaring Inland Empire the best choice for a Lynch "gateway" film. After that we did a bit more shopping and then had an early-ish dinner at The Field (where I had fish and chips).

We then headed to the Horton Grand Theater for Yellow Submarine - we got free Hot Wheels designed to look like the title vehicle. I was a bit sad to see that the theater was barely half full. Now I know why they just gave us the tickets. That's too bad, as shared enjoyment of the creative arts is what Con should be about. Anyway, the movie looked and sounded great (it's been remastered) and we enjoyed ourselves enormously. We made it back to our hotel in time for a lengthy dip in the pool and then crashed for the night.

Day 2: At the Con with Con Men

My morning was more or less free, so I slept in a bit and then headed over to the convention center to to a bit of shopping. Seeing as today was my day to see the Con Man panel at Nerd HQ, I stopped by the show's booth and got a Season 1 blu-ray; I saw that the prop lanyards they had extras wear earlier this month (I was in crowd scenes) were on sale. I  mentioned that I'd been an extra and the gentleman at the booth kindly threw in the lanyard for free!

At noon I popped up to the Sails Pavilion for the signing of Scales & Tales, an anthology whose proceeds go to the Southwestern Herpetologists Society, Kitt Crusaders, and Star Paws. I then headed over to Nerd HQ to hang around while waiting for the Con Man panel. I have to say that while it was hot the entire con, Friday was easily the most brutal day in terms of the heat; I made my sweltering, sweaty way over to the New Children's Museum and bought a "Reynolds/Washburn 2016" poster from the Nerd HQ merchandise booth. I know what'll be hanging on my home office wall soon!

The Con Man panel was great fun. In attendance were Nathan Fillion, PJ Haarsma, Mindy Sterling, Alison Haislip, Nolan North, Liam McIntyre, and Casper Van Dien. I asked a question about upcoming seasons of the series (I was the lady in what Mr. Fillion called "the lovely hat"), which also afforded me the chance to thank the attendees for giving fans a chance to be extras and participate in the show. After the panel there was a photo op with the panelists, which I of course participated in.

I was famished after all this so I made my way to SmashBurger and had the best lemonade ever and a burger and fries. Then it was back to the convention center for a panel about upcoming horror films and then one on e-publishing, which gave me the opportunity for a bit of networking. Then it was back to the hotel for a much-needed shower and some sleep.

Day 3: Knew Your Father, I Did!

This was the day we were most nervous about. Erik and I got up early and wended out way through the line - our goal was to get tickets for the MST3K signing at the Shout Factory booth, as this was a rare chance to meet up with the MST3K creator Joel Hodgson. Making our way to the booth at a very brisk walk (you get yelled at for running) was nerve-racking, but we made it and got signing tickets. Goal accomplished!

We trolleyed it back to the hotel to get into our costumes, both MST3K-oriented: Mr. B Natural for me and Torgo for Erik. Over the course of the day, Erik and I both got enthusiastic comments on our costumes; when we went back to the Shout Factory booth for a photo with Tom Servo and Crow, a lot of MST fans wanted our pictures as well. We had a big lunch at Brian's 24 (the BLT was to die for) and at 5:15 went to the signing. In attendance were Joel Hodgson, Felicia Day, Jonah Ray, and the two gentlemen who'll be voicing Crow and Servo (their names escape me at the moment). I got a poster signed by all of them; I made sure to tell all the new people (especially Jonah Ray, who is getting a lot of stick from jerk fans) how much I was looking forward to the new season; I got to shake Joel Hodgson's hand, thank him for the enjoyment the show has given me, and tell him that the love for MST3K is being passed on to the next generation (my son loves the show).

We immediately headed upstairs for the MST3K panel, which was still some time away, but we wanted to avoid the clusterfuck that was the 20th reunion panel a few years back. We sat through some other panels and then it was time for the MST one. There was a lot of great news: the show will be on Netflix and former cast members Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl, and Bill Corbett will be back. We got to see artwork for the new sets and designs. When it was time for Q&A I asked if the new season would have short films (it won't) and Erik asked if it would retain the relatively family friendly vibe of the past (it will). Our costumes got a lot of applause.

Day 4: Hanging with Friends and Browncoats

We slept in, got packed, and dropped our bags with the bell captain. We did a bit of shopping and then met our friends Mary and Jeremy at The Field for brunch. After brunch, Erik headed over to Nerd HQ for the Sherlock panel while I went over to the Marriott for a meeting of the California Browncoats, the highlight of which was seeing a picture of slippers shaped like Serenity! Now, that's some merchandising I can get behind.

Our last event of the day was a signing by Juliet Landau, who was promoting the film she's working on about vampires, A Place Among the Undead. Juliet is a lovely, sweet person, and chatting with her ended the day on a high note.

Then it was time to retrieve our bags, make it to the train station, and journey back home.

Another successful Comic-Con!

Random observations:

  • Except for the Thursday morning boondoggle, the RFID checkpoints seemed to work OK, at least as far as i could tell. Not clear what purpose they served, but oh well. I did like getting the badge mailed to me instead of having to pick it up.
  • Weather was disgusting on Wednesday-Friday, especially Friday. Absolutely hot and miserable. Those who want to relocate the con to Vegas, take note.
  • Joel Hodgson is a lovely man. I want him to be my honorary uncle.
  • Jonah Ray is incredibly tall and seemed very happy when I said I enjoyed his turn at the recent MST3K reunion show.
  • Stadium seating at Nerd HQ worked well - the lighting is still annoying, though. I wish they'd go back to Petco, though I appreciated the fact that Nerd HQ at least listens to complaints and tries to remedy them, unlike some other organizations I could name (cough CCI cough).
  • Good cosplayers this year. If nothing else The Force Awakens has given people a wider range of characters to cosplay.
  • Nathan Fillion has, as far as I can tell, not bothered to get a haircut since Castle got the ax, and this is not a bad thing. That's one luxurious mane he's rocking these days.
  • My one regret is that I could not be in three places at once to do the MST3K signing/panel, the Joss/Nathan Dark Horse signing, and the Ash vs. Evil Dead panel. Why did so much awesomeness have to happen at once?

And now, some pictures:

Jayne Cobb cosplayer

If Chris Evans gets tired of being Captain America, Mr. B Natural is happy to take on the role!

Yours truly with some of the cast of Con Man.

Gabrielle cosplayer

Professor Umbridge cosplayer

Nathan Fillion hosting the Nerd HQ Con Man panel

Xenomorph cosplayer

Not sure if this was an actual member of KISS or a cosplayer

Mr. B Natural posing with Crow and Tom Servo

Mr. B Natural and Torgo with Crow and Tom Servo

Elle Driver cosplayer

Hagrid cosplayer

J. Jonah Jameson cosplayer gives us the inside scoop

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