I know I don't update it daily. Shut up.

July 29, 2010

July 28, 2010

Overheard at Comic Con 2010

Mom: "I'm just excited to see all the freaks.

Son: "They're not freaks, Mom, they're just nerds."

"I used to write the best romance stories. Don't let me forget to tell you about them." - Stan Lee

"Kill All Humans" - sign held by a guy in a Bender costume next to the Westboro Baptist Church protest

"I'm a filmmaker. I'm currently collaborating with Bill Plympton on a five-minute short on the Holocaust." - a 6-year-old kid at the question mic during the Phineas and Ferb panel
"Wow - I may be calling you with questions." - "Swampy" Marsh, co-creator of Phineas and Ferb

"Farts smell because they come out of our butts." - kid behind us in line

Dude 1: "Aw, dude - I stink!!!"
Dude 2: "It's Comic Con; we all stink."

The Costumes of Comic Con, Part 1

Ten Things I Learned About Humanity While Attending Comic-Con

10. Purchasing plastic toys is a privilege, not a right.
9. Some consider soft pretzels to be a food group.
8. Tattooing your entire back to resemble the cover of a comic book gives you the right to walk around topless, and the right to act put off when someone stops you to take your picture.
7. There are celebrities that get the pop-icon thing and can respect their fans (James Marsters, Bruce Campbell) and there are those that don't (CC Sabathia).
6. Limo drivers are a wealth of information, such as the one who first asked us "Are you famous?" then proceeded to tell us what a jerk CC Sabathia is.
5. Strippers love Comic-Con.
4. Jerry "The King" Lawler is orange.
3. The same people who will haggle over paying $8 vs. $10 for a first printing of Man-Thing #1 will eagerly pay $15 for a soda and hot dog at lunch.
2. There are many things that can bring people of all stripes together: Attractive celebrities, counter-protesting the Westboro Baptist Church, waiting in line for toys, and laughing at others' misfortunes.
1. People stink.

July 22, 2010

Miracles and disappointment: Comic-Con Day One

There's a reason I didn't title this "Preview Night." That's because Comic-Con Preview night is dead.

Taking its place is a tacked-on extra day where attendees squat at their favorite vendor for an opportunity to purchase the "exclusive" merchandise and get it on their eBay store before the next guy in line does.

But let me back up a minute, because my first experience at Comic-Con does indeed have a happy ending. Mine was a circuitous route around animators, artists, journalists, writers, dreamers, thinkers and doers. But mostly, I had to avoid the humanity.

I found myself always looking up, and more than once this caused a pileup with a lady on a Lark. My first order of business: Check off some items on my shopping list. The two souvenirs I hunted were blessedly at the same booth: Hasbro. But the line just to be able to purchase anything went twice around the booth, to the point it was cut off. This was at 6:10 p.m. The show opened at 6.

Really, Comic-Con? On Preview Night, which is only supposed to give a hint at what's to come, you are so packed with people your vendors have to shut their doors 10 minutes in? At least I got to take pictures of the items I wanted, even if I was too unworthy to wait for them in line:

Marcy, our friend Jillianne and I continued through the hall. We passed Mjolnir, and were given Galactus hats. I had my picture taken with a life-size Lego sculpture of C3PO, and obtained the two most recent issues of Kick-Ass. We visited with a few of Marcy and J-Lo's friends in the industry, eventually ending with the Whaleboy booth (more on him later). Their former co-worker, Ed, is one of the creators, and as we chatted with him a co-creator interrupted us. He received a text from a third collaborator who was elsewhere in the hall.

"Hey - did you guys know Hasbro is selling a $65 Galactus?" I replied I had, as I visited the booth earlier.

Their friend was in line, thinking of purchasing one.

"Wait - he's in the Hasbro line?" Jillianne shot back. Before I knew it an order was being placed for Iron Man, Doctor Doom and The Mayor.

And 15 minutes later, they were in my bag of goodies. I was the unwitting beneficiary of The First Miracle of Comic-Con.

(Watch me on Twitter tomorrow for periodic updates live from the panels at Comic-Con 2010. And I have a feeling more miracles are on the way.)

July 20, 2010

T minus 6 hours and counting

Geek shirts: Check.

A/V equipment: Check.

Zombie supplies: Check.

See you at Comic-Con Preview Night.

July 19, 2010

Comic-Con Comic Agenda

Much like my post on the movie agenda, it's time to break down what I'm really there for ...

10:15-11:15 DC Comics Writers Unite!— Originally a successful panel at WonderCon 2010, "Comics Writers Unite!" (see the Comic-Con Souvenir Book for a transcript) brought together a number of special guests to talk about the art of writing. Part of a series of programs at this year's Comic-Con celebrating "The Year of the Writer," this panel features special guests Paul Levitz (Legion of Super-Heroes), Dennis O'Neil (Batman, The Question), and J. Michael Straczynski (Superman, Wonder Woman), along with Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Secret Six), Judd Winick (Justice League: Generation Lost, Power Girl), and moderator James Robinson (Starman, Justice League of America).

11:30-12:30 Dumbrella— Artists from Dumbrella, one of the most popular online comic collectives, discuss webcomics, independent publishing, and subverting popular culture. Feel free to quiz Andrew Bell (The Creatures in my Head), Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie), Jon Rosenberg (Goats), Richard Stevens III (Diesel Sweeties), and Chris Yates (Chris Yates Studios) about anything your Internet heart desires.

12:45-1:45 Marvel: Breaking into Comics the Marvel Way— Welcome to the House of Ideas, where the doors have never been more open to new talent than today! Talent liaisonC. B. Cebulski is joined by special guests Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Skottie Young, Humberto Ramos, and more to talk about what it takes to make yours Marvel as a profession, from writer to artist to editor and more! Do you have what it takes? Come find out!

1:00-2:00 Video Game Comics: The Next Big Thing— Are video games the biggest thing to hit comics since superheroes? Richard George from IGN explores this phenomenon, along with representatives from Dark Horse, EA, IDW, and WildStorm. Featuring some of the hottest video game properties in comics: Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Gears of War, Fallout: New Vegas, Army of Two, God of War and more, this is one panel fans of either medium won't want to miss!

2:30-3:30 I Can't Write, I Can't Draw, But I Love Comics!— There are tons of jobs in the comics, animation, and gaming industries besides writing and illustration. Companies still need computer programmers, motion-capture actors, retailers, agents, development executives, and publishers. Learn how to get your foot in the door without spilling any ink. Panelists include Rudy Coby (Labman), Jacob Melvin (DreamWorks), Joseph Gatt (God of War), Derek Douglas (Digital Development Management), Steve Goldstein (Stubbs Alderton & Markiles), Matt Cohen (Killspace Entertainment), Jud Meyers (Earth 2 Comics), and Filip Sablik (Top Cow Productions). Moderated by science/tech journalist Susan Karlin(Discover).

4:30-5:30 DC Comics' 75th Anniversary— 75 years ago Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson started a comic book company (National Allied Publications) that pioneered the use of new material (as opposed to comic strip reprints) in its books. In 1938, Action Comics #1, featuring Superman, came along, and the rest -- as they say -- is history. And what a history it is! DC Comics celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Moderator Paul Levitz (writer, editor, and former president and publisher of DC) starts the Comic-Con celebration with panelists Dan DiDio and Jim Lee (co-publishers, DC Comics), Geoff Johns (chief creative officer), and Comic-Con special guests Jenette Kahn (former president and publisher),Dennis O'Neil (writer/editor, Batman), and comics legend Jerry Robinson (Batman).

5:45-6:45 Marvel: What's Next: Welcome to the Digital House of Ideas— Get the inside scoop on the all-new, all-improved, all-awesome Marvel.com, Marvel Digital Comics, and Marvel Motion Comics. With the launch of the groundbreaking Marvel Comics app in the iTunes App Store, this has been a historic year for the Digital House of Ideas. Now, find out what's next! Meet fellow fans of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and find out which of the hundreds of completed series in the service everyone's talking about. Plus, get caught up on Marvel.com's free streaming animated shows, how to "Create Your Own Comic" and "Super Hero" original video productions, and the Marvel Audience Network, including our very own social network. Join members of the Marvel Digital Media Group for all the digital dynamite!

12:00-2:00 CBLDF Master Session: Jill Thompson: Secrets of Watercolor Technique—Bring your sketchbooks and learn the secrets of expressive watercolor from one of the medium's top practitioners! Renowned for her work on Beasts of Burden, Scary Godmother,and Sandman, Jill Thompson shows you the intricacies of the watercolor medium and how to apply it to making masterful comics and covers. The original art from this session will be auctioned off on Saturday night at the CBLDF's Art Auction!

12:30-1:30 Remembering Frank Frazetta and Al Williamson— The late legendary artists Frank Frazetta and Al Williamson will be remembered by their friends and colleagues during this memorial panel. A giant of comics and book illustration, Frank Frazetta was a major influence on countless comic artists. From his early work at Magazine Enterprises and EC Comics to his Warren Publications and Conan paperback covers, Frazetta's art was monumental in scope, design, and execution. He passed away on May 10. Al Williamson was an artists' artist, with a clean, elegant style. He's most famous for his work with EC Comics and in the syndicated comic strip world, with Secret Agent Corrigan and Star Wars. He passed away on June 12. Moderator Arnie Fenner (co-author/editor of the Frazetta booksIcon, Legacy, and Testament, and director of Spectrum Fantastic Art) talks to writer/artistMark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales, writer of Prince Valiant), artist/illustrator William Stout(Dinosaur Discoveries, Prehistoric Life Murals), and publisher J. David Spurlock, whose Vanguard Productions recently launched a number of Frazetta books, including a complete reprinting of Johnny Comet, the artist's syndicated daily comic strip from the mid-1950s.

2:00-3:00 Spotlight on Stan Lee Comics legend and Comic-Con special guest Stan Leediscusses some of his latest projects at POW! Entertainment and the future of comics and new media distribution, including challenges today's writers and artists face. Join Stan and company, including Gill Champion (COO POW! Entertainment) for this special panel, which includes a Q&A with "The Man" himself.

3:00-4:00 Superman: Man of Tomorrow— It's a bird! It's a plane! It's The Man of Steel -- and he's back on Earth and primed to take 2010 by storm! Don't miss members of the exciting new Superman creative teams as they discuss their plans for Superman, Lex Luthor, Superboy, Supergirl, and more led by DC group editor Matt Idelson, with Paul Cornell(Action Comics), Shane Davis (Superman: Earth One), Sterling Gates (Supergirl), Jeff Lemire (Superboy), J. Michael Straczynski (Superman: Earth One, Superman), and others.

4:00-5:00 Breaking into Comics— A bold first step into breaking into comics starts here. Top comics creators Mike Costa (G.I. Joe: Cobra, The Authority: Jack Hawksmoor, Transformers) and Reilly Brown (Cable & Deadpool, The Incredible Hercules) discuss the ins and outs of the comic industry -- specifically, what it takes to break in and how it's done! Get solid and sound advice on what it takes and how to get started! Moderated by Comics Experience's Andy Schmidt (X-Men, Annihilation, G.I. Joe).

6:30-7:30 Thomas Jane and Tim Bradstreet's RAW Entertainment— Join the crew from RAW Entertainment as they discuss their exciting slate of current and upcoming projects in comics and film. Moderated by Thomas Jane (Hung, The Punisher), and Tim Bradstreet(The Punisher), panelists include Bruce Jones (Twisted Tales), James Daly (Bad Planet),William Stout (Pan's Labyrinth), Mark Schultz (Cadillacs & Dinosaurs), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), and a surprise guest!

8:30-11:30 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards The 22nd annual Eisner Awards, the "Oscars" of the comics industry, will be given out at a gala ceremony at the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront. This year's special theme is "Comics Fiesta." The masters of ceremony are Bongo Comics' Bill Morrison and voice actor Maurice LaMarche (Pinky and the Brain, Futurama). Presenters include writer/actor Robert Ben Garant (Reno 911, Balls of Fury), comedian/voice actor Phil LaMarr (Futurama, Family Guy, MadTV), and actor/comics creatorThomas Jane; nominees C. Tyler, Laurie Sandell, Peter Bagge, and James Robinson; and Comic-Con special guests Berkeley Breathed, Chris Claremont, Milo Manara, Jillian Tamaki, and James Sturm. Other prestigious awards to be given out include the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, theBill Finger Award for Achievement in Comic Book Writing, and the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. Admission to the Eisners is free to all Comic-Con attendees -- just be sure to bring your badge. Doors open for pro and VIP seating at 7:30 and for attendees at 8:15. All those who attend will receive a free Will Eisner graphic novel.

11:30-12:30 Will Eisner, The Dreamer— Will Eisner played a central role in the first seven decades of comics history. Many times during his career, he reinvented sequential art and himself to overcome new challenges. He was a true dreamer, and these panelists hope to show you that side of him: Denis Kitchen (artist, author, publisher, and Will Eisner's agent and longtime friend), Scott McCloud (artist, author, and theoretician about comics and sequential art), Dennis O'Neil (comic book writer and editor for Marvel Comics and DC Comics), Paul Levitz (writer, former president/publisher, DC Comics), and Michael Schumacher (bestselling author and Biographer with a new biography of Will Eisner due out this fall). This is your chance to learn more about the "Father of the Graphic Novel."

1:00-2:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #11: Using Comic Book Characters For Cultural Critique— Comic book creators and scholars are using comic book characters -- existing ones and their own creations -- as a form of cultural critique in both the academy and in the larger popular culture. Join Patricia Williams (Columbia University), John Jennings (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Kane Anderson (UC Santa Barbara),John Jackson (University of Pennsylvania), Stanford Carpenter (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) for a discussion of how comics characters -- including President Obama's depiction as a superhero -- act as proxies for leveling cultural critiques.

2:30-3:30 Archie: Stan Lee Comics Debuts— Stan Lee, Andy Heyward, and Jon Goldwater introduce an exciting new line of comics from the mind of comics legend Stan Lee. Stan will talk about Stan Lee's Super Seven and all the other new titles coming from Stan Lee comics over the next year. Be the first to get in on this exciting new project from the one and only Stan Lee! Moderated by Rik Offenberger.

3:30-4:30 International Comics and Graphic Novels— Comics are popular the world over and Comic-Con always includes an impressive gathering of worldwide talent. Journalist Tom Spurgeon talks with special guests Moto Hagio (Japan: Drunken Dreams), Émile Bravo(France: My Mommy is in America and she Met Buffalo Bill), Milo Manara (Italy: Click!), andKathryn and Stuart Immonen (Canada: Moving Pictures, Russian Olive to Red King) about graphic novels with a more international flavor.

4:30-5:30 Disney Epic Mickey— Warren Spector (creative director, Junction Point -- Disney Interactive Studios) and Peter David (award-winning comics writer and author of upcoming Disney Epic Mickey comics) share their insights about bringing the world and characters of the Disney Epic Mickey video game to life in two media -- video games and comic books. Warren and Peter explore "Wasteland," a world of forgotten, retired and rejected creative efforts from the Disney archives, and discuss the joy and challenges associated with writing for Mickey Mouse and his "brother," Walt Disney's first cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The panel includes discussion, gameplay demo featuring never-before-seen areas, concept art, previews of comic pages and Q&A.

8:30-10:30 With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story is a feature length documentary on Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men, Hulk and over 500 other comic book characters. Learn how Stan rose from his humble Brooklyn beginnings to co-creating many of the world's most well known characters! Following the screening will be a brief panel with Stan "The Man" Leehimself, executive producers Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight) and Tom DeSanto (X-Men, Transformers), actor Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk TV Show), illustrator Jim Lee(Marvel, DC), writer Paul Levitz (former president and publisher of DC Comics), Jack Kirby biographer Mark Evanier, and the With Great Power producing team of Terry Dougas,Nikki Frakes, and Will Hess. You won't want to miss this one!

10:00-11:00 Jack Kirby Tribute— It's time once again to pay tribute to Jack "King" Kirby, the prolific writer/artist who co-created some of the world's most famous superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, the New Gods, and many more. Kirby biographer and friend Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics) hosts this annual Comic-Con tradition and is joined this year by writers Marv Wolfman (Tomb of Dracula, New Teen Titans), and Kurt Busiek (Astro City, JLA/Avengers) and other Kirby fanatics to discuss the King.

11:00-12:00 Archaia: The Jim Henson Company— The first series of Fraggle Rock comics were a rousing success, so what do Archaia and The Jim Henson Company have in store next? Find out exclusive information on upcoming Archaia/Henson comic book and graphic novel ventures from Archaia editor-in-chief Stephen Christy and artist/illustrator Brian Froud, who worked closely with Jim Henson on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth movies as a concept artist. Joining them will be Fraggle Rock editors Tim Beedle, Paul Morrissey, andJoe LeFavi, plus Fraggle Rock writer Heather White.

11:30-12:30 Dark Horse: Yoshitaka Amano— Please join Dark Horse Comics to celebrate the career and the rare U.S. appearance of legendary Japanese artist Yoshitako Amano. The creator of Vampire Hunter D will be joined by Hollywood darling "Mink" to discuss their recent collaboration, Shinjuku, an epic work of artistic genius that explores the seedy underworld of modern Tokyo.

3:00-4:00 Full-Time Creative Work on a Part-Time Schedule— Learn the secret to using part-time collaboration to achieve full-time results! No matter which industry (comics, illustration, movies, design, animation), breaking into today's media is a full-time job, even if you have only part-time hours to accomplish it. Hear Topher Davila (editor and co-creator of TomatoTV and TomatoTVAnimation), Mario Martinez (co-creator of TomatoTV), Kevin Flessing (TomatoTV columnist and staff writer for TomatoTVAnimation), Jonelle Cobb (web designer, art director), Ron Coleman (TomatoTV columnist), and Jessica Grimshaw(animator), talk about how they successfully juggle time between the creative and business sides from their experiences in illustration, business branding, writing, design, and animation. Whether you struggle with deadlines, are a creative hobbyist, or simply want to know how to get your foot in the door, this panel is not to be missed!

Had I only KNOWN I coulda had super powers ...

This is the Minuteman statue in Lexington, MA. I used to work about 50 yards from it.

This is Freedom Force, a game from 2002 I happened to buy with its sequel, Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich, this weekend for $7.49.
I love this game because the gameplay reminds me of the original Grand Theft Auto - overhead camera slinking you through the crime-riddled streets of a generic metropolis in which you bust punks by wielding whatever weapons you have at your disposal - taxi cabs, garbage disposals, random barrels of toxic waste ... what have you. Initially, an appropriately overacted narrator guides you through the basics, and with the volume cranked my wife (from across the room) now knows the appropriate manner in which you can remove a streetlight from its concrete base and smack some ass.
The main character, Minuteman, received his powers from touching the base of the Minuteman statue which was infused with Energy X. The "park" in which the statue resides looks nothing like Lexington's Battle Green in real life, but that's a minor gripe considering I worked my butt off for three solid years in its neighborhood never knowing I just needed to touch John Parker's tush to inherit otherworldly superpowers, largely channeled through my giant scepter with Sam the Eagle on the end.
The game itself is pretty straightforward - follow the instructions and defeat the commies who are being helped along in their quest for world dominance by some alien technology (Energy X) that was placed here for the sole purpose of providing aliens with some good live programming on TV. (But if Contact taught us anything, it's that in space the aliens have access to every transmission that ever came from Earth - like a permanent Nick at Nite but not all the shows feature Valerie Bertanelli. It also taught us that priests who look like Matthew McConaughey get to visit the White House a lot and don't need security clearance ever to visit the super-secret multinational trillion-dollar device that the aliens will teach us how to make.)
So yeah ... Freedom Force. An artful melding of the best things about comic books and video games that doesn't take itself too seriously in theme and story, but very seriously in scope, scale and experience. I love that the characters actually follow the instructions you give them - tell Mentor to wait in the alley and he'll bide his time until the very moment when his mind-control will benefit the attack. The old-school comic book vibe given to the proceedings seems straight out of Jack Kirby's brain, which I think is in a jar somewhere at the Irrational Games studio for anyone to reference at any given time.
Switching between attacks with the F1, F2 .... keys, then switching characters with the number keys is bound to get confusing. So far it's just Minuteman and Mentor but I'm sure this is going to get crazy quickly.
At the Lexington Minuteman my only superpower was being able to get a newspaper out on time each week. Had I known the ability boost that lurked in the national monument just outside my window, I surely would have taken it and used it to fight evil.
Then I would demand payment from the police department for doing their jobs for them (With overtime, these guys clear $140,000 a year at least). Easy money - I'm surprised other comic book heroes never thought of that.

Oh. Right. That whole ethics thing.

Stupid ethics.

July 18, 2010

100% Billy Bob Approved!

Editor's Note: The following was drafted on Nov. 30, 2006 but was never published. I don't know why because anything having to do with a magic mullet should be shared with the world.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of the cool things in my head right now, in order of least to greatest. All entries are 100% Billy Bob approved. That's Billy Bob at right. His mullet is magic and he can rattle off the finishing times and pole positions of every NASCAR race that has ever featured Dick Trickle.

Hold on to yer elf hats, and keep the nog a rockin', cuz heeeere we go!

1. Ambient noise
2. Slow dancing
3. German words that are a hundred letters long

July 17, 2010

It's Miller Time (to improve your product)

Every Miller Lite commercial is about the new and innovative way in which the company has packaged/delivered its product. The most recent invention: The Vortex bottle, which spins the liquid as it comes out of the bottle (to aerate it, I suppose. This works with wine, so I guess the thinking is this works for the champagne of beers as well).

Don't let "Great Pilsner Taste" fool you as a proof of concept: It's also written on the bottle and in the logo.

Miller Lite does this all the time. In 2008 Miller announced it would be offered in aluminum bottles, and in 2009 it created The Draught Box which reminds me of the beer balls of my youth. (Now there's a phrase that will come back to haunt me.)

The Draught Box. Because only the highest-quality alcoholic beverages come from a box.

Enough with the stupid packaging - a bottle is a bottle. Where's the product innovation?
I swear when people tell me they "enjoy the taste" I want to punch them in the beer balls, because no human in civilized society should like the taste of his/her own urine.
Black Eye Beer Company has a good point: Where's the proof that the Vortex Bottle, or any other packaging changes, has any impact on flavor whatsoever?
Here's a novel idea: Try making money at doing business by actually improving the product. Are you afraid of a "New Coke" debacle? Even Coca-Cola rebounded from that to again dominate its market. But there's a difference: Coca-Cola took a gamble and changed its core formula, and while many taste-testers enjoyed the new taste the company still buckled to public pressure and re-introduced its old formula, leading Coca-Cola Classic to dominate its younger sibling, Coke II (New Coke). But it originally offered a likable product - Miller's not as lucky.
Going from utter crap to something a little more like real beer would be a good gamble, I don't care what the pee-drinkers say.

Comic-Con Movie Agenda

I'm trying to schedule which panels I want to see next week. Here's the first installment of some movie-related events that may be worth catching at Comic-Con:

DreamWorks Animation: Megamind DreamWorks Animation makes its Comic-Con debut with Megamind. The characters Megamind and Metro Man are jettisoned to Earth as babies when their home planets are destroyed. Megamind crash-lands inside a maximum-security prison, where he evolves into the wicked and diabolical genius he is today, while the dashingly handsome superhero Metro Man grows into the universally adored savior of Metro City, beloved by every man, woman and child -- and especially the city's ace reporter Roxanne Ritchi. These life-long archenemies will rewrite superhero movie lore when they challenge each other to the ultimate showdown of Good vs. Evil! Megamind stars Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Jonah Hill and director Tom McGrath join forces to unveil footage from DreamWorks Animation's November 5 release.

2:30-3:30 State of the Geek Report: From Avatar to Zardoz A panel of experts examine the state of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film and TV, from the living-ever-longer-and-prospering Star Trek franchise to the future of Star Wars to what the success of Avatar means for the future of movies. Some of geekdom's biggest luminaries, including Steve Melching (The Clone Wars), Ashley E. Miller (Thor, X-Men: First Class), Steve Kriozere (Elvis Van Helsing), Jeff Bond (former Geek Monthly editor), and Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan (Digital Bits), talk about the lackluster state of sci-fi film and television, the rise, fall and rise of Star Trek, and the hits and misses of 2010 that made their midicholorian (and cholesterol) counts rise to dangerous levels this summer.

3:30-4:30 Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries— A discussion with geek gods J. J. Abrams (Star Trek) and Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) on the future of pop culture. EW presents an in-depth conversation with these two creative geniuses about how technology, gaming, and global culture are reshaping how we tell and consume stories on television, film and the web. Plus: Is the superhero movie waning, or is it on the cusp of reinvention? And what do they think the pop culture universe will look like a decade from now? Moderated by Jeff "Doc" Jensen.

4:45-5:45 Lionsgate: The Expendables Prepare to have your ass kicked by The Expendables, the biggest action movie this summer! Lionsgate presents exclusive scenes and the inside scoop on every punch, kick, and bloodied lip from the most iconic cast of heroes and villains ever assembled, including the director, writer, and star Sylvester Stallone (Rambo), along with Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier), Steve Austin (The Condemned), Randy Couture (Scorpion King: Rise of the Warrior), and Terry Crews (Gamer).

2:00-3:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #8: Where Are the Action Chicks?— Katrina Hill (ActionFlickChick.com), Jill Pantozzi (MTV Splash Page), Adrianne Curry (America's Next Top Model), Cindy Morgan (Tron), Luci Romberg (Zombieland), Jen Stuller (Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors), Gina Misiroglu (Encyclopedia of Women in Popular Culture), Marjorie Liu (Black Widow), Cindy Morgan (TRON), and J. Michael Straczynski (Wonder Woman) discuss why comics, television, and movies do not depict more action heroines and look specifically at why movies starring traditional comic book superheroines are nearly nonexistent.

4:00-6:00 Sony Pictures Entertainment: The Other Guys, The Green Hornet, and Priest Two more sneak peeks at upcoming films from Sony Pictures Entertainment!

5:00-6:00 Spotlight on Drew Struzan See the premiere screening of excerpts from Drew: The Man Behind the Poster, a feature-length documentary film about the career of movie poster artist and Comic-Con special guest Drew Struzan, featuring exclusive interviews with George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Michael J. Fox, Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg, and many others. Q&A will include Struzan and filmmakers Erik Sharkey (director), Charles Ricciardi (producer), Greg Boas (editor and cinematographer), and Marc-Antoine Serou (cinematographer).

7:00-8:00 RiffTrax Live— Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett (RiffTrax.com, Mystery Science Theater 3000) return to Comic-Con to perform another live, hilarious riff to a classic short! The panel is moderated by Veronica Belmont (host of Tekzilla on Revision3 and Qore on the PlayStation Network). Join the riffers for fun, laughs, and the latest news from RiffTrax.com, the site where MST3K-style humor meets mainstream movies, TV shows, and vintage shorts.

11:00-12:30 Syfy Original Movies and Chiller: Mega Piranha Feast your eyes on a late-night screening of this terrifyingly fun Syfy thriller, with a special live introduction from Mega Piranha star and '80s pop music icon Tiffany. Plus, stick around for bonus looks at scary good entertainment from Chiller.

4:45-5:45 Universal: Paul and Cowboys & Aliens Universal presents two upcoming films in this exclusive Hall H presentation.

July 16, 2010

Wardrobe weirdos

On Thursday, I bought three new shirts for my impending visit to Comic-Con, rounding out my unofficial uniforms for the Con.
After telling people you're attending Comic-Con the inevitable question comes up later: Will you be going in costume? As I'm a Con noob (and literally traveling opposite ends of the country to attend) I'm going to rely on my awesome T-shirts to get me through the week.
After a casual glance through Google Images for Con costumes, I've found some common themes among those who dare go full-Geek:

The nonchalant costume: "Yeah, I'm dressed as Superman. So what? Move along or your ass will feel my heat vision." Actually, that's a pretty good pickup line.

The excuse to go naked: This allows moderately attractive women to have their self-worth validated by the wandering eyes of hundreds of men who have left their houses for the second time this year. ...

...Unfortunately this works the other way around too.

The "Well, I had it laying around" approach: I almost went this route with a nondescript pirate costume I have. There's something gratifying about seeing religious figures entering the mix.

The sushi approach: "Hey, I think I'll slap a bunch of fish parts on me and see how it goes ..." Wait, I'm being told this is actually a real costume.

The "I've been waiting my whole life for this" costume: Well, we all have to have a hobby.

The mashup: I love that physique doesn't stand in the way of people's quests for impressive dress. Of course, that also spells certain doom for the "Excuse to go Naked" costume.

July 15, 2010

Wish List.

Comic-Con is less than a week away. Just checked the budget; I believe these little nuggets are in my future ...
(if there's anything you want me to pick up, leave me a comment. Here's the wishlist.)

July 13, 2010

Superheroes penetrating my daily life: ComicCon must be soon

This commercial popped on the other night and I started to evaluate the Silver Silver Surfer vs. the Green Silver Surfer.
I began thinking, "What if Marvel gave the Surfer a sidekick?" but then I began thinking no, Silver Surfer was a sidekick himself as he scouted out worlds for Galactus to eat. Then I began thinking, if Cascade gel pacs are green and blue then why are the two Silver Surfers green and silver? Is it because I fell into Cascade's evil plot to associate its product with the Silver Surfer (I am buying said product on Thursday when I get paid - good marketing!) or is it because the silver little guy could be associated with Silver Surfer, Iceman or as a stretch the T 1000?
And if a fight broke out between the Silver Surfer, Iceman and the T1000 who would win? Silver Surfer's ability to bend matter would be canceled out by the T1000's morphing ability, right? And if the T1000 can only be killed in molten lava then could the same be true for extreme cold, thus exposing a weakness that Iceman could exploit?
Right now I'm envisioning a rock-paper-scissors match: Iceman beats T1000, but T1000 beats silver surfer by being able to liquify and inhabit every square inch of Silver Surfer, and Silver Surfer beats Iceman because he pretty much beats everybody.
In a week I'll be at ComicCon. Can you tell?

July 2, 2010

The MBTA: Push becomes shove becomes brawl

I waited for the T at South Station like I always do when waiting to get on the metal chariot toward my personal Mt. Olympus. That time of day, 5 p.m., is a tough time in Boston: The usually pushy idiots waiting to get on the T become even pushier.

The grand throne at Mt. Olympus,
where pirate pants are always in fashion

I count myself among the idiots, unfortunately: Some of my worse moments are when I try to follow my wife on to the train so we can sit next to one another, only to shove an older lady inadvertently as I fit through the doorway. I then spend the 20-minute ride obsessing over it: "Did my shoulder catch her too hard?" "Should I go over and apologize?" "What if I offer my seat to the next MBTA victim? Will my karma then be restored?"

No matter what social faux pas I've committed on Boston's underground system, I ain't never been this bad:

The train pulls up and I'm standing on the same orange paint strip I do every day: It ensures the right positioning to be the first up the escalators at my destination, Alewife Station, sparing not a moment as I race up to the surface world to catch the bus at 5:28.

As I prepare to board I take my customary step to the left to let the train's existing passengers get off. To my right is a woman with a two-kid carriage: A newborn (8-12 months) sits in the front while a toddler takes the rear seat. The carriage is slightly longer and wider than a shopping cart, making it the ideal choice should you wish to annoy every rider on a packed train.

Behind her is a blind man, and though they don't know each other he somehow knows to wait behind her so he can follow her aboard. He is standing in one place but lazily searching his surroundings with the taps of his cane.

The last of the train's riders scoots by, between the mother and myself. I am slightly left of the doorway, she stands directly in center. To her right, a woman seems to float above the ground - her legs flit so fast they cast a weird, pasty white blur as she rushes onboard. Another Masshole, this time a businessman, cuts off the mother as she struggles to build momentum with her giant kid-filled cart. A third commuter tries to board with the woman, but as her cart takes up most of the entryway he clucks away in disgust because he has to wait two seconds. She finally gets onboard, and the rejected commuter is now forced to cut off the blind man as he cautiously steps forward.

He does so without so much as a glance back, and another commuter follows him, TWICE CUTTING OFF THE BLIND MAN TRYING TO BOARD THE TRAIN. I have, at this point, watched six people (eight if you count the kids) enter the train, and now it's my turn. The blind man is asking someone if he can sit; thankfully a woman offers him her seat and helps him down. But no one offers a seat to the mother, who is forced to stand with her oversized cart and agitated offspring as we rumble out of South Station and away from the heart of Boston.

Yes, Boston: City of History, City of Intelligence, City of Slack-Asses who would cut off a young mother and a blind man just so they can read the next chapter of their Twilight books or answer an e-mail to no one of importance before they lose a signal on their Smartphones.

Starting tomorrow I'm going to offer my seat more.